I couldn’t agree less with the assessment of this ep. In my opinion, it’s one of the better ones. And I think the reviewer misses the point. The episode was far more about Chakotay’s relationship with his father than “spiritual nonsense.” And, for once, the ep wasn’t overloaded with either pointless or completely unrelated B or C storylines to pad out the 42 minutes of screentime. The Doctor’s experiment with “illness”, while totally unrelated to the A plot, was short enough not to be distracting. This is not to say there aren’t flaws.
Of course, there is one massive, glaring error that should be mentioned. The leader (?) the “Sky People” tells Chakotay that they first visited his people 45,000 yrs ago and that these Earthers couldn’t speak language. THIS is absolute non-sense. The key to speech is the hyoid bone, a very delicate bone in the back of the mouth which supports the tongue. It’s not the gray matter that’s critical: Chimps and Gorillas have the cerebral ability to speak (as proven by their mastery of sign language and freed chimp females teaching it to their babies in the wild) but they have no hyoid: hence they cannot articulate sound into language.
Neanderthal’s had hyoid bones and lived in Europe at least 500,000 yrs ago. So how likely is it that H. sapiens would lack the ability to speak?!?
The other disappointing aspect of the episode is the perpetuation of RACIST, cliched Nobel Savage Myth, first created by Montaigne and retailed by writers such as Voltaire (both men knew next to nothing about actual Indians). It’s like the Disney flick “Pocohantas”: she was not a Barbie doll with a killer tan and legs up to her neck. The myth ignores how many tribes were exterminated, conquered, enslaved by other tribes, long before the Blue Eyed Satans showed up. I am of partly Cherokee descent and my tribe was chased out of their homeland in the Great Lakes area by other tribes, this how they ended up in Georgia and Tennessee–long before Andy Jackson’s villany. But they never talk about the previous Trail of Tears in History class, do they?