Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Rescue Of The Voyager Crew From The Soap Opera Of The First Part Is “Workforce, Part II”

The Good: Character progression, Moments of performance
The Bad: Continued lame special effects, Very predictable plot progression
The Basics: “Workforce, Part II” resolves the plot of the first part, which has the Voyager crew trapped without their memories on an alien world.

As I sit watching the second part of the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Workforce,” it occurs to me that if the subsequent spin-off in the Star Trek franchise had not been a prequel, this two-parter would have been the perfect time to introduce the new crew. For sure, it would have been anti-climactic for Star Trek: Voyager to have Voyager’s crew rescued from an outside source, but it would have made the threat much more real if the captured crew did not have the means to get out of their current predicament.

“Workforce, Part II” is a direct sequel to “Workforce” (reviewed here!), which works more to explore the characters as they struggle through their dilemma, unaware of who they are supposed to be. “Workforce, Part II” has some refreshing play for the characters viewers are familiar with by this point in the series, but it suffers from a fundamental problem that stretches suspension of disbelief far beyond what viewers can actually accept. “Workforce, Part II” hinges on the idea that it is at all possible for Voyager’s crew to be lost, trapped on a planet where they have no memory of who they actually are. Because it does not take an even remotely sophisticated sensibility to know that there is no way this is going to be the end of the series, the predictability of the plot virtually writes itself. Fortunately, the only wrinkle in the predictable nature of the plot progression is a decent character development - a romantic relationship for Janeway that is actually one of the most compelling ones of the series.

Picking up where the first part ended, with Tuvok freaking out and a disguised Chakotay fleeing for his life, awaiting transport off the Quarren work world, Voyager manages to recover Torres, but not Chakotay. Chakotay is wounded and he meets with Janeway and learns that she is moving in with Jaffen. With Annika Hansen becoming suspicious that Tuvok may not actually be ill and that his assertion that he does not belong there, Janeway’s attempt to help Chakotay runs into conflict with her budding relationship with Jaffen. As Torres responds to treatment from the Doctor and Neelix, Voyager avoids capture by setting down on a small moon.

When Jaffen turns on Janeway and Chakotay, Chakotay gets an unlikely ally in Inspector Yerid, the detective who has been hunting him for his collusion in the abduction of B’Elanna Torres. As Yerid follows the clues, he becomes troubled by how the society he is a police officer for has been utilizing personnel. When his medical counterpart begins asking questions, Dr. Kadan is exposed for the social engineer he is. Both men find the methods barbaric and aid the Voyager crew is escaping the planet.

The acting in “Workforce, Part II” is a tribute to Roxann Dawson as both a director and an actor. She and Ethan Philips play off one another amazingly well in a quiet scene in the mess hall where Torres tries to recall being married with Tom. That scene is followed by a wonderful moment where Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo have a meaningful exchange that gives decent insight into Picardo as the ECH. Even Jeri Ryan is convincing when she has to play Hansen involved in a covert operation to infiltrate the neuropathology unit and get information on the truth of what is happening to the crew.

The guest performers shine in “Workforce, Part II.” Don Most is cold and deliciously evil as Kadan. Robert Joy, who plays Yerid, is smart and methodical and the role is one of the best guest roles I have seen him in. Jay Harrington gives an intriguing performance that is emotive and rational (this is the first thing I have actually seen him in) that makes him truly stand out; it is easy to see how he got such a good career after this!

“Workforce, Part II” is a very satisfying conclusion to the story of Voyager’s captured crew and it is one of the rare examples of a second part of a two-part episode being superior to the first.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the final season here!


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Hi,

    This story was enjoyable, I always appreciate to see the crew in an unfamiliar territory. The sets of the factory are amazing and realistic. And this time, this is a Captain Janeway's lovestory that is really believable (not like in Season 5's Counterpoint).

    But when it comes to two-part episodes, I always find that the episode could have been more intense and straight to the point if it was made as a one-part episode only.

    What I love in series is to see how the writers come up with very different stories and I think that since the Next Generation, they used this excuse to make two-parters in a not so suttle way to avoid inventing new stories : it's a win-win situation for them : it increases easily the number of episodes of the show without getting too many headaches thinking about new stories to come up with. And it certainly saves them a lot of money too, I'm sure.

    And there are really not so much two-part episodes that are that so action-packed that they have no place for filler scenes in Star Trek. In those kind of episodes you always get bored at one moment or another except in maybe :

    - STC's The cage
    - TNG's Unification, Time's arrow, Chain of command
    - DS9's Way of the warrior, The search, Past Tense
    - VOY's Scorpion or
    - ENTERPRISE's Shockwave

    1. Interesting take on the two-parters! I think, for my preferences, I would add Deep Space Nine's "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost" and "Improbable Cause"/"The Die Is Cast" and "In Purgatory's Shadow"/"By Inferno's Light." :) I recall being especially disappointed whenever a first and second part really told two different stories - TNG's "Descent 1 & 2" standing out at my best example. I am so happy they didn't make "Relics" a two-parter! :)

      As for "Workforce," I found myself pleasantly surprised by it.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!