Reuniting with an old friend asks some introspective questions of Ensign Mariner.

Reuniting with an outdated pal asks some introspective questions of Ensign Mariner.
Picture: CBS

Seven episodes into Star Trek: Lower Decks, the present has discovered itself in a snug, if at times frustrating, groove. We have now a plot for one half of our Lower Deckers, we’ve a subplot for the opposite, and in each, there are many enjoyable trope poking. It’s all very earnest and foolish enjoyable. However this week, because the present enters is first season endgame, it asks if it’s actually discovered itself but.

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Illustration: Jim Cooke

“A lot Ado About Boimler” surprisingly mixes issues up by pushing our favourite Starfleet dweeb away from Mariner’s facet and into the subplot of the week alongside Rutherford and, notably, Tendi. She by accident creates a…very weird approximation of a canine (known as, splendidly, The Canine), for a undertaking, and Boimler—due to serving to out Rutherford in a undertaking of his personal—finds himself partially phased after a transporter malfunction. Because of this, the duo discover themselves being carted off to Starfleet’s “Division 14.”

It’s a piece that’s a suitably mysterious enclave, the division that investigates science mysteries and the sorts of ugly mishaps that may solely occur aboard a Starfleet vessel—like partially-temporally-displaced officers who’ve one half of themselves getting older, and one other de-aging, or, say, that poor Lieutenant in TNG who partially phased by way of the deck of the Enterprise that one time. As we’ve come to count on from this present, it’s the subplot the place Decrease Decks will get to gleefully riff on Star Trek’s previous, poking a thumb in any respect the bizarre nonsense that may occur on a Trek vessel. It does so with aplomb, weaving it round one other favourite Trek trope, investigating the mysterious utopia that is probably not what it appears—on this case, Division 14’s supposed R&R/analysis base, “The Farm.”

It’s all effectively and good, and if this was all there was to the episode it’d be as superb for example of the present’s current consolation zone persevering with unabated—even perhaps higher, contemplating it lastly let Tendi, and to a lesser extent Rutherford, work together with folks that aren’t simply one another. However what elevates “A lot Ado About Boimler” is that, regardless of that title, it’s not really about Boimler’s glowy-blue predicament. He’s the B-Plot for as soon as. The A-plot is definitely about Mariner, and options a few of the most honest character work the present has dived into for the reason that glorious Mariner/Captain Freeman team up in “Moist Vessel.”

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Picture: CBS

Whereas Brad and Tendi are off with Division 14 and Rutherford is…protecting quiet for by accident phasing considered one of his mates, Mariner is left to cope with the Cerritos being assigned a brief Captain, whereas Freeman, Ransom, and Shaxs are on a crucial seed supply mission. Mariner, being Mariner, assumes the temp Captain shall be some stuffy blowhard, however is sideswiped by the revelation that it’s Amina Ramsey (visitor star Toks Olagundoye), an outdated academy pal she graduated with. Seems, she’s not fairly the identical person who Mariner partied round with again within the day.

Whereas Mariner has spent her post-Academy profession transferring up and down Starfleet’s ranks, Ramsey has made a reputation for herself aboard the united statesS. Oakland. She’s a Captain, she has her personal bridge crew which can be about as severely Bridge-Crew-y as a bridge crew can get. She clearly loves all of the facets of her job, contemplating she’s not solely superb taking up non permanent responsibility aboard the Cerritos, however excited to assist set up water filters on a swampy-ass swamp planet. If there have been a foil to the masks that Mariner places on as this disaffected, disorderly ensign, skirting the principles and shirking off obligations, Ramsey is the calm, collected mirror.

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Picture: CBS

That reality fully undoes Mariner over the course of the episode. As the 2 gleefully reminisce about their partying days collectively at Starfleet Academy, Mariner is rapidly and starkly reminded that Amina has achieved some rising up that she has but to actually do. It’s a revelation that sees her uncovered and with out her normal confidence. That distanced, too-cool-for-spaceship-school persona shatters: she messes up easy stuff on the mission that almost creates a significant drawback, incomes Ramsey and her group’s ire however extra potently, the interim Captain’s disappointment. As a result of the truth that Amina is aware of—and we because the viewers have come to know—that Mariner is definitely actually rattling good at her job, and loves doing it, raises some powerful questions between the 2.

These questions come to a head when a extra critical emergency arises, and Ramsey is compelled to divert the Cerritos to a rescue mission to avoid wasting the crew of the united statesS. Rubidoux from a wierd creature tearing the ship’s energy circuits aside. Mariner retains dropping her cool and being a klutz, at a time when she actually can’t afford to be, and Ramsey’s disappointment rapidly turns to frustration. However when the stakes aboard the Rubidoux develop into deadly, the 2 come into lockstep, main its crew to security. The instant character change leads Ramsey to ask the query that actually shakes Mariner up: she is aware of that Ramsey was going to supply her a promotion to affix her crew aboard the Oakland, so why did she intentionally sabotage herself?

Mariner can’t afford to really reply the query till the day is saved, due to some last-minute ingenuity on her personal half, largely as a result of she’s busy attempting to each be proper regardless of herself and likewise not get everybody killed. However when the mud is settled and the Rubidoux’s crew is saved, she lastly admits that she actually does need to rank up and take command, to do the issues she’s seen Ramsey doing, however she doesn’t really feel like she’s there but. The consolation zone of placing on her distanced persona to masquerade her excellent competence offers her the house to search out out actually who she is as an individual earlier than she will belief herself to have the lives of others in her fingers as a commanding officer.

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Picture: CBS

It’s a personality beat that wouldn’t have labored if Decrease Decks was the serialized, sitcom-style comedy some thought it could be coming into the sequence. However as a result of we’ve seen Mariner be the vector for the present’s comedy and its reminder that, as foolish as issues can get, these characters are nonetheless tried-and-true Starfleet officers, residing the Star Trek life and being good at it, it’s a second of great stakes and growth that really feels earned.

It has been, for probably the most half, an absolute pleasure to look at Decrease Decks stroll a intelligent stability between earnestly loving being part of Star Trek—celebrating the types of tales the franchise has instructed for many years—whereas additionally playfully riffing on simply what number of instances it’s instructed these tales. However as we draw nearer to the top of the primary season, it’s setting the stage for some reflection and introspection for arguably its important character—a reckoning that might have some fascinating impacts on the present going ahead, if it pivots to taking itself a little bit extra severely.


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Author

James Whitbrook on io9, shared by Kaitlyn Jakola to Gizmodo