The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Emanations

Whilst investigating what appears to be an alien burial site, Harry Kim is caught up in a subspace vacuole and transported to the planet which is the source of the alien bodies. The Vhnori believe that the vacuoles transport them to their afterlife, and Harry’s unprecedented from the other side makes them curious to learn about what lies beyond.

Whilst both a serviceable episode and Kim’s first chance to get out and about by himself, Emanations is slightly too annoying to go down as anything more than average. Whilst it’s always interesting to throw a spanner into the works of an alien culture’s beliefs, this episode is filled with too many inconsistencies and loose ends to go down well – not to mention the final cop-out of “well, that neural energy might be an afterlife after all”.

Episodic Annoyances

  • How is an extremely heavy element immediately exciting? Yes, it’s somehow stable, which in itself is unlikely, but figuring out how to use it in manufacturing would be a long and involved process – I guess the research might be fun, but there are probably known ores and compounds that Voyager would be better off searching for.
  • How are the aliens able to form a polymer covering over their bodies so quickly? The Doctor says it is caused by the decay of their bodies, but it seems to appear as soon as they come through the vacuole – mere seconds after the cenotaph euthanised them. And if their bodies do decay that quickly, it shouldn’t be possible for the Doctor to revive Ptera.
  • The Doctor is able to revive both Ptera and Harry, but no one bothers with reviving the other aliens who appear on Voyager. Maybe they just didn’t want lots of Vhnori running around looking for their afterlife.
  • Why are clothes and burial shrouds not taken through the subspace vacuole? Is it really so precise?
  • Also note that the Doctor references standard Starfleet resuscitation procedures. When the plot demands it, these procedures come in handy, but at other times everyone seems to forget they exist – like when Carey is shot in season seven.
  • Why bother with the “well, the aliens release neural energy which gathers around the planet”? It feels too much like a cop-out – I’d prefer something bleaker, where the possibility of an afterlife wasn’t entirely out of the question, but where there was no particular evidence for it.

Other points

  • There are 246 elements known to the Federation. In 1995, there were around 110 elements known to humanity, with that number up to about 120 now. The elements at the heavier end of that scale are usually unstable, with very short half-lives.
  • It seems unlikely to me that something as small as an asteroid could support a Class-M atmosphere.
  • Chakotay has visited burial sites on Ktaria VII – the Ktarians were last seen as an enemy in TNG’s The Game, but of course Samantha Wildman is married to a Ktarian. As I debated way back in my review of The Game, it seems likely that Ktaria in general is allied with the Federation, but the faction seen in The Game are not.

Summary – Emanations: In which Harry Kim dies. It won’t be the last time.

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