the story: Smart guys try to add Seven to their brain trust.
what it's all about: "Spock's Brain" is an episode that instantly tells most fans that the topic is "worst episodes ever," and yet, I don't really subscribe to that line of reasoning. I think it's an episode that acknowledges one of the most obvious things about the original series, which is that Spock is a valuable asset. Like Data in Next Generation's "The Most Toys," Spock is, after a fashion, collected in the episode. That's what happens in "Think Tank," too. This is the episode where Seven is collected, essentially.
It's also the episode that features one of the most famous guest-stars in franchise history, a fact that somehow has gotten lost over the years. Seinfeld was so astronomically successful that it ended up killing the idea of the sitcom, and it also killed the further careers of two of its main cast members, Michael Richards (Kramer) and Jason Alexander (George Costanza). Now, as interesting as it would be to see Michael Richards in Star Trek (Voyager had Andy Dick, after all!), "Think Tank" doesn't feature him, but rather Jason Alexander.
Now, he was extremely successful, in a whole cast who nailed their parts, in embodying the perennially psychotically desperate George Costanza. Even though he had roles before George, Jason became as typecast as anyone ever has (hello, George Reeves!) and failed in a string of new sitcom roles. People just couldn't see him as anything but George Costanza.
He doesn't play George in "Think Tank," neither literally or in any way personality. That's what makes the appearance continually fascinating, because Star Trek fans can kind of boast that they got Jason in one of his attempts to redefine his career. I mean, they don't, but that's beside the point. They can. They should. That's the point.
- franchise - There's a whole tradition behind the idea.
- series - The bounty hunters the smart guys use to corner the ship is one of those ideas that could only happen in Voyager (and also, later, Enterprise).
- character - It's always nice to have someone from the cast (Seven) pointed to in a story as worthy of this sort of thing.
essential- It doesn't particularly say something new about the basic idea.