A test and some much needed back story get center stage on the episode that originally aired on September 4,1995.  This is Initiations.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 49005.3 Initiations

Chakotay becomes the target of a young Kazon determined to prove himself among his people.

The Story:

Initiations 1

Alone in a shuttlecraft, Chakotay prepares a ritual to commemorate the anniversary of his father’s death. His preparations are interrupted however when a Kazon ship attacks his vessel with no prior provocation.  Contacting the ship he encounters Kar who identifies himself as Chakotay’s executioner and continues to fire despite the Commanders warning that the your boy is outmatched and that Voyager is nearby. Within moments Chakotay disables Kar’s ship but, in managers to destroy it in the process.  Beaming aboard the single survivor, Chakotay is pleased that it is the young boy who attacked him.

Initiations 2

Having beamed the boy aboard, Chakotay finds that the shuttle has taken extensive damage, including communications, and he begins to head back to rendezvous with Voyager. Waking, Kar is shocked to still be alive and just when they start to talk they encounter another Kazon ship who, after Chakotay inform them about Kar, they begin to tractor his shuttle in.  The boy is clearly not pleased and begs Chakotay to take his life before they are boarded. Kar and Chakotay are taken aboard the Kazon ship where Chakotay finds that Kar is as welcome as he is.  It soon becomes clear that Kar had been on a mission to earn his name and, thanks to Chakotay’s actions, he will be denied it.

As Chakotay deals with his predicament, Harry Kim discovers that they can not contact Chakotay’s shuttle.  Janeway commands Voyager to head to the Commander’s last location right away. Soon Voyager comes to Chakotay’s last location and finds only debris of a ship. They soon find an ion trail and begin pursuit of the ship that may have taken..or killed…Chakotay.

Initiations 3

Chakotay demands to see the Kazon leader despite Kar’s plea’s against it and, when he arrives, it is clear the reunion is not a pleasant one.  Razik introduces himself to Chakotay questioning the Commanders intentions in saving the boy.  Razik soon explains that the Kazon view the Federation ship and Chakotay’s uniform as a threat as it reminds them of their oppressors.  Razik makes it clear that neither Chakotay nor the Federation is welcome in Kazon space setting a time for the Commander’s execution.

Later Razik brings a group of young Kazon to show them what a human looks like.  Razik informs Chakotay that the commander is going to have to fight Kar and, if he kills Kar then he will be free to go. Accepting the weapon, Chakotay takes Razik hostage and is soon joined by Kar who decides that running is the best option.

Taking the shuttle, Kar and Chakotay flee to a nearby Class M Moon that the Commander learns is used for Kazon Training.  Soon the shuttle takes more damage and, although risky, the two beam to the surface just as the small shuttle is destroyed. The two awake on the surface and soon Chakotay realizes the danger of the training ground.  After he is saved by Kar from a disruptor snare, the young Kazon insists that Chakotay follow him.

Meanwhile the Voyager crew discover debris of Chakotay’s shuttle but are pleased when the Doctor confirms that there is no organic material in the wreckage indicating that the Commander got out. Janeway soon finds a nearby class M moon but is waned by Kes and Neelix that it is a known Kazon training facility and is very dangerous.  With the Kazon weaponry affecting their sensors, Janeway, Kes and Tuvok head to the surface leaving Paris in command to find a way to get through the interference.  Orbiting the planet, Razik encounters Voyager and threatens the ship if they do not leave.  Neelix points out that it is rare for a Kazon to allow an enemy to leave safely.  Negotiating with him using the moon as collateral, Neelix manages to talk them down before they attack.

Initiations 6

On the surface Chakotay and Kar take refuge in a cave where they begin to talk about their cultures.  Chakotay surmises that Kar’s attempt to earn a name is not unlike Chakotay earning his uniform.  It is clear the young Kazon is troubled as he struggles to decide whether to kill the Federation officer to earn his name or not.  That night with the opportunity to do the deed, Kar discovers that he can not go through with it despite his years of conditioning.  The next morning Chakotay questions Kar as to why the Kazon boy refused to kill him.  The boy still insists that he needs to earn his name refusing to accept Chakotay’s offer to take him aboard Voyager. Soon Kar tells Chakotay about a race called the Trabe who enslaved them 26 years prior causing much of the distrust the Kazon currently harbor.  Just as Kar begins his tale a sensor goes off indicating that people are nearby. Chakotay informs Kar that he has a plan to earn Kar his name.  Contacting Voyager, Chakotay informs the ship to prepare for a code white Resuscitation.

Initiations 7

On the surface Janeway is shocked when a group of Kazon offer to help find Chakotay.  When they find them they are shocked to find Kar holding Chakotay at gunpoint.  Kar tells Razik that he wants to earn his name but then turns the gun on the Maje killing him in the process.  With Kaliz as First Maje, Kar is granted his name ‘Jal Karden’ and they allow Voyager’s personnel to leave although Jal Karden makes it clear that he will not hesitate to kill them should they meet again.

Back on Voyager Chakotay completes his ritual for the dead in his personal quarters.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

Yes and no.  This is a solid entry with a strong story that finally dives into the Kazon culture and customs while also giving us a pretty strong Chakotay story line.  The problem is this entire story should never have happened.

What?! You ask.  Well, there was literally no reason for Janeway to allow Chakotay the use of a shuttlecraft for a private ceremony when it is obvious it wasn’t necessary by the ending segment.  I mean, lets be honest here, if anyone else asked to take a shuttle out alone in a hostile territory the answer would have been a flat NO.  Paris? No.  Tuvok? No.  heck not even Neelix would be allowed off the ship by himself at this point.  I mean, haven’t they learned from the various crazy threats from the Space Vampires Vidiians,  the Kazon and so many others.  What was Janeway even thinking allowing this, I mean…they do have a holodeck which could have easily given him the isolation needed if it were really that important.  To me, this is a HUGE plot hole that should have never existed to begin with and that makes it hard for me to really like this episode.

Initiations 4

That aside, it really is a good story.  Like I said earlier, we finally get to dive into some of the Kazon culture and thankfully so.  Just this single episode not only established their naming convention we also got a hint as to their history as a people.  In just one sentence from Kar the Kazon are no longer Delta Quadrant Klingon Ripoffs but are now a fully realized species that have a troubled past.  That sentence “The Trabe, The Kazon shared their homeworld,if you could call it sharing, until we took it from them in the revolt 26 years ago.”  This single line opened up a massive backstory that brings up questions of who or what the Trabe were and who was the oppressor and who was the oppressed.  We can assume from the Kazon’s actions they were the latter but we know so little at this point making the Kazon that much more interesting.

Initiations 8

Overall, while the events of this story should never have occurred to begin with we got a tremendous chance to get to know the species known as the Kazon so much more than before. If you were paying attention you would recognize both the late Aaron Eisenberg as Kar and famed bad-guy actor Patrick Kilpatrick as Rasik.  They will star together once again in the DS9 Episode The Siege of AR-558 and Patrick will appear again in a later episode of Voyager.  Also, I got a chance to talk with Patrick himself sometime back where he went into detail of his experience on Star Trek and his interesting relationship with Kate Mulgrew.  You can check out that interview here.  

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

Initiations 5

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 37 remaining.
  • 1 shuttle destroyed, 7 remaining
  • This is not the last we will see of the Kazon this season.
  • We actually see a very useful Neelix in this episode that even acts out of character standing up to the Kazon on his own.
  • One other oddity, how would Kes know anything about Kazon culture or training moons if she had never left her home planet prior to the pilot episode…is there something going on here…

Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review,  I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!  Next Review: Projections

If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 5/11/2020

Initiations 9
‘Captain, what are we up against?’  ‘Plot holes, Tuvok, we have to kill them all before they destroy us.’

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available.  Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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