Forced labor and mind control. Originally aired on February 21st and February 28th, 2001. This is the last two part episode of the series, Workforce I and II.
Captain’s Log Stardate 54584.3
Voyager finds itself adrift when many of the crew are kidnapped and placed into manual labor after being brainwashed to forget their pasts. It is up to Harry Kim, Chakotay, Neelix and the Doctor to set things right!
The story opens with Janeway working in a factory of some sort. It is soon apparent that she has no memory of her previous life and is simply Kathryn Janeway Employee 8584. Soon we encounter other crewmembers who have changed as well, Seven goes by Annika Hansen, the efficiency monitor, Tom Paris is unemployed and looking for work. When we meet Tuvok, he is having a poor reaction to a mandatory inoculation but, after he is forcefully inoculated, he returns to work still not quite right.
Chakotay, Neelix and Harry return to the ship only to find it abandoned in a nebula and manned with only The Doctor who is attempting to send a distress call. The Doctor is released to see them and explains that the ship was hit by some kind of mine that caused the ship to have to be evacuated. Before leaving, Janeway activated the Emergency Command Hologram program leaving The Doctor in command. During that time alone, the Doctor faced a pirate who tried to claim Voyager but managed to get away by hiding in a Nebula. He has been alone and, after venting the radiation he has unable to find the crew.
Chakotay and team finally track down the missing crew to a planet named Quarra but the officials refuse to acknowledge that they are in fact their crew, citing that none of the people named remember Chakotay or Voyager. Neelix and Chakotay go undercover as new employees in order to find and save their crewmembers. Meanwhile, a disturbed Tuvok forces Annika Hansen into a mind meld causing her to begin to remember who she really is. He is soon taken away screaming that none of them remember who they really are.
Chakotay and Neelix befriend Janeway and her boyfriend Jaffen but it is clear that Jaffen wants nothing to do with these two new workers. Soon Neelix finds Torres alone on the street and kidnaps her, beaming her back to Voyager in hopes to bring her memory back. However, Chakotay is caught by guards before he is able to leave with Neelix… end of part I
Chakotay manages to escape, fleeing to a nearby bar where he meets with Tom Paris and Janeway. She apologizes for her friend’s rudeness and asks Chakotay to help celebrate her moving in with her new boyfriend. Meanwhile Voyager escapes enemy ships with Torres safely aboard.
On Voyager The Doctor discovers that Torres’ memories have been significantly altered but she can be restored over time. Back on the planet Torres’ absence is noticed and the Quarren officers begin to investigate. Meanwhile the Quarren Doctors try to figure out why Tuvok is not reacting to the treatment as he should only to decide to reattempt the brain washing method despite the danger to the patient.
Chakotay finds himself in Janeway’s home demanding medical treatment and begins to befriend her despite her concern. Soon her suspicion mounts and Chakotay reveals his true face to her in an attempt to get her to recognize him. It doesn’t work and Security arrive taking Chakotay away. There he is questioned and soon taken to Division 6 to undergo treatment but Chakotay tells the investigator everything that is going on as he is being removed.
Back on Voyager Neelix helps B’Elanna regain her memory over time introducing her to pancakes and images of Tom and her life aboard Voyager. It seems to be working. Chakotay contacts Voyager informing them to take the ship to a new location, which is actually a trap as he has been captured.
Efficiency Manager Anika Hansen (Seven) soon begins to question how over 130 employees were hired on the same day but get’s no answers. She then heads to the hospital where she begins to learn the truth. Before long is discovered that Kadan, one of the lead doctors, has been tampering with peoples memories in order to help with the employment needs. Ravoc, another Quarren Doctor is shocked at the revelation and threatens to report him.
Seven manages to get information that convinces Janeway that there is a conspiracy afoot. They soon overload the factory’s core causing a full shutdown allowing them to escape. Harry Kim and the Doctor detonate escape pods in order to damage Quarren ships that are attacking them and, in the end they are able to beam back the entire crew.
The Doctor is able to treat everyone, bringing them all back to normal and sadly Janeway and Jaffen separate even though Jaffen was not a victim of the mind altering and genuinely cared for the Captain.
In the end, They leave Quarra realizing that, had they not been rescued, they would have likely lived their lives out there without the knowledge that they would never get home again.
Is this a ‘Good’ Two Parter:
This is probably one of the most original storylines for this series in a while. The concept of a work force that is coerced into employment through mind control isn’t a new one, but is done quite well in this particular treatment.
It seems the crew of Voyager has a knack for getting the crew brainwasher or removed from the ship. Between Seska and her Kazon friends forcefully relocating the crew to the Hirogen using them for target practice, they can’t seem to catch a break. So, of course, the final two parter of the series had to rehash the same ‘crew is taken and forgets who they are’ story line again. However, this time it is done in a particularly original way. Using a labor shortage on a planet as a basis to kidnap and brainwash people is dark and twisted in a way that I would expect a story like this from Outer Limits or, more recently, Black Mirror, but certainly not from Voyager.
It is a cool concept that not only provides a significant threat to the ship and crew, although we know they will get out of it eventually, it also allows the actors to play alternate parts while still remaining true to their core characters. Janeway gets a love interest but is till a strong and independent person, Torres and Paris become friends despite Torres trying to push him away, and Seven of Nine is…well…in a position to ensure efficiency. This is both cool and disturbing as it further reinforces the idea that the people kidnaped are placed in positions that fit their past history just enough so that their skills are utilized without compromising the secret. Plus, the writers even take a moment to acknowledge the thousands of other victims to this crime with the The Doctor wrapping up his command duties by ensuring that everyone is rescued from this rather ghoulish fate. Now, with the labor shortage going on, whether the Quarrens actually go through with it or not is another story, one that Voyager clearly didn’t have time to stick around to see transpire.
Despite the excellent premise, I do have a few rather massive issues with this episode. For one, this would have been the perfect opportunity to promote Harry Kim. Kim manages to work with the Doctor to not only save the ship but rescue the crew against all odds. This guy goes well above and beyond the call of duty but gets very little recognition in the end. Basically is treated like…yeah Harry that is what is expected. I mean, what does an Ensign have to do to get promoted on this ship? Be a felon? The other, Janeway remembers all of the events, including falling in love with Jaffen but still lets him go despite the fact that they were very much in love. He could have easily joined the crew and travelled with them giving the final part of the series a fun change, but no, he gets promoted and is forced to live a life remembering the one that got away, in a star ship, and literally left the quadrant never to be seen again. Sorry Jaffen, no love for you.
While I really dig the premise of the episode and how it was executed, I have to wonder why this was stretched into a two part episode instead of tightening it up with a smaller group of kidnapped crewmembers. With Voyager literally going on it’s way at the end as usual, this story could have been accomplished with just as much impact in a single episode. If they really wanted to go the two part route this would have made a MUCH better season finale/premiere paring.
Overall, wonderful concept with some significant flaws in the end. As with so much of this series, this episode has so much potential that is just short of being fully realized. That being said, it is still a pretty solid story and one worth watching.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -24 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -6 remaining
- We learn that Chakotay is a Vegetarian.
- The Doctor gets a chance to be the ECH again.
- Part two is directed by B’Elanna herself Roxann Dawson!
- You might recognize the Quarren Supervisor as the same actor who played Lt Baxter earlier in the series. Was this actually Baxter altered to look Quarren? Did they leave him behind in the end? Was he working with the evil doctor on purpose? We will never know!
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Human Error
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Late To The Game 4/5/2021
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