(written from a Production point of view)
Chakotay is trapped on a planet where two species are fighting a genocidal war against each other.
Commander Chakotay is captured walking at night in a jungle on a Delta Quadrant world by the Vori when his shuttle is shot down during a survey mission. They quickly decide he is not a threat to them and decide integrate him into their team. They tell Chakotay of the "Beast", the enemy they are fighting against. Chakotay explains to the soldiers that he needs to contact his vessel, the USS Voyager. He cannot reach the ship using his combadge, as the Kradin, the species hostile to the Vori, have disabled communications in the battle zone. Brone, the leader of the Fourth Vori Defense Contingent, assigns Namon to guide Chakotay to the wreckage of his downed shuttle. Brone advises Chakotay to wait for the dawn or the "new light", as he calls it before leaving.
The Vori speak an odd language which Chakotay easily picks up, mostly from engaging in conversation with a Vori youth named Rafin, who is teased by Namon on his inexperience in combat, as well as his nervousness in battle. Chakotay tries to relate Rafin to a young Kradin soldier out there who might be as afraid as he is to fight. During this, Rafin informs Chakotay on why the Vori hate the Kradin so much, such as their appearance, the burning seen in their eyes. Rafin's motivation for hatred of the Kradin stems from the destruction of Rafin's home village as well as their killing of Rafin's relatives.
The next day, while walking with Namon to search for the shuttle's wreckage, Chakotay tells him of his battles back in the Alpha Quadrant with the Cardassians, when he asks the commander if he has ever killed before. Chakotay tells the soldier that it was the worst thing he has ever had to do. Namon tells Chakotay that if he were a Vori, he would crave to drive off the Kradin from their world just as he does. Chakotay and Namon discover a small piece of the shuttle on the ground, and Voyager's first officer remarks that there does not seem to be much left of his shuttle. Just then, he and Namon come under attack from two Kradin. Namon is hit, but he fires off a shot before falling which happens to kill one. Chakotay rushes the other and manages to take his weapon. "Don't make me kill you!", he shouts at the Kradin soldier. The Kradin is shot anyway shortly after by Brone and Namon is declared "nullified".
During Namon's memorial, Chakotay learns about the Vori's culture, specifically their burial rituals, like how they bury their bodies downturned. Afterwards, Chakotay is given Namon's uniform, as his Starfleet uniform is noticeable enough to draw attention by the Kradin. He then goes through some basic training from Rafin, particularly in Vori firearms and later, his group sets off to meet a second group, the seventh contingent. When they arrive at the rendezvous point, they discover that the other group has been slaughtered and desecrated. The Kradin arrive and quickly kill most of Chakotay's group, including Rafin, but he manages to escape to a nearby village. There he is greeted and treated as a hero by some Vori. He becomes friends with a young Vori girl named Karya. She asks him to deliver a letter to her brother, Daryo, who is fighting in the seventh defense contingent, which was ambushed and annihilated by Kradin forces. Chakotay agrees to drop off her letter at a restock unit despite this.
The next day the Vori village is attacked by the Kradin and most of the villagers, including Penno, Karya's grandfather, are marched off to extermination centers. After Karya is taken away herself, this enrages Chakotay and he attacks the Kradin commandant but is easily overpowered. The villagers seem doomed.
Meanwhile, the crew of Voyager is concerned about the fate of Chakotay on the planet's surface. Janeway has Neelix contact an ambassador named Treen and invite him to beam aboard the ship in order to discuss how they can find Chakotay.
Lieutenant Tuvok suggests that he should go down to the planet to search for Chakotay on his own, despite Lieutenant Tom Paris's objections. Tuvok alone will join a commando group from the Kradin to expedite his search for Chakotay. When Ambassador Treen arrives, it is revealed that the Voyager crew has been negotiating with the Kradin, not the Vori.
After managing to escape, Chakotay is approached by a single Kradin and almost shoots him but he discovers that the Kradin is actually Tuvok. Brone, injured, shouts to Chakotay to ignore this, as it is a Kradin tactic. He is taken away by a Kradin officer. To prove that everything Chakotay had experienced was a delusion, Tuvok then leads him back to the village, where Chakotay is greeted by the people who should have been exterminated earlier that day and in a scene that was nearly identical to his first experience there.
Back on Voyager, The Doctor reveals that Chakotay has undergone extensive psychological conditioning and training to hate the Kradin. Everything he had experienced up to that day had been an illusion as part of the training. Apparently, risking his life to attack a Kradin officer was enough to promote him to active duty in the Vori's conditioning. Kradin ambassador Treen enters sickbay to talk to Chakotay, but Chakotay says nothing and after a tense, angry silence storms out of the room. In the corridor outside sickbay, Chakotay remarks to Janeway, "I wish it were as easy to stop hating as it was to start." He continues to walk away.
Log entries Edit
- "Captain's log, stardate 51082.4. After searching for more than two days, we finally located what's left of Commander Chakotay's shuttle. I can only hope the commander has fared better than his vessel."
- "Captain's log, stardate 51096.5. Although Lieutenant Tuvok has managed to bring Commander Chakotay safely back to the ship, it may be some time before his psychological wounds are fully healed."
Memorable quotes Edit
"How is he?"
- - Chakotay and Rafin, after Namon was shot
"Welcome aboard, Ambassador. Thank you for agreeing to help us find our crewman."
"Your thanks are unnecessary, Captain. Any victim of our bloodthirsty nemesis, the Vori, will always find friends among the Kradin people."
- - Janeway and Treen
"If we greet the nemesis in the trunks, you'll fire like the rest. As long as you're with us, you do my tellings. Fathom?"
- - Brone and Chakotay
- - Chakotay, as he repeatedly punches the Kradin commandant
"From the condition of your hypothalamus, I'd say they had you so mixed up they could have convinced you your own mother was a turnip."
- - The Doctor, to Chakotay
"I wish it were as easy to stop hating as it was to start."
- - Chakotay to Janeway
"You are a scientist, an explorer. You are not a killer."
- - Tuvok, to Chakotay
Background information Edit
Title, story, and language Edit
- This episode had the working title "The Recruit".  The episode's ultimately-used title (along with TNG: "First Contact") later served as the subtitle of one of the Next Generation motion pictures (namely, Star Trek Nemesis).
- During the first day of production on this episode, executive producer Jeri Taylor stated, "It's a story about how people can be taught to hate, about propaganda, and about how wars can come out of a conscious attempt to impose hate in people. It's one of those stories that is supposed to make you think a little bit." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 14) Writer Kenneth Biller himself remarked, "We set out to explore the whole nature of propaganda." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 81)
- The Vori language seems strange, but it merely substitutes various words with lesser-known synonyms (e.g., "glimpses" instead of "sees" or "eyes"). Referencing the medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer, Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew commented about the Vori's vernacular, "Almost Chaucerian, they speak in what is like Old English." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 9) Regarding the creation of this communication style, Ken Biller commented, "I tried to create an interesting language for the aliens. Our aliens either sound too Human or they sound kind of hokey, and it's tough to find a balance. I decided to try to do something that was more stylized, where the language itself became part of the indoctrination, so that they spoke differently than our people do, and Chakotay began to speak with their language as he became more and more indoctrinated into this culture." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 81)
- This episode's final draft script was submitted on 13 June 1997. 
Cast and characters Edit
- In the interview that Jeri Taylor gave on the first day of this episode's production period, Taylor noted that the installment presented an opportunity to remedy a feeling that the character of Chakotay (as played by Robert Beltran) was not utilized enough at the end of the previous season: "Chakotay is a wonderful character played by a wonderful actor and, in the second half of the [third] season, we didn't find enough good stuff for him to do. So we are addressing that early on this season with a very strong episode for him." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 14) Indeed, the episode so centrally features the character of Chakotay that Kate Mulgrew once described the installment (referring indirectly to the Vori) by stating, "'Nemesis' is just Robert Beltran alone, with a very bizarre species." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 9)
- Kate Mulgrew had high hopes for this episode. She predicted, "It should be interesting." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 9)
- Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) does not appear in this episode. It is the only episode, after she joined the cast of Star Trek: Voyager, in which she does not appear.
- This episode entered production early on a Thursday morning in June 1997. (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 14)
- Director Alexander Singer spent hours thinking about how to depict the episode's elaborate planet setting and how to overcome the related limitations. "We had to create a wooded forest that had many different aspects in both day and night," he recalled. "There were many scenes that each had to look special and different. I spent many hours studying the possibilities." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 64)
- Ultimately, Ken Biller was pleased with the creation of the planet's jungle environment. "We did two location days on that show (on the Warner Brothers backlot), and then built a great jungle set," Biller explained, "so you can't really tell what's on the stage and what's on location. (Production designer) Richard James did a really great job." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 81)
- Make-up supervisor Michael Westmore was conscious of making the Kradin physically similar to Nausicaans (first seen in TNG: "Tapestry"). "The bad-looking good guys of ST:VOY's 'Nemesis', the Kradin, resembled the Nausicaans from ST:TNG but in a nastier way," Westmore commented, "with the mouth opened a little more and the hair not quite as beaded and braided." (Star Trek Monthly issue 42, pp. 82-83)
- The Kradin uniforms were reuses of Mokra Order uniforms from the second season installment "Resistance". (Delta Quadrant, p. 200)
- The PADD that Karya gives to Chakotay, with a letter for her brother, Daryo, is a reuse of a PADD containing schematics for the Etanian Order starship, from the third season episode "Rise".
- The Kradin and the Vori are armed with contemporary weapons. (Delta Quadrant, p. 200)
- According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 200), the Kradin aircraft were Harrier Jump Jets modified with CGI.
Continuity and trivia Edit
- The makeup of the Kradin resembles not only that of the Nausicaans but also that of Fek'lhr (from TNG: "Devil's Due"), as well as the aliens from the Predator movies, giving the Kradin an archetypal vicious and untrustworthy appearance despite their good intentions.
- This is the third episode in a row wherein a Voyager shuttlecraft is lost. In "The Gift", a shuttle is lost when Kes evolves; in "Day of Honor", the Cochrane is destroyed by the Caatati; and here, Chakotay loses a third.
- The firearm used by the Vori is a Ruger Mini-14 fitted with a Muzzelite bullpup stock, model MZ14. The Kradin firearm is also a modified assault rifle, the AKU-94 modification of a Kalashnikov.
- Jeri Taylor once enthusiastically described this episode as "a script by Kenneth Biller that I love." Taylor then said, "He's written it in a very interesting and original fashion." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 14) She also cited this episode as "one of the strongest" of "some very interesting [Chakotay] shows" in the series and went on to say, "I was terribly pleased with that." (Star Trek Monthly issue 36, pp. 12 & 13)
- Ken Biller himself was very proud of this episode. Regarding the task of setting out to explore the issue of propaganda, Biller enthused, "[We] did it fairly successfully." Speaking more generally about the installment, he continued, "Disappointments with it were [that] I think we shouldn't have said at the end that everything was a simulation. It should have been clear that some of these other young soldiers were also being recruited in the same way that Chakotay was. 'Nemesis' was probably, of what I did, my favorite of the year. It came out really pretty well, and it had a good twist." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 81)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.5 million homes, and a 7% share. 
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 80)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 61)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 201) gives this installment a rating of 7 out of 10.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.2, 2 March 1998
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
- Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
- Michael Mahonen as Brone
- Matt E. Levin as Rafin
- Nathan Anderson as Namon
- Peter Vogt as Kradin Commandant
- Booth Colman as Penno
- Meghan Murphy as Karya
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Chuck Borden as Kradin
- George Cambio as Vori soldier
- Glenn Goldstein as Vori soldier
- Mark Major as dead Vori
- Tom Morga as Kradin
- Brooke Stephens as Naomi Wildman (voice)
- Egypt Thompson as Vori soldier
- Unknown performers as Vori villagers
Stunt double Edit
bad breath; biochemical weapon; Cardassian; clay mark; Daryo; Gloried Way After; graduation; hypothalamus; Kradin; Kradin fighter; "Krady beast"; Larhana settlement; logic; mind control; omicron radiation; photometric projection; propaganda; psychotropic manipulation; radiation; rotting; team leader; turnip; Vori; Vori Defense Contingent; Vori language
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