Model officers: Star Trek: Lower Decks “An Embarrassment of Dooplers”
No cold open this week. We jump right into Freeman’s captain’s log, where she narrates that she’s on a TOS-style state dinner with a species that has some bizarre characteristic they have to be very careful to accommodate. In this case, the species is called the “Dooplers”, and their big thing is they duplicate while under emotional stress.
Further strengthening the TOS vibes, the creature is clad in a fabulous purple cape affixed with a triangular brooch, rather than the drab utilitarian jumpsuit you might have expected if this were a post-’80s series.
After the Doopler excuses himself from dinner, everybody moans about how stressful it is keeping him happy so he won’t duplicate. Freeman tells them it’ll all be worth it once they get to this Starfleet command conference they’re going to, where she expects to be officially commended for her “heroics” against the Pakleds in “No Small Parts”. You know, the battle where her ship got completely dominated, she used an illegal computer virus to escape, and still would’ve gone down with all hands had Will Riker not shown up and saved the day?
Boimler and Mariner are in the cargo bay stacking heavy crates by hand, instead of using the transporter, or a tractor beam, or something like that.
Mariner is bitching that she doesn’t get to go to the conference’s legendary afterparty. Boimler is bitching about the same thing, but not because he wants to get housed on strange alien liquors—it’s because it would be a huge networking opportunity. If he were still on the Titan, he’d be a shoo-in for an invite, but that honor instead goes to his transporter clone William.
Mariner looks at a manifest and gets a wonderful grinchy idea. She tells Boimler the Titan won’t be in attendance at the party, so there’s nothing stopping him from taking the place of his genetically identical Titan counterpart. Which means he, in turn, can take Mariner as his date.
When the Cerritos finally gets to the party, Freeman starts going off on an admiral about how stressful it was keeping the emotionally fragile Doopler happy. The Doopler, standing in one of the entrances, overhears everything and is overcome by embarrassment, and duplicates. (Why is he allowed on the bridge? Does ship security work on the honor system?) The two duplicates are so embarrassed by the fact that their parent duplicated that they, too, duplicate. And a lesson on exponential growth begins.
In the interest of keeping the space station from being physically overrun by Dooplers, the admiral forbids the Cerritos from docking until the Doopler situation is under control, which causes the self-conscious Dooplers to duplicate even more. Freeman announces this to the crew, which makes Mariner even more determined to attend the party.
One unauthorized transport later, Mariner and Boimler are on Starbase 25, wearing a variation of the white dress uniforms first introduced in Star Trek: Insurrection (after Mariner shoots down Boimler’s idea to wear the older dress skants).
Mariner takes the initiative to show Boimler around, since she used to live on Starbase 25. Right on cue, a tusked Tellarite, no doubt an old enemy of hers, gets on the communicator with an unseen confederate, letting her know she’s shown up.
In a shop, Mariner meets an old contact of hers, a Mizarian named Malvus, who’s angry at her for stranding her on yet another planet in the Ceti Alpha system—That’s always happening! Boimler’s like, yeah, she does tend to abandon people on planets a lot. But Malvus will still let her know the secret location of the Starfleet after-party if she helps him move some contraband: several crates of limited-edition Data bubble bath.
Meanwhile, Rutherford and Tendi are in the bar, unwinding after work by building a functioning model of the Cerritos. (Dorks!) We learn Rutherford had started the model before he got his robot brain pulled out. Intriguingly, Rutherford keeps coming across pieces of the model with scrawled notes he wrote to himself last year, but out of context he can’t make any sense of them. Shaxs brusquely orders them out of the bar, which has been deputized as emergency Doopler storage.
Mariner and Boimler are pulled over by Starbase security, and it soon becomes apparent that in addition to the bubble bath, the crates also contain extremely deadly Klingon disrupters, ensuring the duo a long and very rehabilitative sentence in one of the Federation’s enlightened prisons. Mariner decides to chance it and initiates a long and destructive high-speed buggy chase through the starbase’s promenade, plowing through several shops and into a hangar bay, before crashing through into an aviary and sinking the buggy into an artificial lake. Malvus, surprised at their escape, lets Mariner know the location of the party.
They show up to the party, and Boimler gets in. In a rare reversal of fortune, Mariner doesn’t.
Boimler offers to stay behind with her, but she petulantly tells him she’s still mad at him for abandoning her for the Titan. Boimler is aggrieved, saying that if anyone needs to apologize, it’s her, for abandoning him on so many planets.
Back on the Cerritos, Tendi is trying to find someplace to ride out the wave of Dooplers, while Rutherford continually puts them in danger by going back for his model. And since the show has now fully shifted into the didactic Let’s Talk About Our Emotions Like We’re Six mode that Lower Decks loves so well, Rutherford explains to her that he’s fixated on the model because he’s insecure about his abilities ever since he got his brain pulled out. The old Rutherford could put this together lickety-split, he says, but now he’s so far behind he can’t even make sense of his old self’s notes.
Tendi explains to Rutherford that they never actually finished building the model; they’d get most of the way there and then start over, so they could have something to do together. That’s so precious, I think I gotta fart. Inspired, they eject the ship’s tiny warp core and use the tiny explosion to open a locked panel and escape from the Dooplers.
Boimler attends the big party, but because he’s too socially awkward to mingle without Mariner’s help, he gives up and meets Mariner at a dingy-looking bar where she’s chasing away the blues with some glasses full of blue liquor. He apologizes and they have a big gloopy conversation where they make up and commiserate.
The bartender says they’re not the only ones to miss out on the big Starfleet command conference after-party. As proof, she gestures to “Kirk + Spock” carved into the bar.
Back on the Cerritos, an exasperated Captain Freeman finally screams at all the Dooplers, berating them for being such sniveling whiners. Surprisingly, this causes them to start re-integrating. It seems that embarrassment makes them duplicate, but anger reverses the effect. I don’t know how it could possibly happen that they would know the first thing but not the second thing. Is this the first time in the Dooplers’ history that any of them have ever gotten angry?
The whole ship is instructed to start berating the Dooplers so they stop Doopling and start Yoonifing. Shaxs (“the grumpy one”) shouts, “Your pagh is weak, and it disgusts me!” Dr. T’Ana (“the other grumpy one”) does a bunch of uncreative bleeped swearing. Finally, they’re back down to just the one Doopler.
Now the Cerritos senior officers can make it to the party. But regrettably, they don’t have invites, and the bouncer isn’t letting them in. Outraged that they can’t get in, but Okona can (he’s DJing the party, you see, which is funny because… well…), Freeman decides to exact her vengeance by transporting the Doopler inside the party and letting his embarrassment fill up the place in seconds.
Next week: Rutherford slingshots a model ship around a sun so he can send a donut back in time to midmorning when he arrived at the break room too late to get a donut. The Dooplers declare war on the Federation and go into battle naked to overwhelm with sheer numbers.