Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Emanations

By Last Updated: July 23, 2015Views: 2603

After a bit of a mediocre entry the previous week Voyager is back with another thought provoking episode with Emanations. One that deals with such run-of-the-mill subjects as the afterlife and euthanasia. And for a show that is on the surface an action-adventure program it deals with these and other sensitive ideas with an astounding amount of subtlety and open-mindedness. And again it delivers a very fine episode that I would put up with Eye of the Needle as example of the best Star Trek as a whole can be.

First thing the story does right is allow Harry (and by extension Garrett Wang) to step up and really become something more than he’s been so far in the series. Let’s face it Harry Kim has been a pretty bland character, just a standard naive nice guy who gets overshadowed and overpowered by the more dominant personalities of the other crew-members. But separated off on his own and put in a difficult situation allows his naivete to become an asset. And it is rather charming to watch him fumble and work his way through first contact with another species. Simultaneously not wanting to offend their beliefs and not wanting to be imprisoned and experimented on. For the first time I can see the benefits of a character like Harry.

“I have to admit, there is a little voice inside of me that is terrified of dying. And since I’ve been talking to you, that little voice has started to get… louder. ” – Hatil

Meanwhile back on the ship Janeway gets to do Harry’s role in reverse talking an obviously scared and shaken Vhnori woman and getting her to understand and comprehend the situation she is in. Mulgrew does a great job playing Janeway as commanding, decisive and tender all at once. A neat trick to pull off.

And Chakotay’s new-age style spiritualism gets to have an actual function in this episode and actually benefits the mission. His actions at the start where he describes burial practices and the importance of religious beliefs is very professorial and seems to help Harry when he is thrust into his difficult situation. Handled in this way Chakotay becomes a well rounded and deep character that gives a nice contrast to Janeway’s military/scientific way of doing things. If only this were to continue. I fear it will not.

But the real strength of this episode is the way in which it does not shy away from very difficult and taboo things like: What happens when you die? And is it okay to kill yourself?

The episode does not give an answer to these questions and does not try to moralize or preach. It does what good scifi does, it brings up the questions, provides alternate views and allows the viewer to come up with answers on their own. The bit where the Vhnori bodies send energies to the planet’s rings that can be seen as a kind of afterlife is a bit of a cop out; but it is not done in a heavy-handed manner so can be forgiven.

Overall another great episode of Voyager, and in the first season! Pleasantly surprised am I.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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