(written from a Production point of view)
Investigating mineral deposits on an asteroid, Harry Kim is trapped on an alien planet.
The USS Voyager is investigating a new element, the 247th one known to the Federation, on a ring of asteroids around a planet. Chief engineer Torres suggests they get a look at the element, as many of the asteroids support class M environments. Captain Janeway agrees and orders that Commander Chakotay head an away team to an asteroid. He brings Torres and Kim with him. Materializing, they discover numerous decaying bodies.
Chakotay reports that they have discovered eighteen bodies on the asteroid – eleven male, seven female. The bodies are in various stages of decomposition, some have been there for years, others just a few days. They cannot determine from where the bodies came from, however. The element Voyager discovered is apparently emanating from the alien's decomposed bodies. Chakotay recommends they leave the bodies in peace, but Ensign Kim disagrees, saying that their find could be a notable anthropological discovery and they should take advantage of it.
Chakotay believes that the unknown species clearly meant for their dead to be left alone. Janeway ultimately agrees with the commander, but advises that the away team's tricorders be set to passive scan only. Chakotay also advises against that, not wishing to disturb the sanctity of the bodies. He wants to use visual observation only. Janeway agrees to this also. Upon ceasing communication with Voyager, Kim nevertheless thanks Chakotay for allowing him to voice his opinion to Janeway. Chakotay then recalls his first tomb excavation to Ktaria VII, where he visited a burial chamber and took a stone as a memento. He found out later that the Ktarians leave sacred stones representing prayers in the chamber. He had unknowingly desecrated the man's grave. Torres appears and tells Chakotay she has probably found out all she could about the species, stating that "they like to bury their dead on asteroids." She can find no artifacts or inscriptions – just some naked dead people.
Chakotay explains that she is simply looking but not seeing. "The fact that they're naked says a lot. It means this race doesn't believe in dressing the deceased." Upon debating various species' beliefs about the afterlife, a subspace vacuole sudddenly forms, and Chakotay requests an emergency beam out. Aboard Voyager, Chakotay and Torres materialize with a female dead body and Kim is missing. Using his sensors, Tuvok can find no sign of him anywhere in the asteroid field. Scanning the deceased woman, Torres is reading electrical activity in her brain, meaning they could still revive her. Chakotay orders Ensign Seska to beam them directly to sickbay. Meanwhile, Kim has been transported... somewhere.
Kim learns that when the species, called the Vhnori, are near death, they are placed in a coffin-like device called a cenotaph, which euthanizes the occupant, then transports them to the "Next Emanation," their culture's concept of Heaven or nirvana. They express amazement that an alien has unexpectedly appeared in the coffin. In trying to explain to Hatil Garan where he comes from, Kim introduces to the Vhnori doubt and suspicion about their afterlife beliefs.
Aboard Voyager, the Vhnori corpse is determined to have died within the last few minutes, and within reach of Starfleet medical resuscitation technology. The Doctor removes her brain tumor, replicates replacement neural tissue, and explains that the new element Voyager discovered is a biopolymer, secreted by the epidermal layer of the skin of this species when they die. Janeway asks The Doctor revive the woman. She is disoriented and upset, as she died fully expecting to wake in the Next Emanation, and be reunited with her brother. Not understanding what she is talking about and perceiving her to be delusional, The Doctor sedates her with a hypospray. Chakotay and Janeway glance at each other, not knowing what to say.
Back on Vhnori, a leading thanatologist, Neria, questions Kim, and provides him with further information on their beliefs. The cenotaph Kim appeared in is built on a subspace vacuole, called a spectral rupture by the Vhnori. When Neria continues to question Kim on what he saw while on the asteroid, Kim tells the thanatologist that it is a custom of his people to not reveal too much to alien cultures they have just initiated first contact with. Neria then announces that he would like Dr. Ranora to begin a complete bio-analysis on Kim, much to the ensign's chagrin. "You are our first glimpse into what lies beyond death. We are not going to let this opportunity pass us by", he states to Kim.
Back on Voyager, Chakotay is conducting scans of the asteroids at a science station. He reports to Janeway that they have detected 200,000 alien bodies in numerous asteroids. Apparently, a subspace vacuole appears every two hours, leaves a body and then disappears. Janeway believes the vacuoles are the key to locating Kim and has Chakotay try to find more about them. Signaled by The Doctor, Janeway heads to sickbay, where the alien woman, named Ptera, is now awake and much calmer than before.
Ptera tells Janeway everything she knows and would like to know what is currently happening. Janeway explains the situation, that vacuoles appear and deposit bodies on the asteroids. Ptera wants to know if anything else happens after that, which Janeway cannot explain. Ptera emotionally explains that when her people die, they are supposed to evolve into a higher state of consciousness and gain a greater understanding of the universe, where all of their questions are supposed to be answered. Janeway tries to comfort the frightened woman, who wants to see her deceased brother in the afterlife, but Ptera notes that he is not here. Janeway promises her that she will do everything in her power to find out how she got to Voyager and she will let her know as soon as she finds out. Kes suggests they have Ptera leave sickbay and get something to eat.
Suddenly, Voyager rocks. Janeway taps her combadge and asks for a report. Lieutenant Paris responds that a vacuole has formed near engineering. Torres reports that she has localized the rupture and opens a door to an engineering Jefferies tube, where she finds a Vhnori corpse.
Kim's presence disturbs the plans of Hatil Garan, whose family has convinced him that it is time to be sent to the Next Emanation. Expressing his doubts to his wife, Loria, she angrily tells Kim to leave her husband alone. Kim is told by Garan that everyone does this willingly – when they're sick, dying, or lonely. In Hatil's case, his family has urged him to make the decision to make their eventual separation quick and painless. With Kim's arrival, he has begun to have severe doubts.
In close to proximity to the planet, more Vhnori corpses start materializing on the engineering deck, probably attracted by the warp core. None of the crew can determine why these people have died and why they keep appearing. Torres enacts safeguards, such as a dampening field around the warp core, but hopes of getting Kim back dwindle. The bodies continue to appear, and the transporter room beams each body to the asteroids one by one.
On Voyager, Torres comes up with a way to send Ptera back to her dimension and to also get Kim back. They plan to recreate the transporter accident that brought Ptera to Voyager, but send her through the vacuole with a subspace transponder. Chakotay notes that they may be able to penetrate the dimensional barrier and bring Kim back with a transporter beam. Ptera agress to this, although Janeway warns her they do not know if this will work. During the attempt to send Ptera back to Vhnori, it fails and ultimately results in her death again. Kes tells Janeway that they cannot revive her this time and Janeway has Seska beam her to one of the asteroids, believing that is where she now belongs. Kes expresses to Ptera's lifeless body that she finds what she was looking for.
On Vhnori, Neria intends to move Kim to another location for further detailed medical analysis, threatening Kim's hopes of returning to Voyager. "I'm sorry, Harry. It's out of my control", he says before leaving. Kim convinces Hatil to let him take his place in the device, hoping that it will return him to the same cave he was exploring before he was transported, allowing his crewmates to rescue him. The Vhnori man will flee to the mountains, where his friends live, to live the rest of his life, letting his family believe him dead. Inside the device, Kim dies and is transported to Voyager, where sensors detect him. Immediately beamed to sickbay, Kim is revived by The Doctor with a dose of cordrazine.
Later in the mess hall, Captain Janeway catches up with Kim, and orders him off duty for a couple of days to put his recent adventure in perspective. He resists, but she tells him that it is too easy in Starfleet to just carry on, and objectify each new, "extraordinary experience" as all in a day's work. She urges him to take the time to appreciate what he's been through. Kim then admits that he's been thinking a lot about what happened, how the Vhnori look forward to death and what comes afterwards yet they don't ascend to the Next Emanation but instead are just dumped and decay inside an asteroid. Janeway tells him that may not be the whole story, as the energy that was detected by Voyager had slight neural energy emissions from the newly appearing bodies, adding to a complex and dynamic energy field that inundated the asteroid field – a possible indication of the Next Emanation.
Log entries Edit
- Captain's log, stardate 48623.5. There are two-hundred-forty-six elements known to Federation science. We believe we have just discovered the two-hundred-forty-seventh inside the ring system of a class-D planet.
- Captain's log, supplemental. We've returned to the ring system, and we're preparing to send Ptera back to her dimension. Lieutenant Torres has found a way to temporarily protect the warp core against the vacuoles, but she is uncertain how long her measures will be effective.
"It looks like most of these asteroids support class M atmospheres."
- - Torres remarks on the unlikely good fortune of the Voyager crew
"I just want to give you a chance to reflect on what's happened. This may not make much sense to you now, a young man at the beginning of his career. But one of the things you'll learn as you move up the ranks and get a little older is that... you wish you had more time in your youth to really, absorb all the things that happened to you. It goes by so fast. It's so easy to become jaded, to treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office. But sometimes there are experiences which transcend all that. You've just had one, Mr. Kim, and I want you to live with it for a little while. Write about it, if you feel like it. Paint. Express yourself in some fashion. The bridge will still be there in two days."
- - Janeway, to Harry Kim
"Ptera, you've been through a very traumatic experience. It would frighten me."
- - Janeway, to Ptera, after she was brought back from death
"I don't know who you are or where you come from, but you stay away from my husband!"
- - Loria, to Harry Kim
"In essence, commander, you were strolling through dead bodies."
- - The Doctor, to Chakotay
"No artifacts, no inscriptions... just some naked dead people."
- - B'Elanna Torres, while exploring an asteroid with Vhnori corpses
"That's why I'm here. I'm... getting ready to die."
- - Hatil Garan
"Relax, Mr. Kim. Everything's fine. You're alive."
- - The Doctor, after reviving Kim from death
"The fact that they're naked says a lot. It means this race doesn't believe in dressing the deceased."
- - Chakotay
"Sometimes I come in here and just stare out at the stars for hours. I never get tired of looking at them."
- - Kes
"I'm not certain, but I am certain about this. What we don't know about death is far, far greater than what we do know."
- - Captain Janeway
Background information Edit
Story and script Edit
- This episode had the working title "Beyond". 
- The original idea for the installment was conceived years before it developed into an episode. Brannon Braga (who had worked as a writer/producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation before joining Star Trek: Voyager) explained, "I had wanted to do a show about death ever since I came to Star Trek, but I could never find a way to do it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 48) Executive Producer Jeri Taylor offered, "It was [an episode] that Brannon really felt strongly about and he, being consumed with dark things, wrote the script." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Brannon Braga intended to center the episode around some debatable philosophical and political issues. Of the direction he took the story in, Braga commented, "'Our reality as an alien afterlife' was [an] [...] idea that ended up affording [...] philosophical explorations, namely, what is life, could something really lie beyond, and a great deal of social commentary about euthanasia. I really tried to emphasize some of the euthanasia issues, that in a society where they know an afterlife exists because it's a scientific fact, some people would be eager to die. Sick people would be encouraged to die, and you start getting into some very tricky issues. Once euthanasia is approved, does the person who's 'deciding' really have a choice? There's so much pressure on that person to go to the next emanation that really there is no choice, and those are some of the things I was trying to say. I don't believe in euthanasia. I don't believe it's fair to say to someone who's sick, 'You may pull the plug,' because there are lots of pressures. What about the people who can't afford the medical treatment? A lot of guilt comes from making your family pay for all of it. So, I think there are some unseen pressures which accompany that choice that I really wanted to explore." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 48)
- Brannon Braga's initial attempt to encapsulate the story was not entirely successful. He stated, "I wrote a first draft that I thought was one of my best scripts [....] I got a lot of notes and did rewrites I wasn't happy to do, but in the end they were right and I was wrong." Jeri Taylor recalled, "It was a very tricky episode to do [....] It was very tricky in the beginning. He got so involved with the political debate that the story and the people sort of got lost." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 140 & 141)
- Another issue that the writing staff encountered was that Brannon Braga and Executive Producer Michael Piller had creative differences over how intellectual to make the script, with Braga wanting the episode to be more "brooding and philosophical" but his boss insisting that the story involve more active conflict. (Star Trek Monthly issue 7, p. 9)
- It was decided to have this episode depict a planetary ring system, a spatial feature that is typically comprised of rocky debris occasionally including ice. Science Consultant André Bormanis remembered, "We decided that the rings of an alien gas giant planet would be a fun setting for this story, which was ultimately a story about religious beliefs and the afterlife." ("Real Science With Andre Bormanis", VOY Season 2 DVD special features) Anticipating the expense of close-up shots showing the ringed planet, Voyager's team of writer-producers initially wrote around the asteroid sequence. David Stipes, the visual effects supervisor on this episode, explained, "We were initially going to see a ring at a distance, so it looks like a Saturn-like planet, then we were going to go into a graphic that shows the asteroids, and then we were going to talk about them. We were not going to see them. That was to cut the budget. The producers were absolutely right that under a conventional approach we could not have done this show [with many elaborate effects shots, due to their expense]." Stipes justified the costs, however, due to his passion for the episode's story and script. He later noted that he "really pushed" for close-up footage of the rings to be shown. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 84) André Bormanis concluded, "And so, we were able to bring Voyager into this ring system and show those chunks of rock and ice and get Voyager into orbit with that material." ("Real Science With Andre Bormanis", VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- Brannon Braga tried to imbue Voyager crew members with likable qualities, in scenes such as the early one wherein Chakotay expresses sensitivity to the rituals of other cultures and the penultimate scene, in which Janeway advises Kim to take some time to consider his recent experiences. Of the early scene, Braga remarked, "I thought it would be nice to show that this is a crew that has a lot of respect for alien cultures. To the point where they are not going to muss with anything. Certainly, that whole scene on the asteroid where they are discovering the bodies was an attempt to give Chakotay some character, to show that he's an expert in paleontological events... and that he's really smart." Braga continued by saying of the later scene between Janeway and Kim, "The moment at the end was a definite attempt to show a Captain who takes the time to appeal to the Human equation in all of this. She tells Kim to take some time off to think about–and in fact, encourages him to seek a creative outlet. It would be nice to see some of our crew members actually engage in some sort of artistic endeavor." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 47)
- One sequence that was considered to be too expensive to produce encompassed a certain visual perspective that Brannon Braga wanted to include in the story. "I had written a whole sequence where, when Kim dies, we follow his point-of-view," remembered Braga. "It was my contention that how often do we literally get to kill a character and see his point-of-view of death? And in an episode where the only thing being discussed on both sides is death–let's see it! Well, for budgetary reasons, we couldn't do it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, pp. 48 & 49)
- The final draft script of this episode was submitted on 6 January 1995. 
- This episode was the first of Star Trek: Voyager to have five acts (rather than eight or four) and was one of the most affected by act formatting changes, specifically the decision – made in the first week of January 1995 – to return to the idea of regular episodes each having five acts rather than four. The necessary adjustments were made to the episode's script by Lolita Fatjo and Janet Nemecek. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 345)
Cast and characters Edit
- Kim actor Garrett Wang was ecstatic to receive the teleplay for this episode. ""I got very excited when I started reading that script," he reminisced. "I liked the premise. I think it was an excellent story and an excellent script [....] Overall I was happy with the episode." (Starlog #222, pp. 80 & 81) At about the end of the first season, Wang remarked on having been more active in "Emanations" than usual, implying that he thought his character dying and then being resurrected here brought "more depth and more color" to his role than just Kim's typical reaction shots of "somebody being amazed by something." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 125) In a retrospective interview, Wang noted, "Kim was actually the first character to die and then come back to life." ("Voyager Time Capsule: Harry Kim", VOY Season 4 DVD special features) Wang believed the episode was an important step in Kim's maturation. The actor remarked, "The bottom line is, in order to get back, he has to commit suicide. He has to die in order to live. And the fact that he made that decision and went through with it and came out okay shows that Harry is less green at that point. He still has his innocent side, but he also has a little more maturity." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 102, p. 46)
- Garrett Wang was also regretful, however, that the potential of "Emanations" might not have been fully realized in the duration allowed. "I personally think that one could have been made into a two-parter," he suggested. "There were many issues and such a lot of debate back and forth in that episode that for me, the pacing became too slow [....] I was left with the feeling, 'Wait a minute, there's more that could have happened.' [....] That episode could easily have been stretched into a two-hour episode. It could have been a superb, fantastic episode." Wang was fascinated to learn that Brannon Braga extremely regretted that, in "Emanations", he was not able to follow Kim's point-of-view as he endured temporary death, the actor exclaiming, "That would have been amazing!" He suggested, too, that the installment could have been combined with "Non Sequitur" to result in a very effective show. (Starlog #222, pp. 80 & 81)
- Garrett Wang found this episode to be particularly challenging, later recalling, ""That was a really tough episode for me to film. It was a very long and demanding episode." (Starlog #222, p. 80) In fact, he cited the installment as one of three examples, from each of the first three seasons, that he considered to be "a progressively higher jump for me acting-wise" (the other such episodes being "Non Sequitur" and "The Chute"). (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 34) Wang revealed, "'Emanations' was particularly trying on me. [The episode's production was] tough because as actors, we play parts where a character is dying but not where a character dies and comes back to life, which is very difficult because there's no precedent to that in one's life experience." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- To inspire his portrayal of the deceased Kim, Garrett Wang remembered having learned about ninjas. The actor reflected, "When I was pretending to be dead, I concentrated on trying to slow my heartbeat down and on physical things and manifestations. When I was young and on my martial-arts kick, I would read about ninjas who are going to attack and people won't know it because they've sucked in their aura. That's what I tried to do." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Michael Piller was pleased with the work that Jeffrey Alan Chandler (Hatil Garan) did on this episode, describing the actor as "terrific." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Ethan Phillips (Neelix) does not appear in this episode.
- According to an uncertain Garrett Wang, this episode's production was composed of "seven or eight days of shooting." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Some of the wall panels in the Vhnori rooms were moldings left over from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine sets. (Delta Quadrant, p. 30)
- Director David Livingston was suffering from flu while filming this episode. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- During the episode's production period, David Livingston was slightly unsure how to differentiate scenes set on the Vhnori homeworld to the series' regular settings. "I said to Jeri Taylor that I had to do something different and the only thing I could come up with was to dutch the camera," Livingston reflected, in regard to presenting the environment of the episode's alien afterlife on a skewed camera angle. "They all threw up their hands because I did that in [DS9's] 'Crossover' and took a lot of shit for it. I said it was the only thing I could think of to do visually that would make it different. Rick [Berman] didn't want me to do it, and Jeri finally agreed, and eventually Rick did too, but they didn't want me to go too far overboard with it. I didn't do it as much as I wanted, but I did it enough so that you have a sense that things look slightly unbalanced and skewed." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- David Livingston had second thoughts, halfway through the episode's production, about how the Vhnori setting would be depicted. "I wanted the mood of the Other Side to be much darker and the sets to be weirder and stuff," he recollected, "but time and everything conspire against you. I initially wanted everything bright in the emanation room where they're waiting to die." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- The filming of the scene in which Kim is resurrected involved improvisation on Garrett Wang's part. He remembered, "It was interesting because David [Livingston] left up to me when I actually came back to life after I was injected with the hypospray. He said, 'Choose when is the time that it will affect you and jump-start you back.' And so when I did come back I took in this big breath and had goose bumps all over me." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Compelled to campaign for the visual effects of this episode to include adequately close shots of the ringed planet, David Stipes was inspired by the design of Voyager's opening credits sequence. "I think [visual effects producer] Dan Curry and the guys at Santa Barbara Studios held out a promise for the show in the title sequence," Stipes remarked. "I try to adhere to the mood it established. The title sequence was part of the inspiration and the thrust for the 'Emanations' show – the scale of the planet, the planetoids, the asteroids, and the rings, all of those things." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 85)
- David Stipes first met with the staff of Amblin Imaging and explained his aspiration of achieving, on a modest budget, an epic vision for these shots. As Voyager had already been rendered in CGI, the shots were within the realm of possibility. In fact, Stipes originally planned to matte footage of the studio model into the planetary scenes but, after he saw the CGI ship, he saw no reason to shoot motion control footage for the shots and abandoned this idea. He thereafter presented his case to the producers. "I'm saying, 'Guys we've got to see this,'" Stipes recalled. "I brought in storyboards to show them. I talked with David Livingston who was the director and he was very supportive, talked with Jeri Taylor and she said, 'If you can do it for the budget we have, then fine let's do it.' And [Producer] Peter Lauritson was tremendously supportive." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 84)
- The episode's final version includes five shots showing the ring system and three stock shots of Voyager alone in space. The design and execution of the shots required contributions from many different people. For example, although the shots involving the ringed planet were designed by David Stipes, Peter Lauritson also helped with the design. Stipes noted, "[He] made some suggestions on how to rearrange some of the shots." Executing the shots subsequently drew on the combined skills of Amblin's entire staff. Grant Bouchet, one of two CGI supervisors at Amblin (the other being John Gross), remarked, "One thing on 'Emanations' we are particularly proud of is that everybody was involved. All of us finessed motion, lighting, texture maps, planets. We all had a hand in every single shot." One major contributor was David Jones. John Gross commented, "One of our animators, David Jones, worked full time on getting that planet to look like David Stipes wanted it to look." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, pp. 84 & 85)
- Creating the look of the planet began with a standard sphere, a pre-existing part of the Lightwave software. For surface detail, a satellite photograph of Nevada was scanned, manipulated with use of the image processing program Adobe Photo Shop, then digitally wrapped around the sphere. With the planet surface complete, two more spheres were created around it to represent the atmosphere and cloud layers. The stars around the planet, at least some of which had originally been created for the film trailer for Star Trek Generations, were a variety of light points set at different distances within an extremely large sphere. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 85)
- The planet's rings can most closely be seen in a shot that follows Voyager from a stationary position in front of the orbiting asteroids through a 180 degree pan, sweeping past the planet and its rings to a point where the ship warps away from the area. This shot was achieved entirely with the Lightwave digital modeling program. The planet's distant rings were a matte painting created by David Jones. However, the debris shown as being closer to the camera was rendered with the Lightwave program. "As we get closer and closer the rings are created using a particle system in Lightwave," Gross explained. "We apply a bump map to it to make it bumpy. Closer still we break off into the big chunks." Grant Bouchet commented, "At this point it was handed to me for throwing in the asteroids. In the distance we had a layer of very fine transparent particles, then the layer closer to us of a whole bunch of little bitty distorted spheres, thousands of them. These are not very complicated whatsoever, but when the light hits them you get these little highlights. Again the computer is doing all that work for you. The next layer up are medium size asteroids and they have a low level of detail. David hand-painted a matte of a rocky, bumpy surface. Then we used Lightwave's spherical mapping algorithm to apply that around the asteroids." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, pp. 85)
- With the background complete, the Amblin staff inserted the CGI Voyager into the shots. The final movement of the particular shot wherein the ship departs the planet was programmed by John Gross, after which the team concentrated on finessing the shot. Two lighting methods were tried out. Voyager was back lit in the first lighting scenario but front lit in the second, the second example giving the ship an attractive painted look at the start of the shot but making the vessel almost completely blackened out by the end. Stipes ultimately decided upon the first lighting method. "Then it was a matter of [further] fine-tuning lighting," Bouchet recalled. "Each element is lit from about the same direction, but at just a little different angle, maybe five degrees here or there." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 85)
- Ultimately, both David Stipes and André Bormanis considered this episode to be the high point for visual effects in Voyager's first season. Bormanis said of the ringed planet, "I think that was one of the 'cutting edge' special effects that we had done on Voyager. Certainly, on television at that time, there was nothing else like it. And at that time, for us, that was really pushing the state of the art of the kinds of special effects we could do on the show." ("Real Science With Andre Bormanis", VOY Season 2 DVD special features) For his part, Stipes enthused, "We were able to reflect what was in the script by bringing some of [its] flavor to the show visually. Because of the foresight of the producers having created a CGI ship, we were able to come in and deliver shots that up to now we couldn't have afforded to do. I'm not sure people at Paramount realize it, but this show would not have been possible a year ago." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 85)
Continuity and triviaEdit
- This is the first time Harry Kim dies on Voyager. The next instance is during the episode "Deadlock".
- Voyager's crew discovers the first stable transuranic element, element 247; we learn here that the Federation previously knew of 246 elements and, since Voyager discovers a new element in this episode, that number is raised to 247. By comparison, there were merely 111 elements known to science when the episode first aired, with the 111th of these discovered a few months before the episode's initial broadcast (specifically, on 8 December 1994).
- Brannon Braga was ultimately pleased with this episode's exploration of intellectual matters. He stated, "'Our reality as an alien afterlife' was a catchy, high-concept SF idea." Braga also described the episode's philosophical explorations as "very interesting." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 48) Additionally, he commented of the installment's theme, "It is certainly one of my best concepts. Our reality being somebody else's afterlife and one of our people coming back from the dead in return for an alien was a good idea, solid sci fi, and an issue explored. My shows don't always deal with issues, but this one deals with issues of euthanasia." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 140-141)
- However, Brannon Braga was also very disappointed that the sequence he wrote, literally showing Kim's point-of-view of death, could not be produced, a fact that Braga solemnly referred to as "my biggest regret." He further admitted of the loss, "For me, that was devastating. The show was crippled by the fact that we didn't follow Kim's point-of-view of death. Even if it had been nothing more than a light show, it would have been really neat. When that rod sticks into his neck, we should have seen his point-of-view." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, pp. 48 & 49)
- This episode ultimately won the approval of both Jeri Taylor and Executive Story Editor Kenneth Biller, Taylor believing that Braga had put his heart and soul into the episode's teleplay. She remarked, "The concept that our life is their afterlife was a very high-concept sci-fi notion, which I think is part of the best things that Star Trek does." Taylor also stated, "Ultimately, it was an episode about something, and it was thought-provoking." In addition, she said of Braga, "I thought he [ultimately] addressed [the story and characters] very nicely." Stated Ken Biller, "A great notion and a notion that delivered on the promise of the series, which is weird stuff in a weird place far from home. Just the whole notion of somebody waking up in the middle of an alien funeral, realizing that we come from some other culture's afterlife is really fascinating, and it was a great personal story for Kim. It's about death and it's about a guy who has to be willing to take the plunge – be willing to die – to live again. Wonderful stuff." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- David Stipes was also pleased with the episode's plot. "I got very excited about this particular script," he reminisced. "I liked the idea of the afterlife, of going on to a different lifetime, and was very intrigued by the impact that Harry Kim was having on the other race [....] It was wonderful." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 84) Additionally, Stipes enthusiastically referred to the episode as involving a "wonderful concept" and "a tremendously great script." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 85)
- One aspect of the episode that André Bormanis enjoyed was the inclusion of the planetary ring system, which he opined was "a lot of fun." ("Real Science With Andre Bormanis", VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor were not entirely happy with the episode's final permutation, however. Piller still felt that the episode should have contained more drama and conflict. He remarked, "I always felt that it was more philosophical than dramatic. I don't think it quite realized its potential [....] The show had a great deal of potential and was philosophically fascinating, but there's just too much conversation about philosophy, and it didn't have a strong enough character arc for my tastes." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141) In fact, Brannon Braga felt that the story had suffered, as a result of his disagreement with Piller over the installment. (Star Trek Monthly issue 7, p. 9) Jeri Taylor related, "I do have some quibbles about some of the production elements of it. I think some of the aliens on the other side were a little hokey." She further complained, "I think that maybe some of what we saw of the other life was somewhat disappointing." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141) Numerous individuals also felt that the aliens' belief in an afterlife was too spiritual for Star Trek but Braga disagreed, noting that the concept was embodied in a specifically alien culture. (Star Trek Monthly issue 7, p. 9)
- David Livingston ultimately regretted his initial decision to have the Vhnori emanation room as a bright place, calling it "a mistake on my part." He continued, "It should have been much moodier and darker and weirder. If I have any regrets, it's that." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- Garrett Wang wished the episode had been broadcast later in the first season than it actually had been. "In terms of airing that episode," he said, "it would have been nice to have it closer to the end instead of near the beginning. Think about it: this is a life-changing event, and maybe it would have been a smarter move to put this episode towards the end so Kim comes into the second season a wiser soul. Because it was placed closer to the beginning, I had a tough time trying to keep my 'green around the gills' image." (Star Trek Monthly issue 19, p. 88)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 7.1 million homes, and an 11% share. 
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 3 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 47)
- In their unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (p. 69), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 2 out of 4 stars (defined as "mediocre") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross ranks the installment 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good").
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 32) gives the episode a rating of 10 out of 10.
- In Star Trek Magazine's retrospective "Ultimate Guide", the magazine gave this episode 3 out of 5 Starfleet-style arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 29)
- Many viewers of this installment liked the fact that it tackles some weighty issues, such as euthanasia. "I got a great deal of response," Jeri Taylor said, "from people who appreciated the effort to explore a subject of that magnitude." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 141)
- This is one of four episodes (the others being from Star Trek: The Next Generation) that, in 1996, were singled out at the Society for American Archeology annual meeting in New Orleans, at which Voyager and TNG received The Public Education Recognition Award. (Star Trek Monthly issue 19, p. 4)
Links and references Edit
- Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
- Jerry Hardin as Neria
- Jefrey Alan Chandler as Hatil Garan
- Cecile Callan as Ptera
- Martha Hackett as Seska
- Robin Groves as Loria
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- David Clover as Cenotaph attendant
- Audrey Gelfund as Ptera's mourner
- Holiday Freeman as Ptera's mourner
- Alta McGovern as Hatil's mourner
- Richard Sarstedt as Crewman William McKenzie
- Simon Stotler as an operations division ensign
- John Tampoya as Crewman Kashimuro Nozawa
- Chad Valchar as Hatil's mourner
- Unknown performers as
47; antimatter; asteroid; biopolymer; bioscan; blind beam-out; brain stem; burial; byproduct; Cararian Mountains; cancer; cenotaph; class D; class M; class 5 humanoid; comra; cordrazine; death shroud; decomposition; depression; Earth; element 247; emergency power; emergency transponder; Federation; first contact; garili tree; grave; Klingons; Ktaria VII; Ktarian; lesion; magnetic interlock; midbrain; Milky Way Galaxy; morgue; netinaline; neural tissue; Next Emanation; nucleon; Ocampa; Paffran; pattern complexity; prayer; Qo'noS; quantum density; ring system; resuscitation; spectral rupture; Sto-vo-kor; subspace vacuole; subspace phenomena; thanatologist; theologian; theology; Toyan; transference ritual; tumor; Varel; Vhnori; Vhnori homeworld;
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