Star Trek 620: Workforce

620. Workforce

FORMULA: The Killing Game + Conundrum + Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

WHY WE LIKE IT: Please state the nature of the command emergency.

WHY WE DON'T: A questionable two-parter.

REVIEW: Voyager's crew is kidnapped, brainwashed and put to work on an industrial planet with a labor shortage and gorgeous effects, which doesn't exactly scream "two-parter". Usually, those are reserved for season finales/openers and "important" episodes that star recurring foes, etc. And yet, I'm really glad for the extra space to set up the story here, to see just how the many characters in Voyager's cast are handling this turn of events.

The characters are still by and large themselves despite being programmed with the same lie - that their homeworld was a dystopia - and clipping their ambition and wanderlust. Janeway has a little romance, which looks good on her. B'Elanna's mysterious pregnancy doesn't stop Tom from taking an interest. Seven is assigned as efficiency monitor, which is more funny than efficient. Only Tuvok seems to be having problems, whether due to his mental discipline or because they erased his emotion inhibitors. It's the return of the Laughing Vulcan.

But of course, in situations like this, there are always characters who were off on some long-term mission that return to an empty ship. (You have to wonder if the ship suffers BECAUSE it doesn't have its full officer complement, but it's Chakotay, Harry and Neelix, so I can't see how that would hurt.) Not quite empty, as it turns out, because the Doctor is aboard... as the Emergency Command Hologram! The ECH was a fun bit, and its reappearance is welcome, especially when it creates competition between the Doctor and Harry, the two characters most hungry for promotion.

Workforce might have been a good opportunity for Trek to take the piss out of unions (which have in many areas become as corrupt as the bosses they were built to fight), but even with the extra running time, there isn't any of that. The crew's selective memory loss is rather dubious, but since they're more fully explored in Part II, I'll leave that discussion for tomorrow. And since the next story states that Seven still needs to regenerate, I feel I need to point out the rather obvious plot hole.

LESSON: An unambitious worker is a happy worker.

REWATCHABILITY - High Medium: A good start to a story that probably needn't have been a two-parter, but I doubt we could have gotten some ECH goodness if it had been done-in-one.


abc said...

I remember this aired around the same time as a Stargate episode where the team had their memories erased and they were put to work on an alien planet, etc, etc.
I liked the SG-1 episode better.

Jeff R. said...

Isn't a dubious two-parter fairly traditional for the final season of modern Trek? I mean, avoided in DS9, but we had 'Gambit' before this one and the Mirror Universe one in Enterprise (which was quite fun, but as inconsequential to the 'real' crew as anything could possibly be...)

Siskoid said...

DS9 was doing relevant 10-parters at the same time.

You're right about Gambit, but it still has something with Vulcans, and the Enterprise story had the Mirror Universe, which was cool. Gambit wasn't much of an event, but the MU one was.

Workforce is even less of an event than was Gambit though.


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