Star Trek: Voyager – Workforce (Pts I & II)

It’s a double-stuff sized review this week! Click “Read More” for the whole enchilada.

Cast and Crew

Directed by: Allan Kroeker (Part I) & Roxann Dawson (Part II)
Story By: Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller
Teleplay By: Kenneth Biller & Michael Taylor

Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway
Robert Beltran as Chakotay
Roxann Dawson as B’Elanna Torres
Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
Ethan Phillips as Neelix
Robert Picardo as The Doctor
Tim Russ as Tuvok
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim

Guest Starring:
James Read as Jaffen
Don Most as Kadan
John Aniston as Quarren Ambassador
Iona Morris as Umali
Tom Virtue as Supervisor
Michael Behrens as Coyote
Robert Joy as Yerid
Jay Harrington as Ravoc

Original Airdates

Workforce, Part I: Feb 21, 2001
Workforce, Part II: Feb 28, 2001

What Happened

Part I

In a vast alien metropolis on a planet called Quarra, Kathryn Janeway enters a power distribution plant and reports in to a shift supervisor, who takes her to a workstation and explains her task. Janeway has taken a job among a multi-species workforce with no recollection of her previous life as captain of Voyager. When she has trouble working the controls, another worker named Jaffen comes over to help and tries to befriend her. They are chastened for fraternizing by Seven of Nine, who knows herself as “Annika Hansen” (her human name), the new Efficiency Monitor (resistance is futile, you will turn in your timesheet). Jaffen doesn’t return to his station until he invites Janeway to go out for a meal after work, but she turns him down.

Meanwhile, Tom Paris-also unaware of who he really is-gets himself hired in a local tavern to wait and bus tables. That night Jaffen is in the tavern telling an anecdote to some friends, and he gets an uproarious laugh from Tuvok, whose behavior is very atypical. Janeway comes in, supposedly to eat alone while she studies manuals, but Jaffen joins her, and he ends up walking her home. They live in the same building, and he invites her to his place; she turns him down.

The next day, Janeway learns that all the workers must periodically receive inoculations to protect them against radiation. As a squeamish Tuvok is getting injected, he has a flashback of himself in his Starfleet uniform, struggling against a Quarren doctor giving him an injection. The strange memory leaves him trembling and perspiring.

All this time Chakotay, Harry Kim and Neelix have been in the Delta Flyer on a trading mission with the Nar Shaddan. When they return, Voyager is not at the rendezvous point. The starship is disabled inside a nebula, and the Doctor is the only crew member on board and is trying to make repairs. When the others find the ship and come aboard, the Doctor explains what happened: Voyager hit a subspace mine which deluged the ship with poisonous tetrion radiation, so Captain Janeway ordered the crew into escape pods, leaving the Doctor in charge of the ship as the Emergency Command Hologram. The Doctor then had to fend off scavengers trying to claim the abandoned vessel, and hid inside the nebula. He since discovered that the subspace mine was a deliberate attempt to disable Voyager. And he hasn’t heard a word from the rest of the crew.

At the power plant, Tuvok has another flashback: He and Janeway were brought into a Quarren medical facility where a Dr. Kadan claimed to be treating Janeway for “Dysphoria Syndrome”; when Tuvok demanded her release, Kadan had him restrained and “inoculated.” Shaken by this flashback, Tuvok approaches Janeway and says they know each other, that perhaps they met in the hospital, but she has no recollection of a hospital or of knowing him prior to her job. He gives up as Jaffen steps in, who makes dinner plans with Janeway. Meanwhile, Torres is sitting alone in the tavern, and Paris tries to get to know her. He asks to get together with her, but she reveals that she’s pregnant, although unmarried, and leaves. The four people aboard Voyager complete repairs and begin searching for their crew. Kim finds them on a Class-M planet less than three days away, and they set course. Janeway and Jaffen have their date, where dinner is a disaster. But it doesn’t matter – they fall in love and kiss.

Voyager arrives at Quarra and Chakotay speaks with an ambassador who will not allow him to communicate with his crewmates. The ambassador says they are leading safe, comfortable lives there, and any attempt to disturb them would be met with force. Neelix learns there is a severe labor shortage in the Quarren system, so Chakotay gets the idea of applying for jobs themselves so they can infiltrate the plant where their people are working. Because he has spoken with authorities and could be recognized, Chakotay has the Doctor alter his features to look non-human, and he and Neelix prepare to go to the planet undercover, with subdermal transponders that will allow them to transport through the shield grid.

At the power plant, “Annika Hansen” orders Tuvok to go get the inoculations that he’s been neglecting. Tuvok speaks her Borg name – “Seven of Nine” – and tries to mind-meld with her to make her remember herself. But security guards grab him and take the desperate Vulcan away. Chakotay secures a job at the plant and immediately approaches Janeway. She doesn’t recognize him, so Chakotay continues the ruse of being a happy new employee. Neelix runs into Paris at the tavern, keeping up the same ruse, unable to jar his friend’s memory. After Chakotay meets up with Neelix, they follow Torres in the streets and grab her. Kim beams Neelix and the struggling Torres up to Sickbay, where the Doctor tries to help her. Meanwhile Jaffen asks Janeway to move in with him, and she agrees. Tuvok is in the Quarren hospital where Dr. Kadan tells him he’s experiencing “Dysphoria Syndrome” and will feel better after an injection. Chakotay is being pursued by security guards, but Kim can’t beam him up because the ship has fallen under attack. The guards chase Chakotay through the facility up to a precipice overlooking the massive city, and he finds himself trapped.

Part II

Chakotay manages to fight off Quarren security forces, but not before sustaining a nasty wound to the shoulder. After sustaining further damage, Voyager finds a deeply cratered moon in which to hide. While there the doctor begins work on restoring B’Elanna’s memory. It’s a gradual process as Neelix walks her through her life on Voyager.

Back on Quarren, Janeway is slowly moving her things into Jaffen’s apartment. While returning to her old quarters, she discovers a bleeding Chakotay. He manages to earn her trust, at least marginally, and she allows him to stay at her place to hide. Chakotay refrains from telling Janeway who she really is.

Tuvok’s disappearance, and Seven’s flashbacks begin to arrouse suspicion. A Quarren investigator, Yerid begins piecing together everything he knows, and the mystery begins to unravel. Chakotay is arrested, but not before telling Janeway who she really is and why he is there. Yerid gets the final pieces of the mystery from Seven and Chakotay.

Chakotay is brainwashed into telling Voyager to pick him up, leading the undermanned ship into a trap. Yerid forms a secret alliance with Seven and Janeway, with Jaffen tagging along. They conspire to break into the power station and use the sub-space relay to call Voyager and see if all these stories are true. After a successful break-in, Janeway gets ahold of Voyager, which is now getting pummelled by Quarren forces. Janeway needs proof of who she is, while Kim needs her to shut down the planet’s shield grid to beam them out.

Security forces have now been alerted and a fire-fight breaks out in the powerplant. Janeway manages to trick the plant’s core into thinking it’s about to breech, forcing a shutdown. As system’s fail, Voyager gets locks on all missing crew members and beams them out.

The conspiracy revealed and the appropriate figures arrested, Voyager and her crew manages to tie everything up, including a painful good-bye between Janeway and Jaffen.


Oh boy was this episode all over the place. The overall concept was really pretty good. Having virtually the entire crew act out of character was fun and allowed them to explore story lines usually not open to them. Case in point, Janeway’s romace with Jaffen. Kate Mulgrew hinted at this episode earlier in the season, and it was one she was looking forward to, her last major role was on the soap opera ‘Ryan’s Hope,’ so this is old territory for her, and in truth, the scenes were well acted, but only half-heartedly written.

Did this episode derserve two hours? Yes. Did they use it wisely? No. It flounders periodically, not keeping a strong pace. We could have used better scenes with B’Elanna regaining her memory. She’s spent seven years on Voyager and the best thing Neelix could come up with to jog her memory? Pancakes! Where’s the history?

A nice twist is how some character’s personalities are twisted. Tom Paris hates spaceflight. Makes him sick. And Janeway as a starship captain? “Who’d want all that responsiblity?” she asks. Nice touch.

The characters have built new lives on this planet. Found the home they’ve been missing for seven years. And yet they don’t seem to regret leaving it behind? Janeway moved in with a lover and the most regret she can muster is a tearful hug good-bye. When asked if she’d miss it? “Never for an instant.” C’mon. Be conflicted. The captain doesn’t have to be iron-plated 24/7. Give us a little emotional flaw in these characters. She’s almost a little too calm and collected all the time. I thought the vulcan was at tactical?

There were some tender moments, that did tug at the heart-strings. Tom and B’Lenna, neither knowing who the other was, but still drawn together. I have a little romantic softie in me, and that hit the spot. Nicely pieced together.

I’m not really going to comment on the Kim/Doctor sub-sub-plot. It was silly and contrived. What first officer leaves his ship without making it clear who is in command? Really! “You two work it out.” That’s leadership in a crisis? It was a painfully obvious excuse to generate tension on the bridge where none was needed.

High Point

As I mentioned above, I liked the Tom/B’Lenna scenes. One piece in particular was B’Lenna, alone, walking into a bar looking lonely and afraid. She says nothing, looks around for a bit, then slinks out. Good stuff. No dialogue, but her emotional pain was delivered loud and clear.

Low Point

The entire Kim/Doctor sub-sub-plot. Just too silly!

The Scores

Originality: High marks. This was a fairly unique storyline and gave us a different look at characters we’ve seen week after week for seven seasons. 4 out of 6

Effects: More good stuff. Fully 3D backgrounds and street scense from Quarren. You could really feel the over-industrialized atmosphere of the planet. Also high marks for combat scenes (the photonic wave and escape pod tricks). The subtle effect of Voyager sitting in a darkend crater, the only illumination being its running lights and warp nacelles (you could even see the nacelle glow reflecting back off the crater, great eye for detail!). 5 out of 6

Story: Great concept, bad execution. Kill the superfluous details and give us more meat! No more sub-plots with little to no use (other than time filler). 3 out 6

Acting: The main cast was good. Top marks to Mulgrew, Dawson, and McNeill. Beltran’s Chakotay is still wooden and two-dimensional. Low marks to the guest cast. Don Most (Ralph from ‘Happy Days’) is neither believable or menacing. Just a weasel. Robert Joy as Yerid was passibly better than most. A little more engaging dialogue would have done wonders. 4 out of 6

Emotional Response: Here and there. Some stuff was touching, even funny. Tuvok attempting humor was cute. Other scenes (Kim & the Doctor) were just dry. 4 out of 6

Production: I didn’t really need to read the credits to know that the two parts were directed by different people. This is standard practice in Star Trek, but it just makes no sense to me. The first part was assembled much more intelligently than the second. Just too choppy with bad pacing. 3 out of 6

Overall: I’ve seen better. But I’ve also seen worse. Much worse. 4 out 6

Total: 27 out of 42


Agree? Disagree? Let us know! Also, you’ve now seen an X-Files and Voyager review in our new format. What do you think? Also, would you like future two-parter episodes (of any series) reviewed together or seperately? Comments and suggestions welcome.

6 replies on “Star Trek: Voyager – Workforce (Pts I & II)”

  1. good episode
    It was generally a good episode. It would have been

    nice if they resolved the Mulder incident. They are

    just pretending he’s dead. It’s pretty clear that he’ll

    be back. Like they said on Princess Bride, he’s only

    “mostly dead.”

    I thought the new character was okay. She’ll be

    Doggett’s psychic sidekick next year after DD and GA

    are kicked off the show.

    Can’t Scully figure out the clone thing? How many more

    clone episodes are we going to go through before she’s

    not completely befuddled?

  2. Voyager, Bah!
    I will be glad when the shove a stake through this Star Trek Series. Except for a few memorable episodes this series has been a real stinker. How about some some story arcs writers? Is it just to hard to write a coherent story line? Jeez.

    What I wouldn’t give for another Star Trek series that had the depth Deep Space Nine had the last couple of years it was being produced.

    As far as I am concerned no one has topped Babylon 5 for character developement, story arcs, and plot lines. I hold out no great hopes for the next Trek series either since Berman will still be at the helm. Could someone please throw him out an air lock in his birthday suit?

  3. Psst… Hey, xah
    Um, xah, I think you might have posted to the wrong article. (And Gillian Anderson is under contract for season nine, although David Duchovny doesn’t seem to be coming back. Chris Carter is still in talks.)

  4. Things aren’t looking really good for ST.
    The fact that the new series will air on UPN doesn’t bode well either. The fact that the station is targeted at teenage boys means we may well get more of the same juvenille plot lines. Don’t agree? Look at UPNs mainstays: WWF Smackdown!, Gary & Mike, 7 Days, and so on. The next Trek may well turn out to be the academy-based series with lots of flesh to see (Star Trek: Baywatch).

    I hope I’m proven wrong. I really do.

  5. BAB5 vs Star Trek
    there is no doubt Babylon5 is better than anything Trek… but thats not very fair considering Bab5 is (IMO) the best show EVER put on TV, period. I totally lov everything Trek, true Voyager may be the weakest link in the Trek family, but its watchable, so I watch.

  6. rip-off
    from the description you wrote, this episode sounds almost exactly like an episode of Stargate Sg1 that came out in november. Sorry if this is rather negative, but I am more of a stargate fan that startrek.

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