Hang a shining starship on the highest bough: “Death Wish” (VOY)
A story about a divine-like being’s wish to die may seem an odd choice for a holiday on which Christians celebrate the birth of one they worship as divine.
But in its second season, Star Trek: Voyager gave viewers just such a “Christmas story” with the episode “Death Wish.”
Granted, neither the holiday nor its themes, religious or otherwise, figure prominently in the episode. But as Quinn (Gerrit Graham), a member of the Q continuum who wishes to escape tedious immortality, seeks to hide from the Q we know best (John de Lancie), he transports the Voyager to a trio of unfathomable hiding places: the Big Bang, the space between atomic particles, and the branches of a Christmas tree, on which the ship has become a hanging ornament.
By coincidence or design—I suspect the latter—Hallmark released its Voyager Christmas tree ornament in 1996, the same year this episode aired. Since Voyager appeared early in Hallmark’s still-going-strong line of Star Trek ornaments, fans did still need to literally “tether” it to their trees’ string of lights in order to see its warp nacelles and deflector dish glow.
Turning the Voyager into a Christmas tree bauble couldn’t stop Q from finding Quinn. But after Janeway conducted a hearing about Quinn’s wish for death, the Continuum granted Quinn, not death, but mortality.
As Janeway tells Quinn:
"Now that you’re mortal, you have a new existence to explore. An entirely new state of being filled with the mysteries of mortal life, pleasures you’ve never felt before. I like this life . . . You might too. Think hard before you give it up."
A divine-like being who becomes a mortal?
For Christians, at least, “Death Wish” may be a more appropriate story for Star Trek Christmas in July than it first seems!