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The Trek Nation - Workforce, Part Two

Workforce, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 11:23 PM GMT

See Also: 'Workforce, Part Two' Episode Guide

Escaping from the guards after getting shot in the arm, Chakotay runs back to the bar where Paris works. There, Janeway comes over to apologize for Jaffen's rudeness and to invite Chakotay to celebrate her decision to move in with her new lover. Saying he needs to go home and rest, Chakotay sneaks away before security comes to the bar looking for him. At the hospital, Tuvok pleads with young doctor Ravoc to stop them from stealing his katra, but senior doctor Kadan says he just needs treatment for dysphoria syndrome.

The ECH saves Voyager from Quarren attacks using his tactical database, but must retreat before recovering Chakotay. Reverting to his role as the Doctor, he warns Neelix not to push Torres to remember her old life too quickly because it will take more than one treatment to recover her memories. She doesn't remember being married to Paris, but she recognizes him from the Quarren bar, then recalls that he watched cartoons. Meanwhile, recovering from her mind meld with Tuvok, Seven has flashbacks of being on a Borg cube when she looks over the labyrinth of levels at the power plant.

Janeway leaves Jaffen's home to retrieve the rest of her belongings and finds Chakotay hiding in a corner. He points a weapon at her, but is clearly in pain from his wound. When she asks if he had anything to do with Torres' disappearance, he admits that he helped her return to her life off the planet and says he's trying to help others as well. Janeway offers to treat his injury, taking a dermal regenerator from the plant. Although Seven catches her, she lets Janeway go so she can do some research in the supervisor's office. There she learns that she and Janeway, plus more than a hundred others, were among the people Tuvok was investigating.

As Janeway treats Chakotay's wound, he tells her about living on Voyager for seven years. She wonders why he doesn't want to stay in one place, and says she doesn't want any more responsibility than her job at the plant. When Voyager hails, Chakotay says he's with the captain in front of Janeway, who is shocked. She says she shouldn't have helped him and tries to leave, but Chakotay insists that when Voyager gets there, he can prove he's telling the truth. Using the dermal regenerator, he reveals his real face to her. "We're the same race," she observes. He replies, "We're more than that. We're friends."

But Jaffen is suspicious and angry that Janeway wants to risk everything the two of them have. Instead of sending her back, he sends security, who shoot Chakotay unconscious. He asks Ravoc for help, explaining that his people were taken from their ship against their will. Kadan orders his memory wiped and uses Chakotay's transponder to make the first officer direct Voyager to return to Quarra. Receiving the orders, the Doctor and Kim discuss the tactical situation, and the Doctor admits that he wants Kim to program a new EMH so he can remain on the bridge after recovering the crew.

Seven and Yerid discuss the fact that all 130-some employees who joined the power plant the same day she did went through neuropathology treatment. She visits Ravoc claiming to have disturbing thoughts, and goes through his files when he leaves to get Kadan. By the time Ravoc returns, she has fled, but the young doctor has realized that Kadan is using his "treatments" to rewrite the memories of his patients to provide new laborers. Kadan believes the labor shortage is a public health threat and claims he's trying to help their planet. Meanwhile, Yerid asks Janeway to tell him everything Chakotay said to her. They meet with Paris and Seven at the bar, where Janeway recalls the exact specs on Chakotay's communicator and suggests contacting Voyager to learn the truth.

While Seven and Yerid make Kadan stop his experiments, Janeway contacts Voyager with Jaffen's help. Kim calls her captain and asks her to power down the protective shield around the planet. Though the Quarren shoot at Voyager as it approaches, Janeway tricks the power plant computers into shutting down. On the planet, Jaffen defends Janeway; in space, Kim uses false life-form readings and exploding escape pods to disable the Quarren attackers. A recovered Torres gets Voyager's transporters back online and beams everyone on board.

By the time Yerid arrives to make sure things are in order, most of the crew have their memories back, Torres has forgiven Paris for flirting with other women under mind control, and Janeway has informed Jaffen that even if he stays on Voyager, she can no longer date him because captains can't fraternize with crewmembers. The Quarren leave, Janeway tells Chakotay a little regretfully that it felt like home and Voyager sets course once more for the Alpha Quadrant.

Analysis:

I was practically asleep by the end of this episode, which is sort of strange because it's very well-directed -- nice mix of planet-side action and space battles, good pacing, fine performances from the guest stars, balanced appearances by all the crewmembers. It just feels so ridiculously inconsequential, especially at this late date. We've already seen the crew under mind control more times than I care to recall -- in "Persistence of Vision," in "The Killing Game," in "Memorial" -- and we really don't learn a thing about them we didn't already know, other than that Paris speaks very sweetly of Torres in his personal logs.

I'm not sure which Janeway I find more intolerable, the pushover who smiles blandly for Jaffen and Chakotay alike, or the captain who gives her lover the same anti-fraternization speech she's been using as an excuse to avoid socializing with her crew since Voyager left spacedock. Picard decided in "Lessons" that having a relationship with a crewmember was very difficult, though he was willing to try again with Crusher in "Attached." He never suggested that it was impossible or against protocol, however, as Janeway has stated in episodes from "Elogium" to "Fair Haven" to this one. If she values her privacy or prefers holograms, she should at least have the courtesy to come out and say so to the men who risk everything for her, only to get the brush-off. I still think she has more chemistry with Chakotay during an argument than Paris and Torres have during mushy scenes in their quarters, but their relationship was sort of cute in a cheesy fan-fiction-type "even in another universe we would love each other" sort of way.

"Workforce" has been worth watching to see the Doc and Kim running the ship with as much aplomb as the captain and first officer. I'm with the ECH: program another doctor and let him get Voyager home. He's got some gaps in his programming, but he learns to take suggestions from the junior officers with more grace than their present leader, and if he can land Voyager in a crater on the moon without Paris' piloting skills or a support crew in engineering, well, obviously he can handle a few battles with hostile aliens or a trip through a wormhole. Naturally, Seven solves the mystery on Quarra before most of the other crewmembers even start to suspect anything, but she can't rescue anyone until the Doc and Harry come to her aid.

I have a few nitpicks, like wondering how Jaffen became an expert shot on such a peaceful planet and wondering whether Voyager has as many inflatable escape pods as reanimating shuttles. (Harry's Trojan Horse maneuver makes the latter worthwhile.) I think a scene must have been cut in which Jaffen admits he called security on Chakotay -- it must have been him, but we never actually see it -- which seems like an odd choice, considering that that scene is directly relevant to the crew's lives, whereas the long argument between the two doctors about the unethical medical treatment for profit sounds much too much like similar dialogue from the much better "Critical Care."

There was a short story in the first Strange New Worlds anthology written by nineteen-year-old JaQ Andrews, in which Chakotay was happily living with a lover and had to be convinced by Janeway that it wasn't his real life. Some of the dialogue in "Workforce" seems to be nearly identical. I'm not trying to argue that the Voyager writers plagiarized the story; first of all, the Trek producers own the rights to everything in the SNW anthologies, and secondly, the idea isn't all that original in the first place, as any regular viewer of TNG or DS9 can testify. It's pretty sad that Voyager blew a big budget and effects on an episode that's ultimately so trivial. All in all, "Workforce" is a passable two-parter that could have been a tighter, more dramatic one-parter, and could also be missed completely by long-time viewers without any loss.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.