Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 1 E 8 "Emanations"

Go To
Eight episodes in; time to get started on making Harry Kim's life suck.

Voyager finds an asteroid belt that seems to be rich with a new element. Chakotay, Torres and Kim beam in to investigate and instead find a burial site of a humanoid species. Suddenly a subspace vacuole forms, and they try to beam out, but the transporter gets one of the bodies instead of Kim. They discover that the body still has life signs and can be revived, so they beam to sick bay to do so. Meanwhile, Kim finds himself in a coffin-like device in the middle of a funeral and breaks out, startling the participants.

Kim discovers that he's among the Vhnori, a species that euthanizes their dying in the device he's in to send to the Next Emanation. They therefore think he comes from their afterlife and are alarmed when he says he only found their species' corpses there. They subject him to a barrage of tests. In the process, Kim meets Hatil Garan, an invalid whose family has decided to send him to the Next Emanation. Kim's stories make Hatil doubt his enthusiasm to be euthanized, causing problems between him and his family.

On Voyager, the Vhnori woman awakens and, after some terrified confusion, introduces herself as Ptera. Janeway explains how subspace vacuoles are depositing her species' bodies in the asteroids. Ptera is horrified that her culture's afterlife appears to be a sham. Torres comes up with a possible way to send Ptera back to where she came from and beam Kim back aboard through the rift. Ptera agrees to try in spite of the risks, reasoning that she's already died once, but the experiment is a failure, and Ptera dies in the process. Janeway has her body transported back to one of the burial asteroids.

Kim is told that, far from being released, he'll be taken to a "secure location" because word of his stories about the Next Emanation are causing strife in Vhnori society. Kim convinces Hatil to skip out on his euthanization and instead hide out in the mountains, letting his family believe him dead. Instead, Kim will take his place in hopes of being returned to his world. Kim hides out in the euthanization machine, which kills him and delivers his body to the asteroid. Voyager identifies him and beams him to sick bay, where he's revived. Afterwards, he glumly sits in the mess hall thinking about the Vhinori's sham of an afterlife, but Janeway notes that neural energy from their bodies joins the complex energy field around a nearby planet, suggesting there might be more to their tale after all.

This episode provides examples of:

  • All Webbed Up: The cocooned corpses of people found on the asteroid by Voyager turn out to decompose that way naturally.
  • Always on Duty: Harry is ready to jump right back into work at the end, and Janeway has to remind him that he has been dead and might want to ponder that for a day or two.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What the "next emanation" is supposed to be.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Emergency Transport Procedure 21-Alpha.
  • Author Tract: "Emanation" is a timely message about the pitfalls of euthanasia — in very broad stokes. The planet in question is honeycombed with "hundreds" of assisted suicide centers, to the degree that it is literally their one defining characteristic.
  • Black Comedy: Chakotay takes such care to avoid Desecrating the Dead, only to be told by the Doctor that the cobwebs were a by-product of their decomposition. "In essence Commander, you were strolling through dead bodies."
  • Captain Obvious: Chakotay believes the fact that the dead bodies they find are naked shows that Vhnori do not believe in dressing their deceased. That's actually a rather hasty conclusion, and it turns out to not be the case after all.
  • Cloning Body Parts: The Doctor resurrects an alien brain cancer victim by removing the tumor from her brain stem, replicating and implanting replacement tissue, and zapping her with the On-Button Hypospray.
  • Continuity Nod: B'Elanna mentions that the Klingons don't put any importance on disposing of the deceased's body (from TNG's "Heart of Glory").
  • Cramming the Coffin: Harry puts on Hatil's burial shroud so he can get into the transference sarcophagus.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Chakotay relates how he once removed a rock as a souvenir on an away mission, only to find it was a sacred stone placed in commemoration of the deceased.
  • Death Is the Only Option: Harry realizes his only hope of getting back to Voyager is by dying in the sarcophagus and hoping his crewmates can find and revive him in time.
  • Disney Death: Harry Kim, as he goes through the transference sarcophagus and risks being put to death so that he can transport back to Voyager and be resurrected.
  • Due to the Dead: Chakotay insists they not disturb the bodies, conducting scans with the Mark One Eyeball only.
  • Dutch Angle: In order to emphasize the aliens' home dimension.
  • Freak Out: Ptera doesn't take it well when she first wakes up on Voyager instead of the afterlife.
  • Heaven Seeker: The crippled Hatil has been pressured by his family to proceed to the next emanation to ease their financial burden. Having Harry appear from the supposed 'afterlife' causes doubt.
  • He's Dead, Jim: There's a lot of pronouncing people dead in this episode. Sometimes they don't stay that way.
  • Indian Burial Ground: In Space. The Vhnori cave is similar to a Native American burial cave, with accompanying Aesop about respecting the site.
  • Irony: Chakotay refuses to allow Harry and B'Elanna to scan the bodies, in order to respect the Vhnori dead. Later, a Vhnori doctor remonstrates Harry for not doing so, as it would have given them some answers about their 'afterlife'.
  • It's the Only Way: Ptera and Harry both attempt to return to their point of origin. Only Harry survives.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: B'Elanna regarding the new element they've discovered.
    B'Elanna: Can you imagine what we could make with this stuff? Probe casings that could go into the core of a sun, ultra-thin reactor shielding.
  • The Lifestream: "The next emanation".
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The episode hedges its bets after delivering the anti-euthanasia message by suggesting the aliens are passing onto an afterlife after all.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: The Vhnori priest.
  • Mythology Gag: An ensign beams down to a planet with several senior officers and dies. Fortunately he's brought back to life again.
  • The Nothing After Death: The Vhnori aren't happy about the possibility that the afterlife may not exist.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Ptera when she first appears on Voyager. And then Harry when he's sent back. Neither one is too dead for the Doctor to resuscitate.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The subspace vacuole.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Harry Kim pretends to be the next person who is scheduled to enter "the next emanation" while that person quietly disappears into the mountains to live with people who will take care of him.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The episode was written after euthanasia became a hot news topic when the state of Oregon approved the Death With Dignity Act.
  • Saying Too Much: This can be a problem in a First Contact situation, as Harry belatedly realizes.
  • Techno Babble: The episode starts with the crew excitedly talking about all the sci-fi uses for a new element.
  • Teleporter Accident:
    • Harry gets swapped for a dead body. Well a lot worse could have happened on Star Trek!
    • Ptera gets killed trying to Do It Again Backwards.
  • This Isn't Heaven: The girl who was resurrected from death is surprised to find out that she is on board Voyager instead of in "the next emanation". Star Trek: The Next Emanation?
  • The War on Straw: Neither Hatil nor Ptera embody the reasons why people would consider euthanasia. Hatil is not in constant physical pain; he's just been disabled and his family made the decision on Hatil's behalf because caring for him is inconvenient. Ptera has a condition that is easily cured with Federation medical technology, implying that the acceptance of euthanasia has also stifled medical research.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Hatil is encouraged to die because it's assumed he'll just move on to the next emanation.
  • With All Due Respect: Harry chiming in with his own opinion after Chakotay objects to their scanning the bodies. Contrary to what usually happens with this trope, respect is shown afterwards, with Harry thanking Chakotay for letting him voice his opinion.