Think TankBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 4:06 PM GMT
See Also: 'Think Tank' Episode Guide
A blue-skinned alien meets with a rotund humanoid named Kuros, who says that it is a time for celebration: the other's world is now stable, thanks to a planetary shield Kuros and his associates created. The blue-skinned man claims that they cannot pay the agreed-upon price because their mines were destroyed, but he offers another gemstone instead. Kuros says that they had an agreement and moreover, he believes the blue-skinned aliens have hidden his demanded price from him. When he threatens to turn off the shield and let the world be destroyed, the blue-skinned alien agrees at once to his terms.
On Voyager, Janeway is struggling with the Delta Quadrant equivalent of a Rubik's Cube when Seven walks in with long-range dilithium scans. She offers to solve the game, but Janeway says she wants to figure it out for herself. On the bridge, they approach the planetoid Seven discovered, but when they try to mine its dilithium, it explodes, surrounding the ship with flammable gas. Just then a heavily-armed ship drops out of warp; Seven identifies the aliens as a vicious bounty-hunting race, the Hazari. The aliens demand Voyager's surrender and warn the crew that firing on them will ignite the gas cloud, but Janeway reinforces the shields, shoots, and flees. Unfortunately, a later scan reveals that at least 23 of the alien vessels are in the sector searching for Voyager.
Late that night as Janeway stands to stretch after a cup of coffee, Kuros appears at her keyboard. Announcing that he is an isomorphic projection - a very sophisticated holographic reproduction of the original - he tells her that his group of problem-solvers, which Janeway labels a think tank, can help solve Voyager's problem with the Hazari. Janeway demands to know the price; he tells her it's whatever Voyager possesses which is unique. When Janeway says she suspects he could be a Hazari trap, he leaves her helpful schematics and information for contacting his group.
When Voyager decides to take Kuros up on his offer, they learn that his vessel is a neutronium alloy - virtually indestructible by Starfleet and Borg standards. Janeway and Seven beam over and meet his colleagues - a giant neuron-looking creature suspended in fluid, a bioplasmic lifeform which is thousands of years old, and an artificial intelligence, who as a collective have helped hundreds of clients and claim to have cured the Vidiian phage. They prices have ranged from galactic star charts to soup recipes. Janeway demands to know whether they have any sort of Prime Directive; Kuros admits that they have helped "neutralize" planets but claim they draw the line at genocide, which satisfies Janeway. At their invitation, Seven interfaces with the artificial intelligence, which wants information on her biotechnology. Kuros offers to solve Voyager's Hazari problem without firing any weapons, which Janeway says would be perfect - just name the price - offering replicators and other technology.
Kuros returns to Voyager as an isomorphic projection, asking for the quantum slipstream drive which never worked right, a recipe from Neelix, an ancient figurine from Chakotay...and Seven of Nine. Janeway balks at bartering her crewmembers, but Kuros suggests that she ask Seven if she's interested. Janeway considers, then tells her protege that while she doesn't want her to go, she realizes that as an individual, Seven may be intrigued by what the think tank has to offer. Seven thanks her for the freedom to choose, then meets with Kuros, who tells her that they have invited no one new to join them for 17 years. Seven admits to him that she is often bored on Voyager and the opportunity to perfect her knowledge intrigues her, but she is unimpressed when she learns that the artificial intelligence probed her mind to "interview" her. Finally she balks at leaving her Voyager family the way Kuros himself left his planet in order to save it. She declines his offer.
Kuros asks her to reconsider; at that precise moment, Seven is called to the bridge as the Hazari attack. As a "friendly gesture of goodwill," he suggests targeting the support ship, but tells Seven that her decision to remain on Voyager will become a fatal mistake because the Hazari will eventually win without his help. Janeway changes Voyager's shield harmonics to block the isomorph from returning. Then she and her crew devise a scheme to make the Hazari believe they have destroyed Voyager so that she can tractor one of their vessels and capture the crew. On the Hazari craft, she and Chakotay find coded transmissions about Voyager from what appears to be a Malon with a grudge...but an examination reveals that the isomorphic projection was really Kuros in disguise.
Janeway tells the bounty hunters that Kuros is tricking all of them. She suggests that they work together so she can free her crew and the aliens can capture the think tank, which would make a far greater prize than Voyager. Hours of deliberation give them no ideas about how to proceed until Seven solves Janeway's puzzle, declaring that she did so by scanning it with her implants. "That's cheating," says Paris. But Janeway realizes that if the think tank can cheat, they need to do the same. She asks Seven whether her Borg implants could disrupt the think tank's communications system if she were linked with the artificial intelligence again, then suggests that Voyager give the aliens what they want.
The Hazari call Kuros to announce that they have Voyager, but they have discovered his trickery and want triple the bounty. Kuros agrees to their demands, then appears on Voyager to point out that because they underestimated the greed of the Hazari, they will die unless he calls off the bounty hunters. The bridge crew detects a shuttle launch whose occupant Chakotay identifies as Seven of Nine. "What is she doing?" fumes Janeway. "She's saving your ship," says Kuros, who wishes Voyager a safe journey as his projection departs. Kuros then welcomes Seven to his ship, but the Hazari demand to be paid at once leaves him suspicious that he's been led into a trap, since Seven says she will never work with his group if Voyager is destroyed. He tells her that their artificial intelligence must probe her mind to learn Janeway's intentions; Seven agrees.
On Voyager, Sickbay detects the activation of Seven's neural transciever and sends a carrier wave which disrupts communication among the think tank. Janeway tells the Hazari to start firing spatial charges, which pull the neutronium ship out of subspace and make it vulnerable. Kuros shows up on Voyager once more to remind Seven that she could acquire greater knowledge with his group, but Seven points out that knowledge has not elevated him. Janeway tells Kuros she's sure he can find a solution to his own Hazari problem if he gives it some thought; then, as his ship is bombarded by Hazari weapons, Voyager warps away.
What in heck is the point of having Jason Alexander play an alien who's not even remotely funny? I'm sorry if that's a shallow question, but I figured that if we were going to get a big-name guest star, the least Voyager's own think tank could do is give us a big story to go with him. This wasn't a dreadful episode - at least Kuros wanted Seven for her brains rather than her Borg assets like the folk in "Retrospect," her guts like the Hirogen in "Hunters," or her most obvious assets like the creep in "One" - but how many times can we sit through Seven-in-jeopardy stories before starting to wonder why in hell Janeway doesn't just jettison her pet Borg for the safety of the rest of the crew?
Seriously, if Janeway ordered Torres to stay alive against her own wishes in "Nothing Human," I just don't get why she'd risk Seven deciding to leave in "Think Tank." Maybe she never meant it - she suspected all along that Seven would choose to stay, and intended to find a way to persuade her if the girl chose otherwise. I prefer to believe she meant the choice to be an honest one, but it makes no sense: after she risked the entire crew to save Seven from the Borg a few weeks ago, I find it hard to believe she's ready to let her walk if Seven announces it would make her happy. Janeway makes no sense to me at all.
But this episode made even less sense. It was not exactly a surprise to find out that Kuras wanted Seven all along, but when he told Janeway to find and beam over to his ship with one other crewmember, how could he be sure Seven would be the one Janeway would choose, so they could scan her? Really it would have made much more sense if Janeway had taken Tuvok. I rather liked the collection in the think tank, though their disembodied voices reminded me of the Gamesters of Triskelion, and the thinkers themselves looked like a gestating creature from the Alien series, one of those giant creatures which wanted to meet the whales in Star Trek IV, and Nomad - or maybe I mean V'Ger. The episode was nicely filmed but the overall predictability of the images and plot alike didn't do much to show that fact off.
And while Alexander had a surprising creepiness as Kuros, he didn't generate any chemistry with any of the cast regulars, and he was a bit too much like the guy who wanted to add Data to his collection in TNG's "The Most Toys." Nor was his character well-written enough to make Kuros seem like a real threat to Janeway - who was strong in the latter part of this episode despite the weirdness of her willingness to let Seven walk, but who didn't look very bright for getting into the situation in the first place. Voyager fought the Kazon for months on end before she'd consider surrendering anything they believed in to trade for their safety, but now they're willing to think about swapping with these greedy sleazeballs after one attack? Maybe Janeway should kick her coffee habit and spend more time struggling with shipboard strategy than alien puzzles.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.