Star Trek: Voyager

“Think Tank”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 3/31/1999
Teleplay by Michael Taylor
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Terrence O'Hara

"You seem to be experiencing some turbulence." — Seven sarcasm

Review Text

Nutshell: Not bad, but not consistent or challenging enough to net a recommendation.

"Think Tank" is a fairly enjoyable hour that's halfway effective, but shows Voyager making compromises with itself. It reveals a surprising amount about what works about this series and what doesn't.

This episode works as a reasonable TOS-like entertainment that pushes the buttons on the control panel labeled "ESTABLISHED PLOTTING LORE," and comes off as something watchable. Where the episode suffers is in its use of so many plot elements that aren't developed to their full potential; the episode refuses to dig deeper for something more challenging, which is ironic considering one of the episode's main themes is about seeking out challenges.

When it comes down to it, what is this episode all about? Well, several things. It's about establishing a set of aliens who are different from the average Delta Quadrant Joe. It's about turning the tables in a way that gives the deserving people their just deserts. It's about outsmarting the smart guys. It's about putting aside hostilities with the "bad guys" to work toward a common goal. It's even about Seven of Nine's sense of self-purpose.

Fine and good. I'm glad it's about all these things. What I'm frustrated about is that it's not about any of these things enough. "Think Tank" is amiable, but too tame on each of its levels.

The title comes from a group of very smart aliens—perhaps smart to the point of arrogance—who roam the galaxy and solve problems. What they ask in return for solving your problem is ... ah, but there's your source of conflict.

Janeway has a problem. Voyager has suddenly found itself on the run from the Hazari, a race of bounty hunters hired by an unknown third party. Chakotay muses: Could the contract have been put out by the Malon? The Devore? I suppose it's nice to hear these names again. Or, on second thought, maybe not. Didn't we leave the Malon some 10 or more years behind us because of the events of "Timeless"? And an additional 15 because of the events of "Dark Frontier"? Heck, at this point, maybe the Borg should be considered as a group that might send bounty hunters after Janeway & Co.—they might have better luck.

Anyway, surrounded with nowhere to go, this "think tank" offers Janeway a way out. The think tank in question is comprised of numerous aliens, most of them more "alien" than the typical new-Trek alien tends to be. That is to say, most of them are weird-looking props, which serves to enhance the TOS feel of the show. That's fine. I like the idea of something different from the typical routine alien that Voyager has served up through most of its run—even if it is a hunk of rubber in a bubbling water tank. And the idea here—that of a group with the ability to solve problems because of their cooperative telepathic link—is a potentially interesting concept.

The spokes-alien for the group is Kurros (Jason Alexander, in a role that's about as far away from George Costanza in temperament as he probably can get). Kurros makes his offer to Janeway, but what he wants isn't something Janeway wants to give up: namely, Seven of Nine.

The real gold in "Think Tank" (or, at least, the gold before the story decides to run with its other plot elements) lies within the choice Seven must make. Kurros' offer is a genuine one, and an intriguing one: He offers Seven the opportunity to join his think tank community.

The questions here are somewhat interesting on character terms: Given Seven's mental abilities and the expansive knowledge she gained as a Borg, is she capable of more than what her role on Voyager offers? Kurros asks the question flat-out: Is where you're at a challenge? Are you realizing your potential? The knee-jerk-reaction answer seems to be no.

I appreciated that this episode had Seven question her role on Voyager (if only briefly), and I liked even more that Janeway gives Seven the choice to leave Voyager if that's what she wants to do. The prospect of becoming useless or squandering one's own potential is a frightening one (as another recent Trek example, I'm reminded of Kor from DS9's "Once More Unto the Breach" earlier this season), and Seven's role on Voyager, essentially running routine errands (as Kurros sees it, anyway), could be construed as quite a waste. Questioning one's role in life strikes me as a logical direction for Seven to go in her ongoing quest for individuality.

Unfortunately, this story element is cast aside as an incidental before it's all over, and the "action" quickly takes control of the helm. (At one point, an entire planet is blown up here as an impetus for a tactical moment, bordering on needless spectacle.) Seven declines Kurros' offer. Not surprisingly, Kurros isn't the type of guy who takes no for an answer.

Fortunately for "Think Tank," the think tank isn't quite so boring as to turn to outright force. Instead, Voyager simply finds itself on its own with the Hazari fleet closing in. The twist, of course, is that Kurros and the think tank have manipulated the whole game from square one: Unbeknownst even to the Hazari, they were the group who hired the Hazari to track down Voyager in the first place. Why? Because they at some point became aware of Seven and decided they really wanted her to join them. Why? Because she's "unique." If that motivation satisfies you, great. If not, you're probably as frustrated as I sometimes got during this episode.

I did appreciate that, for once, the "bad guys" turn out not to be as hard-headed as Voyager baddies often are. The Hazari are actually willing to listen to Janeway's negotiation attempts, and it's through this dialog that everyone learns the think tank is the player manipulating the entire game.

Therefore, the plot ultimately becomes a game of wits. The mission: out-think the think tank.

One might think this would be a difficult challenge that would be fun to watch unfold. But the biggest problem with this episode is that the think tank isn't as smart as they purport to be—either that, or the writers weren't thinking on levels high enough to be worthy of such a "brilliant" think tank.

Personally, I found the game of deception and wits to be much more skillfully pulled off in "Counterpoint." In that episode, the audience wasn't in on the tricks and deceptions until after the game was played; as a result, the twists were more satisfying to watch unfold. Suspense here is never really an issue because Janeway's Brilliant Master Plan is mostly revealed in dialog beforehand. All that's left are the game's nuances, few of which come off as particularly surprising.

Supposedly, the whole issue comes down to one of "cheating" the game (which naturally demands us to think of Kirk's solution to the Kobayashi Maru puzzle, but never mind). My question: If the think tank is so smart, why didn't they anticipate Janeway's course of action? I mean, it's not that brilliant, really. I suppose there has to be a line drawn somewhere in order for Voyager to outsmart the bad guys, but the game doesn't quite get off the ground before it's all over.

On the story's less-than-challenging terms, I enjoyed seeing the tables being turned at the end, so that Kurros and his smug think tank find themselves under attack by the Hazari whom they deceived.

Still, the better part of me must ask whether such evolved, intelligent beings are simply being wasted by being plugged into a plot that once again makes the human sensibility the benchmark of morality while absolute intelligence merely corrupts absolutely. And, of course, the Hazari, being the violent mercenary type, don't hesitate before turning their collective firepower on the think tank, who are simply getting what they deserve. I guess it would be too much of a drag to approach the episode on more thoughtful terms, where the moral questions of power and responsibility are approached with a complexity that necessitates more than a few clever tricks and a lot of weapons fire.

Yet somehow, through all of this, I was reasonably entertained. I wanted a lot more, yes, but the story as pitched isn't bad—just an unsurprising underachievement ... standard fare executed with reasonable skill and not a whole lot of imagination.

But I want a challenge, and I hope this series tries something more risky before the season is over. The Delta Quadrant is feeling pretty stale these days. I hope the Paramount think tank will come up with something fresh.

Upcoming: Reruns. See you in four weeks, sooner on the DS9 side.

Previous episode: The Fight
Next episode: Juggernaut

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Comment Section

70 comments on this post

    I didn't like the way the Think Tank was so obviously sinister, right from the first scene. doesn't Voyager ever do anything subtle?

    I honestly hated the reference to the Vidiians and their "Phage".
    If the Think-Thank has indeed solved the problem, it sounds like a "quick fix", and does not feel right (it's only allowed because they have left the Vidiians long behind). I just don't like the feel of it.
    If he's lying, I don't like the reference for the same reason.

    By now, the Vidiians are some 40 years could they have possibly heard of, contacted and contracted this think tank to solve their problem?

    It does not need to have happened in that way. The thinktank may just have heard of the Phage or even just have wandered through their region. Then they would have contacted the Vidiians - it seems like the way the Thinkthank would work.
    Also, I don't think it would have to take much time for these people to cross the space that Vopyager would have needed 40 years for.

    This is a GREAT episode, replete with novelty, action, and intelligent and unpredictable twists. It's everything a sci-fi show should be. That it is devoid of long-winded personal drama, politically-correct moral posturing and all that usual crock is an added bonus.

    Four stars minimum; I'd go as far as 4.5.

    This episode had a decent premise, though parts of it were entirely predictable. (Was anyone actually surprised when the "Malon" turned out to be Kurros?) Nonetheless, the episode was ruined for me by what could only have been the "stunt casting" of Jason Alexander. I happen to not like Alexander as an actor, but this is entirely subjective. More to the point, I felt he didn't make any attempt to create a different character from "Jason Alexander" or "George Costanza" -- the entire time I was watching and listening to him, I was aware that he was Jason Alexander. That's not a good thing. This, to me, proves the folly of "stunt casting," which is that anyone could have played that part and not "gotten in the way" as Alexander did.

    I found this episode fairly boring really. I don't need non-stop action... just found it pretty slow, maybe it was just me.

    It didn't help that we got the Cardassian-style "Cooing Sickly Polite Enemy" where they're all smiles and pleasantry. I think I prefer the snarling hard-headed guys. Though just one *friendly* alien species out in the Delta Quadrant would be even better.

    It was nice seeing some TOS-style aliens though.

    Ok, so now Star Trek is ripping off...wait for it...Space: 1999?
    Just check out the second season Space: 1999 episode "The Tavbor."
    In it a powerful alien wants Maya in return for giving the Alphans a hyperspace drive.
    Actually that episode was one of the best of that show, especialy since it did not take itself too seriously.

    This is a fun episode and I'd give it 3 stars. The Think Tank would have been a great recurring adversary as they seem to be able to travel great distances without straining credulity. That's why I didn't mind the reference to the Vidiians (or the Malon or Devore). In fact, I rather liked the idea that they managed to cure the phage. It would have been interesting to find out what they paid, though.

    I wonder if the think tank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vandalay Industries...

    I don't mind that not much time is spent on Seven's decision, because of course we know she won't want to go, and the theme has been tackled before (as recently as "Dark Frontier").

    Where the episode doesn't quite succeed is in the "out-think the think tank" scenes. A big deal is made about "cheating" the puzzle, but what does disabling the Think Tank's communications have to do with cheating? The writers came up short here.

    The next scene, where the Hazari ask to triple their bounty (then cut to commercial), seemed to me like we were supposed to think that they were betraying Voyager and not going along with Janeway's plan. So the end "twist" is that this betrayal was part of the plan all along (da-dum!) Confused? I was.

    I was pleasantly suprised, going off the plot summary on my DVD set coupled with the star rating on this site; I was expecting something very bland and sterile. "Think Tank" is still a bit mild but it had a lot going for it. It was pretty cool how they protrayed the think tank of the title, there was creativity and a very pleasing TOS vibe. The whole show was fun, stylish, imaginative, interesting and a good example on how to do "just another day at the office" type stories. A solid, enjoyable 3 star even if it didn't quite blow my mind!

    I'd love to see a sequel where the Think Tank propose working on the problem of getting Voyager home but really are engaging the crew in an intellectual chess-like battle of wits (they like a challenge after all and probably don't take kindly to being out-smarted!). I doubt it'll happen outside of fan fiction though!

    @Michael, JoJo i like your review of this. I think it was a great episode. it is exactly what i want when i watch star trek. a mystery. and a battle. a game of cat and mouse.

    anyone else like the Blue alien in the beginning? one of the best alien species on Voyager in terms of costume.

    i know jammer hates the "alien of the week." but when they are flying by planet after plantet. it is hard to not have a new alien every week.

    people complain about the delta quandrant not being "special." but what makes it special is that we are forced to NOT see klingons, vulcans, romulans, cardassians.

    FINALLY, did this remind ANYONE of "The most toys." from TNG with the actor who played on Frasier (daphnes fiance) seemed very similar to me. which isnt bad.

    3 star. only because i reserve 4 star for the most memorable episodes.

    Loved the blue alien, and it definitely reminded me of that TNG episode, azcats.

    I agree that the aliens were very TOS in a good way. It was weird at first seeing Jason Alexander in the role but I got over it.

    Not the best episode ever but not a bad one, either.


    It is funny thinking about the Jason Alexander comments so many years later. Back then, Jammer only saw "Costanza" when he watched Jason. But i have seen Jason Alexander play bit roles in many shows since then. He actually plays more roles like this character. he usually has a bit of arrogance in his characters and deception. so, i think this role was perfect for him.

    I actually rather enjoyed this episode. However, one thing bothers me. If Curros could monitor what was happening on Voyager and even project his image onto it, why didn't he know that Janeway and the Hazari were collaborating? Weren't they paying attention?

    I liked this one. Yeah, some of it could have been guessed. George Costanza did go for blondes.

    Given the think-tank members, I bet Curros was a Marine Biologist.


    They can modulate the inverse polarity buffers in the shield projectors to create a trinamic dispersion effect which dispels Isomorphic Projections. Ergo, Jason Alexander's image gets blocked. Everybody knows this.


    This is an old favorite of mine back from the days of staying up til 1 am on school nights to watch the nightly reruns. The gaudy props had a certain TOS charm to them and I think I appreciated the story more this time around. For a 45 minute TV program it had a pretty interesting setup and subsequent displays of wits.

    I never understood why the captain never brought up a desire for a faster method to get home. I wonder what the aliens would have said. "One problem per client", perhaps?

    Reaaly good plot argument. The idea of these genius aliens just looking for intellectual challenges was quite good, as well as how it matched with Seven's retained attraction for pursuing perfection. I also enjoyed the idea that Voyager turns the table by diplomatically convincing the first enemy that they were both being played by the second.

    Sure, the episode did not execute these fine ideas as well as they could make one expect. But still a solid episode enough. And just another good one in this very consistent season. This has to be one of, if not the, most consistently good seasons in the franchise.

    I noticed that the Think Tank claims to have cured the Phage. Curious, since Voyager has travelled at least 30,000 light years since they encountered the Vidiians.

    Sounds like a facile criticism, but I really wish they'd consider these things for continuity's sake. It's hard to be invested in a show which seems to break so many of its own rules.

    Considering the think tank gets stuff from everyone they help and we've met multiple species with some kind of transwarpish technology, it's probably not a stretch for the think tank to have transwarp.

    But that's just the rub, isn't it? This is a show premised on the idea that a ship has been stranded from home under extremely bizarre and unusual circumstances and is trying to get back.

    Along the way they repeatedly *almost* get back, because the show treats things like transwarp technology as all too common (remember that episode where weird Alien of the Week "Arturis" actually BUILDS a "quantum slipstream" ship, just to deceive the Voyager crew?). The idea that the Think Tank might just *have* technology like that is part of this trend, and I think it's one that repeatedly undermines the strength of the show.

    I won't disagree with you there.

    But the show was very Gilligan's Island in that regard. It's one of it's flaws.

    3 stars. I like being reminded that not every evolved species is bi-pedal or air-breathing. I liked Voyager playing the two conspiring parties off against each other. I enjoyed the pyrotechnics of the Hazari pounding the think tank at the end. I liked the combination of civility and understated arrogance in Jason Alexander's performance.

    One of my beefs with this episode is how the "Think Tank" gets shoehorned into the role of villains, when it appears the contrary is true. Consider that if we take them at their word, they essentially cured the Videan Phage, assisted other races resist assimilation by the borg, etc... What price would be so terrible as to render such feats anything less than saintly?

    Supposedly the Think Tank has this terrible reputation, but that's just one of those plot contrivances we're supposed to just accept, sort of how everyone believed the Kazon when they spread lies about Voyager (because the spiky haired savages are just so credible...)

    My point is, there's not a heck of alot to establish in this episode that the Think Tank are particularly villainous, yet it just seems like the story requires it of them. I find 7 of 9's choice to reject their offer out of hand rather arbitrary - yet another thing we're just supposed to accept with little or no rational basis.

    I also thought the whole hunting party "paradox" was a ludicrous and pointless charade. Why the Think Tank needed to orchestrate this in order to make Voyager seek out their services will forever baffle me. Let me think, what could the Think Tank offer Voyager to entice them to part with 7 of 9? What could a Starfleet ship marooned thousands of light years of home possibly want that the Think Tank might be able to provide? DUUUUUUHHHHHH.

    Even if the think tank has trans warp drive, that still doesn't explain how the Hazari originally thought they were being contracted by the Malon, or why Janeway originally suspected that the Malon or the Devore were responsible for the contract. Like Jammer noted, thanks to the quantum slip stream drive in "Timeless" and the Borg trans warp drive in "Dark Frontier," Voyager is now 25,000 light years away from both Malon and Devore space. Indeed, the Hazari should not have even heard of the Malon, let alone be fooled by the think tank that that is who wanted Voyager.

    Also, Jason Alexander, when first appearing in the Mess hall says that he is not really there - that he is just an "isomorphic projection." And then immediately after proclaiming that he is just a trick of light, he takes a sip of Janeway's coffee and says, "you actually enjoy this?" So holograms now have taste buds and can drink coffee? How did the coffee not fall through and spill unto the chair?

    This episode was a nice concept, but Janeway's solution was way too simple. I was expecting a last-minute twist in this episode, but it never came. I don't know why the writers painfully pointed out Janeway's solution before it was shown on screen.

    Also, this wasn't a great part for Jason Alexander, who would've made a better Ferengi.

    What would have made this episode truly great is if Kurros finally lost his unflappable serenity by the end when his elaborate plans were foiled and threw a full-on Costanza tantrum.

    Now THAT would have been funny. Too bad that the writers (and perhaps Alexander himself) wanted to distance themselves from Costanza to such an extent that Kurros appeared almost preternaturally calm even when his life was seemingly in jeopardy and the clock was ticking...

    Decent episode. I liked the very retro TOS feel to the aliens and the set, and the fairly cerebral way the show played out. The misdirections were not exactly earth shattering, mind you. It was also noticeable a lot of the space conflict occurred off screen - budget blown on what were some very good FX for what we did see? I also have some sympathy with the 'stunt-casting' argument - I couldn't help but be thinking George Costanza every time Kurros was on screen... 2.5 stars.

    HAHA Bryan.... no soup for you!!

    Another favorite of mine, but it doesn't fault itself into the 4 star range.

    I think Alexander was perfect for this role.

    I too had a TOS vibe during this one.

    3 stars for me.

    3.5 stars from me. I really like this episode.

    Travelling around the delta quadrant with George Costanza (and seven). Where do I sign?

    If I had to nit-pick:
    1. Janeway didn't even attempt to barter. When George asked for seven Janeway just basically said the deals off. Even though it was later established that George set the whole thing up, janeway didn't know that, so I would have expected her to try to barter.
    2. When the think tank shields went down George is hammering away at his ipad whilst seven just stands there. Seeing her give George a good ass-kicking would have been awesome.

    Jason: your comments are spot on.

    And yet I enjoyed the episode for its attempt to inject real problem solving (no deux ex machina silliness) dynamics into an episode. One of my favorite scenes is the Voyager crew's brainstorming session. This to me represents everything Star Trek is supposed to be about .

    I always assumed his comment on the Phage was part of the deception since he would have been aware Voyager knew who they were.

    This Think Tank are both arsonist and firefighter , right? I would have to think they do this for every "problem". The opening scene they probably created the very problem they extorted the species to solve.

    So, I don't think it is bad storytelling to think they would do this to get someone as unique as Seven of Nine. Especially when their AI wanted to find a way to get organic skin.

    I also like how Curros was a barter himself... given as payment for prior Think Tank leaders. Now that he is the leader and feels powerful, perhaps he truly believes that Seven will be the same way once she settles in.

    I like non bi-ped aliens... that was great and a break from our usual bumpy forheads... we even got blue skin and scales

    What I did like was that for all the Tanks abilities to consider every possible option, they had too much arrogance to even consider that their "dealing on both sides" would be found out and thus didn't consider a trap from both sides.

    I think this is a solid 3 star episode.

    I wasn't a fan of this episode. 2 stars is the most I'd give it. And I wish they'd got someone other than George Costanza. The guy that played the Bioplasmic hunting Ahab ripoff from several episodes ago would've been more entertaining.

    However, the idea of the Think Tank I found interesting. I wish they would've been developed into worthy adversaries down the line. They definitely had potential as villains, being something quite different the usual seasonal hostile species.

    This episode had many problems. However, one thing that bugs me about comments, it's like sometimes people complain about things that indicate they just didn't watch the episode very closely.

    Isomorphs or isomorphic projections are NOT holograms. Kurros actually indicates in this episode that it's a more advanced technology. It's possible that it's related to particle synthesis, which was also said to be a more advanced technology than holographic tech. We don't know much about it, because it was never explored and is just pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo anyway. Maybe particle synthesizers snatch virtual particles out of the quantum foam and stabilize them in a limited fashion. Who knows? Unless you plan to actually build one and are looking for blueprints, who cares?

    We know sensory information (sight, sound, touch) is conveyed somehow in holograms. How else would the doctor interact with his environment? Isomorphs apparently add taste to that. How is that any more far fetched than touching things?

    In any case, even if it were a hologram, holograms use some type of forcefield so that holograms can pick up objects. How would something put inside that forcefield, liquid or otherwise, just fall out of it? Why would you have a problem with a hologram putting food inside of his forcefield, but not have a problem with his forcefield picking things up, such as tricorders and phasers, or such a thing as a forcefield even existing in the first place? Why are you even watching Star Trek: Anything if something like this causes you issues?

    I can't think of the think tank as truly villainous. The intro segment was a legitimate deal, and that the blue fish-dude tried to lie his way out of it without the proper payment. Sure, their replicators "wouldn't work" by a plot contrivance, but there's more than one way to get/grow/trade/barter/buy food. Therefore the introduction was an attempt to make a legitimate act of helpfulness look sinister while the ones who were helped are cast as the victims, even thought they're the ones trying to deceive! Of course, later in the episode the Think Tank is much more villainous since they orchestrated the events to create a situation that would work to their own goals. (which made me wonder...did they create the trap that destroyed that planet? or was it those bounty hunters? Pretty extreme measures either way. Or can a planet literally explode randomly when you scan it?)

    There was a jaw-dropping moment for me in the planet explosion scene. Voyager's shields are up and a chunk of the debris them, gets vaporized, and hurls Voyager backwards. Given the size, mass and speed of the chunk of 'sploded planet, there is no way in hell Voyager (or any ST universe ship) could possibly survive that. I mean, if Voyager's shields can block that, there's no way any weapons fire from anyone can get through. I know its just eye candy, but it's utterly ridiculous. I've always been critical of planet-busting visuals - starting with when I first saw Episode IV as a kid. The best depiction of planet 'splosion was in Titan AE. Those chunks were deadly. And the most realistic-looking (in my experience) is the Stellar Converter from Master of Orion II.

    3 stars. Pretty entertaining episode from the mind of Brannon Braga.

    This was a welcomed reprieve from the awful stretch of episodes preceding it. Nothing spectacular but back to basics fun and maneuvering Loved the throwaway line about the think tank curing the Phage

    This episode gets 3 stars from me if comparing relative to the other Trek series, maybe 3.5 if comparing to only other Voyager episodes. I like the element of mystery in the episode (one of my favorite genres in Star Trek) and I like the strategizing. Sure, it wasn't a social commentary and didn't have much to say about the human condition (preventing it from being rated that much higher) but it still stands out as being much better than the average Voyager episode.

    navamske said:

    "The entire time I was watching and listening to him, I was aware that he was Jason Alexander"

    That's a large part of why I don't enjoy most movies, generally only ones with largely unknown actors. I can't watch a film starring, say, George Clooney or Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio without being so aware that I'm watching George Clooney or Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio that the experience is diminished.

    I was mostly set to say this episode was good. We get actually alien aliens for a change, and while I agree with some commenters that the episode's pace was a little slow, for the most part it seemed *controlled* rather than sluggish to me. The Think Tank's offer to Seven was intriguing and pays off the early moment of Seven telling Janeway that she could just solve that puzzle for her; she is slumming it, in some respects. The character story here is the question of whether it's better to be with a family that respects you but in which it's hard to realize one's full potential (intellectually), or to be with a cold and amoral "family" which allows for greater opportunities for growth. This recasts Seven's experience of falling into the Borg in new terms, with the possibility of her willingly joining a group pursuing perfection, and Kurros even makes a direct comparison (he was traded to the Think Tank at about the same age as Seven entered the Collective). I was a bit surprised that the episode didn't play up Seven's temptation more, and I think the episode would have been stronger if it did suggest for a longer time that Seven considered the offer more genuinely, but I think it basically makes sense and helps to show that Seven is pretty attached to Voyager at this point rather than intellectual pursuits *by themselves*. And further, given that the Think Tank was revealed as not just amoral but having actively engineered Voyager's plight, I appreciate that Seven's choice to stay with Voyager was made *before* this reveal, so that there's no sense of contrivance in her personal decision -- it was not forced by external factors for her to decide she'd rather be with Voyager, and indeed Janeway's willingness to put Voyager in danger to protect Seven helps seal her decision. I am not positive how I feel about Jason Alexander's performance here, but I think I like it. I'll also add that I didn't find the episode to be anti-intellectual, despite the villains being geniuses, so much as making the argument that, like all other valid pursuits, intellectual pursuits are not sufficient by themselves, without some sort of moral and interpersonal grounding.

    And then comes the episode's end. The ease with which Janeway unravels the Think Tank's deception is maybe a necessary contrivance for the plot to advance, but it's mysterious to me why the Think Tank were unable to anticipate it. I get that they're arrogant, but the bigger problem is that if it was this easy to unravel their deception, why did nobody besides Janeway et al. every find out how to do it before? The "if you can't solve the puzzle, cheat" idea has some value (think-outside-the-box), but the actual solution found didn't seem all that interesting. Moreover, since we were told ahead of time what the plan was, watching it be executed wasn't particularly interesting, and there were no minor wrinkles in it that made it still fun despite us having seen it. It just makes Kurros and all look stupid for falling for such an obvious ploy. The ending, with Voyager rushing off and Janeway smiling smugly while the Think Tank ship seems to be about to be destroyed, was also a little hard to stomach. Yeah, these are bad guys, but it's a rather un-idealistic ending; I'd like for there to be some specification that the Hazari were going to take over the ship but not kill the Tank members on board.

    Anyway, I dunno, the ending just seemed lukewarm and vaguely objectionable, though not terrible, and it spoiled what had been an interesting if not exceptional first couple of acts. I think maybe a high 2 stars (could go to low 2.5).

    I like the idea of this episode and the Think Tank, but it wasn't smart enough.

    Voyager's whole plan was, send Seven over and have her disable their systems. As if the Think Tank wouldn't have thought of that. It seems pretty obvious to me.

    And I don't know why Voyager even bothered. Once they told the Hazari about them being tricked into working for the Think Tank and weren't going to be attacked anymore, they should have just left, and let the Hazari deal with the Think Tank. But then we wouldn't have seen Janeway's 'genius' plan I guess.

    2 1/2 stars.

    Not bad, some interesting ideas if not slightly farfetched, but the climax of this episode was done better in "Counterpoint" and it wound up being predictable here. Great to see Jason Alexander getting involved with VOY -- obviously a reputable actor and he does a fine job here as coming across as mentally superior (never getting flustered, always appearing to be in control) -- quite different from George Costanza!

    The concept of such a think tank is what's farfetched to me, although I liked the idea that a bunch of very different alien species were concocted for this episode -- and that they've essentially banded together to serve their collective selfish needs. We can gather that they've been playing the Hazari for some time so these bounty hunters would only jump at the chance for revenge once Voyager helps them see the light.

    The offer to 7 wasn't fleshed out enough for me -- just what benefits could she gain even if she admits she isn't fully challenged on Voyager? In the end the decision wasn't much of a character examination. And I started doubting how superior the think tank really was.

    Janeway was good in this episode, handling Kurros and giving 7 control of her destiny. I am a bit surprised that she orders Voyager to exit stage left and lets the Hazari presumably destroy the think tank -- she wouldn't want all those oddball aliens to be killed would she? Or maybe that's a conflict between the Hazari and the think tank so she shouldn't interfere.

    Maybe Janeway could have used the think tank to figure out a way to get home and spared them from being destroyed by the Hazari (and then offered something to the Hazari). Perhaps an opportunity lost. Or maybe she developed doubts about the think tank's abilities -- otherwise they should have been able to figure out Voyager's ruse. Perhaps their game is to appear to be so superior so as to convince other races to accept their help in return for payment.

    2.5 stars for "Think Tank" -- turns out to be somewhat routine plotting after going through a fair bit of effort to establish this think tank with its "mystique" and "high-powered intellect". In the end it's Voyager ridding this part of space of something of a parasite. I'm calling BS on a lot of the think tank's "accomplishments" although they are comprised of some creatively conceived alien species.

    This episode was fairly contrived and boring. I don't need action, but it just semed dull.

    It didn't help that we got the Cardassian-style "Cooing Sickly Polite Enemy" where they're all smiles and pleasantry. I think I prefer the snarling hard-headed guys. Though just one *friendly* alien species out in the Delta Quadrant would be even better.

    It was nice seeing some real aliens for once though.

    Nice to see an intelligent alien that that doesn't look behave and talk like a human wearing makeup, but otherwise I don't see anything great about this episode and as usual there's a lot which doesn't make sense? How can a bunch of two-bit bounty hunters trap Voyager when the Borg were unable to? How does Voyager know where all the bounty hunter ships are? Why doesn't the "think tank" just offer Voyager what they really want, a fast way back to Earth?

    Kept me interested, yay!

    I liked the Bounty hunters and the concept of the Think Tank, though why should the Tank go to all that trouble to create a problem? Why not offer to get Voyager home in exchange for Seven? No need to create an urgent problem for Voyager, Voyager has one, ready made, that seems within their wheelhouse. Why didn't they at least try to throw that in as an inducement to get Seven?

    That said, I was not surprised to learn they were the clients, though I did like the way Janeway got the Bounty Hunters involved in the solution.

    Basically a good sci fi outing. The ending was kind of . . . questionable. Janeway had no idea what would happen to the Think Tank, but didn't seem to care at all.

    Comments on the comments:

    --I think this ep had a main theme about individuality vs team work (a collective). Janeway is trying to come up with a scheme all on her own when Kurros shows up. But toward the end she's assembled her own "think tank." There's some suggestion that as Seven is learning to be an individual, Janeway is learning to ask for help and work well with others.

    --Yes, I too loved the blue alien and his big blue eyes.

    --The Phage cure, eh, maybe a lie, but why is it hard to believe the Think Tank can travel faster than Voyager?

    --Yes, maybe the tactic the Tank uses with Voyager is a common one with them . . . create the problem you then fix. But I doubt they'd pass up real problems. Why should they? And surely, that's where the true challenges lie. You don't need a Think Tank to run a simple protection racket.

    --The Malon and the Devore, I didn't find it hard to believe that they could be in this part of the Delta quadrant. If they are space faring civilizations who have been traveling for hundreds of years, they could have ships and outposts and dealings all over the Delta quadrant.

    I think (see what I did there?) we were all taken in by the TOSsy and truly alien nature of the exotic think tankers. We bought that they were really more advanced, more intelligent than mere humanity, and thus we were disappointed in the shallowness of their subterfuge and how easy it was for Team Janeway to outwit them.

    But given that the episode suggets they create the problems they can then solve - and perhaps both fabricate evidence and pad their resume - aren’t we justified in concluding that they aren’t the advanced geniuses they present themselves as? That it’s easy to look smart solving a puzzle you created?

    They’re clever and they’re devious, and they have a bag of tricks with which to impress and elude, but they’re not next-level entities. They want Seven to join their ring of grifters for any number of good reasons, none of which have to do with exploration, pursuit of perfection, or the life of the mind.

    They’re nightclub-act clairvoyants and mediums running a protection racket with a good front. They’re high-tech hustlers on a shakedown cruise, and this was a Trek take on “The Sting.”

    The episode set US up by employing truly alien aliens, whose otherness promises types of intelligence we can’t imagine, motivations we can’t understand. Thus it takes us awhile to realize we’ve been taken in by a good old-fashioned scam.

    Once Janeway realizes that, she knows it doesn’t take supreme intelligence to beat them - that the Voyager collective could put their humanoid heads together and come up with a serviceable solution.

    But why were there references to “paradoxes”? I didn’t see any - just puzzles and traps. That apparent misuse of the word took me out of the story more than any other discordant element.

    The problem with brushing the Think Tank off as slightly-above-average conmen is that it trivializes any motivation Seven could have for joining them. It’s one thing if these are truly geniuses manipulating and helping people with their smarts. Seven loves to learn and acquire knowledge from advanced beings, so the motivation for her wanting to join a true Think Tank makes sense. If the intelligent aspect of the group is just another con, then Seven only is has the obvious choice to “beat the bad guys” and suddenly the episode has no conflict.

    All we know about the think tank is that they value their own well-being and acquisitions over honesty. We do not know that they have faked all of their solutions to problems. It actually seems far-fetched that this should be the case, because if they were just con-artists I assume they would have been taken out long before this. It seems far more likely - and fitting with what the episode tells us - that what they do is devise the best solution to get what they want. Sometimes that means being devious, and sometimes that means solving problems to get the prize; whichever is most efficient is what they'll do. That they're very smart also means they can figure out when to spend time on a problem versus when it's not worth it and they can just crosswire the situation to get what they want quickly and with minimal effort. That's a sort of Borg-like sense of value and I think it's why Seven is tempted to go with them. The problem is that they *actually do* operate like the Borg: they go for their own advancement as a matter of course, completely amorally, whether that means being ruthless, honest, or murderous means nothing to them.

    I think the conflict in this episode - which wasn't fully plumbed out in the writing - was that Seven was tempted to pursue the one thing she's been saying all along she wants: perfection and knowledge. The problem is that when faced with a group that really does operate this way, placing these values above all others, she sees that what it really means is that they're parasitic narcissists who care nothing for anyone. That's what she aspired to be and didn't realize it, and really that's what the Borg are. When faced with such duplicity, and presumably feeling that "screw these guys" feeling, this was probably the best wake-up call to make her realize that she did actually value some things more than knowledge, such as integrity and fair dealing. I think it's a very good ep for her for this reason, but a mediocre one because the episode is so fixated on Jason Alexander and on the hard-headed aliens of the week that it sort of downplays what this means for Seven. So, yeah, it would have been better if it had had more Seven :)

    I think there's a poster around here who will be pleased with my review.

    I don’t think seeing the tankers as con-organisms denies Seven either motivation or growth. I think she just saw through them (though not immediately), and any attraction they might have had then evaporated. I ascribe to Peter’s take on her likely psychological arc through the episode.

    I’m not sure it was so much their Borglike amorality and parasitic efficiency which were initially attractive to her, but rather the notion of a smaller, less authoritarian collective of more individually gifted, diverse, and seemingly altruistic beings who could collaborate at a more telepathic level, while retaining individuality. Kind of an ideal middle ground between the Borg hive and the less efficient human “team.”

    They turn out to be not as smart, honest, or altruistic as it first appeared - and she’s come to value not only those virtues but also the human relationships she has built on Voyager.

    Also, Ryan surely had a contract for the whole season, so we knew she’d stay.

    I enjoyed Alexander’s work in the episode, especially the soft-spoken measured pace and his quiet demeanor. It worked equally well when I thought for a few minutes we might finally have met truly benevolent aliens, and it worked for icy implacable menace when his real character was revealed.

    I wasn’t distracted by ghosts of Seinfeld because I didn’t realize the connection till I read it here. But I once had breakfast with Kirstie Alley on the Amtrak Southwest Chief and didn’t realize till later that day who it was. As with Alexander in this episode, I just knew there was SOMEthing familiar about her.

    Proteus’s description (that morals and honesty are sometimes more important that intellect) would’ve been a really good way for Seven to decide that perfection at all costs isn’t everything. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t bear out that way. Instead Janeway decides to beat the conmen by conning them - the only way to beat an immoral group of smart people is with an immoral solution - i.e. a cheat.

    Thus, the ending leaves us to believe that if Janeway’s tactics didn’t pay off, that Seven would’ve joined the Think Tank without reservation. I’m not sure that’s how the writers really wanted it to go, but I think Peter’s right in that the showrunners left that part of the story up in the air in the exchange for letting Jason Alexander chew the scenery. But yeah, this could’ve been really good if it was less a Jason Alexander episode, and more a Seven of Nine episode.

    If nothing else we now know that Jason Alexander would have made a great Varys The Spider on Game of Thrones. The Think Tank had some interesting members. I particularly liked what must be the grandson of NOMAD from TOS.

    It had a giant pseudo-intellectual vibe going the whole time. It must have been awful pressure to come up with 24 episodes per year; as much as I (now) love the show, the filler episodes seem rushed, to put it kindly.

    @Jason sums it up perfectly:
    "Let me think, what could the Think Tank offer Voyager to entice them to part with 7 of 9? What could a Starfleet ship marooned thousands of light years of home possibly want that the Think Tank might be able to provide? DUUUUUUHHHHHH."

    Mephyve's got it : GEORGE!!! Yes!!!

    I was so intrigued that they let George Costanza play a villain.

    But they should have let him go FULL ON GEORGE, if you know what I mean.

    Kurros (Jason Alexander,)Best Line: "Do they know, that you know, that they know , it's the best kind of puzzle"?..... AAAAAHHH LOL

    This episode had so much potential to be a classic!

    George Costanza could have been "Harry Mud" of Voyager Lore.... so close but 3 stars.

    Heyyyyyyyy, it's George Costanza!!!

    Now GEORGE (okay, okay, Jason Alexander) is a great actor, very versatile. We all know and love him from Seinfeld where he portrayed a goofy dufus but he's very capable of playing a sinister, malevolent character also.

    But anyway, this iss a tremendous episode. Novel, fresh, and--something sorely lacking in so many others--IMAGINATIVE. The different life forms alone deserve a star all by themselves. The humor is excellent (George's think-tank wanting Neelix's recipe or the bioplasmic creature being sensitive about its age...hahaha!!). The mind games, without Acoushla Moya going to the buffalo plains of his ancestors, are exquisite. Of course, we all know Voyager will win the day but this one takes us through quite unpredictable twists and turns to get there.

    No quibbles, no foibles, this is at least 3-1/2 stars if not 4.

    Just finished this 1. The way the phage is quite easily dealt with, for me, tells us how the think tank is far and away the most intelligent group we have yet seen. However the way they fall is a little too easy. As an aside Christopher Shea was great here. 4 stars easily.

    Die-hard Seinfeld fan here. Could NOT separate George Costanza from Kurros. Just couldn't. Totally my own fault but Kurros was like George at his most Kurros-ish (brimming with arrogance and self-confidence), like when he first made all that money in the stock market. Just maybe a bit more sedate. Coming so close on the heels of when Seinfeld ended, it would have been good if his face was disguised by alien bumps a little more.

    I like this episode.


    The concept of the Think Tank is interesting, and I like the alien-ness of their design.

    I liked seeing Janeway in strategist mode. I also liked the brainstorming scene.

    Negatives: my nitpicks have already been covered by other posters:

    Skolly said: "I like the idea of this episode and the Think Tank, but it wasn't smart enough."

    Jason said "I also thought the whole hunting party "paradox" was a ludicrous and pointless charade. Why the Think Tank needed to orchestrate this in order to make Voyager seek out their services will forever baffle me. Let me think, what could the Think Tank offer Voyager to entice them to part with 7 of 9? What could a Starfleet ship marooned thousands of light years of home possibly want that the Think Tank might be able to provide? "

    William said: "Moreover, since we were told ahead of time what the plan was, watching it be executed wasn't particularly interesting, and there were no minor wrinkles in it that made it still fun despite us having seen it. It just makes Kurros and all look stupid for falling for such an obvious ploy. The ending, with Voyager rushing off and Janeway smiling smugly while the Think Tank ship seems to be about to be destroyed, was also a little hard to stomach. Yeah, these are bad guys, but it's a rather un-idealistic ending; I'd like for there to be some specification that the Hazari were going to take over the ship but not kill the Tank members on board."

    Final thoughts: the ending needed one more twist. After the Voyager crew achieves a legitimate victory over the Tank, it would have been fun if it turned out that this was just one part of a grander design.

    Fix the episode: Don't have Seven go aboard the Think Tank's ship until the end. Have her carryout Janeway's plan and "defeat" the Think Tank as before. End the episode with an epilogue where we find out that this was all part of a plot by Kurros and his pals to harvest Seven's nanoprobes and gain intel on the Borg.

    I haven't seen this one in at least a decade, but I still can't hear the words "think tank" in a conversation without immediately hearing Kate Mulgrew's pronunciation. You could tell she really likes speaking that phrase.

    It must be so dispiriting working for Janeway. It Disney matter if she sets up her own mini Think Tank, it’ll be her who has the solution... the others must think ‘why bother?’

    And if Seven is such a genius why didn’t she have a solution?

    I think Janeway is a poor leader, never seeks to allow her crew to solve problems. I think Picard, in contrast, would actually know the solution but he would let his crew tell him, allowing them to think they came up with it.

    That’s real leadership.

    I think this episode is a strange one. I liked it for the most part, but I found Jason Alexander to be really distracting. Everytime he was on screen, I couldn't see Kurros, I could only see George Costanza with what looks like genitalia on his forehead.

    Watching this episode now is sort of funny. For one thing, the title is funny, because it implies the writers thought that what think tanks do is sit around and solve abstract problems, like mercenary mathematicians. What they actually do is push political agendas and try to manipulate situations into their own favor. Ironically this is *actually* what this episode's think tank does, but it not at all what Janeway meant by it when she called them a think tank.

    Another funny thing is in the plot: Kuros is trying to persuade Seven that she could become of the galaxy's greatest intellects if she joins them, whereas she'll be held back and only use a portion of her potential on Voyager. Looking back retrospectively, how right he was. Now granted, he's offering her a helping of self-serving gruel. But on the other hand, by the time ST: PIC rolls around this great scientific mind has been reduced to a Firefly-esque space pirate. So it looks like Kuros was right after all...

    With its tightening nooses, pursuing fleets, and its sense of constant threat and tension, this episode plays like a slightly weaker version of "Counterpoint".

    Thematically, it's also interesting; the Think Tank functions like a miniature Borg collective, and Janeway once again constructs her own little "mini Federation" away from home, complete with aliens and starships working together.

    This is also one of the episodes that epitomizes how tough Janeway was as a Captain. The scene in the gas cloud, where she escapes the first enemy vessel, is perfection, Janeway with her cocked head and hand on her hip as she casually faces off the enemy.

    This feels like a woman who's spent years being relentlessly pursued, hounded and attacked by countless species, and bested them all. In episodes like this, you realize she's more battle hardened than Sisko, more of a maverick than Kirk, and consistently faced more daunting odds than all the other classic Trek captains.

    When I first saw "Think Tank", I couldn't help but see Jason Alexander as George Costanza, but with a little distance his performance now seems much less distracting. I'd say he's one of Voyager's better villains, and it's fun watching him try to ensnare Janeway.

    I'd say this is a 3 star episode. IMO it just needed a smarter ending, and a pre-credit sequence which didn't give away the villainy of the Think Tank.

    I wonder why Janeway didn't ask the Think Tank for a way to get them back to Earth?

    I loved this episode, from the above-and-beyond makeup to the unusual and creative sci-fi premise. It's one of my very favorite episodes of Trek.

    Four stars (and I don't give those ratings out very often at all).

    GUYS QUESTION Who thinks in RETROSOECT THE THINK TANK should've become Voyagers main adversary along with the Baadwaur and maybe Species 8472 instead of rehashing the Borg..the last season couldve been abkut the think tank establishing unique power structures and or experimental bases all over the quadrants to gain more knowledge..that's my own idea and they maybe fight with the Vaadwayr who use the subspace corridors while the think tank develops new subspace tech with their neutrons and we discover new subspace and hyperspace life forms along the way..these are my ideas what does anyone think?


    Not sure if I'd be happy with Voyager being at war with Costanza...seriously though it's not a bad idea, I agree with people who say Voyager over used the Borg and may be made them less scary. I'm afraid if species 8472 became a regular foe, they would suffer the same fate as the Borg.


    ))If I had to nit-pick: Janeway didn't even attempt to barter. When George asked for seven Janeway just basically said the deals off.((

    If your negotiating partner begins by saying he wants your 12-year-old daughter in exchange for his services, you don't counter by offering him a year's supply of Nutraloaf(C) instead. Janeway immediately realized that the Think Tank was composed of immoral bastards, and so broke off negotiations.

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