InitiationsBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:00 PM GMT
See Also: 'Projections' Episode Guide
On a private shuttle trip to pay homage to his dead father, Chakotay is intercepted by a Kazon raider and fired at by young Kar, who fails to destroy his ship. The large Kazon ship takes Chakotay aboard and prepares to let Kar die without a name, since his failure to kill Chakotay in battle represents the failure of his initiation as an adult Kazon. Chakotay escapes, inviting the young Kazon to join him, and Kar flees when he realizes that he has nothing left among his own people.
Chakotay's shuttle is shot down and crashes on a planet the Kazon use for munitions training, but not before Chakotay rescues himself and Kar with an emergency beamout. The two hide in a cave, where Kar explains that his flight was pointless, since he will always live as a stranger with no home. Chakotay explains his own people's pacifism and sets up a homing signal for Voyager, but Kar nearly kills him in his sleep to belatedly prove himself to Razik, his leader.
Chakotay is prepared to let Kar shoot him in view of Razik and Haliz, the Kazon who trained Kar, so that the boy can earn his name. The first officer believes that Voyager's Doctor will be able to revive him. But when Janeway and the Kazon arrive on one another's heels, as Paris and Neelix hold off the Kazon on the ship, Kar announces that he now realizes Chakotay is not his enemy; it is the Razik he shoots. He then offers himself to Haliz, announcing that he is willing to die for his actions, but that he would now make a loyal supporter. Haliz accepts him, and the Kazon and Starfleet officers go their own ways.
A little too reminiscent of the Klingon coming-of-age stories which TNG was so fond of, "Initiations" had a lot of the patriarchal baggage that I'm sorry to say I associate with Trek. It begins and ends with Chakotay paying tribute to his father - does anyone have a mother on Trek, other than embarrassing caricatures like Amanda or Lwaxana Troi?
I liked the way Chakotay bonded with the boy, but he sure seemed like a typical Starfleet imperialist who talks peace and acts like a conqueror. His calling Kar "son" and trying to teach him not to think like a Kazon offended me somewhat, especially since this former Maquis terrorist must be either a total hypocrite or a bit of a phony in his committment to the cause. What was all that crap about how proud he is of the Starfleet uniform he worked to earn? Didn't he cast it aside?
Sure, it was nice to get away from Chakotay's stoic, quiet persona; at least this episode he didn't look like he was going to fall asleep. But who is he - the gentle man from a gentle people whose medicine bundle either magically reappears or gets replicated every time he loses it, or the guy from "Caretaker" who was on a righteous mission against Starfleet and Cardassian forces alike, who flew his ship into a Kazon vessel during a fight? The writers are going to have to make up their minds, or he's going to look ineffectual (though not as much as Tuvok, who has a knack for leading Janeway and crew into traps - these folks have got to learn to stay out of caves!)
The ending was interesting because it was totally nonjudgemental of Kar's decision to kill his father-figure in favor of a more suitable one...which I guess makes sense, given the theme of this episode. In the end, Chakotay asks his father to watch over Kar, completing the cycle of patriarchy. I wish Janeway had been the one to save Kar.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.