25 – Tattoo

Grade: B-

Tattoo (1995) on IMDb


Voyager has stopped at a planet to pick up some supplies. They send Chakotay, Tuvok and Neelix down to the planet on a shuttlecraft because there are storms that prevent them from using the transporter. After they arrive, Chakotay recognizes a symbol that has been carved into the ground as the same symbol his father used once during a camping trip in a tropical rainforest. How can it be that 70,000 light years from Earth, the people on this planet use similar symbols that his father used years ago?


Is it just me, or does it also seem to you that in every other episode, they can’t use the transporters? I just thought I’d ask.

In this episode, we have a great character study for Chakotay. We learn about why he has the tattoo, and we also learn more about his background growing up. We also learn about his relationship with his father and how turning to the Maquis was Chakotay’s way of honoring his father after his death.

But this isn’t one of my favorite episodes. It’s one of the better ones that Voyager has made up to this point, but it still isn’t that great. The acting is mostly good, except from the actor playing the part of younger Chakotay. I don’t think he had a very good performance at all.

There are a whole bunch of Star Trek episodes in which one character explains everything at the end of the episode. This is definitely one of those episodes, and I’ve never liked this kind of storytelling. I don’t know exactly how else they could have done this story, but I don’t like it that there were 38 minutes of mystery and intrigue, and then 3 minutes of someone explaining everything at the end.

In this episode in particular, I thought that the story that was told to Chakotay was fine. In fact, it ties in very well with some of the ideas some people already have – that knowledge came to the distant ancestors of modern humanity via contact with aliens. There’s an entire show on the History channel called Ancient Aliens, and many of the people interviewed on that particular show believe that all of humanity’s achievements and scientific advances can be traced back to contact with extraterrestrials. I must admit this episode deals with it pretty well.

But I rate it a little low because it’s not one of my favorite episodes, and I don’t like the way the story was told. Too many things in this episode seemed like they were written only for plot convenience. There didn’t need to be so much danger for the ship, for example. Tuvok didn’t need to come with his phaser drawn and pointed at the alien who was talking to Chakotay. In fact, that went completely against what Chakotay was trying to say in the first place – that humanity isn’t the same as they were the last time these aliens dealt with humans.

Anyway, I just think this one could have been done better than it was. Actually, if it hadn’t been for Chakotay’s character development, this episode would have been much worse.

Of Note

Kes says that the Doctor has never felt pain so he can’t understand what it’s like, but just a few episodes ago (Projections), the Doctor actually did feel pain and actually was injured. But maybe Kes didn’t know that.

Chakotay says in this episode that “Captain Sulu” sponsored him for the Academy, but it’s not ever said if that was the same Sulu as in the Original Series, or if it was his daughter who was on the Enterprise B during Star Trek Generations. But I thought it was an interesting nod to previous Star Trek productions.