Oct 14, 2020
Star Trek: Lower Decks “Envoys”
In today’s cold open, we trot out a well-worn Star Trek trope of a glowing ball of energy invading the ship, much like the alien that impregnated Troi in the Next Generation episode “The Child”. Mariner and Tendi are wheeling a pallet full of Starfleet-issue Nondescript Cylinders to storage when the creature appears before them and demands their obeisance. Thinking quickly, Mariner jumps and tackles the blue light ball, and begins shoving the ball inside an empty cylinder, promising that the creature can be used “for all kinds of cool stuff”.
The creature relents and Mariner promises to let it go if it materializes a fancy new tricorder. Because if there’s one thing that’s clearly been established about Mariner’s character by now, it’s that she’s a nerd who loves gadgets! Wait, no… the opposite of that.
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Having exhausted most of its energy making the tricorder, the now-tiny ball charges at Captain Freeman with a cry of “Die, mortal!” and either possesses her in the style of “Power Play” or is smashed to bits and killed. It’s not clear which.
After that pointless exchange, Mariner and Tendi are down in some huge room of indeterminate purpose, watching YouTube fail compilations when Boimler struts down and boasts that he just got an assignment to pilot a shuttlecraft for K’orin, a decorated Klingon warrior. The jaded Mariner pooh-poohs Boimler’s enthusiasm and tries to make a joke about how “all Klingon names sound pretty much the same, like they all have an apostrophe for some reason”, an observation which is not even accurate enough for joke purposes. What is the use of all the canon-obsession on this show if you’re not going to at least turn it into jokes that make sense?
After he leaves, Rutherford climbs out of a nearby Jeffries tube, boasting about having spent a solid week aligning all the EPS conduits. He’s bursting with joy and notes euphorically that now he gets to recalibrate everything. Tendi’s feelings are hurt since now he won’t get to watch a pulsar with her like he promised. To avoid disappointing Tendi, Rutherford declares he’s going to switch jobs. Like, completely switch jobs. Like, get a different career path that he didn’t go to the Academy for, and get a different shirt color and everything, because that’s apparently easier than just fucking switching a shift with someone, God.
Boimler reports for his vaunted assignment and finds Mariner in the shuttle pilot’s chair, having eaten several bowls of ramen noodles (zoink! how random!) and made a terrible mess. She pulled some strings to get assigned to this flight—strings so long that Boiler is actually her co-pilot now. Because one of the things that’s been established about Mariner is that her mom, the captain, loves her and will indulge her with anything she asks. Wait, no… the opposite of that.
Boimler fumes while Mariner
evinces symptoms of severe untreated ADHD acts “quirky”.
When General K’orin shows up, Boimler attempts a courteous greeting in Klingon, while Mariner lets out a war cry and tackles him. They grapple for a little bit, Mariner pulls out her knife, holds it at K’orin’s throat, and then… they break down laughing. Apparently, they’re old friends from some unspecified earlier phase of Mariner’s life when the two did some “gray ops” together. Soon they’re laughing and drinking bloodwine, and a drunken K’orin asks Boimler to land in the Klingon quarter of their destination planet so he can soak up the booze with some gagh.
By the time they land, K’orin is passed out on the floor of the shuttle. Boimler barely has time to scold Mariner for landing in an unsecured district before K’orin has stolen the shuttle. Mariner attempts to radio the ship for emergency beam-out, but if she had read the mission brief she would know that this planet has one of those convenient “atmospheric disturbances” that disrupts both comms and transporters. Boimler starts walking huffily away to find K’orin, saying they’re violating the Khitomer Accords, and name-dropping Section 31, and jeez, I really wonder what I would be thinking of all this if I were just a casual Trek watcher. They’re not even making jokes about all this stuff, just dropping names, supposedly in an effort to be as opaque as possible to anyone without enough geek merit badges.
They track K’orin through a Klingon district and begin a retread of last week’s plot where Boimler is a bookish doink who screws everything up and the streetwise Mariner is always correct and on top of things. Boimler bumps into a huge alien, infuriates him by butchering his language while trying to apologize, and Mariner has to save the day by scooping up his wallet and throwing it far away.
Meanwhile, back on the USS Cerritos, Rutherford tells his boss he wants to quit. The boss looks like he’s going to be mad, but instead congratulates Rutherford on his new career endeavors. Soon Rutherford has changed into a red shirt and is now being ushered by Commander Ransom into a command training program on the holodeck. His inept leadership destroys the ship in the simulation in seconds. Ransom loads up a simpler training program, and Rutherford steers the ship into an asteroid, which takes out both the ship’s kindergarten and the preschool, ejecting every child on the ship into space. Okay, that was funny. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been watching Star Trek and been like “why are children allowed on starships?” More of this kind of thing, please.
Ransom takes Rutherford somberly by the shoulder. “In thousands of simulations, that’s literally never happened,” he reports. “Now let’s try it on another ship, with even more children!”
Back on the planet, Boimler is moaning about the fact that his regulation-memorizing suckupitude is constantly getting schooled by Mariner’s magical ability to have already had some sexy adventure that’s relevant to whatever situation they get into. She leaves him to go tinkle, and Boimler sits down by a giant statue of a horga’hn. A woman in a red sarong immediately sidles up to him and intimates that she can read his thoughts and she knows he desires jamaharon. Wait, so this sort of thing happens on planets that aren’t Risa? She’s about to kiss him when Mariner sprays the woman off with a hose. She says the creature is an Anabaj, which draws in weak-minded people and implants eggs in their throats. She knows this because she “kinda dated one once, but only to make my mom mad.”
Rutherford has a blue shirt on now, and is helping Dr. T’ana in sickbay. Tendi is with him (the show can’t seem to decide whether she’s a doctor or a scientist). His engineering skills transfer well to patching up bodies, but his bedside manner needs work, as T’ana discovers when she tells him to talk to a guy and take his mind off his probable mortality: “Think about work. Think about the warp core.” “I got burned in the warp core!” “Those are dilithium burns? How are you still alive?”
The next career path Rutherford tries is security, under the supervision of Chief of Security Shaxs (veteran voice actor Fred Tatasciore). Shaxs loads up a simulation called “Smorgasborg” and at least a dozen Borg drones appear and attempt to assimilate Rutherford. He realizes he can use his cyborg implant to compute an optimal combat strategy, and then just sits back and lets the robot part of his brain direct all his movements. An amazed Shaxs accepts him into Security immediately.
On the planet, they’ve tracked K’orin to a bar in the Andorian quarter. Boimler sees some people beating up an old Andorian man and intervenes; the old man, however, is a shapeshifting thief (and the shapeshifter appears to be a Vendorian, previously seen in the TAS episode “The Survivor”). The suspicious Andorians conclude Boimler must be in league with the thief. This precipitates a bar fight that Mariner breaks up with “Kirk hands” and soothes tempers by buying some rounds with money she stole from the big blue alien.
Rutherford, meanwhile, is being introduced to his fellow security team members by Shaxs; as Shaxs is giving his welcome speech, Rutherford spies a gleaming, inviting Jeffries tube. He sighs and tells Shaxs that he can’t accept the new posting, because his heart’s in Engineering. Shaxs looks like he’s going to be mad, but ends up congratulating Rutherford for following his heart. It’s not so much a callback as just the same joke done twice.
Boimler is totally despondent now, humiliated after being out-Starfleeted by the slacker jerkoff Mariner time and again today, and he vows that when he gets back to the Cerritos he’s just going to give up and study bugs on a far-off planet. This means it’s time for Mariner to get her comeuppance, which she does when a Ferengi shows up and offers to give the two a ride. Mariner misidentifies the Ferengi as a Bolian and takes up his offer; Boimler, well-informed on the inherent shiftiness of the Ferengi, calls his bluff. The Ferengi pulls a knife at being exposed, and Boimler wards him off with a phaser, shooing him away like an animal.
Shortly after this, they discover their shuttle parked on the steps of the Federation embassy with K’orin snoozing inside. They grab him and leave him at the front door; he vomits on a Federation diplomat who informs him he’s just in time for the peace talks. Gotta love that “adult” “humor”!
Despite telling Mariner he wouldn’t reveal her blonde moment, of course that toad Boimler tells an entire crowded bar the story of how Mariner misidentified a Ferengi. Mariner pretends to be irritated and retires, going back to her bunk to call Quimp the Ferengi to thank him for his stellar performance.
I sure didn’t see that one coming! (Full disclosure, I’ve never watched a TV show before.) Back at the bar, Rutherford admits to Tendi that he can’t give up the engineering life, and Tendi says that’s fine, because she’ll just take a PADD down into the tubes and watch the pulsar with him. “It’s not like you were trying out all those different jobs just to hang with me, right?” she asks, and he says “Ha, ha, ha, no” even though he said earlier that that was why he was doing it! I cannot get over how lazy this show is.
Well, glad that’s over. Come back next week for “Temporal Edict”. Or don’t. Couldn’t blame you.