Chakotay finds himself in a serious survival situation in the episode originally broadcast on September 24, 1997. This is Nemesis.
Captain’s Log Stardate 51082.4 Nemesis
After being shot down, Chakotay must survive on a planet that is in the middle of total war.
Chakotay is captured after his shuttle crashes during a survey mission but soon the group realize that he is not their enemy. After his new companions explain that they are in a war with The Beast, the Commander soon discovers he can not contact Voyager. It seems that this Beast has blocked all communications and Chakotay is now stuck with the Fourth Vori Defense Contingent. Planning to find the wreckage of his shuttle the next morning, Chakotay begins to learn as much about the Vori as he can. It seems that the Vori and the Kradin (the Beast) have been at war for some time and these fighters are determined to kill their enemies at first opportunity.
The next day Chakotay and a young soldier named Namon begin their trek to the shuttle crash site. The two discuss killing and war, with Chakotay telling Namon that he never wants to kill…but has before. It is soon clear that Namon has no qualms against killing. When they arrive at the crash site it is clear that not much is left of the shuttle, much to Chakotay’s dismay. However, his search is cut short when two Kradin attack and hit Namon in the scuffle. The Kradin soldiers are soon dispatched by another Vori named Brone but it is too late for Namon.
After Namon’s funeral, Chakotay is given the fallen soldiers uniform so that he can have better camouflage. Reluctant, Chakotay accepts and the squad heads off to meet up with the Seventh Defense Contingent. Things get worse when they find that the Seventh Contingent have been killed and, no sooner do they discover this, than they are attacked themselves. The Kradin manage to kill the entire group with the exception of Chakotay. The Commander finds his way to a nearby village before collapsing in exhaustion.
On Voyager Janeway has made contact with Ambassador Treen who confirm that Chakotay’s shuttle has indeed been shot down. Although they are willing to help find the commander, they will not be able to deter from the war effort to do so. Paris offers to go himself, but Janeway needs to gather more info.
Chakotay awakes and, even though he is not one of the soldiers, the village welcomes him. Hoping to find a way to communicate with Voyager, he is informed that the closest such device is some ways away. Convinced to remain for another night Chakotay finds a friend in Karya, a young girl who’s brother is fighting in the Seventh Defense Contingent. She asks that he take a letter to this brother and Chakotay agrees knowing that the Seventh Contingent has been killed. The next morning Chakotay is unable to stop a group of Kradin from attacking, taking many of the villagers prisoner. Chakotay soon becomes a prisoner and, after seeing how brutal these beings are, a new hatred for the Kradin begins to form.
Back on Voyager, Janeway and the crew find their hopes in finding Chakotay diminished when the shuttle wreckage is discovered behind enemy lines. It seems this enemy is known for their brutality, often killing innocent civilians in their war against Treen’s people. Although Janeway and Paris wish to go to the surface to find Chakotay themselves, Tuvok informs them that he is planning to go with a group of soldiers to find the missing Commander.
Back on the planet, Chakotay finds himself under interrogation. Afterward, learning that Karya’s grandfather is not well, he provides comfort for the young girl by sleeping next to her for the night. Waking the next morning to gunfire, Chakotay is further enraged when he finds the Kradin are killing off the older Vori and taking the younger one’s to be used as labor. Attempting to save Karya’s Grandfather, Chakotay is knocked down and is helpless to watch as Karya is lead off to be killed.
On Voyager Ambassador Treen arrives with his soldiers and it is revealed that he is one of the Kradin. Claiming that the Vori are a horrible enemy, the Ambassador assures Janeway that they will retrieve Chakotay for them.
Chakotay is found by Brone who offers to take the Commander to a nearby outpost to contact Voyager. Chakotay is now fully committed to defeating the Kradin, demands that he be assigned to the Fifth Contingent. Just then the Kradin arrive and demand that everyone lay down their weapons but Chakotay refuses. Brone is injured and soon a Kradin arrives attempting to get to Chakotay. Soon he sees that the Kradin is Tuvok but Brone warns that this is just a trick. Tuvok convinces the commander that he is in fact his crew-mate and takes him back to the village he met Karya at. There Chakotay is shocked to find all of the people he believed killed still alive as if nothing happened.
With Chakotay returned to Voyager, the Doctor explains that the Commander had been put through significant psychological conditioning that trained him to hate the Kredin. Everything he experienced was part of a simulation designed to recruit new soldiers. This conditioning seems to have a lasting affect when Ambassador Treen arrives to ensure Chakotay is unharmed. Chakotay is hostile toward the Ambassador noting that it is easy to hate and much harder to stop.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode is a great example of Star Trek at it’s best. Since the Original Series, Star Trek has been a fantastic way to present a social or political situation in a way that is both interesting and subtle. Sometimes they go a little too far (i.e. the anti drug episode of TNG) but when one of the episodes works…man it is something special.
This one is about perception and the process of hate. In any war, or confrontation, it is through manipulation of perception that innocent and kind people find themselves hating a person or an ideology. In many cases, this hate is unfounded as most people who harbor hate for a race or society have never actually encountered those they believe they hate. In Chakotay’s case he is told stories by the Vori about how vile and evil the Kradin are. Their stories are validated through suggestion and minor moments of hostilities that could be taken several different ways from an outside source. The problem is, after the see of hate or distrust has been planted, it is very difficult to stop that weed from growing.
This kind of thing has happened through time immemorial, each side believing themselves justified in their hatred while encouraging those around them to rally behind this belief. Much of these rally cries are filled with half-truths and outright lies but are told in such a way that makes them easy to understand and accept. These ideas are repeated, enforced and soon enhanced causing the one to be converted to begin to create false ideas and beliefs from this constant barrage of misinformation. We see this brainwashing technique in full use as Chakotay travels through the story, from being accepted by the soldiers to ‘seeing’ the results of the Kradin’s hostilities, he soon begins to find these stories to be plausible. He witnesses ceremonies and rituals within the Vori indicating that these are a civilized people, especially when it comes to burying their dead. After his new friends are killed, he is welcomed by innocents giving him a sense of connection to the Vori people only to have that comfort taken away by force by what he believes to be the Kradin. Soon he taken captive and is led to believe that the Kradin are committing atrocities further cementing his belief in his side of the war. This is the turning point as he is forced to watch people he has come to care for be ‘killed’ only…none of it was real. Everything was setup in a careful narrative with each beat reinforcing the last, praying on Chakotay’s kindness and moral standing. With this false narrative firmly implanted it will now be much harder for Chakotay to accept that the Kradin are not evil at all but are actually the victims in this narrative. If you notice, nearly every ‘atrocity’ that we are told the Kradin commit is based on hearsay and speculation. This is done on purpose as everything Chakotay heard and saw was staged in order to conscript him into the war.
While this is a scifi story that takes place during a war, such methods are implemented even in everyday life. Through social media misinformation, through what is now known as False News, a narrative is being played out and has affected you even if you don’t realize it. I won’t go into who or what group is messing with your beliefs but, with the plethora of false news and propaganda we see every day, there is no doubt that even my world view has been tampered with in some way. So, how do you prevent this? Well, for one thing you should always question everything. To paraphrase Poe, we should believe only half of what you see and nothing of what you hear but even that is not a foolproof plan these days. What we see can be manipulated in ways well beyond the imagination of even Edgar Allen Poe. The only way to be sure is to utilize critical thinking skills and question everything that has even the slightest hint of a falsehood. It is not an easy task as the best lies are often covered in truths but it has never been more necessary to come to your own beliefs using as much data as you can find from as many sources as you can find. Be sure that any source you find shows no bias, this is the first sign of an attempt at propaganda, the moment that source begins to attack either side of an argument then set it aside and look deeper. Finally, always keep an open mind. Even if someone’s sociological, political or religious beliefs run counter to your own, accept that they have a reason for these beliefs. To dismiss these beliefs outright make you just as bad as someone trying to spread falsehoods. Everyone has a story, learn it, you might be amazed at what you can add to your own story just by listening to someone else’s. Remember, if we ever want to find our way to the future Roddenberry showed us, we need to make peace with ourselves before we can hope to make peace with the stars.
Overall, This is a solid episode with a wonderful message. While it may be a little trope-y when it comes to science fiction, I still hold that Star Trek shines brightest when it attempts to shine it’s futuristic mirror at the world around us.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 22 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 0 remaining
- This is literally the third episode in a row where a shuttle is destroyed…seriously!
- We never see either the Vori or the Kradin again…heck if you think about it…we never really SAW the Vori as it was all a simulation…or do the Vori actually look just like the Kradin afterall?
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: Revulsion
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Late To The Game 9/14/2020
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.
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