EmanationsBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 1:53 PM GMT
See Also: 'Emanations' Episode Guide
During an away mission led by Chakotay, Harry Kim stumbles into the midst of an alien graveyard and is accidentally beamed aboard an alien way-station for the dying. During the exchange, a "dead" alien is beamed onto Voyager in his place, but the Doctor is able to revive the young alien woman, who is panic-stricken not to have been reunited with her dead relatives. While the people of her culture, the Vinarei, revere Harry as one who has returned from the next life and seek his advice, Pateira tries unsuccessfully to acclimate herself to life aboard Voyager.
Janeway realizes that there are grave risks in trying to send the girl back to her own people, since the dead asteroid they orbit is clearly at some distance from her planet. The ship also doesn't have much time to make a decision and to find Harry, since radiation is affecting the warp core. Though Kes tries to help Pateira talk out her grief, she eventually insists on making an attempt to send her back - and dies in the effort. Meanwhile Harry comes to the conclusion that the only way he can get back to Voyager is to die and be beamed to the asteroid where the Vinarei picked him up in the first place.
Harry changes places with a man who has been sent to the way station to die because he is injured, but not fatally ill - a situation Harry finds appalling - and is killed by the alien device that transports him to the asteroid, where Voyager picks up his human life signs and beams him back to revive him. Harry tells the captain that the experience has unnerved him, but she points out that what isn't understood about death is far greater than what is.
This episode wasn't as deep as it was trying to be, but "Emanations was still a decent outing. Kim, Kes, and Janeway are all faced with questions about what happens after death, and all must admit that they just don't know, and probably won't until it's too late to tell anyone. Both Harry and Pateira were touchingly uncertainty about how to treat the new cultures they came into contact with and how to deal with the enormity of their situations - back from the dead, in the midst of strangers.
I was a little bewildered at the crew's behavior - Torres, whom Harry has bailed out a couple of times now, was in an awfully big rush to abandon him, and Tom, his best friend, didn't say much either. It was interesting to learn that Chakotay, Torres, and Kes all believe in an afterlife - at least, their cultures do - and particularly interesting that Harry doesn't and cannot make himself approve of a culture which does, despite his Starfleet training to appreciate and revere the value systems of others.
Janeway was most interesting this episode; she went along with Chakotay's desire not to risk desecrating an alien graveyard (one wonders how he managed in archaeology classes, however), and her indulgence at the end with Harry was surprising; Starfleet officers are supposed to be ready to face death every day, especially on a mission like this one. Kate Mulgrew brings wonderful warmth and depth to the character; one gets the sense that Janeway has really thought out these issues, rather than that these were goofy decisions on the part of the writers. She came across as both decisive and sensitive, a rare combination.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.