Thursday, 2 January 2014

Review: Voyager 2.2: Intiations
Kar assists Chakotay with avoiding booby traps.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Two, Episode Two - Initiations
Written 20/6/13

The first episode to be written for the second season, Initiation brings us in on an episode whose mission seems to be to correct a few of the mistakes made in the year prior. Thus, we are given 45 minutes to explore both Chakotay and The Kazon in a much greater level of depth than as before, perhaps providing the latter's only decent outing and strengthening the former considerably. It's an episode about fatherhood, about honour, and about how killing your immediate superior is always a good thing.
     Chakotay is out on a shuttle doing a funky ritual when he's attacked by a Kazon ship and is forced to save the occupant, a 13-year old named Kar, from an explosive death. Kar is summarily pissed, because he's been denied the glory of dying in battle and now he's been captured, he will lose the ability to gain his warrior name. The two are tractored onto another Kazon Ship, where the leader of Kar's sect tries to have Chakotay execute him. He refuses, and he and Kar escape to a local planet, where that sect's training grounds hold them stranded. As Voyager tracks Chakotay's path to the planet and runs into the Kazon, Kar bypasses new friend Chakotay's offer to let him kill him and instead kills his sect's leader, earning his warrior name and his future. Everyone lives happily ever after.
     The three prior appearances by the Kazon weren't very impressive, and very little was given about their culture other than their perpetual stupidity, shunning technology and being unable to find water despite being capable of faster-than-light travel. As they're a major Season Two villain, Initiations tries to do them some justice and presents us with a new image of Motorbike Gangs, with their territory and honour-based lifestyles. The characterisation of Kar is the first decently written Kazon in the series, helped no end by actor Aron Eisenburg, who at the time was a regular on sister show Deep Space Nine as young Ferengi Nog. It's a very good performance, and breaks the stigma of child actors quite considerably.
The Kazon go from straight-up Klingon rip-off to
Motorbike Gangs.
     Chakotay's development in this episode saw him being a little bit odd. Religious stereotypes aside, there's this general perception in Season One of Chakotay as the guy who doesn't play by the rules unless he likes them, and is willing to use his old Maquis tactics in service of Federation principles. He's the cool uncle of the crew. This episode has him trying to teach life-lessons to young Kar, and pretty much failing in everything except convincing Kar not to kill him. I thought it was a very strong set of scenes, though, as we've rarely been able to see trhis caring side of Chakotay before and his willingness to die to see Kar re-accepted into his sect was admirable.
     Initiatians revealed a series that looked to improve itself, and it did that with flying colours. The relationship between Kar and Chakotay was not portrayed with the more intimate directive style that I would perhaps have given it. But, besides that, the episode managed to portray the Kazon as an actually vaguely interesting culture for the first and if I recall correctly only time, as well as giving us some heartwarming character development for the show's cool uncle.


NEXT WEEK: An article I wrote several days ago. Confusing, isn't it. Not as confusing as the plot of Projections, though...

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