Star Trek 573: Think Tank

573. Think Tank

FORMULA: Statistical Probabilities + Counterpoint + Dark Frontier

WHY WE LIKE IT: The non-humanoids.

WHY WE DON'T: Jason Alexander wasted.

REVIEW: Jason Alexander was, at the time, one of the most prominent celebrity Star Trek fans who hadn't yet been cast in the show. And while I don't begrudge him the chance to play a role so unlike, say, George Constanza, it's still disappointing that his particular comedic (and neurotic) skills weren't put to good effect. Kurros is more of a zen figure, and while that's not uninteresting, it's not that entertaining. And that's how I feel about the episode as a whole.

I do like the Think Tank's varied aliens, showing that intelligence can indeed come in many packages despite Trek's bias towards humanoids. There's a jellyfish, a space whale, a computer with the soul of an artist... Even the more upright Fennim looks like a walking reliquary. To show their power, yes, you have demonstrations of particular technologies (isomorphic projections, neutronium hulls, and so on), but they off-handedly mention they cured the Phage. Again, I'm ambivalent towards this point. On the one hand, it efficiently shows how smart the Tank is, and perhaps it's nice to know that the Vidiians had a happy ending (depending on what they traded off). On the other, it's a bit of an anti-climax, and though we weren't ever going back to the Vidiians, it still destroys the core idea behind the race. So in our minds at least, it's kind of a shame.

Voyager's been penned into a part of space by bounty hunters called the Hazari, and the Tank is willing to help Voyager in exchange for Seven of Nine joining them. Wait... not help them get to the Alpha Quadrant? The Think Tank isn't as smart as it thinks if that's the offer they make. As it is, Janeway thinks she can get out of the Hazari trap without help (and does), and the Tank's plans are jeopardized anyway by the fact that they hire the bounty hunters in the first place. There was never going to be any deal on those terms, not for that small prize. And once the Hazari are put off Voyager's scent when they find out they've been played by the Tank, why is it necessary for Voyager to defeat the alien geniuses? It's never really made clear that the Tank would try an offensive solution to their "paradox" (a word very badly used as a synonym for "problem" throughout). Nice little con though.

The dilemma, I suppose, is driven by Seven's boredom with her shipboard duties. While there's little chance Janeway would take the Tank's deal, maybe Seven would want to leave Voyager for new challenges. Not really much of a chance of that either, I know, but it's notable that Janeway finally gives Seven a choice, something she's always refused her in the past.

LESSON: There are book smarts, and then there are street smarts.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Alien effects, special effects, stunt casting... These are nice, but there's no real tension to this story.


mwb said...

It is a waste of Jason's talent, but it is an episode that almost had promise in concept but just didn't work for many of the reasons you mention.

The concept is the Tank is what the Federation should really be but never actually is - which is telling. Shouldn't the Federation have groups just like this that deserve some mention?

On the formula I'd personally add The Most Toys but I think Data would have been a more interesting member of the Tank.


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