Aug 14, 2020
Star Trek: Lower Decks “Cupid’s Errant Arrow”
Our episode gets off to an uninspired start when Ensign Boimler narrates his personal log about an interaction he wasn’t there to see and has no reason to write in his log about. The Cerritos is in the Mixtus system, aiding the USS Vancouver in the controlled demolition of a moon that threatens to plunge into the inhabited planet below.
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The aliens who inhabit the planet, however, are opposed to demolishing the moon, for a variety of reasons: it’s an important religious relic, it regulates the tides they need to grow food, and to top it off, some of them believe the imminent moon crash is a hoax. “Oh, anti-science hysteria, a timely and fertile topic for comedy,” I say, jinxing the episode and making the writers drop the whole subject after that one line. Sigh.
The real news for Boimler is the fact that he’s going to have lunch with his girlfriend, a blueshirt lieutenant named Barbara Brinson. The understandably nonplussed Mariner is convinced that this girl has to be a hologram or something, but Boimler asserts “she’s as real as a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day”.
This episode has flipped Rutherford and Tendi’s switches from “slacker jagoff” to “brownnose workaholic”. Upon their arrival on the Vancouver, they each have a squealing dork-out over the huge and well-appointed ship. Meanwhile, Lt. Barbara Brinson has a joyful reunion with Boimler, and to Mariner’s chagrin, keeps existing after Mariner shouts, “Computer, end program!” Barbara is telling Boimler a story about being trapped in 1920s Chicago when she suddenly runs into a large, handsome, cool lieutenant whom she greets affectionately. He’s Jet, an ex of Barbara’s, still on quite friendly terms from the look of things, and he’s come to tell her that they have to reconfigure the containment field in response to the delay in demolition, ruining Boimler and Barbara’s lunch plans.
The chief engineer on the Vancouver, Lt. Docent, is assigning Tendi and Rutherford to look for alternatives to imploding the moon. They’re going to run simulations using a nifty new hand gadget called a T88 that most of Starfleet doesn’t even have yet. Tendi and Rutherford practically pee their pants in delight.
Boimler is going to pieces out of jealousy, and begins frantically doing push-ups to get as jacked as Jet. Mariner, meanwhile, is musing that Barbara’s too good to be true. She rattles off a list of various horrible things that love interests have turned out to be in the Star Trek franchise. She launches into a story about a friend of hers on Deep Space Nine who found the “perfect guy” who turned out to be a Harvongian shape-changer. We see this in a hazy flashback full of incongruous darkness and gore meant to remind you that this is an “adult” show. Mariner is determined not to let this happen to Boimler.
Back in the conference room on the Vancouver, Captain Freeman has found workarounds to everybody’s complaints about demolishing the moon. The purple aliens are satisfied and leave. One red alien stays behind and declares that if the moon is blown up, there’ll be nothing to catch pollution coming from Mixtus III, which will instead annihilate his people on Mixtus II. Yeah. Pollution. That can travel through space. The pollution that doesn’t kill the people who live on the moon, but will kill the people on a whole other planet if the moon’s not there. Sure, run with that.
Boimler rudely busts in on Barbara and Jet while they’re working, hanging on her and doing a lot of ostentatious PDA. Mariner busts in behind her and plays a shrieking tone on her tricorder to overload any possible positronic brains in the room. Having proven Barbara is not an android, Mariner resolves to get a tissue sample; Boimler hurries her out, and Barbara urges him out too.
In the Jeffries tube, Rutherford and Mariner are running diagnostics as fast as they can in a contest to see who can take a T88 home. Rutherford starts cheating by using his cyborg implant. Back in her quarters, Mariner’s gone full Charlie Kelley Conspiracy Meme and is breathlessly reciting enemies-in-disguise plot points that happened on other Star Trek shows.
Boimler is still freaking out that he’s going to lose Barbara to Jet, so he replicates a ridiculous outfit and strolls into the mess hall where Barbara and Jet are eating, acts extremely clingy, and orders a beer which he manages to spill all over her. Mariner takes advantage of Barbara’s distraction to cut off a chunk of her hair.
Coming by to apologize later, Boimler overhears Jet and Barbara trading some not-very-creative double entendre dialogue and bursts in on them trying to fit cargo into a compartment and not having sex as he had assumed, get it, ha ha. This leads to a big blowout between Boimler and Barbara that very predictably ends with Boimler breaking down and admitting his feelings of inadequacy, and Barbara very predictably forgiving him, and then Mariner very predictably jumping out while they embrace and pulling down Barbara’s pants to look for a spiked reptoid tail.
Boimler and Barbara very predictably tell Mariner off and leave for an orbital platform near the moon. Then Mariner very predictably finds the very proof she was looking for, in the form of an exoskeletal husk left behind by some alien or another, and runs to catch up. It’s all very predictable.
Tendi and Rutherford finish running diagnostics at the exact same time and both get T88s. But it seems they’ve misunderstood the Chief Engineer’s offer: he didn’t mean they could take the T88s to the Cerritos. He meant that they would get transfers to the Vancouver and use them there. Quite an understandable mistake to make. Meanwhile, Mariner is so desperate to get to the orbital platform to stop Boimler from being eaten that she puts on a space suit and has an epic movie-style spacewalk, goes through the airlock, and walks in on a—yikes!—naked Boimler.
Boimler yells at Mariner to get out. Mariner confronts him with the parasite husk she’s found. He says it’s hurtful that she would go to the trouble of making a fake parasite husk rather than admit he can get girls. The two wrestle. The platform shifts after reaching critical altitude, and Boimler falls and hits his head, knocking him unconscious.
Alerted by the turbulence, Barbara runs in, seeing Mariner cradling a mostly-nude Boimler. She attacks Mariner. In a comical twist, Barbara is convinced that Mariner is the parasite. “You think I’d buy that you are best friends? He’s mousy, sweet, and soft, and you’re a badass space adventurer!” (Which is where Mariner’s switch is at this episode, having been flipped from “slacker jagoff”.) Of course, this is something a parasite would say, and so the two have no choice but to fight each other on the rapidly decaying platform while warning sirens blare.
Rutherford and Tendi go over to tell Docent that they want to stay on the Cerritos, but he refuses to honor their wishes. He’s got a transfer order already written up and ready to sign. Rutherford kicks the PADD out of his hands and he and Tendi run off with it. Docent chases them throughout the ship and finally corners them in a turbolift. Rutherford tries to reroute turbolift controls to hold him off while Tendi hacks his PADD.
On the bridge of the Vancouver, the red guy is still pleading with Freeman not to implode the moon. In the course of his pleading, he accidentally mentions that Mixtus II, the planet he’s trying to save, has only two people on it: him and his wife. “We’re rich,” he admits. Disgusted, Freeman orders the moon imploded, and the alien watches, crying, “We just redid the floors!”
Docent bursts into the turbolift with his phaser on stun and shoots Rutherford in the hand and knee. But luckily Tendi has just managed to guess the password for Docent’s PADD (it’s “Riker”).
She finds out why he wanted the two transferred so badly: he wants to transfer himself to the Cerritos. Working on a big important ship is just too stressful for him. “It’s all, ‘Tow this space station!’ ‘Recalibrate this Dyson sphere!’ ‘Travel back in time to kill the guy who was worse than Hitler!'” He wants to work on an unimportant ship where nothing ever happens. But Rutherford recorded his entire speech with his cyborg implant, and they manage to blackmail Docent into deleting the transfer order and giving them a couple T88s.
Meanwhile on the platform, Barbara and Mariner aren’t fighting anymore and are instead swapping embarrassing stories about Boimler. Barbara finally consents to getting scanned, and she comes up parasite-free. However, they do detect a parasite on… Boimler? They pull it out from under his hair, and it’s a tiny little bug that can speak English and keeps calling out to his “lover”. This parasite uses chemicals to make its host sexually irresistible, thus explaining why Barbara was attracted to him. Boimler nervously asks if they’re breaking up now, and Barbara says that’s ridiculous, because Starfleet officers aren’t ruled by their hormones, but also yes, they’re totally breaking up. Aw, sad. The end.
Next week: The crew of the Cerritos is excited about a… big cargo container floating in space. Well, after six whole episodes, ideas are gonna run thin.