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Star Trek Voy - Season 4 - Episode 12

Star Trek Voy - 4x12 - Mortal Coil

Originally Aired: 1997-12-17

Synopsis:
Neelix dies and is brought back to life. [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 5.39

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 21 4 5 7 8 11 19 8 13 12 17

Problems
None

Factoids
- Borg species designation: Kazon 329. They were declared unworthy of assimilation.
- The technique Seven of Nine used to resuscitate Neelix was assimilated from species 149.

Remarkable Scenes
- Seven: "The Kazon, Species 329." Neelix: "You're familiar with them?" Seven: "The Borg encountered a Kazon colony in the Gand Sector, Grid 6920" Neelix: "Were they assimilated?" Seven: "Their biological and technological distinctiveness was unremarkable. They were unworthy of assimilation." Neelix: "I didn't realize the Borg were so discriminating." Seven: "Why assimilate a species that would detract from perfection?" Neelix: "Good point."
- Seven of Nine resuscitating Neelix.
- The traditional Prixin salutation: "We do not stand alone. We are in the arms of family. Father, mother, sister, brother, father's father, father's mother, father's brother, mother's brother, fa--suffice it to say the list is extensive."
- The doctor: "The early stages of Ktarian development are astounding. Naomi has grown five centimeters since her last physical and that was only three weeks ago." Samantha Wildman: "It seems like every time I turn around I'm recycling her cloths back into the replicator." Seven: "Children assimilated by the Borg are placed in maturation chambers for seventeen cycles." Samantha Wildman: "... Interesting. Well if you'll excuse me, I need to go talk to Neelix." The doctor: "In these maturation chambers, the development of conversational skills I suppose is a low priority?"
- Neelix' vision quest.

My Review
The episode was pretty good up until the part where Neelix began to lose his faith in god (or at least the Talaxian version of it) because he didn't get to see heaven (or at least the Talaxian version of it) when he was dead for 18 hours. Frankly, Neelix' spiritual issues failed to pique my interest and as a result the episode largely flopped. There were some interesting tidbits though. Seven of Nine's resuscitation technique is fascinating and getting to see a walking, talking version of Naomi Wildman was a nice development. It seems Ktarian kids grow up faster. Overall though, another miss.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-10-23 at 11:40pm:
    Another miss? Hardly. This episode not only provided a wonderful insight into Neelix's character, but also provided a refreshing counterbalance for Star Trek's usual cynical atheist episodes. Regardless of your personal beliefs, it gets a little tiring to see episode after episode painting religion as either evil (Distant Origin) or as a creation of ignorance and fools (Who watches the Watchers). I like that Star Trek gives religion a little credibility with a character like Chakotay, and now with Neelix. It makes the show as a whole seem less judgemental. Even the great Gene Roddenberry didn't know for sure what happens after death, and it's extremely arrogant to assert that anyone does.

    I love to see that in the Star Trek world, there are still those who hold strictly scientific views of life and death, those that hold strictly religious views, and those who are struggling to find out where they stand.

    This episode is a good 'Star Trekkish' episode in my opinion, and really provides excellent character development all around for the crew. Certainly not a 2.
  • From David from California on 2007-10-31 at 1:08pm:
    Prehaps interestingly, as an atheist I come from the complete opposite position as the previous commento philosophically--yet we both very much liked this episode, perhaps against the consensus of the large majority of Star Trek fans?

    While watching, I supported Neelix's questioning of his supernatural beliefs, no matter what would have prompted it. Sure, I prefer for any story to come down more favorably on the side of rejecting religion, but I wasn't bothered here because the logic of the events of the story did not support religion necessarily. That just would not be Star Trek, thank god.

    Rather, it was simply the character of Chakotay who endorses religion, and I wouldn't have it any other way because then it wouldn't be Chakotay! His religious mysticism is a key part of his character, and it doesn't offend this particulary atheist, even as I'd believe if he were real that he'd be misguided in those beliefs to the extent he takes them seriously rather than just respecting his cultural traditions. As written on the whole, he's a good and brave man no matter his beliefs, and that's why I like him and I'm not bothered by the religious aspect.

    As to why I liked the episode enough to comment here--it was the central plot conflict of Neelix having to choose between embracing life's values or killing himself due to the widespread false choice in people's minds between believing in the supernatural vs. being some kind of amoral nihilist.

    Neelix faced this false alternative--which apparently survives alive and well into the future according to Star Trek, unfortunately--and in the end doesn't really appear to be choosing to live out of some "strengthening of faith" as Chakotay admonishes, but rather by being reminded of the *secular* values he can enjoy in this life: the friendship and the respect of Seven and others, having a purpose on board Voyager, watching Naomi grow up, and so on.

    Well, as he stood there on the transporter and started to see this way of valuing his own life for what it can offer him--no matter the questions of religion--rejecting the idea that nihilism is the only alternative to it as his subconscious had told him it was in his vision-quest, and choosing to live for those reasons--well I was just in tears over this emotional resolution to the story, frankly. I thought it was very moving.

    So whether one's an atheist or religious viewer, I think this little character episode has a lot to offer people who like seeing these matters treated well in a drama. Ok, it's not a high-stakes, high-concept episode, but a very good quieter one, IMO. I rated it a 7/10.
  • From Tony on 2008-09-22 at 11:13pm:
    To provide more of a neutural between the last two comments. I actually felt that this episode attacked religion more than any other episode I've seen except "Distant Origin," in that Neelix didn't go to his heaven. Overall Star Trek makes it a point to neither support nor regect religion, just by watching this one, "Barge of the Dead," "Sacred Ground," or any other religion based episode, you can see that they never truely say whether it's real or not. This suports the very real fact that religion cannot be proven or disproven by science. I must add, however, that this particular episode in and of itself was mediocre.
  • From Tony on 2008-09-26 at 12:04pm:
    I feel the need to clarify part of what I said in my last comment. The sentence "I actually felt that this episode attacked religion more than any other episode I've seen except 'Distant Origin,' in that Neelix didn't go to his heaven," was poorly written in that while this episode attacks religion to some extent in a general sense, "Distant Origin" attacks only religious extremism, specifically that of creationism.
  • From Scott on 2008-11-10 at 1:52pm:
    Harsh review i have to say, I havent seen this sort of episode done before on Star Trek before, although im not saying there isnt one. I thought it was very refreshing to have someone die, come back to life and feel hollow because the death was not as it had been made up to be for all of Neelix's life. If anything spoiled it for me it was Chakotay's akoochemoya crap trying to help neelix find some answers using his vision quest. I was glad neelix wasnt swayed by chakotay initally but the ending was good and it was good to see the wildman child feeling safe with neelix around. Awesome neelix episode.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-04-16 at 7:28am:
    3/10

    This episode almost gave us our long awaited opportunity to be rid of a character almost as annoying as Lwaxana Troi. Alas it was not to be.
  • From onlinebroker on 2012-04-02 at 10:09am:
    Talifer, how can you hate Lwaxana, she's awesome and the reactions of the crews to her are very funny. Plus her voice is in almost every star trek episode, does that ruin everything for you?
    Anyway, I found this episode extremely puzzling. Why would Neelix try to kill himself when he discovers there's nothing after death? Discovering that should make him want to avoid death even more, since he now knows there is nothing else!
  • From TheAnt on 2013-10-11 at 1:28pm:

    Even though I have to agree that ST is best when it stay away from religion of any kind, it do not completely ruin this episode.

    Remarkable scenes in my book is Sevens comment that the 'Cadaver have been sufficiently prepared.'
    The doc replies: 'And some say I have a lousy bedside manner.'
    And I just did love Seven as a party crasher. No I will not quote her, see it for yourself. :)

    My personal reason for not giving it a higher score is the lack of continuity - seven present a means to resurrect a person from recent death - but we have other crew members die after this episode without any attempt to bring them back.

    Neelix ancestor faith also happen to be a sympathic one IMO, and so it is a story on how to find a new meaning to life.
    Here Neelix search for a new crutch is both sad and a bit scary, yet fully believable.
    In reality it is a process that often take a person many years to rid themselves of the programming. (Though we here OFC get it presented in rather condensed form.)
    Yet even despite the bad trip Neelix get in the vision quest which give him the final push to suicide, Chakotay and the message from Samatha Wildman provide the answer and meaning - that we're here for each other to help, support and make other people happy.
    "It is the way you make people feel when you are around!"
    And that is a reason much better than any false promise of heaven than all made up religions ever will be able to give us!
  • From L on 2013-12-27 at 4:18am:
    Quite a touching episode really, and a fine way to look at what can still be a taboo-ish subject - the obvious fantasy of afterlife beliefs and what it means to throw off a thing that has kept one in a comforting illusion. Never an easy thing.
    Also it looked at, as pointed out above, the false-dichotomy that people think they have to succumb to - if no heaven (or god or religion), then life is meaningless. What an absurd, illogical conclusion! Glad he saw through that one.

    I can't fathom how looking at a thing honestly to examine its true nature can be seen as an 'attack' on religion or something that Star Trek should not do.
    Surely it's a self-evident truth.

    It's an examination of the fairy tales we still allow ourselves to hold as adults and how that can leave us hurting even more when we need to deal with reality suddenly.

    The little girl dreaming of Neelix's heaven was a way of affirming the true value of such beliefs - it's nice to imagine nice things. For her it was a story that took her mind to a nice place, not an expectation about reality that would inevitably fail her.
  • From Rick on 2017-05-05 at 11:25pm:
    A generally good episode but I take serious issue with the Doctor's reaction (and opposition) to Seven's idea to revive Neelix. What is the Doctor's issue with reviving someone back to life? He has revived numerous people that less advanced cultures would consider dead. His reaction does not seem to be vanity (i.e. that he is being upstaged by Seven's knowledge), but rather one of horror at the fact of reviving someone after 18 hours. Why? Seems pretty anti-Star Trek to be against new technology just because you dont understand it. What would the Doctor's reaction be to trying to cure an alien of something easily curable for him, but something that the alien's culture deemed as automatic death? Im sure it would be horror and a demand to treat the individual over the objection of others.
  • From tigertooth on 2017-05-13 at 12:21am:
    Is it just me, or is there more discussion of the portrayal of religion in Distant Origin in this thread than there is in the thread for Distant Origin?

    Anyway, I never saw Distant Origin as being anti-religious. I saw it more as anti-anti-science. Religion doesn't have to be anti-science, so it never occurred to me to take Distant Origin as anti-religion.

    This episode was closer to being anti-religion, but I found Neelix's struggle with doubt (a common struggle with religious people) to be touching. But it wasn't a fully formed story.

    I felt like there was going to be a deus ex machina where there were aliens in the nebula affecting Neelix, but they didn't go there. I'm not sure, but I think the episode was better for staying away from that. But still, there was something missing. Poignant, but not truly satisfying.
  • From Scott on 2018-10-08 at 9:49pm:
    While I generally rely on Kethinov's reviews to help me decide which episodes to watch, I've learned to be careful when the reason for a poor review is its religious content. As a reviewer he has a point of view (or perhaps a bias) that is significantly different from my own. I tend to drill down into the viewer comments on any of those episodes before deciding whether to watch.

    I applaud Star Trek for not trying to make the people of the future all of one opinion or the other and vehemently deny that Star Trek is fundamentally anti-religious (even if it is often skeptical.)

    I gave the episode a 6, largely for the interplay between the world views of Seven, Neelix and Chakotay.

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