The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Initiations

When Chakotay successfully defends himself against a Kazon attacker, he inadvertently causes the boy to fail his rite of passage into adulthood. And when both are taken prisoner, Chakotay must come to understand the Kazon way of life in order to figure out a way to escape.

It’s another serviceable but not outstanding episode for Voyager, featuring both Chakotay and the return of the Kazon-Ogla. it’s a by-the-book tale of a young man who fails to live up to the macho expectations of his gang, and who must work to find redemption, with the help of a passing main character. Aron Eisenberg does a fair turn as Kar, but it’s not really a character a million miles away from his usual role as Nog – a determined and defiant young man who, despite his best efforts, doesn’t quite fit into his society. Chakotay takes on a paternal role that none of the other main characters could have quite pulled off, pulling together the story nicely, but not offering us any fireworks.

Kazon Factbox

The Kazon share their homeworld with another race, the Trabe. Around 26 years ago, the Kazon, who were an underclass, threw off their Trabe oppressors. Now they are fractured into many sects, who are effectively like gangs of youths. The culture is very masculine and alpha-male dominated, so much so that we haven’t even seen any Kazon women yet. The number of sects and the territories they claim varies from day to day; currently there are eighteen sects. We have heard of three of them – the Ogla, the Nistrim and the Relora.

Kazon Ogla boys must prove themselves in battle in order to earn both an adult name and standing in the tribe. Failure is essentially worse than death.

Other points

  • This episode is the first time a Voyager shuttlecraft is destroyed, but it is far from being the last.
  • Why does Chakotay need to risk danger by going out in a shuttlecraft to commemorate his father’s death? I guess back on Voyager there’s more risk of being disturbed, or not being able to find anywhere quiet, but given the situation, that’s probably an acceptable compromise.
  • The Voyager away team are amazingly trusting of their Kazon guides.
  • Chakotay claims that Starfleet medical techniques can be used to revive someone who has been braindead for up to two minutes. Keep that in mind on all the occasions when they don’t revive someone who could possibly have been saved.
  • Wouldn’t having Kar essentially fake killing Chakotay just make a mockery of Kar’s entire culture and values? It would hardly be a worthy rite of passage.
  • Chakotay says Kar looks to be about thirteen, but he has no idea how long the Kazon take to mature. Kes looks to be in her early twenties, but is of course only one year old.

Destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 1

Summary – Initiations: In which Chakotay teaches a Kazon boy the true meaning of friendship.

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