Robert Beltran (“Eating Raoul”) played Chakotay, a Native American member of The Maquis, an anti-Federation resistance force that was established when the Federation colonised its home worlds as a result of a shaky agreement with the Cardassian Empire, at the commencement of “Star Trek: Voyager” in 1995. He and a number of his fellow countrymen were fleeing the show’s namesake ship when the series’ action launched them all across the galaxy, depositing them 70 years from Earth. The Maquis fighters were forced to transfer to the Voyager. The captain appointed Chakotay as the ship’s first officer in an effort to improve ties between the Starfleet officers and the Maquis.
Chakotay adapted well to the job, giving Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) advice when she was acting recklessly (which she frequently did), and making an effort to take on more of a father figure role for the rest of the crew. However, Chakotay’s position allowed for limited social interactions. There were a few memorable bonding moments between him and the captain on “Voyager,” but Chakotay wasn’t frequently seen forming any other special close bonds with the other characters. Although he may have served as a background authority figure, other characters were responsible for the quarrelsome exchanges, the scenes of intense regard, and the romantic exchanges.
There were a couple significant turning points for Chakotay in that final component—the romance. He had a relationship with Ensign Seska (Martha Hackett) early on in the show, who turned out to be a traitor, and was compelled to date Seven of Nine later on (Jeri Ryan). The later romance didn’t excite Trekkies, and it turns out Beltran wasn’t either. Beltran discussed his regrets in a StarTrek.com interview.
When questioned in the interview about his favourite features of Chakotay, Beltran expressed some ambivalence about interpersonal moments or their absence, particularly as the series developed in its later seasons:
“I believe that what worked was that it was exciting to witness any form of human contact,” said the speaker. Chakotay and the captain, Chakotay and Seska, and the hastily formed bond between Seven of Nine and Chakotay are just a few examples. Other than those connections, Chakotay, at least from seasons four to seven, was somewhat of a loner.
Beltran credited writer and co-creator Jeri Taylor, a fixture in the “Star Trek” writers room since the “Next Generation” era, with the early show’s strong sense of human connection. For the third and fourth seasons of “Voyager,” Taylor took over as showrunner from Michael Piller. She gave Brannon Braga the reins before departing:
After Jeri Taylor’s departure, I believe the show underwent a change. “I think the first three seasons had a lot of great themes. I believe that any time a character develops in their interpersonal interactions, and you could say that about Chakotay and the captain without a doubt. But after Seska left, the only connection that remained solid was the one with the captain. Tuvok and Chakotay didn’t have much. Paris and Chakotay didn’t have much. There was little interaction between Chakotay and the other characters. It was something I constantly regretted because there was so much to discover.
The Seven of Nine Show
Seven of Nine, an attractive Borg who was added to “Voyager” for its fourth season to boost ratings, made his debut. She quickly became popular with the writers, notably Braga, who created numerous episodes that were centred on her (Braga and Ryan were, it should be noted, romantically involved). Beltran believes that other characters were neglected as well, in addition to one of the key cast members being written off to make room for her (the sad story of Jennifer Lien’s Kes).
They paid close attention throughout the Michael Piller-Jeri Taylor years. After that, it was… I suppose the focus shifted when Brannon Braga took charge and the Seven of Nine figure entered. I didn’t mind at all. That was okay with me, but if characters are regulars on a series, I believe authors must give them all backstories. I believe that several of the characters, including Chakotay, Tuvok, Kim, and Neelix, were underdeveloped. I believe it was simply simpler for the new authors who joined the industry to write stories about the captain and fictional characters like Seven of Nine and the Doctor.
A hologram of The Doctor (Robert Picardo), this artificial intelligence appeared to be unstoppable. You have what Beltran called “omnipotent” personalities between him and Seven of Nine, which he believes aren’t really intriguing to write about:
“Those three characters were somewhat omnipotent, all-seeing, and all-knowing, and I believe that much of the tension and drama that may have been present was missed because it takes a lot of effort to locate tension in characters that had these qualities. They have all the answers, right? They know all the solutions. Otherwise, you would have redundant scenes that were written with little differences over and over again.
There were seven seasons of “Voyager.” Chakotay subsequently rose to the position of captain of the U.S.S. Protostar, the main ship in “Star Trek: Prodigy,” while Seven of Nine eventually made appearances as a regular character on “Star Trek: Picard.”
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