“Initiations”

Let me count our shuttles to calm my mind. 1, 2, 3... 15
Let me count our shuttles to calm my mind. 1, 2, 3… 15

Chakotay, in a shuttle in private meditation, is attacked by the Kazon Ogla (from back in “Caretaker”). The attacker is a Kazon boy named Kar (Aron Eisenberg, Nog from DS9) trying to earn his adult name by killing an enemy. After damaging Kar’s fighter, Chakotay rescues him, but Chakotay’s shuttle is quickly captured by a Kazon mothership. Kar begs Chakotay to kill him, as he believes he will suffer a worse fate back with his people. The two eventually escape and end up on a barren planet the Ogla use for training. Voyager comes to the rescue and the Ogla leadership closes in, as well. Chakotay offers to let Kar kill him — figuring Voyager can recover and save him quickly — but Kar instead kills the Ogla leader and is given his name by the second in command (who is elevated to the top spot by Kar’s actions). Voyager then goes about its merry way.

Why it’s important

This episode, in many ways, could fit into TOS or TNG (in fact, it’s similar to TNG’s “The Enemy” in many respects). It’s the classic story of two enemies having to work together and eventually coming to a better understanding.

But the episode is especially significant because it provides so much backstory for the Kazon — an indication that the creators really mapped them out as the bad guys for season two. In this episode, we learn more about the infighting among the Kazon sects, about their weird honor code and how their young men are indoctrinated into their ways and how they were once subjected by another race called the Trabe (who become big players in a key episode later this season).

Voyager is often criticized for being too episodic, but it’s clear that the creators tried something serial in season two — and really began it here. We’ll discuss how successful they were as the season progresses — hint, not all that much — but the effort was definitely there, based on the first items mentioned in “Initiations”.

Glad we could finally open that box we took at DS9 labelled "New phasers, do not open until 2372."
Glad we could finally open that box we took on at DS9 labelled “New phasers, do not open until 2372.”

What doesn’t hold up

This is the first episode we’ve reviewed that gets into Voyager’s seemingly endless supply of shuttles. For a ship with limited resources, the fact that shuttles were wrecked so often was one of Voyager’s most obnoxious cliches.

Also, it’s odd that the Kazon Ogla shows up here. Assuming Voyager is moving quickly toward the Alpha Quadrant, shouldn’t they at least be running into a different sect (an easy fix, by the way)? Put another way, if Ogla territory covers this much area, shouldn’t they have been able to find water and not been so stunned by it in “Caretaker”? I know, I know — I’ll get off the whole water thing from the pilot, eventually.

Last point, Voyager somehow got a new type of phaser (along with the rest of Starfleet) while in the Delta Quadrant. In season one, the Voyager crew used the flat-handled phasers we’d seen throughout TNG and in DS9. But, starting in this episode, we see the curved-handled phasers that also appear around the same time on DS9. Hmmmm.

I hope a get a cool name like Cog, or Bog, or Tog.
I hope a get a cool name like Cog, or Bog, or Tog.

Final thoughts

It is interesting that Chakotay (in dialog with Kar) would make such a big deal about how much the Starfleet uniform means to him when he, you know, was an enemy of the Federation who had sworn off the uniform less than a year earlier. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s too bad that he didn’t say something like, “I once forgot how much this uniform means to me … ” This is the kind of nod to continuity that Voyager almost always seemed unwilling to weave in — even when doing so would have been extremely easy. It’s not as if a line of dialog like that would have required more exposition.

That said, Chakotay’s dialog with Kar is pretty well done, if heavy-handed at points. Chakotay was probably the most empathetic character among the main Voyager crew (with the exception of Kes) and it’s believable that he would gain the trust of a young Kazon — or, at least, more believable than if another character had been in his place.

Coming next week …

More Kazon Kraziness.

 

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