(written from a Production point of view)
When Seven tries to perfect her social skills on the holodeck, her new emotions soon overwhelm her Borg implants. Meanwhile, Voyager accidentally wanders into an interstellar firing range.
There is a gathering in the mess hall. It is B'Elanna Torres's baby shower. She opens Tuvok's gift, a Vulcan logic puzzle toy called a Pleenok. Harry Kim has given her a Starfleet diaper. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.
On the other side of the room, Seven of Nine and Captain Kathryn Janeway are discussing some recent changes to Seven's life. It seems Seven has just had all of her remaining Borg implants removed, while the captain suggests that she could have children someday, too. Countering this, Seven wants to start a little smaller: with a uniform, even though she doesn't hold a rank. Janeway agrees and offers her quarters as well, since she no longer needs to regenerate. Seven accepts and offers some kind words to her captain for all the help she has given her since her liberation from the Borg Collective. The two toast their agreement.
At this point, Chakotay interrupts the two women and suggests that Seven be the first one to give her best wishes to the baby. Seven makes a very elegant and well thought out toast, even including a joke at the end.
Back on the bridge, Tom Paris is at the helm and has picked up several energy discharges on long-range sensors occurring approximately 5.9 light years ahead of the ship according to Tuvok. Janeway calls Seven to the astrometrics lab.
When Seven responds, it is revealed that the piano playing and the baby shower were part of a holodeck program designed to help Seven of Nine become more comfortable in social situations. She ends the program and her clothes change back to normal and her ocular implant reappears. On her way out of the holodeck, she rearranges her hair back to its normal French twist coiffure.
In the astrometrics lab, Paris, Tuvok and Janeway have joined Seven of Nine. Seven reports she was unable to locate the cause of the discharges, but the space ahead contains high levels of radiation and metallic debris. The captain doesn't believe that is worth altering their course over, but should be monitored.
She then goes on to "more pressing matters" and asks Paris if Torres suspects anything about the baby shower they are planning for her. Paris assures her that the expecting mother has no clue. Janeway then tells Seven and Tuvok that she expects them both to attend. Seven tries to get out of it by telling her commanding officer that she will be busy monitoring the sensors. Janeway assures her that she can spare a couple of minutes to make an appearance. She and Paris exit, and Tuvok confesses to Seven that he is as uncomfortable as she is about going. She tells him that she has been trying to expand her comfort zone in social situations and will perhaps attend.
Instead of attending the shower, she goes back to the holodeck. She is in her quarters with Neelix. It is a very empty room and Neelix offers some suggestions to make it a little less spartan. He suggests some personal items, knickknacks, a painting, a couple of chairs, a table and some drapes in case they ever show up at a busy spaceport. He reminds her of the stylistic importance of the drapes matching the carpet.
She is saved from Neelix by the door chime. Chakotay is on the other side. He comes in and offers her a housewarming gift of a dreamcatcher. She tries to thank him for being her inaugural guest by offering him some tea, but Chakotay looks around and reminds her she has no replicator. He offers to requisition one for her. They get a little flirtatious with each other and Seven expresses her interest in culinary science. She offers to cook him a meal the next evening. Chakotay agrees to the date and to bring the wine... and the furniture.
Seven notes that the lyrics are rather traumatic. The Doctor assures her that it's the melody not the words that the baby responds to. In fact, he has recorded 29 lullabies, including a Klingon one called "Sleep, Little Warrior" (quong vaj Ocht). He chastises her for not attending Paris' and Torres' shower. She claims she was busy and could not attend.
The Doctor asks if Seven is experiencing any shoulder pain, which she is, and finds that the cause is her radial shoulder clamp. It needs to be repaired with an hour long procedure. She balks at this and suggests he remove it instead. Unfortunately it can't be removed without her losing the use of her arm. She doesn't want to do it now because she has "research" to do. He then notices her electrolytes are low and queries her about missing regeneration cycles. The Doctor tries to dig deeper into the nature of her "project" and she gets upset at him for putting his nose into her "personal life". He apologizes and quips he didn't know she had a personal life. Just then the ship shakes.
Captain Janeway exits her ready room and asks for a report from Paris. It was another energy discharge that produced a level nine shock wave. There is a series of them and the next one destabilizes the warp field. Janeway orders the ship turned into the wavefront. It hits the ship since Paris doesn't have time to make the adjustment. Chakotay makes the observation that if they are weapons, Voyager isn't the target. Janeway suggests they might just have lousy aim.
A short time later, Tuvok and Janeway join Seven of Nine in the astrometrics lab. The former Borg drone has discovered that the explosions were caused by dozens of long-range subspace warheads that were launched towards an unmanned probe fired in the last few weeks. The captain wants to get out of the area before Voyager becomes a target. Unfortunately, Tuvok explains that all of the radiation won't allow them to create a stable warp field for another 48 hours. Seven believes she can detect the weapons before they emerge from subspace by calibrating the astrometric sensors to isolate the effects of the minor gravimetric distortions they cause as they approach the subspace barrier. Janeway agrees that even a few seconds warning is helpful and allows Seven to proceed.
A short time later, Icheb enters the astrometrics lab to relieve Seven of Nine. He is two hours early because The Doctor wants Seven to spend more time regenerating. Icheb then quotes Sophocles: "Don't kill the messenger." She then agrees to going off-duty early and orders him to continue the scans of the subspace barrier for gravimetric distortions.
Seven enters her cargo bay and sets up the regeneration cycle, but does not enter. Instead, she heads down to engineering with a gift for Torres. She and Harry are trying to cold-start the warp core (for the fifteenth time). Seven hands the engineer the gift and explains that it is a belated gift for her baby shower. She then apologizes for her absence during the actual event. Torres tries to put it down and get back to work, but Seven prompts her to proceed in opening it now.
Inside the box are a tiny pair of baby booties. Seven explains, "They are lined with bio-thermal insulation. Your infant's feet will be protected even if the external temperature drops below −40 °Celsius." Torres thanks Seven for her gift and tries to get back to work. Seven follows her and very mechanically asks the engineer what she does with her hair as an attempt at small talk.
After she leaves, her odd behavior prompts Torres and Kim to discuss whether or not that was really Seven of Nine. Kim quips, "There must be an alien intruder on board."
Seven of Nine is in the holodeck and orders the computer to accept the changes she has made to her personal quarters in her program and begin the program. She is dressed in a stunning red dress with her hair fully down again. She walks over to a mirror and checks herself out. Holo-Chakotay tells her she looks perfect.
They banter and flirt over a bottle of wine. Seven then asks him to assist her in the kitchen. Chakotay compliments her on her cooking and it devolves into more flirting including her licking sauce off his finger in order to determine whether it needed more salt. Hearing the music in the background, Chakotay wonders if Seven has begun playing an instrument. She has indeed. The Doctor has been giving her piano lessons, but she requires more practice before Chakotay can hear her.
They go back to preparing the meal and she notices a flaw in Chakotay's technique. In order to help correct it, she takes his hand and helps him with some very intimate contact. They both realize what's going on and smile at each other. They try to tackle the wine again and she gently traces the contours of his face. She tells him he has "an intriguing facial structure." They start to kiss and after a moment, a tiny alarm is heard, alerting Seven.
Seven is dreaming about the past few days on the holodeck with a few minor anomalies. She wakes up in the arms of the sleeping holographic Chakotay when the real Chakotay calls her on her combadge. He orders her to report to astrometrics. The holographic man wakes up and is pleased to see her, but she rushes out of the holodeck.
Seven hastily finishes tying back her hair as she hurries through Voyager's corridors to the astrometrics Lab. Chakotay and Icheb turn as Seven enters. She finds out Icheb has picked up an automated transmission from a warning beacon. It is a warning to evacuate the area because it is a subspace munitions range. The first officer expresses concern over her being late for her shift. She assures him that she's fine and that nothing is wrong.
Icheb quotes Titus Livius, "Better late than never." (A History of Rome) She gets upset with this and barks that he's relieved. She tempers her sharp tone with the more gentle: "Get some rest." He nods and leaves. She tries to work for a minute, but is distracted back into the holodeck.
On the holodeck, Seven and holo-Chakotay are at the piano. Seven is playing very well and he compliments her. He then asks her to play his favorite work (Schumann-Scenes of Childhood, From Foreign Lands and People). She starts up her metronome and begins playing. She is very good, but there's no heart in it. He stops the metronome and tells her to start again. He uses the metronome as a metaphor for the order she's had to have from the Borg Collective. She begins playing again.
Meanwhile, more warheads are launched and detonations occur in close proximity to Voyager. The real Chakotay calls Seven on the holodeck and tells her that he needs the sensor calibrations she was supposed to be working on. She tells him she will need a minute to return to her post, with Janeway and Chakotay being shocked and angry that she wasn't where she was meant to be. She gets up and leaves the holodeck as the ship is lurched about.
Paris is trying to dodge the explosions, but is having a difficult time. Janeway gets anxious and calls Seven of Nine as she approaches the astrometrics lab. After a moment at the control panel, she tells Lt. Paris to isolate subspace band omicron theta. She hurriedly works the controls and finds that two warheads are about to emerge. Paris adjusts course just in time to get into position. Voyager shakes as the warhead hits the shields. After making sure the shields are holding, Janeway asks Chakotay why Seven wasn't at her post. He doesn't have an answer.
Janeway summons Seven of Nine to her ready room and admonishes her for not having the sensor calibrations ready and for abandoning her post. Seven tries to argue that she isn't confined to Astrometrics, but Janeway reminds her that she's meant to be there while on-duty then asks Seven why she's spending so much time in the holodeck, revealing the extent of her obsession: 49 hours in six days. She lies to her captain about running a simulation of a new gravimetric array she's been developing. Janeway calls her out a little on it by telling her that after the crisis is over, she'd like to lend a hand on the array.
Seven and Icheb are in the astrometrics lab. He hands her a PADD containing a refined detection method for the warheads based on her earlier work. She admits to the younger man that she has been negligent in her duties. She gibes him for a quotation to help alleviate her of her guilt. Icheb can't think of one, but offers to check the database for one. She then leaves to "correct an error".
She starts the holoprogram of her quarters and orders the computer to activate the Chakotay simulation. The door chimes and Chakotay enters bearing a covered serving plateau and flowers. He presents her with the flowers and tells her that he has decided that he would cook tonight. Of course, since he can't cook, it is a replicated meal of roasted chicken.
Seven has become distant towards him because she wants to break up with him. She doesn't come right out and say it at first, but from her expression, he realizes exactly what is going on. She explains that it is interfering with her work and he doesn't realize that he's a hologram and offers to speak with the captain to lighten her load. He tries to tell her that she's making a mistake, but she counters that she is actually correcting one.
He tries to use the metronome as a metaphor again, but this time Seven isn't buying it. She gets more and more conflicted with emotion and the tiny alarm sounds again. She tells Chakotay she must return to her station, but he tries to stop her. Seven cries out and staggers as she suffers terrible pains in her head. She manages to pick up her combadge and calls a medical emergency to sickbay before she collapses unconscious.
The Doctor transfers his program to Holodeck 2. He notices the surroundings but immediately goes to Seven and scans her with a medical tricorder. Chakotay comes over and The Doctor, unaware of the true nature of the man, asks him what happened. He tells The Doctor that they were having an argument and she just collapsed. Scanning her, he finds that her cortical node is shutting down. He inquires about where her facial implants have gone. Giving himself away, Chakotay tells The Doctor that he thought all of her cybernetic systems were gone. He orders the program to end and the quarters, holographic Chakotay, and Seven's modifications vanish leaving the empty holodeck.
In sickbay, after treatment, The Doctor gives Seven a hypospray and she wakes up but is disoriented and thinks she is still in the holodeck. She finally realizes her error and The Doctor explains the situation to her. Her cortical node began to shut down, but he was able to stabilize it before any permanent damage occurred. She tries to blame him, but he just continues on with the diagnostic on her entire cortical array.
In order to help with the diagnosis, he wonders what she was doing before she collapsed. He goes through a series of possibilities, but all she tells him is that it was "research". He tells her that the simulation of Chakotay told him they were having an argument and points out some details of the program including her gorgeous dress. She realizes she can't hide it anymore.
She explains that she has been exploring different aspects of her Humanity such as social activities, friendships with the crew, and intimate relations. She felt Commander Chakotay was an appropriate choice because of his many admirable qualities. The Doctor is curious as to what prompted her to do this. She tells him that it was Unimatrix Zero. She was trying to re-create some of the experiences she had there. Ever since it was destroyed, her life had seemed incomplete. She just wanted to feel those emotions again.
The Doctor is beaming with pride. She tells him that it is misplaced and she is planning to delete the programs. She feels that it is too tempting and too much of a distraction from her duties. He explains that it is supposed to be a distraction and, trying to compel her to keep the program, tells her that she has excellent taste – her quarters suited her.
In engineering, Ensign Kim is making the final checks on the warp drive. Everything seems to be in working order and Torres reports this to the captain. Upon hearing this, Janeway gives Tom the order to go to warp. Unfortunately, he has detected another subspace warhead twelve million kilometers astern and closing. The target probe is on a different trajectory from that of the warhead; Voyager's warp signature has attracted it.
They try to fire a full spread of photon torpedoes at the warhead to no avail. The warhead's weapons destroy the torpedoes. Janeway has another plan. She calls down to the astrometrics lab and asks Seven for information about the warhead's detonator. After a moment, Seven determines that it is armed with proximity resonance circuitry with an activation frequency of 4.84 gigahertz.
On the bridge, Tuvok asserts he can stop it with an anti-resonance pulse. He has to work fast; the warhead is closing in on the ship. Tuvok works the tactical panel, but the pulse doesn't work because the warhead begins rotating its activation frequency. Tuvok is unable to compensate.
All hope seems lost when Seven calls up from astrometrics. She believes she can disarm the warhead by extracting the detonator with the transporter. Janeway doesn't believe she can get a lock on it since it's so small and they're traveling so fast. Seven thinks that if she can use the sub-micron imager to focus the targeting scanners, she can lock on and beam it out. Janeway is running out of options, so she agrees.
Seven manages to get a lock on the detonator, but it is protected by tritanium shielding. It needs to be closer before she can get it. Paris counts down the time to impact on the bridge. At the very last second Seven succeeds in beaming out the detonator, allowing the warhead to harmlessly hit Voyager's shields and disintegrate. A sigh of relief washes over the crew.
Later, in Seven's cargo bay, The Doctor has come to deliver some unpleasant news. According to his diagnostic, what Seven experienced on the holodeck was no malfunction. Her cortical node was designed to shut down her higher brain functions when she achieves a certain level of emotional stimulation. It appears to be a fail-safe mechanism to deactivate drones who start to regain their emotions. The Doctor believes that based on what they know of the Borg it makes perfect sense. "Finding one's heart is the surest road to finding one's individuality."
The Doctor and Seven discuss her options of being able to feel the emotions again. With multiple surgeries, he can reconfigure her micro-circuitry and allow her to function normally. He offers to begin immediately, but she declines. She has decided not to engage in the holographic fantasies anymore because they were an inefficient use of her time. The fail-safe device will ensure that she's no longer distracted. The Doctor begs her to allow him to continue to help her down her path towards Humanity. She excuses herself and begins a regeneration cycle.
Seven is walking briskly along a corridor carrying a PADD. Chakotay hurries to catch up her. He wonders why she's going so fast and she tells him she has to finish her report on the subspace warheads. He invites her to a cooking lesson in the mess hall that Neelix is giving: "Talaxian Tenderloin in Ten Minutes". She explains she is no longer interested in cooking, but he insists. Most of the senior officers, including Tuvok promised to show up. He chastises her for not socializing with the crew more. As he leaves, she thinks about what he said as she returns to her PADD.
"I wish to ask you a personal question."
"You have an appealing coiffure. What is your grooming regimen?"
"You're asking me what I do with my hair?"
"Erm, well, nothing too elaborate – sonic shower, a little engine grease. Thinking about a new look?"
"Perhaps. I'll keep you apprised if you'd like."
- - Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres
"Was that Seven of Nine?"
"There must be an intruder on board."
- - B’Elanna Torres and Harry Kim, right after Seven of Nine asks about B’Elanna’s hair
"At least we know who to call if there's a containment breach!"
- - Holographic Tom Paris, after receiving Starfleet diapers from Harry Kim during the baby shower
"Well, you never know when we'll be docked at a crowded space port, but we'll have to make sure that they match the carpet."
- - Holographic Neelix, discussing dressing Seven of Nine's quarters with drapes
"Your technique is flawed."
"Sorry, I'm a replicator man."
- - Seven of Nine, to holographic Chakotay as he cuts carrots
"I'll bring the wine... and the furniture."
- - Holographic Chakotay, referencing Seven's sparse quarters
"A multi-spectral star chart might enhance this bulkhead."
"Or a painting."
"A painting of a star chart."
- - Seven of Nine and holographic Neelix
"Give me a hand with this?"
"I'm surprised your Starfleet training didn't include cork extraction."
"I must've been sick that day."
"Looks like wine's off the menu."
"Unless you brought a phaser."
"Never on the first date."
- - Holographic Chakotay and Seven of Nine, flirting over a bottle of wine
"You're beautiful when you're chopping."
- - Holographic Chakotay, to Seven of Nine as she chops carrots
"Rock-a-bye baby, in the space dock
When the core blows, the shuttle will rock
When the hull breaks, the shuttle will fall
And down will come baby, shuttle and all..."
- - The Doctor, rehearsing a lullaby
"Are you trying to soothe the infant, or traumatize her?"
- - Seven of Nine, in response to The Doctor's lullaby
- Out of the Star Trek episodes he has written, André Bormanis named this as one of his favorites. He explained, "It was a metaphor for dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and we got some truly moving responses from the fans." 
- The music playing in the background during Chakotay and Seven's dinner date is Chopin's Barcarolle.
- The piece that Seven plays in the opening sequence is the Nocturne No. 1 in E Minor, op. 72 by Frédéric Chopin.
- What the holographic duplicate of Chakotay calls one of his favorite pieces is Robert Schumann's "Of Foreign Countries and People" from Scenes Of Childhood (Opus 15, No. 1).
- This episode includes the last time that Seven of Nine is seen with a full set of Borg implants.
- The holographic representation of Chakotay in this episode wears the same suit as the real Chakotay in "Remember" and "Mortal Coil" and the holo-Chakotay in "One".
- Seven can briefly be seen sleeping outside a Borg alcove. She also does this in the later episode "Natural Law".
- During the second to last attack on the USS Voyager by the subspace warheads in the firing range, Seven can be heard telling Lieutenant Tom Paris to "isolate subspace band Omicron Theta." Omicron Theta is the former home of scientist and cyberneticist Dr. Noonian Soong and the birthplace of Data.
- This episode shares a commonality with the TNG episode "Hollow Pursuits"; that is, a crew member neglecting their duties in favor of a holographic fantasy involving holographic recreations of crew members, with Seven in the place of Barclay.
- The holographic Neelix from Seven of Nine's simulation suggests that Seven install curtains in her new crew quarters, and suggests a matching carpet. The real Neelix has mentioned curtains multiple times throughout the series, considering them for his quarters in "Night", and the mess hall in "The Haunting of Deck Twelve".
- Torres' ongoing pregnancy, which began in "Lineage", is referenced in this episode, with scenes of Paris and Torres' baby shower.
- Seven tells the holographic Chakotay that she's "taken an interest in culinary science". This interest began three episodes earlier in "The Void", where she explains "preparing meals myself is the best way to ensure quality."
- On the dinner date Seven has with the holographic Chakotay, she "cooked" a rack of lamb. Two sessions later, the holographic Chakotay brings roasted chicken to Seven's holographic quarters. However, Chakotay claimed to be a vegetarian in "Unity" and Neelix mentions this in "Workforce".
- Seven of Nine's statement that she has never been in Ensign Harry Kim's quarters only serves to show her lack of genuine interest in the operations officer. Kim was, for some time, infatuated with Seven of Nine, although his feelings yielded little from the former Borg. (VOY: "Revulsion", "Waking Moments", "Someone to Watch Over Me")
- This episode takes place three months before the events of VOY: "Endgame" according to a statement made by Seven in that episode.
- Voyager uses three photon torpedoes in this episode, four having previously been used in "Flesh and Blood". This brings the total number of torpedoes confirmed to have been used by Voyager over the course of the series to 74, a total which exceeds the irreplaceable complement of 38 that had been established by Chakotay in the first-season episode "The Cloud".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.9, 5 November 2001
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
A History of Rome (Rome); airponics bay; analogy; Antarian moon blossom (Antarian); anti-resonance pulse; appetizer; artwork; baby booties; baby shower; Barcarolle in F-sharp major; biothermal insulation; biradial clamp; Borg drone; braised; carpet; carrot; Celsius; Chopin, Frédéric; "Chopsticks"; coiffure; cold start; cooking; cortical node; culinary science; debris; diaper; dozen; drapes; dreamcatcher; duty shift; Earth; electrolyte; emotion; engine grease; evasive maneuvers; fail-safe; first officer; foot; gift; gigahertz; gravimetric array; gravimetric distortion; Hansen, Erin; Hansen, Magnus; heart; higher brain function; hive mind; holo-addiction; holodeck; hull fracture; individuality; intimate relations; kilometer; Klingon; leek; level 9 shock wave; lining; Liszt, Franz; Livius, Titus; logic; lullaby; lyric; medical tricorder; messenger; metronome; micron; micron imager; milligram; millimeter; multispectral starchart; Native American mythology (Native American, mythology); neural shock; nightmare; Nocturne in E minor; Oedipus Rex; Of Foreign Lands And Peoples; opera; orange; physical; piano; pleenok; probe; quotation; rack of lamb (lamb); red alert; regeneration cycle; replicator; requisition; roasted chicken (chicken); "Rock-a-bye Baby"; Seven of Nine Alpha-3; "Sleep, Little Warrior"; social gathering; sodium chloride; sonic shower; Sophocles; spacedock; Starfleet Academy; submicron imager; Subspace Munitions Range 434; subspace barrier; subspace radiation; subspace warhead; Talaxian mosaic; Talaxian tenderloin; tea; temperature; tempo; toast; tricorder; tritanium; tulaberry blue; Unimatrix Zero; Vulcans; wild rice; wine
- "Human Error" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Human Error" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Human Error" at Wikipedia
"Workforce, Part II"
|Star Trek: Voyager