The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Workforce I+II

Kathryn Janeway has just started her new job – as a power plant worker on the planet Quarra. Other new employees in the facility include Tuvok, B’Elanna Torres and Annika Hansen – in fact, almost the entire crew of Voyager. But why are Janeway and her crew no longer aboard their ship? And why do they seemingly have no memory of their lives on Voyager?

Before I rewatched it, I couldn’t actually remembered whether or not I liked Workforce. The only thing that had really stuck with me about this two-parter was how concerned I’d been for Chakotay at the end of part one, and how easily he seemed to escape his immediate predicament at the start of part two. In fact, on rewatch, I’m pleased to report that Voyager’s last pre-finale two-parter is actually rather good.

I’ll admit I’m troubled at how easy it was for the entire crew to be captured, but if you can see beyond that, then this is a decent two-parter. I enjoyed Janeway in her alternate existence as a power plant worker with a developing love interest – a chance for the uptight captain to experience a different kind of life. This episode may also mark the only time I actually got the Tom/B’Elanna relationship – I liked that they were still drawn to each other even when they lacked their memories, and that Tom was properly kind and considerate to B’Elanna under those circumstances. Even the little exchange between them at the end was rather sweet.

The episode also brings us everything else we need from a Star Trek two-parter: an away team who manages to avoid the fate of the rest of the crew; a crew member’s unique alien physiology proving crucial; more phasers than you can shake a stick at, and of course the obligatory cliffhanger. All in all, a well done piece.

Points of Note

  • I want it noted for the record that bar manager Umali is my latest Random Voyager One-Off Character crush.
  • Once again, The Doctor seems reluctant to settle for being a ‘mere’ doctor now that he has a had a taste of command. Whilst this point comes up several times, it’s never resolved to my satisfaction. Does The Doctor actually want to still be a physician, or does he no longer care for this career?
  • The Doctor’s amazing tactical plan of firing a phaser at a photon torpedo not only seems remarkably effective, but feels relatively easy to come up with. If it’s really that good a tactic for disabling enemy ships, why aren’t Starfleet ships using it all the time?
  • If subspace mines are so dangerous, why doesn’t Voyager scan for them by default?
  • Given that The Doctor was suffering from hard drive capacity problems as early as season three, where are all his extra tactical and command subroutines even being stored? Not to mention all his accumulated data on his various hobbies. Maybe Voyager bought some new hard drives in the Delta Quadrant.
  • How is a mere dermal regenerator able to so easily revert The Doctor’s careful surgical reconstruction of Chakotay’s face?
  • The bat’leth in Tom and B’Elanna’s quarters is not the special one she got in Prophecy, but a mere standard model. Did she acquire a second bat’leth so that the special one could be kept for ‘best’, or is this a plain old continuity error?
  • Apparently Chakotay is a vegetarian – has this always been the case? Isn’t he always eating burnt pot roasts with Janeway? Has his experience of Janeway’s burnt roasts actually made him become a vegetarian in order to avoid them?

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17

Destroyed Delta Flyer running total: 1

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10

Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 4.5

Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5

Summary – Workforce: In which Janeway and her crew unwittingly swap Starfleet for a standard 9-5 job in a power plant.

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