Voyager detects a Federation signal and suspects that it might be a rescue attempt by Starfleet, but upon scanning it, they're ambushed by two Kazon vessels. Using knowledge of Voyager's access codes, the smaller vessel penetrates the ship's shields and pierces the hull. A Kazon boarding party fights their way through the ship to steal a transporter module, damage the remaining transporters, and beam away. Janeway holds the larger ship in a tractor beam, so the ship hails them. First Majeh Culluh of the Kazon-Nistrim greets them and reveals that he's working with the former Voyager crew member and Cardassian deep-cover agent Seska. She disrupts Voyager's tractor beam, allowing the ship to escape.
Janeway is concerned that Federation technology in the hands of the Kazon will disrupt the power balance of the quadrant. The ship makes plans to pursue Culluh and Seska. Chakotay, a former lover of Seska's, feels particularly betrayed and responsible for the calamity. Meanwhile, Culluh meets with the leaders of the two largest sects of the Kazon and proposes an alliance using his newfound technology to rule the quadrant. Instead, the other leaders demand that he hand over the technology to them so that they can lead the conquest. Seska tricks the leaders into being "escorted back to their ships." When Voyager arrives on the scene, they find both leaders floating in space, having been transported there by Seska.
After inspecting the dead Kazon, Janeway prepares to implement her plan to catch up with Culluh but discovers that Chakotay has gone rogue. Feeling culpable for Seska's betrayal, he snuck away on a shuttlecraft to go on a suicide mission and clean up his mess himself. Enraged at his insubordination, Janeway decides to pursue him. Torres pleads with Janeway to understand Chakotay's perspective and go easy on him when they bring him back. Meanwhile, Seska convinces Culluh to gather an alliance of the weaker sects under his banner. However, their relationship has grown shakier.
Chakotay catches up with Culluh's ship and prepares an assault. Seska detects his ship and reveals his position, but as the ship opens fire, she realizes that Chakotay has already beamed aboard. He destroys the transporter module and sends a message back to Voyager announcing his success and warning Janeway not to pursue him. He's quickly captured and interrogated by Seska. He reveals that he wiped the shuttlecraft's computer, leaving Seska with little Federation technology to give her any advantage. Seska demands that he give over Voyager's access codes, but Chakotay won't budge. Even after being tortured and drugged by Culluh, Chakotay refuses to talk and instead tries to drive a wedge between the First Maje and Seska. After Culluh takes a break, Seska uses a device to insert a needle into Chakotay's neck.
Culluh receives the leaders of several Kazon sects and proposes an alliance, claiming to already have Voyager's command codes. Their negotiations are interrupted by Voyager itself. The small Kazon fleet attack, and the Majes demand that Culluh use his command codes, but Culluh delays. Even without the codes, the fleet pummels ''Voyager. Onboard, Torres is unable to transport Chakotay to safety due to Seska's efforts in blocking their efforts. Instead, Janeway has the ship transport all of the First Majes onboard and hold them hostage. At phaserpoint, Tuvok demands the return of Chakotay and all Federation technology in return for their freedom. They reluctantly agree.
Afterward, Janeway dresses Chakotay down for his insubordination and tells him that he's being written up. Chakotay shows remorse, saying he never intended to make Janeway's job more difficult. They're called away to the bridge, where they're hailed by Seska. Having escaped, Seska smugly reveals that she's impregnated herself with Chakotay's genetic material.
This episode has the following tropes:
- Artistic License – Biology: Seska gets the DNA to impregnate herself by jabbing a needle into Chakotay's neck. One would think she'd jab it somewhere else, but that might have been a bit much for the audience.
- Asskicking Leads to Leadership: With Voyager's technology, Maje Cullah plans to unite the Kazon factions under his command.
- The Bait
- Voyager detects a Federation signal with an encryption code dated after they left Deep Space Nine, originating from inside nearby Space Clouds where the Kazon vessels are hiding.
- The Kazon tractor Chakotay's shuttle onto their vessel, only to find it's empty and he's already beamed on board elsewhere.
- Band of Brothers: B'Elanna asks Janeway to consider the effect on morale if there's no attempt to rescue Chakotay.
- Breaching Pod: The Kazon (under Seska's guidance) modify one of their shuttles with a bow that can smash through Voyager's hull, enabling a boarding party to steal the transporter component.
- Call-Back: Captain Janeway gets the same emotion vs. logic viewpoints from Tuvok and B'Elanna that Captain Kirk did from Spock and Bones.
- Conflict Ball: Tuvok suggests to Chakotay (in front of several other crewmembers) that he use his intimate knowledge of Seska to manipulate her the same way she has manipulated him. For Tuvok (and indeed the majority of Vulcans before Star Trek: Enterprise) this is incredibly rude and out of character.
- Continuity Nod:
- That the command codes of a Starfleet vessel can be used to lower their shields was shown in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Beaming at warp speed is possible if two ships are at the same warp factor.
- Death Glare: Chakotay to Tuvok, when he makes the above comment.
- Disappointed in You: Janeway gives a low-key reprimand of Chakotay (given that she can't really afford to demote him).Janeway: How do you expect me to keep order when the First Officer takes it upon himself to run off like some cowboy because he decides it's a good idea? What you did was commendable. The way you did it was not. You set a terrible example. And on a personal level, you've made my job more difficult.Chakotay: If that's so, I regret it.Janeway: I'm putting you on report, in case that means anything anymore.Chakotay: It means something to me, Captain. It means I've let you down, and for that I'm truly sorry.
- Distress Ball: Chakotay takes off on his one-man mission so no-one else will risk their lives to correct his mistake, but of course the crew come after him anyway.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Seska is the real brains behind the Kazon-Nistrim, even ordering about Cullah's men despite the innately patriarchal Kazon culture.
- Evil Makes You Ugly: Seska is stuck in mid-transformation from Bajoran to Cardassian.
- Femme Fatale Spy: Seska uses her feminine wiles on both Chakotay and Culluh.
- Get It Over With: Chakotay tells Seska to just go ahead and kill him after he surrenders to her.
- Guile Heroine: Unable to beam out Chakotay, Janeway beams all the Majes to her ship so she can make a hostage exchange.
- Humiliation Conga: Played for drama with Chakotay, who blames himself for trusting Seska and everything that came from that. And it happens right up to the end of the episode, when the entire Bridge crew hears her mocking message that she essentially raped him.
- Idiot Ball:
- Kazon knowing their shield frequencies assumes that Voyager crew apparently didn't bother to change their access codes after Seska left.
- Chakotay assuming that Voyager won't come after him if he hares off on a one-man mission.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: Chakotay tells Cullah that Seska will kill him one day. Afterward Seska tells Chakotay that it was a clever ploy, "But you know, I'm not a killer. If I were, you'd have been dead a long time ago."
- Impairment Shot: After Chakotay is drugged to make him talk.
- In Love with the Mark: Despite her denials, it's obvious that Seska has feelings for Chakotay and that is why she won't kill him.
- It's Personal: Chakotay feels personally responsible for Seska's betrayal and goes off on his own to clean up the mess.
- I Shall Taunt You: Chakotay enjoys telling Cullah about Seska while the Kazon is beating him for information."She's quite a woman, isn't she? Does she rub your shoulders and tell you you're the most exciting man she's ever known? That's what she used to do for me. What's the matter? Didn't she tell you about us?"
- Kick the Dog: Seska leaves an automated message beacon for Chakotay. He's a father!
- Magic Plastic Surgery: The only one of her kind in the Delta Quadant... and yet Seska still finds a way to restore her old Cardassian features.
- Manipulative Bitch
- Meaningful Look: Between Seska and Cullah when the former suggests they beam a recalcitrant Maje back to his ship.
- Obvious Trap: Seska leaves an obvious warp trail for Voyager to follow.
- Reset Button: So when exactly did Voyager pull into a space dock to repair that hole smashed in her side?
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When things start going leola root-shaped Seska leaves the room, ostensibly to go to the Bridge. Cullah goes to follow her, but is stopped at gunpoint by the other Majes who realise he's been lying through his teeth about having Voyager's command codes.
- Ship Tease: B'Elanna's interaction with, and defense of, Chakotay takes on an interesting subtext given her "Persistence of Vision" fantasies.
- Silent Running Mode: Chakotay uses some Old Maquis Tricks™ to sneak up on the Kazon cruiser in a shuttle and scan it for the stolen transporter tech. Seska uses "photonic charges" in the usual submarine vs. depth charge metaphor to detect him.
- Spoiler Opening: Early on, the crew are wondering how they are picking up a Federation signal in the Delta Quadrant; Paris optimistically suggests that the Federation found some way to send a probe. At this point the credits inform us that Seska's actor, Martha Hackett, will be guest-starring in this episode, giving the audience a big hint about who might actually be sending that signal.
- Straw Vulcan: Tuvok is uncharacteristically callous in this episode. There are in fact logical reasons for going after Chakotay, as B'Elanna points out.
- Suicide Mission: Chakotay knows he won't survive his one-man mission, and leaves a recorded message for Captain Janeway telling her to give him up for dead.
- Swiss-Cheese SecurityJaneway: What I want to know, Mister Tuvok, is how he was able to get a shuttlecraft off this ship without either of us knowing about it.Tuvok: Apparently he was able to override the lockout command.Janeway: I guess Seska's not the only one who knows how to compromise our security systems.Tuvok: I assure you it will not happen again.note
- Took a Level in Badass: Thanks to Seska's knowledge of Voyager's systems, the Kazon become a much more serious threat.
- Ultimate Job Security: Janeway can't afford to abandon or demote Chakotay, as the effect on morale will be too great, especially with the ex-Maquis crewmembers.
- Weaponized Teleportation: Cullah asks a powerful Kazon faction leader to help him take down Voyager. The Maje isn't interested and implies he might take the transporter technology for himself. So Culluh says he'll beam the Maje and his Number One back to his ship...only Voyager finds their bodies drifting in space.
- We Will Meet Again: Seska leaves a final taunting message for Chakotay. He's won this round, but she'll be back.
- You Talk Too Much!Culluh: You talk too much, Federation, but you're not telling me what I need to know.