Star Trek: Voyager


Part I: 3.5 stars
Air date: 2/21/2001
Written by Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Part II: 3 stars
Air date: 2/28/2001
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller & Michael Taylor
Story by Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller
Directed by Roxann Dawson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I'm still feeling kind of queasy from that nectar."
"I treated you days ago!"
"Whatever you did hasn't worked. Maybe all those command subroutines are compromising your medical abilities."
"Maybe all that sarcasm is compromising your natural charm."

— Harry and Doc

In brief: An intriguing and thoroughly entertaining premise, featuring an eerie take on the workplace and a plot that moves swiftly and confidently.

Perhaps the best thing about "Workforce" is that it's a refreshing escape from the reality (as it were) of the usual Voyager situation. Here's an episode that looks and feels like good, grander storytelling, taking us to an unfamiliar but relatable world where it gives the characters bizarre, unwanted vacations from themselves.

Simply put, the premise for this episode is a neat idea. We join the story already in progress, as Janeway begins her first day at work at a massive power plant on a mysterious industrialized world. She introduces herself as Kathryn Janeway, New Employee. What is she doing here? Other oddities pique our interest when we see that Seven of Nine and Tuvok also work at this plant.

Is this an undercover mission? We quickly learn no. Although the plot is gradual in giving us all the information, it's clear that our characters' memories have been tampered with. What's nice about this plot structure is that we have our suspicions even before the story reveals all its cards, the whats and hows. We quickly understand that the crew had been kidnapped specifically to be dropped into the labor force of this company, as new employees.

Talk about your extreme solutions to labor shortages.

How did this happen? Doc explains via flashback: Voyager had been ambushed in a unique way — with an invisible mine that unleashed toxic radiation. Forced to abandon ship, we see that the Voyager crew was "rescued" by the crews of nearby ships. The would-be rescuers were really the perpetrators, having put Voyager in this precarious situation to get their hands on its defenseless crew. (My only question, best ignored, is how economically viable it would be to hire or bribe the crews of armed starships so they can round up 100 or so people to work in your plant.)

It's to the story's credit that we learn these details only after we've been able to watch the crew interacting in new situations, unaware that their lives had just a few days ago been very different. It gets us drawn into the mystery from the very beginning, putting us on the same level of unawareness as the characters.

The only members of the crew not kidnapped are Chakotay, Harry, and Neelix — who were away on a Delta Flyer mission at the time of the kidnappings — and the Doctor, who was left in command to safeguard Voyager when the rest of the crew was forced to flee the radiation. (Can one person fly a whole starship and fire its phasers? Apparently so, but never mind.)

The idea of bringing back the ECH ("Emergency Command Hologram") — first explored as a comic daydream in "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" — is a rational plot device, and a pretty smart course of action on Janeway's part. Once Chakotay's away team returns to Voyager, the mission is to go to this world, called Quarra, and track down the abducted Voyager crew.

The depiction of the Quarren world makes a big difference in the overall impact of the episode, and is nicely realized through effective visual effects. If Voyager has demonstrated anything the past few years, it's that a healthy budget and outstanding production values can make a difference in a story's persuasiveness. This show looks and feels like a million bucks (especially compared to lesser productions like Andromeda), which, along with Dennis McCarthy's more-awed-than-usual musical score, helps make this world seem real. Through CGI and mattes depicting large structures and lots of people, this mega-industrialized planet comes alive with motion and yet still seems appropriately arid, as most of that motion comes from hundreds of people walking to their workplaces like Borg drones.

Much of the story's fascination arises from our characters in their new identities. Janeway meets a co-worker named Jaffen (James Read), and before long they're dating and even living together. Meanwhile, back at the power distribution plant, we meet Annika Hansen (Seven of Nine), who holds the middle-management position of "efficiency monitor." If anyone is perfect for the job of efficiency monitor, it's Seven. And Paris, who couldn't keep his job at the plant (fired by aforementioned efficiency monitor), finds himself hired at the nearby bar. Appropriate, how his somewhat renegade nature still seems a part of his new personality. Torres frequents this bar to spend time alone, quietly studying engineering schematics — not unlike our actual Torres. Tuvok is different in that he laughs and cracks lame jokes — which seems contrary to the similarity that everyone else exhibits when compared to their actual selves — but since the writers reasonably make Tuvok the subject of the memory-control failure, I'm not going to complain.

After work, everyone hangs out at the same bar for happy hour to relax after a shift at the workplace. There's a subtext here on the subject of human happiness. As programmed into their memories, our characters — as primarily seen in the Janeway/Jaffen storyline — are kept in line mostly by the belief that their lives now are as good or better than they ever have been, and that having this job is the key to success and fulfillment. "I'm from a planet called Earth," Janeway says to Jaffen. "Overpopulated, polluted — very little work." They live in decent apartments afforded them specifically by, of course, their jobs.

Indeed, there's a point once Chakotay has found Janeway and is trying to figure out how to break the truth of her forgotten life to her. He asks her if she's happy. "I have a good job," she responds. Funny, how the quality of her job is the first thing she mentions when discussing the quality of her life. On this planet of industry, it would seem your job is the most important benchmark of your self-identity. Sounds kind of like America.

My favorite human aspect of "Workforce" is the subtly sweet Tom/B'Elanna subplot. Here are two characters whose memories have been changed so they now see each other as complete strangers ... and yet something prompts Tom to care for and try to protect B'Elanna after their chance meeting at the bar. Paris is not simply trying to "pick her up" (like his attempts on some of his other customers); rather, something makes him approach her with a higher respect and concern for her welfare. I liked this a lot; it's a quietly affecting story development that brings a human touch to the sci-fi theme of memory alteration. If you're one who believes in destiny, it might cross your mind here.

What's nice is how these humanistic subtexts grow out of the main drive of the story, which is a kidnapping-conspiracy plot that's surprisingly well executed. It involves a crooked brain surgeon named Kaden (Don Most) who conspires with administrators at the power plant to deliver fresh laborers who have implanted memories that will make them better appreciate their jobs. All of Voyager's crew has been assigned to this plant. But something in Tuvok's subconscious knows there's something wrong, and when he briefly mind-melds with Seven, her own suspicions begin to surface. Meanwhile, Chakotay, working from the other end of the game, goes undercover to expose the conspiracy and rescue the crew.

To go into much more of the plot's detail would be superfluous. There are a lot of apt little details (like computer records at the plant) that move the story from beat to beat and supply us and the characters with clues, respecting their intelligence and ours. It's all executed with a confidence that makes me wonder how aimless plots like "Prophecy" even happen. The story progress feels almost like a Law & Order episode, which is high praise, since the forward movement of complex plot elements on L&O is about as good as it gets on television.

I especially appreciated that the story featured a guest character working on the inside to find the truth, and who is therefore on our side. His name is Yerid (Robert Joy), and although bureaucracy often renders him powerless, he's no dummy (which is refreshing); with the help of some of the victims he slowly begins to chip away at the conspiracy. How he enters the story is interesting, and where and when Chakotay decides he can trust Yerid — in a moment of desperation while being rolled away in restraints on an operating table — reveals the story's villains as working on multiple levels of deception, thus making the plot even more compelling to watch unfold.

The second half of "Workforce" doesn't play as well on the themes of the workplace as part one does, but it probably couldn't have with so much plot in motion. There is, however, at least one dead end in part two that doesn't pay off, which is the friction between conspirator Kadan and his innocent assistant in the operating room, Ravok (Jay Harrington). Much is made of a scene (which is weakly performed, alas) where Ravok's suspicions about the conspiracy are awakened and Kadan justifies his actions as something necessary for society. The friction between the two is set up but never resolved. Similarly, John Aniston's role as the Quarren ambassador proves to be a mostly unnecessary walk-on that serves little purpose other than to conveniently bookend the two hours.

I also have some reservations about memory alterations being so easily reversed without the dialog necessary to explain that ease. There's a point where B'Elanna is rescued but doesn't know who she is. Doc describes the alterations as "radical," but wouldn't a few lines explaining that B'Elanna's real memories were intact but repressed with drugs have made this a little easier to swallow, and less like a miracle when she inexplicably seems to know who she is a few scenes later? (But don't get me wrong — the scene where she visits her Voyager quarters and realizes the waiter from the bar is actually her husband is a moment with true emotional resonance.)

Aside from the solid mechanics of its plot, "Workforce" covers a lot of ground in two hours. The relationship between Janeway and Jaffen is pleasantly depicted, and explores a "what-if" situation pretty nicely (until maybe Janeway's none-too-ambivalent last line to Chakotay in the final scene). Chakotay finally gets some solid screen time where he gets to take action and play hero without being saddled with a plotted mess (see "Shattered"). A comic subplot involving the tug-of-war for command between Harry and the Doctor is amusing, albeit hopelessly petty (and therefore appropriate for these characters). Everybody gets some good moments, making this one of the better ensemble shows on Voyager's record.

The technical credits are impressive, including the directing. Part one (Allan Kroeker) ends with dizzying crosscutting between characters that is jarringly effective, as Chakotay flees the authorities, Janeway has a romantic encounter, and Tuvok is about to undergo invasive surgery. Part two (Roxann Dawson) handles the increasing plot elements with expert pacing; Dawson shows she can direct a big show with a good script just as well as a small one with a mediocre script (last season's "Riddles").

The only thing missing from "Workforce" is a powerful ending. The first half shows the signs of a subtle message episode, highlighting ordinary issues of daily employment as filtered through a harrowing sci-fi premise. Part two is skillful, well-characterized plot wrap-up, but with an ending a little too routine for my tastes.

When I think about the bigger scope of my job, I like to think I'm doing something useful and worthwhile. Sometimes, by the end of my shift, I'm relieved I'm going home, and hardly thrilled about the fact I have to come back. Maybe my employer should tamper with my brain; I might appreciate my job more.

Next week: Seven and Chakotay get it on. Say what? (No, I'm not making this up.)

Previous episode: The Void
Next episode: Human Error

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◄ Season Index

105 comments on this post

Sat, May 24, 2008, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
IMO, the best episode of the final season and quite possibly the very best episode of the entire series.
Mon, May 26, 2008, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
A very nice episode, it had quite a cinematic feel to it. Tuvok being dragged off kicking and screaming "We don't belong here!" reminded me of classics such as Soylent Green. I disagree about the 'dead end' to the Kadan/Ravok subplot though. At the end of the discussion, when Ravok leaves, Kadan asks him whether he'll join in on the conspiracy. Later when Seven and Yerid enter the operating room we see Ravok on one of the slabs, being treated for 'dysphoria syndrome', so it's pretty clear what he ended up choosing.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
One of the best. They should put this on the "Alternate Realities" Collective DVD set.
Sat, Sep 5, 2009, 11:21am (UTC -5)
A good two parter, but another of the "fortunately some of the crew was on an away mission while this happened so they could save us" contrivances (like Season 3's Macrocosm and TNG's Genesis) that get a little hard to stomach.
Mon, Dec 7, 2009, 11:14am (UTC -5)
"Tuvok is different in that he laughs and cracks lame jokes -- which seems contrary to the similarity that everyone else exhibits when compared to their actual selves --"

But recall, this is a memory-wiped Tuvok who does not remember his Vulcan mental disciplines; this is the 'true' Tuvok- the emotional being- that lurks beneath the surface; this is, apparently, Tuvok as he would be if he did not have his Vulcan discipline, training, and upbringing.
Tue, Jul 20, 2010, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Zarm: Your reasoning is based on the presupposition that Tuvok (and probably everybody else in the universe) is by default born being emotional and behaving like an average human. Why should that be the case?? Why could an alien race naturally NOT have emotions and emotional responses genetically encoded? I found the guffawing Tuvok jarring; he's probably my favorite character precisely because he is level-headed and not given to emotional drama.

Anyway, yeps, an AWESOME episode, one of the best of the entire Voyager series for sure. It gets slow (the Paris-at-the-bar angle and Torres recollections) and too soppy (Janeway getting laid and all the related frills) at times, and Neelix is really irritating on occasions, but it's great otherwise.

One major thing that doesn't make sense is how can the abductors have developed a memory-alteration method that works on EVERY single species. Voyager alone has several races as crewmembers; wouldn't their neural pathways and physiology be significantly different? How come Seven, with all her cybernetic implants, was as susceptible to the "reprogramming" as your run-of-the-mill human?

I'd give the second part 3.5 stars, too.
Tue, Aug 31, 2010, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Michael- actually, this is not a presupposition; it has been established numerous times throughout Star Trek- including in Voyager, IIRC, that Vulcans are emotional beings who are in fact MORE passionate and emotional than humans. After being lead by these passions to the brink of destruction in numerous wars, the teachings of Surak became their salvation as a sort of backlash... rather than reigning in the passions that had all but destroyed them, the highly emotional Vulcans- naturally born more passionate in feelings than most others species- suppressed them completely by means of intentional discipline, adopting logic as their guide.

Episodes like Blood Fever (VOY), Riddles (VOY) The Naked Time (TOS), and Amok Time (TOS) show what happens when that discipline is shattered and the Vulcans become their natural, emotional selves (albeit in each case through artificial circumstances)... as does this one. :-) Vulcans are not emotionless because they have no emotions- but rather because they suppress them.

Well... that's my nerd lecture for the day. :-)

I agree with the implausibility of a memory-wipe technique that works universally across species, though! :-)
Sat, Dec 18, 2010, 3:17am (UTC -5)
If all the crew (except Chakotay, Neelix, Kim, EMH) were abducted, was Naomi Wildman placed in a child labor camp? :]
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
He probably slept through all the stuff about Vulcan emotions, citing something about "annoying touchy feely character crap" :-) Indeed, they aren't emotionless, but in fact trained from childhood to repress them.

" Funny, how the quality of her job is the first thing she mentions when discussing the quality of her life. On this planet of industry, it would seem your job is the most important benchmark of your self-identity. Sounds kind of like America."

Same in UK. It bugs me on TV when members of the public always have to introduce themselves as "My name is {Fred} and I'm a {Job Title} from {Location}". As if you're not a person with your own interests, views, beliefs etc. My name is Cloudane and I'm not my job title. I'm a nerd from England.

Anyway, the episode(s). Not sure what else to add, which is a good sign as it's usually to moan or nitpick hehe. It was an interesting and possibly unique (for Trek) story with beautifully done characterisation (e.g. Tom and B'llana as has been mentioned). Kept me hooked. Combined score of 3.5 for me.
Mon, Apr 11, 2011, 2:31pm (UTC -5)

Yeah, that IS interesting. I read an article a few years back on the subject. It contrasted the Western way of introductions to that found in, say, eastern Africa where people introduce themselves as "I'm XYZ, the son of ABC, from the tribe of N," emphasizing their ties of consanguinity.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that. We all have our priorities in life and it's a free country!
Mon, Apr 11, 2011, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
Yeah - it's just really on the TV shows where they HAVE to introduce themselves that way if they want to participate (what if they're between jobs... for shame!). If someone *wants* to introduce themselves as their job title it's entirely different and I'm all for that.

Of course, in fiction some are even named by their job title. There's the Doctor and The Doctor for starters :)

X son of A is very Klingon!
Tue, Feb 14, 2012, 12:28am (UTC -5)
I like ensemble stories. Trek is meant to be that way or should be. Hence why I am not a fan of the new Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise cause he destroyed all the characters, the team and just egocentrically focused on tom cruise. I love the action and adventure, but i care more if they're characters I relate to or aspire to, not just individually but also as a team working together.
Thu, Apr 12, 2012, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
OK so I really loved these couple of episodes but it really bugged me that the bat'leth on the wall in Torres' quarters was different. :P
Paul York
Sat, May 5, 2012, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
A recurring and important theme in all ST shows is ethics: good versus evil. Here we see it again in full force. It is evil to abduct people, wipe their memories and turn them into slaves, albeit willing slaves who think they are free citizens. They have the freedom to choose their jobs and their lives, but within the limited parameters of the economy they are inserted into. The violence is removing their original identities, for profit. I see this as a strong commentary on forced labour that occurs in our society, and how economic slaves are socially conditioned to identify with their new jobs. Human slavery is alive and well in the 21st century Earth, in various forms, with people of all kinds being tricked or coersed or forced into labour of various kinds, including prostitution; this two-part episode illustrates why it is wrong. I thought it was a powerful and compelling social commentary on a problem plaguing our society, whether or not viewers made the connection.
Sun, Oct 21, 2012, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Chakotay must have vegetarianism that comes and goes, since he tucked into Beduvian quail in the episode right before this one...
Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
I very much appreciated last episode - The Void - and this two-parters. While the first wasn't very subtle, this one was, in the decoupage, the little scenes, the characters interactions and the social allegory. I much agree with Cloudane, my job doesn't define me, even if it's an important part of my life. And I very much agree with Paul York about brainwashing, slavery and "half-slavery".

To answer Chris, I never understood why they said Chakotay was a vegetarian. It was established on TNG that they didn't kill animals anymore. What they eat is replicated meat, thus, not really meat. My question is (being a vegetarian myself), for what reason Chakotay wouldn't eat replicated fish and meat when no animal suffered ?
Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 11:01am (UTC -5)
I find it funny, yet it troubles me aswell how the writer(s)...borrowed...ideas from other universes.
see warhammer and star wars universes for example. like my eyes popped out when Chakotay (if I remember correctly) said nar shadan.

well, these...resemblances aside, I pretty much enjoyed these episodes.

by the way, did anyone count how many panels blew up in the whole series?
or the other ones? I lost count around 400...
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 3:24am (UTC -5)
Wonderful 2-parter! Not much to add that hasn't already been said, but good point on the vegetarian thing! That is completely out of left field. Eh, it was a relatively small thing considering how good everything else was.
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 10:45am (UTC -5)
OK, did anyone else wonder why Jaffen's race has (at least) two sexes if they reproduce without there being a Father. I mean, just what was he doing with Janeway?
Wed, Aug 21, 2013, 3:29am (UTC -5)
Very interesting episode. It felt like a movie! Good to see John Aniston (aka Victor Kiriakis to Days of our Lives fans - wonder if DeLancie who used to be Eugene on that show put in a good word for him).
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
this is another episode that pops in my brain when i think of voyager.

great 2 parter. maybe the best one??

4 stars. very entertaining.

i am sad that NO ONE mentioned Harry Kim. he was essentially the captain of the Voyager and he was responsible for saving the whole crew.

but alas, he gets no kudos. but from me!
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
This was an entertaining two-part story.

Tuvok ended up kind of a "loose-end" though. It was anecdotal that the crew was transported back aboard Voyager and treated for their memory alteration but Tuvok was getting the "ultra" treatment when we saw him last. He says, "Help me!" And then we don't see him anymore. It would have been better if he were a part of the rescue and his suspicions were validated.

I wish they had left out the petty fighting for command between the Doctor and Harry. Both performed with exemplary skill when needed and yet, it was cheapened by their egos. Harry will find it hard to earn a pip like that.
Watching the reruns
Thu, Sep 26, 2013, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Yeah, a good episode, great to see the characters in another setting, a possible other life, taking 'unwanted vacations from themselves'. This was the premise of the travel agency in Total Recall too. (Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to take a vacation from oneself because, unfortunately, wherever you go, there YOU are.) Seven of Nine was a riot, too; a perfect alternative character.

Re the vegetarianism: it's a matter of principle and would make no difference that the meat is replicated and not real. For instance, I don't want to eat human flesh and would still find 'replicated' human flesh repugnant, even though it wasn't real.
Thu, Sep 26, 2013, 9:50am (UTC -5)
@Rerun: it may not make a difference to YOU, but many people are vegetarians for ethical reasons which would be void with replicated meat. Frankly, I have a hard time imagining ethical vegetarians with 24th century animal husbandry and butchery either.
Jo Jo Meastro
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Excellent review for an excellent movie-like 2 parter!

It was great all round and I love the fact that the scope was there to bring the story to full fruitation while still having time for the charming litte details. This more than anything gave it the cinematic feel. It just had everything going for it.

There was a fantastic premise that lived up to its potential, the action was tensely executed, emotional meaningful moments are wonderfully touching, the whole atmosphere was perfectly realised and the characters were kept at the heart of it all. Even most of the one-time characters were given the right amounts of attention and complexity.

If I had anything bad to say is that perhaps it stumbled slightly in the last few acts. The aftermath in particular was neglectful except for that lovely scene between Tom and Torress.

However, this is still remarkably strong and gripping from start to finish. This is my favourite Voyager 2-parter, unless the finale happens to really blow me away!

Easily a 3.5!
Jo Jo Meastro
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 7:36am (UTC -5)
One more thing which I'm surprised nobody has mentioned; there is an episode of Stargate SG1 with the exact same premise and a story which went around a similar route. While I love Stargate, I must say Voyager did it quite a lot better.
Sun, Nov 3, 2013, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
"Much is made of a scene (which is weakly performed, alas) where Ravok's suspicions about the conspiracy are awakened and Kadan justifies his actions as something necessary for society. The friction between the two is set up but never resolved."

He is seen lying on a hospital bed in the same room as Tuvok and Chakotay. Seven comments on it.
Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Janeway describes Earth as "overpopulated and polluted", which is certainly not true of 24th century Earth...trashing one's home planet must be part of the brainwashing process.
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 7:29am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed these episodes - it was interesting to see the crew in another light. Tom Paris was very endearing in his role as protector of B'lanna, even though he didn't know who she was. (Poor B'lanna, those brainwashers were really jerks to make her a single mom. Why not keep her and Tom together as a family?). It would have been nice if Seven had displayed a bit more of her human side.

The one part that really annoyed me - Chakotay betraying the crew when he was captured. His personality up until now never would have allowed him to help the enemy trap his crew... And from what they showed, it didn't seem as though he had been drugged or tortured. It just seemed as though they captured him and he gave in... Very out of character.
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Vulcans are highly emotional under their veneer of logic. When we've seen Vulcans 'lose their shit', so to speak , they can become incredibly passionate, violent, and irrational. Hence why they have the Kolinahr discipline.
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Once again with two parters, the climax did not live up to the build-up. The first hour was compelling, the completeness in vision of the 'labor city' had echoes from Soviet industrial towns. However...the inevitable part II lacked a similar compelling payoff plot wise.

I was hoping for something more sinister and far reaching than the simple need for an alien species to source cheap labor. As it was, the climax was all too predictable.

Plot holes...were the children of Voyager also put into forced labor? How exactly were the Aliens able to modify Seven without her Borg implants blocking the procedure? Indeed, if the Aliens were so sophisticated as able to brainwash borg, why not kidnap a few Borg cubes? Surely that would have been a much more sensible solution, and Borg drones don't need constant brainwashing.

As for 'coolness' factor, we got to see the Doc fulfill his role as emergency command program - Harry Kim obviously didn't learn much from his most recent opportunity at command, and spent most of the time criticizing the Doc's rather ingenious command decisions. Hiding out in the lunar crater was perhaps inspired by Star Wars II ;)

3/5 stars. Gotta give extra points for presenting a cohesive story for a two-parter. The alien backdrops and industrial city scapes were great eye-candy.
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
@Nick: Excellent points. I'll help ...

The other problem with this episode is that it's hard to understand why the alien laborers are even needed. Most of what Janeway and the others are shown doing is pretty pointless. And if there's such a shortage, how can Paris get fired/quit?

The best part of this two-parter are the scenes with Chakotay and Janeway. Janeway being truly happy off Voyager should have been explored more.
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
This was the first time I thought, "To hell with the thought Janeway and Chakotay should get together on Earth." I liked Jaffin! They wrote him as her equal where they forgot with Chakotay. I was even rooting for him to stay on Voyager. Then his pathetic insecurity showed when he found out she was a Captain and he retreated inside. At least that's how I perceived it. zzzz Back to Chakotay dinners for her. Until he learns seven can cook better :-). haha.

I enjoyed this two partner even though I am tired of Janeway losing her ship theme.
Makes crew look dumb when she out wits Borg week after week.
Sun, Jun 29, 2014, 12:52am (UTC -5)
Did anyone notice the wrong Klingon Bat'leth hanging in B'elanna's quarters? It was a regular one and not the one given to her in 'Prophecy'

Just sayin...:)
Paul M.
Sun, Jun 29, 2014, 4:08am (UTC -5)

Nothing surprising when it comes to Voyager. Its sense of continuity is legendary, after all.
Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
I really must say that I enjoyed this one. The one scene that got me was Janeway contacting Voyager and awed at its existence. I like those stories where you're going along in your life only to discover that you are actually something so much more then you thought. The way the story built it up was actually quite good as well as she slowly starts trusting Chakotay and indulging in the fantasy of her actually being a starship captain.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
It's always convenient in these situations that the prior memories are merely blocked, but never erased outright. Why would the Quarren want to make it remotely possible that the people could ever be restored...why would they care?
John TY
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Ok but given all the positive comments above I expected something less... dull. And inconsequential.
John TY
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 9:05am (UTC -5)
Agree with Paul and Jack's comments above.

I also found a lot of the 'relationship setup' (eg. Janeway/Jaffin, Paris/Torres) to be painfully tedious.
Fri, Sep 19, 2014, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
I don't get why the Voyager writers were so amused with the stupid "Janeway burns replicated meals" bit they used about a dozen times throughout the series. Not only is it not even funny to begin with, it's based on something that doesn't even make sense.
Mon, Dec 1, 2014, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Was I the only viewer who thought Jaffin was a mole working for the bad guys?
Mon, Jan 5, 2015, 3:31am (UTC -5)
Re:vegetarianism, I think Arachnea's comment pretty much addresses the inconsistency raised by Chris. Chakotay ate the replicated quail served in 'The Void'; he didn't eat the nectar mentioned in this episode, which was presumably made using non-replicated meat by-product. This suggests that he is happy to eat replicated meat products but not actual ones.

I also agree with the comment about it making no difference whether the meat is replicated or not. I assumed that his vegetarianism was cultural and would not have been surprised if he did choose to observe it even in respect of replicated meat.
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
I must of watched Voyager all the way though at least 7 times now and I always look forward two this two parter, It feels almost like a movie at times, really interesting seeing some the characters playing different lives, especially Janeway.
Wed, Sep 2, 2015, 1:30am (UTC -5)
I haven't really watched Voyager much--my wife is addicted to anything Trek, though--but I've been reading Jammer's reviews off and on, as I hear episodes being played in the background. Something amusing has cropped up as I've read the reviews--as I noted under the review for "The Gift," that episode was directed by Anson Williams, formerly Potsie on "Happy Days." This episode features Don Most as Kaden--that's formerly Donnie Most, who played Potsie's sidekick Ralph Malph on "Happy Days."

Is Ron Howard in one of these? Is there a Vulcan version of Fonzie running around the Delta Quadrant?
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Excellent two-part episode, well written, acted, and directed. Agree with Jammer, it plays out like a good L&O episode, which is high praise. I would have given 4 stars to part 1 and 3.5 stars to part 2, as I would have preferred a slightly more powerful ending instead of the usual "reset" button where all is well again. But overall, this is one of Voyager's finest moments, and I was glad to see that even in the 7th and final season, the writers were able to come up with fresh ideas.
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 11:22am (UTC -5)
I like this one, for all the reasons I didn't like "The Killing Game", which this is very similar too. Instead of shoehorning random Nazi parallels into a disjointed plot, this episode builds an interesting if not confusing world. It is fun to think that the Voyager crew would enjoy different lives after all the problems they've encountered in the DQ, and I liked how they teased irrepressible bits of characters personalities throughout from Paris' flirting, to Seven's organizational skills, and Janeway's intelligence.

But I agree with Jammer, part II falls flat. I don't think the writers could decide which thread of the story they liked the most and ended up stuffing too many threads that don't weave into the same picture. For example, Ensign Kim and the Doctor controlling Voyager on their own was interesting, but that plotline alone could've filled an hour. Seven of Nine as a security admin and Paris as a barkeep was also an interesting plotline, which could've easily filled an hour. It's like there are so many great setups but the resolution to these stories was never completed.

I'll agree with 3 stars.
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 9:39am (UTC -5)
I agree this was very much like what they used in Total Recall. They can give these people new memories, false memories, and even make them hate space travel. They give them completely new identities. But, they can't download actual knowledge? Tom gets fired after a few hours, and Janeway doesn't know how to use the console at first. She also has to read manuals. Couldn't this knowledge be downloaded into them as well like in the Matrix? Bam!!! You’re an Engineer. Get to work.

Customer complaint departments need this technology. "You like our product. You are satisfied with our product. You will buy our product again." Thank you, come again.

They took their com badges and all their Starfleet equipment. They have no universal translators, but everyone can talk to one another and read the consoles in their own languages. Huh?

Naomi Wildman – Hospital Assistant

I also thought it was mean that Tom and B’lanna weren’t made a family. Just give them a memory of coming to find work together, and to raise a family together. Clearly the DNA of the child would show him as the father anyway.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I thought the burned meat gag was one of Tom’s/Kim’s practical jokes that Janeway hasn’t caught on to yet. However, now it is clear, Janeway is just stupid. Maybe she is requesting the wrong temperature. "Can I have a glass of water - 5 degrees celcius.", Mmmmm nice and cold. "Can I have a roast at 350 degrees celcius". (Should have been in Fahrenheit) The computer doesn't care and provides what is requested. Hence, the roast is charred to shit. To Janeway: Try asking for Medium-Rare.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Part I:

Lots of set up of course, given this is a 2-parter, but the plotting lets this breathe a bit and we're a quarter into the episode before we even have a clue what's going on. I very much liked the various strands running here, and the subtly different behaviour on the part of the workforce sets it apart from the usual out of character fare we sometimes get. The Tom and B'Elanna elements I found particularly effective, as were those with Tuvok. And Janeway gets her oats at long last!

The scenes back on Voyager were also enjoyable, and the little Harry/ECH ego clash fun indeed. 3.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Part II:

Doesn't quite manage to live up to the first part. It seems that the exposition was more interesting in the resolution, which seemed to spin its wheels for a bit as it meandered toward the conclusion. What I did enjoy was the use of 'good' aliens to help, which doesn't happen that often.

I couldn't help thinking that the final line undermined the emotional resonance of the Jaffen farewell scene - did Janeway care for him or not? You'd think yes, but is "not for one second" sorry Chakotay came after them. Strange choice. 2.5 stars.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 12:36am (UTC -5)
This week's highlight: Kim unwittingly guzzles alien man-nectar, much to the amusement of all.
Wed, May 4, 2016, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
I don't really have too much to say about this episode. It is very well plotted piece as others have stated. It was also an enjoyable change of pace, similar to The Killing Game but without the flaws (albeit also without the big impact). Basically, it was just a pleasant two-parter.

It does seem weird to me that they chose this story of all stories to be a two-parter. It just doesn't mean anything. It's not a grab-you-by-the-seat, big dramatic story like Best of Both Worlds, nor is it a this-changes-everything story like Improbable Cause/Die is Cast, nor is it a cheap ratings ploy like Killing Game. It's just... there. Which isn't a bad thing, especially when they use the two parts wisely to make a well-executed story like this. But given Voyager's penchant for trying to make everything a cheap ratings ploy, it seems a surprising choice. There are plenty of other stories in the past couple seasons that may also have deserved a two-parter and were actually relevant to the characters, but oh well. At least they didn't waste it.

One aspect I liked was the variety in the random aliens of the week. Normally, they would just be the hard-headed aliens of the week who are here to be the bad guys. Instead, it was just a conspiracy of bad guys within a relatable, likeable, non-hard-headed alien world. Yelid was a competent investigator doing his job, who effortlessly switched from becoming an antagonist to a protagonist when he saw some of the oddities of what was going on. Jeffen, despite the show seeming to give hints that he may help out the conspiracy out of ignorance, never wavered and never betrayed the trust Janeway put in him. The young doctor thought he was doing good work in helping his patients, and refused to help when he learned the truth, even at risk to his own life. The power plant wasn't an evil exploiting company; they treated their workers well and it seemed a decent enough job opportunity. And in the resolution, the government didn't cover anything up nor shirk its responsibility; they worked to help out the victims of this conspiracy even though it would hurt their labor shortage more. Just ordinary, average people doing their job and behaving admirably in the face of evil.

Speaking of which, I disagree with Jammer that there should have been some sort of message here. Quite frankly, what sort of message can you give? Any anti-capitalist message (the sort you would expect from Trek) just wouldn't make sense, as the premise is just too sci-fi ish to work as an analogue. No nation, regardless of their politics, are kidnapping and brainwashing people in order to get workers. So how do you make a parallel with this premise? Likewise, if they did decide to make the power plant into some sort of evil capitalist straw man company, then it would just distract from the tightly-plotted intrigue that we saw. Yes, that makes this a relatively meaningless episode, but so what? It was a good meaningless episode, and that is plenty.
Thu, May 12, 2016, 11:49am (UTC -5)
skadoo, I was wondering the same thing. If Jaffkin's people don't need us males, why would Jafkin exsist? I think they should have dropped that.
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
So hard fpr part II to live up to part one.

Great NEW concept, executed very well.

Jammer and everyone else has said all that needs to be said.

Harry saves the day!!

I'll part with Jammer a bit and say the ending was fine.

3.5 from me too.
Sun, Sep 25, 2016, 4:12am (UTC -5)
That was cool! (****)
Mon, Nov 21, 2016, 5:32am (UTC -5)
@Skeptical: I had to laugh at your first line "I don't have much to say about this episode", since it was the prelude to a lengthy post! But once again I find myself in agreement. I thought this dragged a little, and could definitely have been a better single episode.

I knew I'd seen that Kaden character before, but I never would have picked him for Ralph Malph from Happy Days! And directed by Potsie no less.

3 stars
Wed, Feb 22, 2017, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
As I recall, Jaffkin only said he didn't have a father. Why would that automatically mean they can't reproduce the same way as every other race? It could easily be a cultural or political circumstance. Maybe his race has a bunch of single moms with test tube babies. Maybe he was birthed in a creche with nannies and not parents. Considering how hostile certain groups have been toward the nuclear family in the Western world, I can easily see some hypothetical political body decreeing that henceforth all babies will be spawned instead of born.
dave johnson
Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
That thing with Jaffkin not having a father.... that really is just another moment where the writers thought it would be cool to say that there are non-human ways to pro-create. Kind of like that "Species 8472 have 5 sexes!! hahaha".

Hey, the reason we all look the same other than bumps on the head was apparently because all our planets were seeded 4 billion years ago (which was a concept from that TNG episode I really liked by the way), so after that episode happened, I never needed to complain about why each alien species looked human other than the head. Anyone that was remarkably different from human was likely on a planet that wasnt seeded. Honestly, they should have mentioned this from time to time although I suppose the TNG episode made it clear it had to be a secret.

I really liked this episode. The Janeway love story was genuine, organic, and something that could happen if you didn't remember your past life. My only quibble is that she should have had a more lingering affect. Perhaps 2 minute scene in her quaters talking to Chakotay along the lines of "You know, I have my memories back, yet those memories and feelings of this man are there.... they are real... I can't stop thinking and longing for him like he is the love of my life"..... the "not for a second" was just too convenient and not realistic.

This had 2 be two parts because it gave time to flesh out the characters into their new lives. The deal with Tom and Torres still feeling drawn to one another was pretty powerful although they didn't invest enough time in that.
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Problem: Labor shortage

Solution 1: Pay higher wages: Requires money to increase worker supply (surge pricing, anyone?) and keep workers working for you willingly.

Solution 2: Create robots to do routine tasks like the ones Janeway and Chakotay were doing (look at a number here and make sure it stays within a range). Costs money and requires labor to design and maintain.

Solution 3: Slavery. Requires lack of ethics, expensive acquisition of people (once the quadrant learns who you really are) and some labor to monitor and maintain unwilling workers.

Solution 4: This episode. Requires setting up a complex and expensive network of subspace mines that need to be replaced, hope that the mines cause radiation poisoning, count on the crew to abandon ship, then capture the crew and, using complex technology that you have also spent years creating and perfecting (without any labor issues, presumably), brainwash them into being happy workers, and spend money to routinely drug them to keep their memories suppressed, all the while making sure you don't have any telepathic species in your captured crew.

Which one is the most efficient solution?

Oh yeah. Voyager writers are economically illiterate and assume their viewers are too.
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Anyone ever wondered how the EMH "sees"? Why on earth would he need a flashlight and what magic makes him detect anything through his eyes? not mentioning that i'm not exactly sure that a holographic doctor would have the same shadow as a real human. This part of the whole EMH thingie is annoying me more and more...:) it came to my mind again when he showed up on the bridge and met Chakotay and Kim.
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
People have mentioned a couple of Stat Wars allusions: hiding in the asteroid; Nar Shaddaa (in SW EU) / Nar Shaddan (this ep). There is yet another similarity to The SW expanded universe: the planet in Workforce is "Quarra" and its inhabitants are referred to as "Quarren"; this is also the name of the squid-faced race briefly seen in Jabba's palace. Pretty remarkable coincidence although I guess if you have a million monkeys banging out Star Trek scripts it is inevitable one of them would contain three similarities to Star Wars.
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 1:39am (UTC -5)
So the Doctor with a few subprograms suddenly becomes an engineer, fixing the ship by himself, and a captain, and tactition, etc. Why have any other crew? Add a few more subprograms and turn him into the terminator and send him down for away missions from now on. Or make him into whatever you need at the time. Need a pilot? Subprogram. Need a geologist? Subprogram. Need a character that makes sense? No such luck.

And he wins the space battle against the 2 ships, whose shields they can't penetrate btw, by shooting a photon torpedo between them, disabling both ships with it's 'photonic shockwave'. From now on all photon torpedoes just need to be shot somewhere near the enemy, shields be damned I guess. Why bother trying to actually hit anything? Another Voyager contrivance, never before seen or ever seen again. But when they are being attacked later by 3 ships, he has no clue what to do. And Kim has to save the day by finding and placing and arming photon torpedoes into the escape pods and masking the life signs on Voyager, then launching the pods, all in like 30 seconds.

Most of the people who work at the factory or whatever it was, aren't brainwashed. So why do none of them say a word about the fact that 130 odd people of a species they have never heard of or seen before, from a planet so far away that no one has ever even heard of it, suddenly show up for work all on the same day? I know if a bunch of aliens showed up at my work one day, I'd ask a couple questions. Especially if one is a Borg who is now my boss.

And all these hundreds or thousands of people all come here to this dismal place just for a job? They can't get a job on their own planets? What the hell sort of planets are they from? They obviously all have some sort of technical expertise.

The fact that Janeway meets, sleeps with, falls in love with, and moves in with that guy, all in like a week is pretty lame. I could have done without all of that nonsense, especially since she just dismissed it all unceremoniously at the end.

And since the bad guys disabled Voyager and took the whole crew, why would they leave a super advanced starship just drifting around in space? Wouldn't they have taken it? They could have used Voyager to capture all sorts of ships without using mines and all that other elaborate crap. Or at least stripped it down for parts and supplies or something. Abandoning it makes no sense.

Not to mention some of the other things that other people pointed out above.

So much of this episode makes no sense.

1 1/2 stars
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 1:46am (UTC -5)
I noticed the bat'leth replacement too, and that annoyed me as well.
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
"And since the bad guys disabled Voyager and took the whole crew, why would they leave a super advanced starship just drifting around in space? Wouldn't they have taken it...."

The bad guys captured the crew after they abandoned ship, leaving the ECH doctor in command. The ECH hid the ship in a nebula (nebulas always being handily available when needed).

I've been reading these comments for ages and I've often wanted to respond to complaints about all the alleged mistakes in Voyager and other Star Trek shows. There are some real goofs, but the majority of so-called mistakes can be explained away by positing some additional info that couldn't be shoe-horned into the 42-minute tv episode. Maybe the bat'leth was sent out for restoration and a substitute was temporarily put in its place - one of about a dozen possibilities that come to mind. Maybe a different kind of universal translator was installed on this planet to let everyone understand each other. Etc etc.

True the simplest explanation is a continuity mishap or the writers didnt notice the issue. But that's because they were concentrating on producing the short-form intense drama of a tv show full of hopefully interesting, meaningful and engaging characters and events.

So for most of the supposed errors, meet the writers and directors halfway, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume there are explanations not spelled out explicitly in the tight scripts. Save your gotcha comments for the really egregious mistakes and major problems of the dramas, characters and plotting, which we can argue about.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Eric,

As an audience member it should never, *ever*, occur to you that the writers have made an errors. There's no error too small that if the audience noticed it doesn't mean you done goofed real bad. There are plenty of errors that creep into writing that are hard to catch, like continuity goofs, obscure plot holes, and things most audience members won't catch, and which writers still consider to be significant deficiencies. When it appears to the audience to be glaring, no, you shouldn't 'meet them halfway.' It means their writing is sloppy as heck and shouldn't be given a pass. Any halfway decent writer would choke at reading a script that requires an audience to 'meet them halfway.' A tight script should convey the audience into a different world where they feel like things are really happening and make sense. It should not suggest a sketch or a neat idea and hope the audience doesn't mind structural imperfections. You can be as creative as you like, if the script work isn't polished then it comes off looking like amateur hour. And I'm sorry to say that despite first-rate production values (for which no one can fault this how) many of the scripts come off looking like little more then half-realized sketches. When they do a really good one you can see the difference. Even posters on this site who are big fans of this show notice immediately how uneven the writing is, the point of straight-up inconsistency in characterization, and cheats to make the plots work. It's what happens when you don't have a well-managed writing staff. See Ron Moore's diatribe in regard to that one.

As someone who's had experience writing and editing scripts, as well as directing, I can tell you that any time an audience is going to scratch their heads, object to something, or wonder how something happened, you've gone off the rails. There's no sympathy that needs to be had for writer/director teams that have flaws in their story and can't fit the content into 42 minutes. It just means that what they did include was flabby and their editing was crap. Or, as David Mamet put it, they have written a "crock of s***." There's pretty big money in Hollywood and TV, and Voyager had a significant budget (it dwarfed what Babylon 5 had). No excuses need to be made for management problems.
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Despite some flaws, this is one of my favorite episodes of Voyager
Wed, Nov 22, 2017, 2:20am (UTC -5)
Great two-parter.

I had a different impression of Janeway in that final scene. I rather thought she was trying to set a tone for the rest of the crew, as well as reassuring everyone that their captain was again 100% committed. At the same time, it seemed pretty clear from the goodbye scene with Jaffin that she left part of herself on that planet with him. So her comment, " Not for a second" or whatever, was a ruse. And I think Mulgrew makes that clear when, after she says "Resume course Mr. Paris." her expression changes from one of being resolute, almost nonchalant - what she conveyed to Chakotay, to sudden sadness and longing as she turns her face away. It's brief - blink and you might miss it - but it is very clear, or at least, it seems so to me.

I'm with the others, finally, who mentioned finding most of the "guest" characters worthwhile, intelligent, compassionate, competent, and well-acted. And I wish Jaffin had stayed on Voyager.
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good 2-parter - felt like a full-fledged Voyager movie. I actually prefered the 2nd part over the 1st part as the 1st part seemed like something more familiar for the Voyager crew to be undergoing -- just happy in their different jobs ("Bliss" came to mind) whereas the 2nd part had more conflict and a good wrap-up.

I liked the idea of the Voyager crew in a different setting and how their individual characteristics get reflected in how they do different work (7 as some QC officer, Paris tending a bar, Janeway hooking up with a credible dude). Good episode for Chakotay who did a convincing job as the main man on the ground.

Big production here as well, plenty of decent guest actors, sets etc. That's refreshing to see -- a budget being put to good use.

I actually wasn't a fan of the start of the episode as it's pretty clear Voyager's crew has been kidnapped and then you know we'll get the backstory from somebody left on board the ship -- haven't we seen this kind of trick before?

Would also have been good to know what motivated the doctor who was pulling off this job -- odd that it seemed he was the head guy running this crime. So some of the operation could have been made to appear more believable for me.

I enjoyed the bit of humor with Harry Kim and Doc vying for command while Chakotay was gone -- we know both of these 2 have ambitions of bigger and better things.

Part I 2.5 stars, Part II 3 stars -- Part I had some padding in it, Part II had none and really got to the gravity of the problem and the difficulty in solving it. Nice moments at the end for Janeway and Torres/Paris. Good ambitious episode here, but not particularly creative.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 11:16am (UTC -5)
I liked this one more than I feel like I should have. For something we knew would be a reset, and spent so much time building this other life for the crew, it was still compelling to watch.

However, am I the only one that doesn’t believe for a second that they’re going to stop doing this to people? The whole thing was so elaborate that it had to have support of those higher up in the government. So I read the whole situation as a “oops you caught us” and let them all go rather than have to fight. Although they did give up 150 workers pretty easily. If they were really in such a shortage and this really was how they were supposed to be getting workers then they probably would not have given up so easy.

Anyway, probably my favorite two parter of the series
Mon, May 7, 2018, 8:43am (UTC -5)
Thought it was pretty ridiculous how the ship can't run itself in any capacity yet it can run the doctor who can run the ship. It was also completely inefficient for him to have be stuck in a physical human body. He could've just ran everything in software and summon all sorts of hologram "people" and machines as needed.
Tue, May 8, 2018, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Robert Joy's Yerid greatly helped sell this. Great acting and a refreshing break from the almost always cartoonishly simple guest characters.

I almost typed "he was actually doing his job" which is kind of funny, isn't it?
Wed, May 30, 2018, 3:57am (UTC -5)
In the scene in sickbay where the doctor gets upset that Harry's put in command, didn't Harry basically threaten to murder the doctor? Just thinking about what it would have been like if the doctor were human - the equivalent of deleting the docs subroutines in a human is either memory medication at best, or murder at worse. Had Harry said something like that about a human, even if he didn't mean it, would get him in to big trouble - but saying it about the doctor, which for all intents and purposes is a sentient being, is simply dismissed.

If an officer said that about, say, Data I'm sure there would be some repercussions... Basically the equivalent of harassment in the workplace, or even a criminal death threat charge.

Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
I'm still a bit confused as to how many people within the authorities were in on the conspiracy. Early on, my assumption was that everyone was in on it. This was obviously dispelled by Yerid and the young junior doctor guy, although at that point it still seemed like higher members of law enforcement (and possibly government) had sanctioned it. The ending obviously made it look like the highest levels of govt had been unaware the entire time. Either way, great episode and one of my faves from Voyager.
Thu, Aug 16, 2018, 5:34pm (UTC -5)

Harry didn’t threaten to murder the Doctor. He threatened to remove his ECH subroutines i.e. the stuff they added to his program dormantly at some point after he had his trial run against the race of Mr Potato Heads who were monitoring his fantasies and which were activated by Janeway before the crew abandoned ship in this episode.

So basically if you want to use an analogy, Harry was simply threatening to demote him back to “only” being the ship’s physician.
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 2:13am (UTC -5)
I agree that a Vulcan with his memory suppressed would have been more emotive, and so it makes me wonder why they didn't do the same for Seven. Other than a change of make-up and hair, she seemed about the same. She's a human, after all. In fact, I've often wondered why she hasn't loosened up more emotionally than she has.

I "get it" from the writers point of view...they like to have a character or two that struggles with emotional issues, so we can see their growth, but here it would have been appropriate to have seen what kind of person she'd been like had she grown up fully human from her childhood.

Also, I usually find it irritating when the captains (Janeway, Picard) don't get to enjoy a love life like everyone else. Who says it would not be appropriate for them to have one? Picard is a natural loner, but Janeway doesn't seem to be. Although my vote would be Chakotay over Jaffin.

And speaking of Chakotay, I agree it was super weird that they were able to brainwash him to give coordinates to the crew without him knowing who he was or what he was doing. I assume that he would not have done it under duress, so it had to have been brainwashing, but it just didn't make sense.

I share all of my "that bugged me" thoughts when I come here, but then I read a bunch of new ones I hadn't even thought of before, which is simultaneously entertaining and irritating....lots of things to think about and wonder what they were thinking, or not thinking as the case may be. Thanks everyone for keeping it interesting.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
3 stars for the two parter. It was solidly entertaining

I actually thought Janeway and Jaffen had genuine chemistry. More than she and Chakotay ever had and even though Janeway and Jaffen has an insta-romance is resonated more with me more than 4 years of writers forcing Paris and Torres together which I never bought or cared about

I did find the rationale for Jaffen not coming with her pretty weak. He didn’t have to be a part of the crew to get around the whole fraternizing issue.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 1:13am (UTC -5)
Good episodes! Really well done in all the particulars. Great performances, just good stuff all around.

Janeway did love Jaffin, but not as much as she loves Voyager. He couldn't come with her without being part of the crew, under her command - I mean, he could, if he decided being her lover was so fulfilling he didn't need anything else to do, but he didn't seem like the type to be a kept-man. And Janeway doesn't seem like the type to want a kept-man.

Anyhow, Janeway doesn't regret getting back to Voyager and her authentic self, not for second, even though it costs her Jaffin. That makes sense to me. On the one hand you have a guy she's only known a week or two, on the other you have Voyager and getting your real life back.

Her priorities are straight. I'd feel the same way, I'd answer the same way: "Not for a second."
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 9:16am (UTC -5)
I realize I've misquoted Janeway. She said: "Not for TWO seconds." So, for one second, then.
Sean Hagins
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 1:55am (UTC -5)
I can't stand the immorality they show on television! This is actually one main reason why I stopped watching new tv. Having the captain sleep with that man was really unnecessary.

That said, this episode reminds me of all things of an old Gobots episode. Cy-Kill used a device to brainwash all humans and turn them against the Guardians. I kept thinking about this while watching this episode (that's not a bad thing-I have always liked the Gobots)
Sean Hagins
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 2:49am (UTC -5)

That's a good question! I forgot about her! They should have at least mentioned it
Sean Hagins
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 2:56am (UTC -5)

Yes! I thought so too! I was really surprised he wasn't
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 4:46am (UTC -5)
“I can't stand the immorality they show on television! Having the captain sleep with that man was really unnecessary.”

I disagree, having Janeway sleep with a man she wouldn’t normally sleeps with emphasizes how deeply her identity was taken away by the Quarren people. The showrunners aren’t saying casual sex is a good thing per se, more along the lines of being abducted and forced into slave labor can have a drastic effect on the psyche. It’s similar to Riker sleeping with a Ensign Ro in “Conundrum”.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
Stargate SG-1 “Beneath the Surface” revisited.
Sat, Apr 13, 2019, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Chakotay : "You're obviously a very capable woman. You could probably run that power plant."
Janeway : "Why would I want all that responsibility?"

Telling line from Janeway while brainwashed.

Great episodes.
Mon, Apr 15, 2019, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
Jammer sez: (My only question, best ignored, is how economically viable it would be to hire or bribe the crews of armed starships so they can round up 100 or so people to work in your plant.)

You assume they only do this once. They could theoretically do this once a month or more.

And it DOES make sense (looking at you, Gooz). Let's say labor in America surged from an average of $40k a year for semi-skilled labor to $80k. An employer pays a crew $10k per head to give them fresh people who will do the work for $40k. That's a million per load, and the employer only needs to get 3 good months of work per person for that to pay for itself. Assume you need a crew of 20 on a ship to make this work, as pulling people from pods, knocking them out, and doing their surgical procedure are not really manpower intensive (one man was running the entire show, medically). That's $50k per month per person. Assume half goes to expenses. Still a good haul. More if you assume that there are packs of these crews, operating like pirates, stealing the ships too. The Doc is all that kept that from happening.

They're actually a combination of space pirates and space coyotes. Kind of fun.
Mon, Dec 2, 2019, 2:56am (UTC -5)
There's something bittersweet about an episode as good as this, so close to the end of Voyager's run. Voyager has done this over and again; after squandering its premise, neglecting many of its characters, and serving up so many enjoyable but ultimately unremarkable episodes it tosses in something like this. Not a new development. It's pretty much managed an excellent or even great episode at least once per season, but what makes this one especially refreshing (and frustrating) is that for once it's an ensemble piece. All the characters put in, and nobody really gets overused. It just makes you wish they could have managed this more often over the past seven years.

I don't really have much to add to what's been said, except for one obligatory nitpick. Actually it's a pretty big one, really. If it requires frequently administered injections at the plant to supress everyone's memories, how come Tom remains oblivious after being fired the first day and drifting til he gets a job in a bar?

Well, anyway, lots of fun. And for once in a ST two-parter, the second half wasn't a significant letdown.
Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 8:46am (UTC -5)
“When I think about the bigger scope of my job, I like to think I'm doing something useful and worthwhile.”

Here was the laugh I needed to end this decade.
Mon, Dec 30, 2019, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
@Sean Hagins
I can't stand the immorality they show on TV either. In just this episode we've seen abduction, mind control, government corruption, violations of medical ethics, and unauthorized free drinks. All profoundly immoral. I'm glad there was a nice love story to distract from all that.

You commented on the inefficiency of this way of acquiring workers, compared to just paying them more. But keep in mind that this is a criminal conspiracy. They don't have to be efficient, they just have to make money for themselves, even if it's a net loss for the company.
Tue, Dec 31, 2019, 8:17am (UTC -5)
if We look at the case going on in Florida right now with human trafficking and rub and tug massage shops, the comparison is appropriate. There is almost no difference between the forced labor those women lead in those massage shops, and the lives lead by the people in Workforce. The slight difference is the mental manipulation - it’s just done differently on our world. Here it’s done through complete financial control of the person.
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
Many will disagree with me but I didn't like Jaffen that much.
Wed, May 6, 2020, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
A number of people mentioning the similarities to "Total Recall". - the opening sweeping shot has a musical cue by Dennis Mccarthy that sounds very similar to a cue from Jerry Goldsmith's "Total Recall" score
Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
It's interesting how the two parters in later-season TNG started to feel drawn out and simply done for the sake of it, while episodes like this and 'Flesh and Blood' revel in their exra time, using it to explore the complexities of their situations. I would have perhaps liked a stronger conclusion to the Doctor's subplot, but otherwise very solid. I especially enjoyed B'Elanna's scenes and found the one in her quarters particularly moving.
Sat, Aug 8, 2020, 11:27am (UTC -5)
This was a near perfect episode. I loved the pace at which the story unfolded, and like Jammer said, I had maybe 10 different theories about what was actually going on until they gradually revealed the actual back story. Seeing all the characters there but different was certainly fun to watch, and I did kind of like the Tom/B’elana thing tho I normally don’t like the Trek does romance. All in all, I’d give both 3.5 stars, it was only let down by the rushed ending, and some very terrible acting by Don Most. I don’t normally call out bad actors unless they’re distractingly bad, and Kadan was so distractingly bad, it reminded me of Bernie Casey in DS9’s “The Maquis.” In both episodes, a well written character was essentially ruined by blocks of wood. Otherwise, loved it.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -5)
I think they should call this one “The Rescue of B’Elanna Torres”.
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
I’ll say this for Voyager, it pulled off some epic episodes and two parters at times. Having almost the entire crew already in the predicament of this one right from the get-go was pretty cool.

Mulgrew pulls off a nice antidepressant haze here. The rest of the main cast was pretty good, though Beltran basically phones in Chuckles as usual. The guests here were excellent.

Whether kidnapping people and brainwashing them to be workers is economically viable— well, probably not, but it seems this story was basically spoofing the reality of Silicon Valley in the dot-com era.
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Also, this episode is lavish and very handsome looking. Voyager didn’t skimp or sleep through its seventh season the way TNG did.
Sarjenka's Brother
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
If we had been delivered more shows like this two-parter, "Voyager" would have been considered the best "Trek" show.

This was excellent on every front: concept, writing, direction, acting, guest stars (loved James Read and Don Most), set design. It all came together beautifully. I liked how even when their memories were wiped, people acted true to character. If I had a quibble, the cliffhanger with Chakotay seemed a tad undramatic. But that's truly a quibble.

This was not only two of "Voyager's" finest hours, "Workforce" is a solid entry in the all-time Trek Hall of Fame. I think I may like this even better than another great mid-season two-parter, "The Year of Hell."
Bob (a different one)
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
I think it's one of the best "ensemble" episodes in all of Trek. Every cast member gets something to do and it all fits together perfectly. I think it benefited from being in season 7; all the character moments, both big and small, added up over the series run and the chemistry amongst the crew was on full display in this episode.

Apsara81Cloud asked: "If all the crew (except Chakotay, Neelix, Kim, EMH) were abducted, was Naomi Wildman placed in a child labor camp? :]"

She was the Assistant Efficiency Monitor, of course.


Amanda said: "I liked Jaffin! They wrote him as her equal where they forgot with Chakotay. I was even rooting for him to stay on Voyager. Then his pathetic insecurity showed when he found out she was a Captain and he retreated inside."

It wasn't his call. From the script:

JANEWAY: I'd offer you a position. I could always use another skilled Engineer. But as the captain, it wouldn't really be appropriate for me to -
JAFFEN: Fraternize with a member of your crew.

So basically Janeway says "Hey, I'd love to have a new engineer, but our relationship is 100% over." Can you blame a guy for not wanting to be stuck aboard Voyager for the rest of his life, close to the woman he loves, but never having the chance to truly be with her?

I don't really get Janeway's position here. If she sincerely loved him I don't understand why he MUST be a crewmember under her command. If she doesn't love him I think he deserves more than a lame "I can't fraternize with the crew" excuse.


Jammer said: "The only thing missing from "Workforce" is a powerful ending."

I agree with this, and I think I know what the problem is. The heart of this episode is the romance between Janeway and Jaffen and the ending undercuts the emotional impact of that relationship.

CHAKOTAY: Ready to go?
JANEWAY: It may not have been real, Chakotay, but it felt like home. If you hadn't come after me, I never would've known that I had another life.
CHAKOTAY: Are you sorry I showed up?
JANEWAY: Not for a second. Resume course, Mister Paris.

The "not for a second" line rips the heart out of the episode. Janeway doesn't seem to be affected by what happened. Anything new that we learned about her character can be chalked up her being brainwashed. So what's the point? It's just one more use of the Reset Button where the status quo is reestablished.

Imagine if we find out that someone had been tampering with the EMH's program in "Lifesigns" or "Someone to Watch Over Me." Now imagine if either of those episode ended with the Doc saying "whew - I'm glad that's over!" Unsatisfying? You bet. But that's pretty much how "Workforce" wraps up Janeway's love affair.

p.s. How bad of an employee does Tom Paris have to be to get fired from a job as a slave laborer?

Space Simon Legree: "uh...Tom we've decided in another direction. Sorry things didn't work out. Best of luck to you in your future thralldom."
Thu, Sep 2, 2021, 1:42am (UTC -5)
Jack said:

"It's always convenient in these situations that the prior memories are merely blocked, but never erased outright. Why would the Quarren want to make it remotely possible that the people could ever be restored...why would they care? "

It was most ridiculous in Collective, when the Borg conveniently kept "assimilation profile" biographies that Seven could hand out at the end of the episode.

Why would the Borg ever care to keep such things for a drone?
Sat, Dec 25, 2021, 9:06pm (UTC -5)
I’m surprised that the Quarren plant supervisor didn’t find an opportunity to tell everyone how much he loves to work out.
Sat, Dec 25, 2021, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
@Startrekwatcher (2018)

"I did find the rationale for Jaffen not coming with her pretty weak. He didn’t have to be a part of the crew to get around the whole fraternizing issue."

I agree. He could have been just someone who lived on Voyager but wasn’t part of the crew, kind of like the civilians on the Enterprise-D. Neelix, Kes, and Seven of Nine weren’t members of the crew either. Maybe the producers just didn’t want to add James Read to the cast.

It’s kind of too bad that Dr. Kadan and Harry Kim didn’t have any scenes together. Take a look at the photograph of Anson Williams on Wikipedia — he looks kind of like Garrett Wang.

@Mikey: Anson Williams did not direct either part of "Workforce."
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 3:14am (UTC -5)
@Bob: "How bad of an employee does Tom Paris have to be to get fired from a job as a slave laborer?"

It was Seven who fired him!

I agree with the viewers who say that Janeway was overcompensating with her last line. And the Janeway/Chakotay fan in me thinks maybe the fact it was Chakotay she was talking to was a factor... ;) I can dream, anyway.

I wish Tuvok had had more to do in Part II but other than that I loved these. They were a lot of fun, and the alien world was really cool to see.
Gary Twinem
Mon, May 23, 2022, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Why does Voyager need a crew of 150 when an ensign, a Talaxian, a hologram and a half Klingon can fly and fight it lol? Preposterous.
Tue, May 9, 2023, 8:59am (UTC -5)
I thought I’d dislike this episode but turns out I really enjoyed it. Atmospherically, I found it very reminiscent of dystopian sci-fi from the 70s. Like when Chakotay was being wheeled away, strapped to a stretcher shouting at that inspector guy, I actually turned to my girlfriend and said “Soylent green is people!” Being a MUCH bigger nerd than she is, I was met with a blank stare. But I thought the overall tone and feel of the show was really well done.
I also appreciated that there were characters from this society that were appalled by this slave labor scheme, jaffin for example turned out to be an alright guy when the low hanging fruit of storytelling would have been to have him be in on it, or at least aware of it. The story had some depth as we were given a solid impression of complexity in this society. Often on any trek series we meet a new civilization, and by that I mean about half a dozen extras in one room meant to represent an entire planet of people. It can have a lazy feel to it at times. But this episode felt like there was a more lived in, bigger picture just out of focus. Very refreshing, especially coming from voyager.
A few other thoughts:
- It cracks me up that even with his memories deleted, Paris can still barely hold down a job as a busboy at a local dive bar. If there is one winner in all of voyager, it’s Tom Paris. The guy went from incarcerated goofball to ace pilot with a hot wife and a baby on the way. I imagine that he wouldn’t mind taking voyager for another spin through deep space, well, except for the whole getting turned into a salamander thing.

- I wasn’t really clear on why jaffin couldn’t stay on voyager, other than the show’s continuity allergy. He wouldn’t have to join star fleet, heck he wouldn’t even really have to DO anything, he could have simply been a passenger. But even if he were to come on board as an engineer, the circumstances are so unusual that the fraternization issue really doesn’t apply. As long as they were up front with the crew so as to avoid any confusion or sense of impropriety, I don’t see the problem. But alas, so goes the reset button.
Wed, Jun 14, 2023, 9:33am (UTC -5)
I definetly join the fan club for this episode. Many charming and entertaining scenes. I guessed everyone smiled when Sevent turned up lessoning Janeway.
Thrilling moments and good use of co actors.

There have been some "complanits" regarding the fact that Jaffen did not stay. Well, there are a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the story to do. Why take someone new in so late etc. But I agrea that perhaps it could have been handeled slightly better.

I also very much liked that the world was not consequent evil. It was partly corrupt with clear similarities to our modern society. Human trafficing and slave labour is not unknown also in our "civilised" western world.
The Queen
Mon, Sep 18, 2023, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
In my mind there was never a chance that Jaffen could go with them on Voyager. Janeway wouldn't have continued their relationship, and he had too much pride to be anything but an equal to her. On Quarra he was really in the role of her protector, not as obviously as Paris was to Torres, but he was the one who knew the ropes and looked out for her. He was a natural leader and wouldn't have been happy as just another engineer, and he certainly wouldn't have wanted to be a non-crew member boy toy for the captain. Don't forget, he was immediately promoted to superintendent after the Voyager crew was removed, and he wasn't showing any false modesty about it; he knew he deserved it.

Plus, although it wasn't mentioned - because he came to Quarra genuinely in search of a better life, it's likely he originated from a planet in the vicinity and might well have had family there. Going to Earth with Voyager really wouldn't have suited his future very well at all.

As for what Janeway said, to me it's just another example of Janeway saying whatever the writers think is convenient for that particular episode. I don't see her as having any core personality at all. (Hint: I don't much like her.)

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