18 – Initiations

Grade: C

Initiations (1995) on IMDb


Janeway gives Chakotay permission to take a shuttlecraft off the ship for a while and honor his father who is dead. He doesn’t know that he has crossed into Kazon Ogla space, and they dispatch a 13 year old boy to kill him or die in the attempt. Chakotay manages to destroy the ship, but just before it explodes, he transports the boy onto his shuttlecraft, which means now he can’t earn his name or respect among his people.


Here is yet another average episode. We learn some bits about the Kazon, like the fact that they’re at war against each other all the time, and their territories change every day. It’s a warrior species that takes a great deal of pride in conquests and victories. They also have a strange ritual in which they would rather kill 13 year old boys than have them return home from battles they could not hope to win in the first place. We also learn a bit about Chakotay’s heritage, though it isn’t much and it’s not very deep. Personally, I’d prefer more of a “show, not tell” approach when it comes to character development.

Speaking of which, it was nice to see Tom Paris in command of the ship. I think he would have made a fine commander, if he had ever had the chance. It was also nice to see Neelix lend his assistance for once. Up to now, all we have from him is talk. He says he’s a good cook, he says he knows the Delta Quadrant, and he says he’s familiar with the dangers and the species around here. Now it’s good that we finally see him deliver on those promises. The only unfortunate thing is how he displays his abilities. When on the bridge, when Tom is in command, Neelix basically takes over instead of advising Paris and allowing him to make the final decision and to be the commander of the ship. I seriously doubt that Janeway would have allowed Neelix to take over like that, and I know that none of the other Captains would have. It’s a shame that the writers made Paris seem weak in his first command opportunity he has on the ship. Who knows if this chance will ever come back around again.

The story is actually deeper and more interesting than what we’ve seen so far since State of Flux, which was 7 episodes ago. I was glad to watch a better story than some of those bad ones.

But that’s about all that’s good about this episode. The rest is pretty mediocre. As far as villains go, the Kazon seem petty, weak, and stupid. Having already seen this series during its original run, I know that we’re not stuck with the Kazon indefinitely. But as I’m watching this now, I really hope Voyager can cross their territory quickly so that we can move on to more worthy villains.

Here’s this episode’s version of “because it’s in the script”. Once Chakotay and Kar escape from the Kazon ship, Chakotay decides to jump to warp and return to Voyager. Kar says they shouldn’t do that because these Kazon ships are actually stronger at higher speeds. So Chakotay of course keeps it slow and the shuttle is destroyed. It’s totally ridiculous. I can’t imagine Chakotay of all people would do this. He was a Maquis officer and he certainly would have taken his chances to speed off to Voyager as soon as possible. Besides, it’s not like Voyager was that far away. It wouldn’t take them very long to get there, and I’m sure they would have sped up to meet him if he had sent them a distress call. But it’s in the script for the shuttle to be destroyed, so Kar tells him to keep it slow. I would have preferred for them to have found a more logical way to keep them around and in the line of fire.

So overall, this is just an average effort. I may rate this slightly higher after I watch more episodes.

Of Note

Chakotay’s shuttle is destroyed in this episode. I believe this is the first one to be destroyed in this series. We’ll see how many others are destroyed as the series goes on.

But what’s even more interesting is that Chakotay had several items with him on the shuttle which he uses later in his quarters on Voyager. But the shuttle was destroyed at the beginning of the episode. So Chakotay would have had to carry those things with him throughout the episode, including after the shuttle exploded and he was transported onto the surface of the moon. It seems to me that he probably lost those artifacts in the explosion, but maybe the famous Voyager Reset Button makes it possible for him to have those things again.