“Tattoo” is the 25th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager, the ninth episode of the second season.
In this episode, Voyager investigates possible sources of a material it needs to continue on its journey home and Chakotay (Robert Beltran) mysteriously finds a symbol known to his family’s Native American tribe back on Earth.
This television episode guest stars actor Douglas Spain as a young Chakotay, as well as several other guest stars for the flashback sequences and exoplanet inhabitants. Back on Voyager, the Doctor hologram explores human illness to be a better doctor.
Leading an away team to an uninhabited moon, Chakotay (Robert Beltran) comes across a familiar symbol drawn on the ground. He has a flashback and remembers seeing a similar symbol drawn by his Native American tribe on Earth when he was a young boy (Douglas Spain). Tuvok (Tim Russ) attempts to question him about it, but he is reluctant to discuss it with him. He tells Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) about his discovery, though, and the two of them find a warp trail leading away from the moon to a planet. They decide to investigate, both to pursue the mystery of the symbol and because the planet contains useful minerals.
Efforts to reach the planet are inexplicably hindered. Isolated storms form instantly when the crew tries to beam down by transporter, and when they take a shuttlecraft, more intense storms develop, making approach difficult. When they finally touch down, Neelix (Ethan Phillips) is attacked by a hawk and must be transported back to the ship. Chakotay has further flashbacks, and remembers hiking through a rain forest on Earth with his father (Henry Darrow) in an attempt to locate their ancestral tribe. As a teenager, he had been non-receptive to the experience, telling his father that their heritage was unimportant and that they should embrace the 24th century rather than focusing on their past. The Voyager away team discovers structures similar to those that Chakotay and his father discovered on their journey.
Chakotay believes that they are being watched by the local inhabitants, and orders the away team to lay down their weapons, to make it clear that they are not a threat. He recalls his father doing the same thing, upon which the Rubber Tree People his father was seeking emerged from the forest. A storm appears from nowhere, and the crew are forced to beam back to Voyager. Chakotay loses his comm badge and is trapped on the surface. He dons some native clothes that he finds on the ground and goes searching for the inhabitants of the planet. Meanwhile, Captain Janeway decides to land Voyager to search for their missing commander. As with the shuttlecraft, a storm forms as they begin their landing sequence. The storm quickly grows to cyclone strength, setting Voyager on an uncontrollable crash course.
On the planet, Chakotay slips through a lightning barrier to enter a cave for shelter and is confronted by the local population. They bear the same tattoo as Chakotay, who explains that he wears it in honour of his father as his father did before him. The locals describe how they gave a gift to Chakotay’s ancestors to protect and care for the planet, but believed them to have been eradicated by other humans. Thus, the “sky spirits” believed Voyager’s true intentions were to seek out and destroy them and had been responsible for the various storms encountered. Chakotay convinces them that humans have learned from their mistakes and truly came in peace. They dissipate the storm around Voyager mere seconds before the ship would have crashed onto the planet. For the first time in his life, Chakotay feels a connection to his people.
In a minor sub-plot, The Doctor (Robert Picardo) wants to prove to the crew that mild illnesses do not have to inhibit work. He programmes a simulated flu for himself as to act as an example to the rest of the crew. However, Kes (Jennifer Lien) programmes it to last longer than he is expecting, in order to prove to him that people who are sick deserve sympathy, and he becomes a terrible patient, begging for the rest of the crew to look after him.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Alexander Singer.
- Writer(s): Larry Brody.
- Release Date: 06 November 1995.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.