Star Trek 621: Workforce, Part II

621. Workforce, Part II

FORMULA: The Killing Game + First Contact (episode) + Frame of Mind

WHY WE LIKE IT: Some cool tactics.

WHY WE DON'T: The plot holes.

REVIEW: We get out of Part I's cliffhangers not with cheap shots, but with actual tactics, the characters using the heads. In fact, there's a lot to recommend in the ECH's propensity for interesting strategies in this episode, though now that I look at it too hard, I've ruined the "shoot your torpedo with a phaser to detonate it" gambit - can't they be rigged to explode at the right moment? But he also hides the ship in a crater, and Harry later uses escape pods as bombs. Good work from the skeleton crew.

Beyond that, however, the writing starts to get lazy. The more we're shown of the labor conspiracy, the less believable it is. We're meant to believe Dr. Kadan could process some 150 people at a time without the help of subordinate doctors (who apparently don't know what he's doing), and in a very short time (despite being extremely sophisticated in results). Who's involved is nebulous, but the conspiracy seems to include a Director of Security and a mid-level management Shift Supervisor. It's a wonder he wasn't discovered before given how he's easily found out by one of his staff here, unless he brainwashes everyone who finds out?

B'Elanna is brought back to normal, but it takes days. Once they beam up everyone else, we're simply told that their recovery is proceeding apace. So more than a hundred happy workers were kidnapped from their lives and jobs and there wasn't some kind of riot? Janeway, for one, has to give up the love she found on Quarra. A moment with some poignancy. Her moving in with Jaffen did include a couple of very dubious moments however. For one, she beats out every other Star Trek character for boring hobbies (including Troi and chocolate), by collecting spent plasma relays. What the heck is that about? Jaffen is surprised at how much stuff she has, so my big question: Where did all this stuff come from? In the middle of a labor shortage, the economy's going well enough that the conspiracy can fill hundreds of apartments with furniture, clothes and junk that's meant to be personal to the occupant? Or does Janeway like to overpack when she's heading for the escape pods? Oh, and let's not forget the dermal regenerator's new power, making plastic surgery magically disappear!

So while I wouldn't call the episode bad - it's certainly help by its longer set-up - it IS rather badly plotted. The characters are fine, and come together nicely despite their missing memories, and their plans a workable and even ingenious... It just fails Part I's promise.

LESSON: A brainwashed worker is a happy worker.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: When they forget stories have to make internal sense, they turn perfectly entertaining episodes into ordinary ones (at best!).


Jeff R. said...

Come on...Voyager established way back in the pilot that the very idea of a "timer" is technology so far lost to the modern Federation that it couldn't possibly even occur to the crew that such a device might exist...

Siskoid said...

That's true.

My bad for forgetting the timerless cobalt device. In many ways, Voyager' premise is predicated on the lack of timer technology.

mwb said...

"WHY WE DON'T: The plot holes."

Isn't that redundant in a ST:V episode? And yes, you are quite right.

It's embarrassing how badly the ST franchise often uses its own technology.

It's one of the reasons I rank the Stargate franchise above ST because they have more reasonable tech continuity.

Toby'c said...

If you were talking about using a time bomb to destroy the array after using it to get home, I feel compelled to point out that it would have taken them hours to figure out the technology without the Caretaker's help, and they were being attacked at the time.


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