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Star trek: Voyager 7.08b - Workforce I

Stardate around 54584.3
Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Episode propaganda

When Chakotay (Robert Beltran), Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and Neelix (Ethan Phillips) attempt to rendezvous with the USS Voyager after a trading mission, neither the ship nor the crew are anywhere to be found. Meanwhile, on a far away planet, Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and the rest of Voyager's former crew begin new careers. Oblivious to each other and the lives they once shared, the Voyager crew has been integrated into a gigantic industrial workforce.

Persons of interest

  • Kate Mulgrew .... Captain Kathryn Janeway
  • Robert Beltran .... Commander Chakotay
  • Roxann Dawson .... Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
  • Robert Duncan McNeill .... Lieutenant Tom Paris
  • Robert Picardo .... the Emergency Medical Hologram
  • Ethan Phillips .... Neelix
  • Tim Russ .... Lieutenant Tuvok
  • Jeri Ryan .... Seven of nine, tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix 01
  • Garrett Wang .... Ensign Harry Kim
  • Majel Barrett .... USS Voyager computer voice
  • James Read .... Jaffen
  • Don Most .... Kadan
  • John Aniston .... the Quarren Ambassador
  • Iona Morris .... Umali
  • Tom Virtue .... the supervisor
  • Michael Behrens .... Coyote
  • Akemi Royer .... the medical technician
  • Matt Williamson .... Security Officer
  • Robert Mammana .... Security Officer
  • Kenneth Biller .... Screenwriter
  • Bryan Fuller .... Screenwriter
  • Alan Kroeker .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Intelligence report

The set-up and then the tools for the conclusion to Part II.

There's also a chance for the actors to behave outside of their normal character parts. After six years, putting on Kathryn, Tuvok, B'Elanna and the rest must be pretty easy for the cast so Workforce gives them a bit of room to stretch their feet. It might even be good for their showreels, given that the series is ending soon. Kate's bouncy, bubbly, fully-menstruating woman of the Delta Quadrant is bizarre after Captain Janeway's sombre intensity: it just goes to show that there's more to both women than you realised.

But enough of the real world: Star trek is far more important.

Everyone back in the Federation calls Voyager "the lucky ship" but they don't know just how lucky it is (and perhaps they don't know of its Season One incarnation as "the ship of death"). Every time that the crew is taken over by alien beings or kidnapped by hostile aliens there is someone on an away mission who can come to their rescue. It's no wonder that Starfleet is tinkering with starships like the Prometheus: there's too much weirdness in the galaxy for ships to be on their own. Sometimes even having a Class 2 shuttle out there makes more difference than you'd think. In this case, there's the Delta Flyer and its three-being crew of captains: Chakotay, Kim and Neelix - just the right mix of strength, intelligence and obtusity.

Then there's the big surprise of the week: the ECH, or Emergency Command Hologram. first created in Tinker, tenor, doctor, spy and unheard of since, the ECH is a welcome addition to the Star trek pantheon of weirdness. Although there seems to be little difference between the eDoctor and the eCaptain other than the different coloured uniform, there's a wealth of information that's added to the program: command codes, access codes, technical data, astrometric data... it's such a useful tool that anyone would have to use it, even if only to keep Captain Kim out of the big chair for a while! It's also a big step up for the Doctor, who just a few years ago was nothing more than a walking tricorder.

Unfortunately, technology hungry aliens don't always agree, but that's what makes life interesting.

It's also good to see some major continuity. Tuvok's superior Vulcan physiology proves to be a bit more than the Quarren drugs can control, just as it was too much for the Doctor's anti-assimilation inoculation (I wonder what Vorik was doing all this time, but maybe he wasn't working with any of the old gang). There are also some continuing personality traits, some essential "Tuvokness" that carries through even without the logic and meditation, not the least of which is the inability to tell funny jokes. Maybe it's a genetic thing.

B'Elanna ends up as a loner, not surprising given the galaxy's apparent distaste for unmarried mothers-to-be (it's funny how morally bankrupt philosophies keep popping up in a culture as advanced as the Federation). What should be shown is how she is explaining her pregnancy: was there a bastard who ran out on her? A tragic loss? An immaculate conception? This is the kind of change that must be explained to the audience or their (your) belief in the story fails. It was done wonderfully in The killing game so they should be able to come up with something here.

They'd better.

Meanwhile, Chakotay turns into the extremely competent First Officer that you hardly ever get to see, Harry and the Doctor have delusions of inadequacy, Neelix becomes even more Starfleet than ever, Tom hangs around in bars hitting on women, Seven is Miss Prim and you're left to wonder how exactly they're going to tie all these loose ends up into a useful knot.

There's nothing like a cliff-hanger.

Security censorship classification

PG (Medium level violence, adult themes)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental and retail: 9 November 2001

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