In which Chakotay gets everyone killed, probably.
After a brief establishing shot showing Voyager not searching for minerals on a planet, we find that Janeway has found some job for Suder to do while he whiles away his confinement. He and Tuvok are experimenting with botanical hybrids, and Suder is naming his first creation after Tuvok, for helping him learn to control himself. He’s found a new peace and wants to thank Tuvok and help the ship, by using his new GMO techniques on the aeroponic garden to increase food yield. With those character moments establishing him as maybe a good guy now but also still creepily intense, they begin to meditate.
Meanwhile, Voyager is being hailed by an unmanned bouey set by Seska, about Chakotay’s son. You know, the one she made with stolen baby-batter, and it looks like her lie about the baby being Maj Cullah’s did, in fact, have that built-in expiration date after all. Now she’s not in particularly good shape, still stuck aboard that Kazon ship, and no longer favored by the Maj.
Chakotay is really angry, but mostly, it seems, because despite all logic and reason he still feels responsible. Janeway won’t let him go in by himself, but they have to consider that Seska is a better plotter than everyone on Voyager and they can’t discount thte possibility that she’s playing them on a deep level. Whether Janeway’s being kind or cruel by letting Chakotay balance the fate of his unwitting baby against the good of the entire ship and crew is up to the viewer. For Chakotay, he needs is spirit guide.
He receives a vision of his father, who refuses to hear the circumstances around the child before declaring it a celebration. Once Papa Chakotay hears the heart of the problem, that’s all he’s willing to consider – the child isn’t guilty of any deception, so whatever the circumstances around Seska, that’s where the question has to start. Thus, Chakotay has his answer.
Neelix has some contacts who will be on standby for as long as Voyager is in comms range, which will be a little less than two days if they’re crawling. Tuvok will be running battle drills, Harry has some ideas for creating sensor ghosts, and the Doctor suggests augmenting these with fully-fledged ship holograms, which seems cool but ought to be far less useful than the sensor ghosts because in space you don’t operate by humanoid sight. At least, you shouldn’t. I have this image of a bunch of Kazon peering frantically out of every window and shouting forward to the bridge when ever they spot a ship. But hey, any advantage would be useful, as long as it’s worth the power trade-off. As they approach Kazon space, they’ll be running as silent as possible.
The first thing Voyager locates is a shuttle, drifting, with one injured Kazon male that Janeway orders beamed to Sick Bay. The injured man turnes out to be Tierna, one of Seska’s posse and the guy who beat up Chakotay. He claims Seska is dead, with her throat cut as Cullah watched. Tierna escaped via bribery, and the baby was taken elsewhere to be raised as a servant. Nobody’s found any evidence that this is part of a trap, but that doesn’t stop the suspicion. The crew continue to test him, and he even gives them codes to the Nistram defense net, but they’re still heading into Kazon pirate-faction territory.
They start off running into a minor raider, which does minimal damage to the ship. Since they’re going to be relatively unthreatened for a while, Janeway and Tuvok take this time to interview Suder. One thing I can’t stop noticing is how Suder’s quarters are so dark. that might be to artificially control the plants, but it might also just be to keep the dramatic lighting. He’s not asking to leave his quarters, just for some chemicals and equipment, and when Janeway says she’ll take some time to think about it, he gets all scary-intense again.
The Kazon continue to attack, focusing on the starbord ventral section of the ship, which appears to be connected to some backup command systems. I wonder if this is a plot?! Also, Tierna’s got a chronic condition that the Doctor has no explanation for but almost certainly won’t turn out to be a binary component of some sort of sabotage explosive or virus. The next attack gets through the shields and starts fires on the ship and knocks out the secondary command processors completely. Thus, Terina’s being confined to quarters for assuring them that the pirates would be nonaligned and just on general principles, and he gets a secure quarters right next to Suder, because why waste the manpower.
Voyager is attempting to reverse course, and are met by eight Kazon ships in a Cardassian attack pattern, with an obvious escape route which Janeway is not dumb enough to take. Thus begins Voyager activating their own bag of tricks, reducing the odds down to 4-to-1. The Doctor is worried about engaging their new holo-ships, but apparently these photonic Talaxian ships are so good they can even absorb particle beam fire. Maybe, maybe the ship is projecting force fields in the middle of these ships to absorb the phaser fire and make the effect look more convincing, but I if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Shadowrun it’s that you can do way more interesting stuff with free-floating force fields than that. Also, when they try to activate the third photonic Talaxian ship, they instead project the Doctor out into space and make me wish I’d saved this screenshot space for now. In space, you can, apparently, hear the Doctor scream.
This fight is important enough that Voyager is willing to expend photon torpedoes in a moment of victory that’s about to be undercut by Tierna using a toenail and some basic legerdemain to blow himself up and take out major power components. The holographic ships are gone, Warp engines are unstable, and presumably the backup systems that the Kazon were targeting would have helped but now aren’t. Paris is going to flee in a shuttle to get the Talaxian reinforcements that were brought up once but never came into play, but he’s shot down and, if we’re optimistic, loses only his comms immediately. Voyager is being boarded, with firefights breaking out on all decks, and Janyway orders self-destruct. It’s here that the damage to the command processors comes into play, and the self-destruct won’t engage. The bridge is boarded and the crew taken captive.
Turn’s out Seska’s not dead, Maj Cullah is intent on raising the baby as his own, and Seska changed her story to claim that Chakotay raped her. Presumably also that she has a gestation period even longer than Sam Wildman’s husband’s species. The Voyager crew will be dropped off on a garbage planet, which I guess is better than getting spaced. Although if they’re all being rounded up in a cargo bay, that’s still a possibility. During the hunt, the Doctor turns himself off, but sets a reactivation delay for twelve hours later. The Kazon also check Suder’s room, but instead of being killed by the explosion next door, he’s gone. Paris’ shuttle was destroyed, but Seska demands they be extra triple certain, because she’s the smartest character on the ship and if she wasn’t evil she should be in charge.
The new home for the Voyager crew is a lava-blasted hellscape, but damned if the Kazon aren’t pretty good at piloting Voyager, including an in-atmo planetary landing. Maj Cullah giggling like a child at his new ship is pretty cute, though. Now the Voyager crew is stripped of their technology and have to play Minecraft until help arrives. Please ignore that they don’t actually bother to divide up the crew into teams before splitting up, and the fact that they gave Neelix a team. For the latter, at least, this is probably the setting in which he can be the most autonomously useful. Oh, also, watch for the Vasquez Rocks, and definitely don’t take your eyes off the caves full of dino-lizards and local aborigines while you watch Voyager fly away in the hands of clannish pirates.
As we end the episode, we see the Doctor get reactivated, and Suder skulking around in the ducts. Who’s ready for Die Starred 2?