Mortal Coil (Star Trek: Voyager)

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"Mortal Coil"
Star Trek: Voyager episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 12
Directed byAllan Kroeker
Written byBryan Fuller
Featured musicPaul Baillargeon
Cinematography byMarvin V. Rush
Production code180[1]
Original air dateDecember 17, 1997 (1997-12-17)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Concerning Flight"
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"Waking Moments"
Star Trek: Voyager (season 4)
List of Star Trek: Voyager episodes

"Mortal Coil" is the twelfth episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager, the 80th episode overall. The episode originally aired on December 17, 1997, on the UPN network. Directed by Allan Kroeker, it was written by Bryan Fuller, and produced by Kenneth Biller and Joe Menosky.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet and Maquis crew of the starship USS Voyager after they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant far from the rest of the Federation. In this episode, it deals with a starring character's death, resurrection, and crisis of faith.


Neelix is killed while participating in a survey mission of a protomatter nebula. Using a technique devised by Seven of Nine , however, the Doctor is able to revive Neelix after being dead for nearly 19 hours. Distressed that he had not perceived the afterlife while he was dead, Neelix begins to question his religious beliefs. With the aid of Chakotay, Neelix embarks on a spiritual vision quest, during which he confronts his dead sister, Alixia, who mocks him and then dies and crumbles into dust. He then finds himself on a slab, surrounded by visions of his shipmates, who tell him that life is irrelevant and that he knows what he has to do.

Convinced that his existence is meaningless and that his life has no purpose, Neelix decides to commit suicide by transporting himself into the nebula. Despite the attempts of his shipmates, Neelix prepares to beam off until Ensign Samantha Wildman arrives to ask Neelix if he could console Naomi, who believes she saw a monster in the replicator and who will only allow Neelix to tuck her in. Realizing that he does, indeed, have purpose in his life, Neelix relents and heads for the Wildmans' quarters. Once there, Naomi, who had heard that Neelix was sick, wonders if a monster had got him. "Yes", Neelix replies, "But I chased him away."[2]


In this episode, Neelix's religious faith is seriously challenged; he eventually chooses to live without it. Chakotay serves as a counterpoint to his perspective, encouraging Neelix not to abandon all faith. In Star Trek: The Human Frontier, Michèle and Duncan Barrett discuss this episode as an example of Star Trek's shifting attitudes towards religion, specifically Voyager's treatment of religious faith and how it can change. The Barretts contrast this episode with "Sacred Ground," in which the rationalist Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) is forced to accept the possibility of forces outside rational explanation.[3] Both episodes are considered as illustrations of how "Star Trek articulates the conflicts between religion and science that continue to recur in modern western thought."[4]


Ethan Phillips portrayed Neelix, resurrected protagonist

Ethan Phillips, who plays Neelix, said he felt the episode was the most rewarding of the show for him, and that it was one of his favorites. "I thought that was a beautiful show," he said, "It was very existential [...] and very well directed by Allan Kroeker."[5]

The Hollywood Reporter ranked "Mortal Coil" as 81st best Star Trek of the franchises' episodes in 2016,[6] and the 13th best Star Trek: Voyager episode.[7] ranked this the 7th best episode of Star Trek:Voyager in 2016.[8]


  1. ^ Star Trek Voyager - The Complete Fourth Season (1995) (DVD). Los Angeles, California, USA: CBS Paramount Television. 2004-09-28. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ Ruditis, Paul (2003). Star Trek Voyager Companion. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 217–219. ISBN 0-7434-1751-8.
  3. ^ Barrett, Michèle; Duncan Barrett (2000). Star Trek: The Human Frontier. New York: Routledge. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0-415-92982-2.
  4. ^ Barrett, Michèle; Duncan Barrett (2000). Star Trek: The Human Frontier. New York: Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 0-415-92982-2.
  5. ^ "Community :: Chat :: Transcript Archive :: Ethan Phillips ("Neelix" - VOY)". STARTREK.COM. CBS Paramount Television. 2001-02-01. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
  6. ^ ""Damage" - 'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. ^ "'Star Trek: Voyager' — The 15 Greatest Episodes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  8. ^ Michelle (2016-02-23). "10 Best 'Star Trek: Voyager' Episodes". TREKNEWS.NET. Retrieved 2019-06-11.

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