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Star Trek: Voyager

Season 1 Episode 9


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Mar 13, 1995 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
202 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Stardate: 48623.5
While investigating an asteroid belt containing a new element, Harry Kim is pulled into a "subspace vacuole" and switched with a dead body. Soon after the body is revived the crew learns that the asteroid belt is the graveyard of an alien culture that transports its dead in the belief that they evolve into a higher state of consciousness. Harry's appearance on the home world begins to raise questions about the existence of their afterlife.


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  • Quite the trip

    Religious beliefs are, pardon the pun, considered sacred ground by most people, and yet it's an area full of possibilities to explore in fiction. Ironically, it's more common for the popular culture to use it for comic fodder than drama, perhaps because (as Data might say) "humans often use humor as a shield when they discuss deeply personal Yet there many interesting facets of religious beliefs that can be explored in a dramatic setting, and science fiction offers an opportunity to do so in a way that, while still uncomfortable for some, offers a forum that's more acceptable to the masses.

    "Emanations" meets the challenge head on, presenting a kind, loving society and forcing some of them to question their religious beliefs, as well as euthanasia, for the first time.

    Harry Kim gets the A story. Stepping into the Riker/O'Brien everyman role and finding himself accidentally sent from a culture's "Heaven" (an asteroid in the Delta Quadrant full of dead bodies) to their homeworld in another dimension. This makes for a rather uncomfortable conversation when a guy, Hatil Garan, who is scheduled to die, starts asking Kim what he can look forward to in the afterlife. (Garan's culture believes that when they die, their corporeal bodies are sent to another place so they can live again and associate with lost loved ones). Kim tries to avoid the question, but coming from "the other side", there are lots of people who are curious about what he knows, not to mention some who feel threatened by what he might say.

    Meanwhile, dead people from the planet keep getting sent to Voyager instead of the asteroid, which helps Janeway and her crew to start putting the pieces together and figure out what's going on. It's the obligatory "trying to recover a lost crewmember" B story, but it's certainly one of the more creative (and interesting) variations.

    The late Jefrey Alan Chandler plays Garan with a sweetness that serves the part well, but Jerry Hardin and his trademark gravitas steal the show, bringing us Neria, the planet's chief thanatologist.

    When "Emanations" first aired, it generated a bit of controversy, with some deeply religious people mistaking it as an allegory for atheism. In fact, what the episode is really about is exploring how people handle the challenge of considering that their most important and cherished beliefs might be wrong. The problem for some people, however, is that doubt is such a foreign concept to their way of thinking, they can't help but view the writers and the episode (and life) in black and white terms: the story is either validating their beliefs or attacking them. It's a frame of mind that's not exclusive to religion, often showing up in politics, nationalism, and even sports.

    Sadly, the episode is only able to scratch the surface of the issue in the time allotted. There's much more that could be mined, including Kim's effect on the society as a whole and the danger to him as a result. "Emanations" would make for an interesting two parter; but then that's something the show would be more likely to do later in its run. (Actually, it would have been better to do this one later anyway. It's a heavy concept, and it would be nice if Harry could get a few episodes under his belt before being thrust into such a life changing experience).

    Interestingly, the television show Lost has some fun exploring the same issues as this episode within its own framework. One of its characters, John Locke, becomes convinced that he has to push a button every 108 minutes to save the world. He later discovers evidence that this might be a psychological experiment, with another site having television monitors to view the button and instructions for personnel who are watching. Even later, however, Locke learns that the journals these personnel have been filling out and placing in pneumonic tubes are being sent to the middle of nowhere, where they've been piling up unread. It's a striking visual not too unlike the beginning of "Emanations", where Kim finds the dead bodies haphazardly and meaninglessly laying around on the asteroid.

  • Momento Mori

    Creepy... the dead bodies, like mummies in the asteroid, very eerie

    Okay it doesn't take much to frighten me, but the dead corpses kept popping up throughout the episode, so that kept me awake!

    That Harry Kim sure is adorable, I just want to put him in my pocket. He might have been one of People's 50 Most Beautiful people at the time but he wasn't the strongest actor and it wasn't for lack of material.moreless
  • Very fair, for the typically anti-religious Star Trek Universe

    As an agnostic, I found this a very fair, down the middle episode on life after death. As opposed to TNG, and even Enterprise, which tend to be heavy-handed and condescending towards religion - consistent with the Roddenberry line that science can explain everything - this episode treated religion with the agnostic "how can we really know" approach.

    I think the very presence of the spiritual Chakotay on Voyager - and Sisko on DS9 - are a welcome departure from the dogmatic, anti-religious bias of the Roddenberry era. Even Janeway keeps an open mind. Again, I say this as a non-religious person, who nonetheless, bristles at the left's claim of tolerance, while simultaneously mocking religious views. I find 100% certain atheists as arrogant as 100% religious types.

    I think this episode really hits on a horrific fear we all have; do we really just end when we die? Is it really like the off-switch that Steve Jobs posits? Or is there an "ow wow!"?moreless
  • Emanations

    Emanations was a great episode of Star Trek Voyager and I really enjoyed watching this episode as Ensign Harry Kim was switched with a body of another species who believe they are moving on to the after life in a strange manner. This episode had many great scenes, character development, and made viewers think about life and death. The crew was once again resourceful and fun to watch as they tried to solve the mystery of what was happening. Over all a good story and great acting made a great episode. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek Voyager!!!!!moreless
  • Harry Kim fans will enjoy this episode

    I, myself, am a Harry Kim fan. And I confess that the main reason why I like this episode so much is because Kim dies and comes back to life. (Which may sound strange since I am a fan of his). But this episode probes at the question of the afterlife. What happens? Those who constantly ask this may or may not enjoy this episode, depending on your point of view. All in all, I enjoyed the episode, even with the questionable atmosphere on the asteroid. But those who prefer action, (in the sense of shooting, fighting, etc) may not want to watch this episode. Recommended.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Trivia: This is the first time Harry Kim dies on Voyager. The next instance is during the episode "Deadlock".

    • Ethan Phillips (Neelix) is listed in the opening credits, but he does not appear in this episode.

    • Nitpick: Despite being dead, the pulse in Ensign Kim's neck can be seen throbbing.

    • Trivia: There were 246 elements known to Federation scientists. The Voyager crew discovers number 247 in this episode. At the time of filming, the atomic chart included 111, with number 111 being discovered just months before this episode aired.

    • Goof: Both times Ptera is presumed dead in the transporter room, the actress is visibly breathing.

    • Goof: When Hatil is wrapping himself in his death shroud, he says that his father has worn it and his father before him. This implies that the transportation device does not take the shroud with it. This theory is consistent with the bodies on the asteroids all being naked. However, when Kim is transported the shroud comes with him.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • The Doctor: (after reviving Kim from death) Relax, Mr. Kim. Everything's fine. You're alive.

    • Janeway: I'm not certain, but I am certain about this. What we don't know about death is far, far greater than what we do know.

    • Janeway: One of the things you learn as you move up the ranks and get a little older, is that you wish you had more time in your youth to really absorb all the things that happen to you. It goes by so fast. It's so easy to become jaded, to treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office.

    • The Doctor: In essence, Commander, you were strolling through dead bodies.

  • NOTES (1)