Star Trek: Voyager – 2×02 – “Initiations”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Initiations”
Originally Broadcast September 4th, 1995
Reviewed by Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: 49005.3

A lone shuttle is travelling through space.

‘First Officer’s Personal Log, Stardate 49005.3. The captain has granted me the use of the shuttlecraft so that I may perform the Pakra, a solitary ritual commemorating the anniversary of my father’s death.’

Bringing the shuttle to a halt, he takes his medicine bundle and sits on the floor of the shuttle to begin the ritual. Taking the river stone in his hands, he prays that he might find a spirit that will help him communicate with Kolopak. The shuttle has not gone unnoticed, however. A Kazon ship has it on its viewscreen and the occupants are not pleased to see the Federation in their space. Haliz volunteers to teach the intruder a lesson but the leader, Razik, suggests that a young male called Kar be allowed to do it so that he can earn his name and become a full member of the Ogla.

Chakotay is peacefully meditating when the shuttle is rudely jolted by weapons fire. The computer reports minor damage to the aft shields from a Kazon vessel coming in at 195 mark 6. He carefully wraps up his medicine bundle then opens a communications channel to the Kazon to find out what is going on. Kar informs him that he has trespassed into Kazon space, but instead of allowing Chakotay to leave, he tells him that he is his executioner. However the little Kazon ship is no match for a Federation shuttle, and Chakotay repeatedly warns Kar to stand down before doing a neat loop-the-loop to come around behind him and target his engine core. Kar continues to press his attack, and Chakotay fires. It is a direct hit and the Kazon vessel is badly damaged. Before its warp core explodes, Chakotay beams the unconscious Kar to safety on his shuttle. Then he tries to contact Voyager, which is only a few light years away, but Kar’s attack has damaged the long-range communications, lateral sensor array and aft shields. Annoyed, Chakotay thumps the console and welcomes his attacker aboard.

Meanwhile, on Voyager, Neelix is personally serving a meal to Captain Janeway in her ready room. There is something on his mind, but she reassures him that he has become a very important part of the crew. Lt. Ayala, who is missing his sons very much, is benefiting from the efforts of the self-appointed morale officer, and his meals are becoming the highlight of the day. However, he feels underutilized, and the Captain realises it is because he was not included in the holodeck defence simulations. She promises to include him next time. Tuvok calls from the bridge and they walk out to discover that although Voyager is ready to leave orbit, Chakotay has not yet returned, and has been out of contact for over six hours. Janeway orders all away teams back, and Paris to plot a course to go look for her missing First Officer. According to his flight plan, he shouldn’t be far away.

On the shuttlecraft, Kar is regaining consciousness, and he is not grateful to Chakotay for saving his life. The fact that his hands are now tied behind his back might have something to do with his bad temper, but mostly it is because Chakotay is telling the main Kazon vessel that he is alive. Their reply is to lock a tractor beam on the shuttle and drag them onto the ship. Kill me, Kar tells Chakotay, because there are worse things than being killed by your enemy.

Chakotay and Kar are being held in a part of the Kazon ship, where the walls are decorated with strange trophies. Haliz tells Kar that he knew that he was not ready to earn his name, but Kar protests. It was the Federation technology that they had heard about which prevented him from dying in the flames of his ship. He calls Chakotay a fool who doesn’t even have the courage to kill his enemies and accuses the Federation of having no respect for Kazon space. Then Kar demands to see Razik. Realising that Razik must be a top ranking Kazon on the ship, Chakotay joins in asking to see him. Haliz leaves them and Kar tells him about some of the trophies on the wall. The ship debris is from a Nistrum that Razik destroyed, killing 100 and earning his name. A tunic that belonged to the victim of another Kazon earning his name by killing him, and the bracelet of Kar’s brother who earned his name by dying in battle. By not killing Kar, Chakotay has stopped him from ever earning his name.

Voyager has reached the co-ordinates of Chakotay’s battle with Kar, and are beaming some debris aboard for analysis. Tuvok detects an ion trail which does not seem to be Federation, but is their only clue to Chakotay’s whereabouts, so they follow it.

Razik comes to speak to Kar, forgiving him and telling him that he will eat at his right hand tonight. This is not good news. Kar becomes extremely upset as Razik kisses and embraces him. Then he goes to talk to Chakotay. Razik tells the Federation officer that although he might not be at war with the Kazon, the Kazon are at war with them. Their uniforms stand for everything the Kazon fought hard to escape and his might yet decorate their walls. Razik orders food for the pair. The execution will be tonight.

Torres has finished analysing the debris and informs her Captain that it is from a Kazon vessel, not a Federation shuttle.

Razik brings a group of young boys to see Chakotay, to see their first human. Chakotay tells them they will not see any hate in his eyes, that he is from a gentle people who wish them no harm. But when Razik holds up a phaser and asks which one of them is willing to kill the human, every one reaches for it. However, Razik has not brought them here to kill Chakotay, instead he offers him the phaser to kill Kar now, as he should have done in battle. It will be a lesson for the other children, that there are no second chances in battle. With a deep sigh, Chakotay takes the weapon but then drops it. Stooping to pick it up, he lunges at Razik and knocks him down, then grabs him to use as a shield while pointing the phaser at his head. Calmly he tells Haliz that he’ll be needing his shuttle back. Haliz has drawn his weapon but does not have a clear shot. Razik tells him to get the shuttle ready. Chakotay invites Kar to go with him, but Haliz replies that he would rather die. Kar has other ideas and kicks Haliz before grabbing his phaser and announcing that he would rather take his chances with the Federation officer.

They get to the shuttle after Kar has disabled the Kazon weapons. Chakotay has left Razik stunned but otherwise unharmed. Once in space they try to get away, but the Kazon get their weapons back on line. Kar suggests trying to out-manoeuvre the bigger ship but when Chakotay tells him he’d like to get out of this alive, and without killing anyone, he is a little surprised. The Kazon vessel damages their shields so they head for an M-class moon nearby. It is Tarok, the location of the Ogla training exercises. Trying to evade their pursuers, Chakotay sets course, but the warp core is breached and they have to make an emergency transport from beyond safety range.

Voyager arrives at the site of more space debris and beams some aboard. It only takes Torres moments to identify the piece of metal with the red line on it as Chakotay’s shuttle. She picks it up and holds it to her chest.

Chakotay and Kar have made it to the surface of the moon, but it was a rough landing. The sun is blazing down and Chakotay decides that they have to find shelter. With his tricorder, he begins to walk across the rocky terrain but Kar throws a stone and an explosion goes off. Kar explains to him how the Kazon train their young to be fighters – with live ammunition. The whole area is booby trapped, and if Chakotay wants to die a wrinkled old man, he had better do as Kar says. They are on his territory now.

On Voyager, the EMH has been analysing the shuttle debris for human remains, and gives his report to the senior staff in the briefing room. He has not found any. Chakotay may still be alive. Tuvok suggests that he may have been heading for an M-class moon nearby. Kim reports an energy displacement that might have been a transporter. However, they cannot scan the moon because of intense radiothermic interference which Torres says is coming from underground energy sources, concealed weapons systems and force fields. Kes tells them that when she was captured by the Kazon, she saw them conceal weapons in this way. The moon may be a training site for them. Janeway takes the optimistic view that Chakotay is on that moon. She orders Kim to work out the most likely site he would have transported to, and tells Kes and Tuvok that they will go with her as the away team. Neelix will be on the bridge with Paris in case any Kazon ships turn up.

Kar and Chakotay have found a cave to shelter in, and Chakotay takes the optimistic line that Voyager is searching for him by setting his tricorder to emit a homing signal. Kar points a phaser at Chakotay, suggesting that if he kills him and steals the technology, he will get his name after all. But the young man cannot do it. Chakotay tells Kar to stop calling him ‘Federation’ and use his name. Did he have to earn that name, Kar asks. No, it was a gift from his tribe which he cherishes as much as he cherishes his uniform, Chakotay replies. The uniform and the Kazon name are the same, he suggests, they both have to be earned, but in different ways. He earned this uniform by years of studying science, ships, navigation and how to defend themselves, and then finally by passing difficult tests. What is so different about the Federation and the Kazon, he asks, apart from the fact that he keeps saving Kar’s life and Kar keeps threatening to kill him. Kar replies that territory is power, and that he must protect his territory. Chakotay tells him that his people taught him that a man does not own land, but the courage and loyalty in his heart. Then he suggests they both get some rest.

In orbit, Voyager is joined by Razik’s raider ship. Paris tells him that they are just there to make repairs but Razik says that he knows they are looking for Commander Chakotay. However, they will not find him as they destroyed his ship after he kidnapped a young man and tried to escape. Neelix, who has been sitting in the Captain’s chair, is sceptical and says so to Razik. It is unheard of for the Kazon to allow trespassers to leave unharmed, but he also suggests that Razik will not attack Voyager in case the weapons fire attracts other Kazon to the site of their secret training ground. Then Razik threatens to self-destruct the weaponry on the moon, killing anyone on it’s surface. Neelix doesn’t think much of this threat either. That would leave the Ogla vulnerable, and it would be hard to replace all the weaponry too. Paris says that Voyager will leave when they have retrieved all their crewmembers, including Chakotay, if he is still alive, and they will return any Kazon to Razik. The Kazon ship begins to enter the atmosphere, but Voyager cannot follow. The ground will not support a landing and they still cannot contact the Captain. At least they have bought her some time.

Kar spent some of the night being very upset and Chakotay tells him that he believes Kar is beginning to realise that they are not enemies, and only a fool would kill a friend. Could Kar join another Kazon sect? Hardly. As an outcast he would have a digit cut off before they sent him away again. There were 18 sects at the last count. Chakotay suggests that he could come with them on Voyager, and he wouldn’t have to wear a uniform. This does not appeal to Kar either. The closer Voyager gets to home the further he would be from his. If only Chakotay had killed him, he laments.

Janeway, Tuvok, a security guard and Kes meet with Razik and his group on the surface of the moon. Razik offers them his help in avoiding the concealed weapons and finding their crewman. Janeway accepts.

In the cave, Kar is telling Chakotay how the Kazon revolted from the Trabe 26 years ago when his tricorder tells them that humans and Kazon are approaching. Then Chakotay tells Kar how he will earn his name. By killing him.

On the surface, Tuvok’s tricorder has picked up Chakotay’s homing signal. Razik is impressed and suggests a possible alliance. Kes warns of very high radiothermic levels there and Razik offers to go on without them, as it is a very dangerous area. Janeway says she’d rather they all stay together. Just then Paris’s voice comes over her comm. badge. Torres has finally made her dampening field work and they have communications. Janeway tells Paris that they have the assistance of the Ogla, and asks if he can lock onto Chakotay. Paris contacts Chakotay who tells him not to beam him out just yet, but to alert Sickbay for a code white resuscitation. They have the medical technology to revive someone who has been brain-dead for up to two minutes, he tells Kar. It is his fault Kar does not have his name, so he will do this for the young man. Then Chakotay contacts the away team directly and tells them that he is Kar’s prisoner and that he is threatening to kill him. At the cave entrance, the Starfleet group are stopped by a forcefield that the Kazon avoid. Inside the cave, Razik and Haliz see Kar holding a phaser on Chakotay. But Kar has a different plan. To earn his name, he does not shoot Chakotay. Instead, he kills Razik and declares his name to be Jal Karden, Kazon Ogla, and Haliz the first Maje. In the meantime, Tuvok and Janeway have disabled the forcefield so they could witness all this. Haliz does not kill Karden, but accepts what he has done to earn his name. Then Karden turns to Chakotay and tells him that the Federation does not belong here, and if they meet again, he will kill him. The five Starfleet officers beam safely up to Voyager.

In his quarters, Chakotay finishes the ritual he started so long ago, with a prayer to Kolopak to watch over not only his son, but also Karden, who has a difficult road to travel.

Review

And so begins season two, with an indepth look at the Kazon. Not the ones we saw way back in Caretaker, that Seska ended up running off with, but a little group with a tough attitude. The ruthless attitude to survival, the earning of the name, are, I suppose, meant to help us feel sympathy for this race. But really, they’ve only been around for 26 years in space, stealing technology and squabbling amongst themselves for territory. Something about it doesnit quite work.

Chakotay is the best foil for all this aggression. His calm demeanour and ‘native american’ philosophy stand in stark contrast to Kar’s need to kill to earn his name. I really cannot imagine any of the other principal characters taking on this role and making it work. Neelix is trying to expand his role on Voyager and become more of a crew member, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. Kes is taken on the away team simply so the character gets a mention. Torres best moment is when she gently picks up the piece of Chakotay’s shuttle. Does she have a secret crush on him? Paris and Tuvok are nowhere, the EMH is safely trapped on the monitor in sickbay and Janeway is just ‘the Captain’ giving orders.

An interesting starter, but not a classic. It is nice to see Aron Eisenberg out from under all that Ferengi makeup for once. I wonder if we’ll have any other cross over guest stars from Deep Space Nine as time goes on.

Grade: 7/10

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