I just watched Workforce. Now there’s another feature-length I liked. Memory loss always makes a nice plot, but poses a few difficult decisions: Will it be used to show that emotional connections between people stay the same, even though we forget about them? Or can it work as a detector of subconscious wishes? And what’s the difference between total memory loss and simply some re-arrangement of facts? Do the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone, every time?
It seems the writers chose a little bit of everything in Workforce. Tom hits on B’Elanna and develops a distinctive urge to protect her, although he doesn’t know he’s the father of her child. But that could still be simple logic combined with a coincidence: He was attracted to her anyway, and he’s a nice guy – makes sense to help a pretty damsel in distress.
Lucky Tuvok, however, got all the ‘suspicion’ parts, no doubt because of his fabulous Vulcan mind. Makes sense, too, that he should be the one to remember something. Interestingly, having lost his memory, like in Riddles, he suddenly has a wide range of emotions at his disposal. I don’t particularly like the scene where he laughs and explains away the joke – it seemed too forced. But if Seven kept her sense of efficency, why didn’t Tuvok’s basic personality stay the same as well?
Janeway’s behaviour really confused me. What does it all mean? Inside, she’s just an ordinary woman who avoids the big decisions and is happy with a comfortable home and a boring boyfriend? Where’s the ambition! Where’s the explorer! Did they reprogram all that along with her memories, just like Tom is suddenly sick from space travel? The whole Dysphoria Syndrome explanation seems a little obscure. As soon as they all get their memories back, what do they think of each other? The last lines are not conclusive. Janeway shows no emotions, snaps back into Captain immediately and says she wouldn’t have it any other way. Does that mean she knows a simple life on Quarra would have been wrong? She said it herself – she might have never known and lived happily ever after.
Memory loss or rearrangement is at least as complex and complicated as time travel. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be different every time it happens. The excuse that the ‘human brain is highly complex’, as no doubt the Doctor would remind us, means the outcome will always be ‘unsure’. I disagree – each time they obviously end up slightly unsettled but unharmed. I have yet to see a sinlge Star Trek episode where all that brainwashing and memory reprogramming they get on a regular basis has any serious consequences for anyone. People like O’Brien (20 years in prison in his mind, died a few times, jumped timeframes etc.), Deanna Troi (very susceptible for any kind of brain interference), Chakotay (all those dodgy Vision Quests, madness runs in the family) and Picard (lived someone else’s life in his mind, been a Borg etc.) should all be psychologically messed up by now. But that’s Star Trek as we love it: They can all stare in the face of braindamage and go “Ha! Been there, done that!” I wonder if there’s a required course at the Academy: How To Protect Your Brain From Alien Influence. Data should teach it, and smugly remind everyone that he’s had a memory loss fail-safe system built into his matrix. Haha.