Show Reviews

Star Trek: Voyager, S1, Ep. 8, “Emanations” – A Few Reflective Tidbits From an Atheist Heathen

Image Credit: Paramount Television

The great thing about having a backlog of stuff to catch up on, be it comics, trades, novels, movies, or shows, is – you’ll never be struck down by the iron fist of boredom.

My own personal backlog is fast becoming a mountainous behemoth, one whose peak cascades out of the proverbial stratosphere, and into the cosmic void of space. Just the very thought of chipping away at it fills me with anxiety. I’m sure that I can’t be the only one who suffers from this affliction, right?

*crickets chirping*

Okay, I’m weird. That much is blatantly apparent. *sigh*

Moving on…

For the past several years, I’ve been on a mission to finally, and dutifully (as a life-long member of the “nerd culture”), make my way through every Star Trek series. I grew up watching TOS, as well as all of the original crew’s movies. I’ve also, weirdly, seen all of the Next Generation movies before I ever completed the series that spawned them (my focus was heavily into comics at the time). But I’m making progress…..finally!

This progress includes last night’s viewing of “Emanations” from Voyager’s inaugural season. And boy did it strike a chord with me. Let me tell you why…

You see, I grew up Catholic, which not only means I wasted many valuable hours sitting in a pew, pondering how I was going to maintain the righteous path to Heaven; it also means that I’ve traversed my way through the most pertinent of sacraments: Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. My childhood memories are so imbedded with Jesus, a vengeful God, and the fear of being charbroiled in Hell, that I can’t even remember when I realized how ridiculous it all is. None of this brainwashing came from my parents, mind you. It was all drilled into me by the various nuns, priests, educators, and wonderfully manipulative guardians of the “Good Book”.

I have yet to be married (another one of our “holiest” of sacraments), and whether it’ll ever happen or not is fast becoming a fleeting pie-in-the-sky pipe dream, since I’m already in my mid-forties (totally carbon dating myself). But, if I were to ever engage in such a ritual, it definitely wouldn’t be in a church setting.

The ridiculousness of it all is the reason why this episode was strumming chord progressions like Eddie Van Halen up inside my innards the whole time. The blind willfulness of the Vhnori to be euthanized into a premature death, all for the glory of some “afterlife,” had me moaning “Ooooh mah God!” and rolling my eyeballs into the back of this giant noggin. Recollections of folks I’ve seen in news pieces, documentaries, and my own personal encounters with ilk of this variety, those who bear characteristically striking resemblances to Dr. Neria, were all jogging about in my thoughts, furrowing my brow in apoplectic consternation. His anger at how Kim’s unexplained appearance would upset the underlining religious structure of their society, and his argument against further discussion, was so on point that I felt as if I were viewing YouTube clips of Christian zealots debating evidence disproving their fantasy world. Although, merely perusing the Bible is all one needs to laugh at the idea of such a demiurge.

But, I am not without my soft spots, regardless of my callous disposition above. When Ptera explains to Kes the nature of their beliefs, truth be told, I was bit choked up…

Ptera: When we die, we’re supposed to reappear as physical beings with arms and legs. That’s the whole point of sending our people through the spectral ruptures. We’re supposed to travel on to the “Next Emanation” as ourselves and be reunited with our families. But none of that is true….is it? None of the people I love are here. I’m alone. I don’t belong here. I can’t live like this. Please, can’t you send me home?

I mean, my atheistic constitution aside, just like everyone else, I would love nothing more than to see the faces of family I’ve lost. To hug my grandma once more, or to have my grandpa give me a kiss on the cheek, would fill me with unbelievable happiness. I wish I could smother all of the dogs I’ve had to say goodbye to, in a pampered embrace, and kiss them until they felt the need to escape the confinement of my arms; but this isn’t reality. Just because you believe in something, that doesn’t make it true, or that it will ever come to pass. If this were the case, I’d awake from a deep slumber tomorrow looking like David Beckham’s newly fashioned clone.

However, being a man of science, and a believer in all that it can accomplish for us as a species, and for our planet, I’m wise enough to accept that I simply don’t know what lies ahead, after we take our final curtain call and bid this life adieu. Janeway sums it up best…

“What we don’t know about death is far, far greater than what we do know.”

Definitely wisdom befitting of an experienced Starfleet captain.

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