9 – Emanations

Grade: C-

Emanations (1995) on IMDb


Captain Janeway believes she has just discovered the 247th element on some asteroids near a ringed planet. They beam onto one of these asteroids and discover a “class 5 humanoid” (whatever that is). They appear to be on a burial ground. The new element seems to be a natural result of the decomposition of these alien bodies. Suddenly, there is a rift in subspace and Chakotay calls for an immediate beam-out. He and Torres make it back to the ship OK. But in Kim’s place, a dead alien body appears.


This episode is not among my favorites. In fact, I think it’s one of the most forgettable episodes this series ever produced. I can’t even be certain that I saw it when it originally aired back in 1995, since I have absolutely no memory of this story. Usually when that happens, it’s because the episode wasn’t very good and I didn’t commit it to memory.

Personally, I don’t think Star Trek deals with stories about the afterlife very well. One exception would be Tapestry, where Captain Picard sees Q and he allows him to re-live an incident in his life that he has regretted. But that one doesn’t really count as an afterlife story. Voyager will have several episodes that deal with the afterlife – Janeway sees her father, Torres sees her mother, Neelix sees his sister, and those are three that I can think of right off the top of my head. There may be more of them.

Anyway, Emanations just isn’t very good — I didn’t find it interesting at all. For one thing, there was never really any danger that Ensign Kim would end up dead, was there? I had no doubt whatsoever. The scenes when Kim was on the planet were pretty bland. I can’t think of anything memorable or interesting that took place while he was there.

The ending was not surprising at all. As soon as we knew that the man didn’t really want to die and that he had friends in the mountains who would welcome him if he were to go there, it was obvious to me how this story would end. I won’t tell you how it ends, but if you can’t figure it out from this, then maybe the ending will be a surprise to you.

Here’s something that disappointed me about this episode. Why did this happen to Harry Kim? Wouldn’t it have been a more interesting story if it had happened to Chakotay? We already know a little about his religious beliefs, so he would probably have had a very interesting experience there. Plus he could have related well to the natives on the planet who believed in life after death. Even Torres would have been a potentially more interesting character there. Or perhaps even Tuvok, who has a mix of a logical mind and Vulcan mysticism. So why Harry Kim? I think it was a missed opportunity there.

Well, as I said before, this episode isn’t great. It could have been a lot better. But I did like how Chakotay allowed Kim to voice a dissenting opinion to the Captain, and I also loved the look on his face when the Doctor told him that he could have been walking through the remains of dead aliens.

Of Note

Toward the end of this episode, Janeway says a few words to Kim about his experience. Though I wouldn’t rate it as terribly eloquent, it was nice to see that she is growing as a character. She realizes she’s going to need to be more than just a starship captain to these people.