Monday, July 20, 2015

Character Insight No. 154: Best of Chakotay

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here 

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we return to the "Best Of" series with a look at the second in command on Voyager, Commander Chakotay.

Chakotay 2371.jpg

(Chakotay, once a Maquis but back to Starfleet, courtesy

In Initiations, we are introduced to Chakotay's background as he performs the ritual called Pakra, to commemorate the death anniversary of his father:

Chakotay: A-koo-chee-moya. I pray on this day of memories, to speak to my father - the one whom the wind called... Kolopak. Though I'm far from his bones, perhaps there is a spirit in these unnamed skies who will find him, and honor him with my song. A-koo-chee-moya. 

In the same episode, we also learn more about the way of his native people:

Chakotay: My people taught me, a man does not own land. He doesn't own anything but the courage and loyalty in his heart. That's where *my* power comes from. 

A few weeks later in the aptly-named episode Tattoo, Chakotay explains the distinctive facial tattoo he carries as being a relic of his father:

Commander Chakotay: [about his father] We weren't on very good terms when he died. Once he was gone, I didn't know how to reconcile our differences, how to heal our old wounds. I returned to my colony and continued the fight in his name. I took the mark that he wore to honor his ancestors. I spoke to him in my vision quests. But he never answered - until now. 

In the episode Nemesis, Chakotay is captured on an alien world and made to fight in a civil war. This is one episode where he is the sole star, and the opportunity is not wasted as we see Chakotay deliver such wisdom from his past as this:

Chakotay: There's no shame in being afraid of fighting. Having the trembles is natural. 
Rafin: How do you fathom that? 
Chakotay: Because I've been in battle before, fighting to free my people, from a nemesis called the Cardassians. 
Rafin: These Cardassians... were they beasts? 
Chakotay: Let's just say they weren't very friendly. The point is: even though I believed in what we were doing, I always felt fear before a fight. 

Chakotay and Captain Janeway learn to trust each other over time, including on missions where the two are stranded together for long periods of time. In the episode Shattered, the friendly dialogue between these characters shows a bit of Chakotay's good spirit:

Captain Janeway: You're late. Unfortunately, so's dinner. 
Chakotay: Let me guess: you burned the roast again. 
Captain Janeway: Once, a long time ago, I called this replicator a glorified toaster. It never forgave me. 
Chakotay: I didn't realize replicators held grudges. 

and later...

Captain Kathryn Janeway: Doesn't seem like my first command is shaping up the way I expected. 
Chakotay: "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself astray in a dark wood, where the straight road had been lost." 
Captain Kathryn Janeway: I didn't know Dante's Inferno was on the Maquis reading list. 
Chakotay: Actually, I borrowed your copy. 
Chakotay: Anyway, I agree with Dante: if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip. 
Captain Kathryn Janeway: A soldier *and* a philosopher. Your intelligence file doesn't do you justice. 

Until next time, don't assume that facial tattoos are only for crazy people.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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