Star Trek 478: Initiations

478. Initiations

FORMULA: Suddenly Human + State of Flux

WHY WE LIKE IT: Meat on those Kazon bones.

WHY WE DON'T: Too much peace pipe for Chakotay.

REVIEW: We finally learn more about the Kazon in this episode, and though their harsh way of life will always seem only a step away from the Klingons', there's a lot more to them here. We find out they were a slave race only 26 years ago (which certainly explains why they've decorated their ships like they were housing), and that their territoriality is linked to a showing of markings (so Starfleet insignia singularly insults them). They don't believe in non-lethal training, and their young men go through a deadly rite of passage to earn their true names (akin to honor). Their ways appear to be ritualistic, but not without empathy.

Our guide through all this is Kar, played by Aaron Eisenberg, and it's excessively difficult not to hear Nog under there. Still a good performance on his part, and I'm kind of sorry we never saw him again (as a foe). While Chakotay's final solution is the usual Starfleet self-sacrificial con, Kar's is a lot more political, revealing a Kazon that's smarter than the norm.

Chakotay is probably the best character to have "discover" the Kazon, because of his anthropological predilections, and he shows himself to be an able diplomat, finding common ground between him and Kar (name vs. uniform). I can't help but wonder, however, if his mild character here will play against him in the long run. He'll become too stable and boring to ever be counted among Voyager's "cool kids". The show is still developing his Amerind heritage as prays to the spirit of his father, but one might question the wisdom of letting someone take off in a precious shuttle for this kind of thing, especially since the shuttle is lost forever. Note this is also the second time Chakotay's medicine bundle mysteriously survives the destruction of a ship.

There's not much happening on Voyager, except a thin subplot in which Neelix wants to be better utilized. Despite being repeatedly ignored, he's still the one that best grasps Kazon psychology. And this also marks a comeback for the Arena planet (Vasquez Rocks) to the show. Though it looks a little more arid here, you just can't mistake that rocky outcropping.

LESSON: If at first you're not baptized, try try again.

REWATCHABILITY - High: The best ever Kazon episode? I think it may be, though Voyager is more of a bystander in it, even Chakotay, who isn't truly responsible for the successful resolution.



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