When Chakotay discovers the symbol of a Native American tribe on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager decides to investgiate further. Chakotay leads an away team to a jungle planet to find out more about the aliens who left the symbol, a journey eerily reminiscent of when his father took him to meet the Rubber Tree people in Central America. Meanwhile, the Doctor resolves to prove that illness is nothing to complain about, by simulating a bout of flu.
Since I like Chakotay and have an interest in Native American culture, I enjoyed this episode back in the day. That being said, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it on the rewatch, because the basic premise is just a bit too much to swallow. How popular is Earth that life forms across the galaxy have been visiting it for millennia? Not only was it seeded by genetic material from the aliens from The Chase, but random Delta Quadrant aliens visited the ancestors of the Native American people – and, to top it off, in season three’s Distant Origin we’ll meet a humanoid dinosaur race who probably came from Earth. It’s such a bustling hub of activity!
As far as the episode itself goes, it’s mostly a classic character arc, interspersing flashbacks of Chakotay’s rebellious youth with his older and wiser self in the present. For someone who has always seemed to value his heritage so highly, Chakotay has actually spent most of his life running away from it, choosing Starfleet over his tribe.
Meanwhile, the Doctor’s flu makes an amusing B-story, with a predictable conclusion. I was especially pleased that Kes was the one who reprogrammed his flu simulation, showing how she’s grown in confidence and technical ability since she first came aboard.
Points of Note
- Although a shuttlecraft disappears in this episode, it is possible that the aliens returned it after Chakotay demonstrated that Voyager was peaceful.
- Although never explicitly stated, Chakotay’s homeworld was apparently supposed to be Dorvan V, the world ceded to the Cardassians in Journey’s End.
- The Rubber Tree people of Earth are ‘genetically bonded’ to the aliens seen in this episode, and share their appearance.
- Chakotay got his tattoo in memory of his father.
Lost shuttlecraft running total: 4
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 3
Summary – Tattoo: In which Chakotay takes a jungle journey.