**** (4 stars out of 5)
The castaways scrounge for food under rocks. They are actually forced to consider eating cucumbers until they thankfully find some juicy little grubs. Chakotay apologizes to Janeway: "You're stuck with the only Indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together." So they start fires using their hair for kindling. It's a technique the Kazon couldn't have used- unless it was by banging their heads together to made sparks!
Later, Chakotay proves his worth thrice over: saving Kes from cavemen, saving a cavewoman from lava, and saving crewmen from a cave creature. Well, most of them: poor Mr. Hogan and at least one other guy have the distinction of being eaten by the first all-computer generated planetary beast in Star Trek: the Hanon IV land eel. Snuggly little guy!
The Emergency Medical Hologram responds to the emergency with masterful lies and deception, hiding Lon Suder (the reformed killer Betazoid) from Seska and her 89 Kazon thug chums. He also discovers that the lure that got them here never existed: Seska's baby is Cullah's, not Chakotay's. Whoopsie!
Desperately improvising, the EMH counsels Suder through his necessary Kazon Killings, and takes the hit when Seska goes looking for the culprit.
"I won't play these games with a trick of light!" she snarls.
"Sticks and stones won't break my bones, so you can imagine how I feel about being called names." The doctor's retort is quickly followed by the Cardassian woman vengefully destroying his holo-emitter.
Suder must single-handedly kill his way back into control of engineering in time for Tom and the Talaxians to retake the ship, but at the cost of the tormented Betazoid's mental peace.. and his life. Seska also dies conveniently in the conflict (of console shock or something). Cullah takes his baby back baby back baby back. (Never. He Never says 'ribs'.)
"Basics, Part II" is a thrilling, action-packed season opener, but with some possible missteps. Writer Michael Piller wanted Seska's baby to die and Suder to live. Jeri Taylor wanted the opposite, and Piller was leaving. Martha 'Seska' Hackett said she felt Seska's abrupt, non-climactic death, getting no just desserts, nor showdown against Janeway was 'wimpy' writing. And I agree. But I was so glad to see the back of the Kazon that I didn't sweat it. Certainly Seska deserved a more satisfying end. But throwing away the baby with the Kazon bathwater got the show back on course. From now on, Deep Space Nine is your show for consequences- Voyager is for zipping along shouting "HEY, LOOKIT THAT!"