"Star Trek: Lower Decks" Season Two Talkback (Spoilers)

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
Framingham, MA
Star Trek: Lower Decks "Strange Energies"

The is the first time we've seen the Cardassians in the modern era (even if they were only holograms). Also pretty sure a Jem'Hadar ship was in the mix. That should have told us right away it wasn't real (besides Boimler claiming to be a hologram).

The story was only okay but I liked the references to Gary Mitchell.

Riker's appearance at the end was a nice surprise.

Decent opener. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "Kayshon, His Eyes Open"

That was pretty awesome. I love that there is now a Tamaranian in Starfleet.

Boimler describing the Titan as a bunch of action-packed serialized adventures is a very nice dig at Star Trek: Discovery. As a sci-fi show, Discovery is pretty great. As a Star Trek show, it's all wrong.

For one thing it is nowhere NEAR as slavish to the continuity as this is. Riker actually brings up "Night Bird" which is like the deepest Next Gen cut ever. I also like that Thomas Riker is mentioned. I hope the franchise does something new with that character. It never sat right with me that he went to a Cardassian prison camp and we never heard from him again.

The Titan crew making fun of the string quartet on the Enterprise-D is a fair way to say that as flawed as Discovery is as far as Star Trek goes, Next Generation and the earlier shows weren't at all perfect in portraying humanity. That string quartet stuff was outright insufferable, and I appreciated it getting rightfully dragged here.

Boimler's double sucking up by deciding to go by William now is absolutely brilliant. That was pretty much his best career move ever.

It's cool that it DOES look like the Pakleds are going to be the Big Bads of the series. I loved that idea last year and I'm glad it hasn't been forgotten.

Really great episode. ****1/2.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "We'll Always Have Tom Paris"

Even in season 2, I still don't like the modern dialogue. The first five Star Trek series took great pains to not use "trendy" dialogue so as not to pin the future down to existing during the same era the show was produced. Years from now, Lower Decks will very much be considered a show that only could have been made in the 2020's. Which is a failing.

All that being said, this episode told me something else good. The Star Trek canon is better for this show existing. Discovery messes things up. This show fixes them.

I am very, VERY pleased that this episode did the controversial thing and made Voyager's "Threshold" canon. I always thought it was beyond obnoxious that Brannon Braga asked the fans to simply ignore it and consider it non-canon. The actual correct response for the writer of that horrid episode and executive producer of the show (and an actual adult) would be a mea culpa and just asking people to move on from it. I despise Gene Roddenberry declaring parts of Star Trek V non-canon as well as the animated series. "Threshold" aired on UPN with every other Voyager episode. It cannot simply be ignored just because it's bad, and Brannon Braga is one of the worst things to ever happen to Star Trek. So this episode damned the torpedoes and made it canon once and for all. Good for the show.

I also am very glad the skeezy element from Star Trek: Enterprise about the Orion female pheromones was addressed. Another Brannon Braga era abomination that's been forgotten but is suggested is not possessed by all the females, and when females DO use it they can control it. The writer of that crappy Season 4 Enterprise episode thought they were being clever by upending everything we believed about the Orions. But instead they boxed the entire species in. Tendy is a cool character because unlike the cat doctor, she refuses to stay in the box.

Mariner was at DS9 at some point during the four years that Worf was. Sort of helps us nail down the timeline there.

I was never too impressed with Tom Paris on Voyager. I always thought he was kind of dumb. Case in point: Believing Boimler is a Kazon. How the HELL would that be possible, Tom? Honestly. What a dope.

I am not thrilled about Shax's resurrection and the non-explanation for it, but the truth is all of the original Star Trek series that have brought characters back from the dead ARE kind of shameless. The show poking fun at that is well-deserved. But that doesn't stop Shax being back being shameless itself.

This show is good for Star Trek. We very badly need it. I also don't have my heart in my throat every week worrying about what they'll retcon and mess up the way I do Discovery. This show makes the canon easier to explain and understand, which I appreciate. ****.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "Mugato, Gumato"

What a nice ending. A compromise with the Ferengi setting them up with an environmentally sound Mugato preserve. Mariner referring to "The Last Outpost" about the whips could be considered breaking the fourth wall. More likely, that's simply what the First Contact with the Ferengi is referred to as by Starfleet.

Never realized how sloppy The Original Series was with the pronunciation of "Mugato". If I had seen that episode today, I would have probably noticed it, but this show is a far better nitpicker than I could ever hope to be. It's like if Phil Farrand wrote a Star Trek show but wasn't a creepy Jesus freak on the side.

Otis is no Guinan.

Section 31 WAS appropriately mentioned by the end of the episode, and Tuvok infiltrating the Maquis was brought up too (as was the Dominion War). Also pretty sure the Mugato "expert" was a Tellarite. Quark is also explicitly name-dropped as a famous and successful Ferengi, which is something I love. Clearly the brother of the current Grand Nagus made the situation work for himself. Deepest cut from the episode was the holodeck fighting program from "The Icarus Factor" (complete with the goofy, red, armored suits). That was an awful episode, and it amuses me how often this show brings up awful episodes.

This is not my favorite Star Trek show (I like DS9, Discovery, and Picard more) but it's definitely the nerdiest. ****.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "An Embarrassment Of Dooplers"

I gotta say, out of all of the annoying Star Trek species we've come across over the decades, the Dooplers are by far the most annoying. It makes sense they are voiced by Richard Kind.

Okana got in? Outrageous! But see, I think it's also dumb to allow that specific character on the upcoming Prodigy too. Commander Shelby cameo also (although they didn't bring back Elizabth Dennehy).

I loved that Kirk and Spock went to that bar. Kirk was the one who actually drank.

I don't know what Pagh is either.

I like that Quark's seems to have turned into a quadrant-wide franchise. I also like that the Deep Space Nine model comes with a Jadzia AND an Ezri. I also like that some of those bubble bath bottles were Lores. Thems the breaks.

Cool episode. ****.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "The Spy Humongous"

Armus! Oh my God! I don't know if the show has been reading my wishlist, but I always wanted to get an update on Armus. What annoyed me most about the character (besides giving Tasha Yar a meaningless death) was how utterly pathetic he and his motives are when you cut right down to them. Out of an entire Universe to prank and troll with that specific orb, Armus was the best and most creative choice the show could have made. And that's why the show has value.

Seeing more of the Pakleds up close has made me decide that as far as Big Bad go, they are unworthy of this show, and Starfleet. But that's the entire point. If Captains Picard and Riker weren't always zooming off at the end of any given mission each week, somebody might have been able to stop these cretins before they got to where they are now. I like how underwhelming the Pakleds are because them being the Big Bads is a searing indictment of Picard and Riker.

One of the things that Gene Roddenberry would be annoyed to hear, because he always claimed differently, is that a lot of the crises on the original series and even the earlier part of Next Gen had no basis in science. Star Trek was considered by genre buffs to be pretty hardcore science fiction, and this episode using an example of fairytale characters coming alive from a magical book is precisely the kind of fantasy nonsense Star Trek used to debase itself with when it couldn't come up with a better high-concept that week. Now, it's true that specific thing wasn't done on the first two Trek series. But it's in the spirit of a LOT of the nonsense Roddenberry did back then and foolishly bragged was based on real science. Not even close.

The Red Shirts (a VERY unfortunately named group) were an interesting concept because by the end, only the leader of them believes in that nonsense anymore, and it gains him less than nothing. Everybody else looked at what Boimler did and later said and realized maybe actually working hard in Starfleet is the right way to get noticed.

Since Armus has come back, my dream return for the 24th Century and this show are the parasite Conspiracy aliens from Season One of Next Gen. It was kind of an awful episode (as well as the goriest thing Star Trek had ever done up to that point) but the cliffhanger especially annoyed me because it was teased but never gotten back to. Ever. This is the specific show I think it would be great to have those insects finally respond to the homing signal. And while we're on great concepts that were set-up and never paid off, here's hoping Prodigy brings back the Vaadwaur from Voyager at some point.

I think the best thing about these modern Star Trek cartoons is that they can play around with and explore things the live-action stuff might be reluctant to (like the Pakleds). Armus at the end shows that is a REAL selling point for Star Trek animation. ****.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie"

Good and bad. The Boimler and Mariner stuff was surprisingly solid. The stuff with Philips sucked however.

Let's start off with the evil computer. Jeffrey Combs makes his triumphant return to Star Trek in yet ANOTHER different role. And the first one he doesn't have to wear heavy make-up for. If he didn't love this role for the specific reason that it was a breeze, I'll be shocked.

I like that the episode starts off in the aftermath of an evil computer being dethroned from a primitive society, a classic Trek trope we NEVER see the actual fall-out from and clean-up of the next week. It makes the societies look extra dumb (and the episode pokes fun at that) while also suggesting this specific computer is so manipulative that it's understandable that it fools dumb people. And Boimler is usually dumb, so I was as surprised and impressed as Mariner was that he actually wasn't. Mariner is ALWAYS right, and because of that Boimler was frustrating me for the same reasons he was her. I loved that it was a long con instead, because I never suspected he had that in him.

The last shot is also great because it suggests evil computers taking over primitive planets is a HUGE problem in the Alpha Quadrant and always was.

I liked the IDEA of the Philips stuff. The Hysperians are no more of a ridiculous alien species idea than the Deltans from The Motion Picture. The idea that Philips is a prince that will be forced to resign from Starfleet if he loses his virginity is as dumb as the "sexually immature species" thing, but a lot less creepy because the Deltans are revolting if you think too hard about what a society that has sex as often as saying "Hello" actually is. The Deltans are probably all pedos and monsters. Here, the Hysperians are goofy, but probably harmless.

But what pissed me off was when it appeared Rutherford died. Because I know he didn't. So I knew it was a scam. And I was instantly mad because Tendy did not deserve to go through that grief. Very, very VERY poor choice to put Rutherford in that specific jeopardy while it was just a gag.

The show is so nerdy it remembers Data's head wasn't buried underground, but found in a cave. To be blunt, unburying it would have been more iconic and cooler, but the cave thing was needed for the time travel predestination thing to work. Whatever you want to say about "Time's Arrow", I doubt it was a two-parter that EVERYONE was happy with.

Good stuff with Jeffrey Combs. Bad stuff for poor Tendy. A push. ***.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "I, Excretus"

Cool that they got back Alice Krige for the Borg Queen. I hear Star Trek: Picard is going to recast her so it's nice this show hasn't forgotten her.

At first I thought the show messed up its continuity with the Mirror Universe scenario. At this point in time in the late 24th Century, the Terran Empire is long gone, and humans don't have that level of sadistic society while they are fighting for freedom from the Alliance. But based on the Western mission and the Spock sacrifice mission, these scenarios aren't actually specific to this time period. The different uniforms also make that clear.

Also for the record, there were no horses in "Spectre Of The Gun". That specific episode was done on a shoestring budget. The network drastically cut the budget in season three and that's partly why that season was so shaky. They couldn't even afford Western sets there, much less horses.

It was pretty good. I like that the only person doing well on the tests was Boimler. What's especially sad is that it ultimately doesn't matter (the tests were rigged). But he definitely saved the ship by keeping the test going. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "wej Duj"

I think we have a lot to talk about. Just a feeling.

The most important thing is that the Klingons ARE the Klingons again and not the grotesque monsters from Discovery and Into Darkness. This suggests Viacom buying CBS means that CBS has access to the Paramount design likenesses again. I don't know what this can mean for Discovery's future, but Star Trek: Picard's suddenly looks MUCH brighter.

Klingon Lower Decks SUCK. Although Vulcan ships aren't great either. I liked the Vulcan we were following. She may consider Starfleet a punishment but I think they will be lucky to have her. She's pretty quick-witted and can counter any hoary old Vulcan cliches with real-world logic, which is probably why she pisses everybody off. Her gut feelings out-logic the logic Vulcans have understood and practiced for centuries. The fact that's she right just pisses off the rest of the crew even more.

It's interesting we never generally saw Vulcan ships out and about on Next Generation and DS9. We really should have.

The idea that the Pakleds were being controlled by a rogue Klingon Commander makes a lot of sense. Hopefully the Cerritos meeting with the High Council will occur next week. I would very much love to see Chancellor Martok, and maybe even freaking Worf. Rogue Klingons threatening peace have ALWAYS been a problem but Gowron was sympathetic to that idea. Martok and Worf will probably nip it in the bud. If they are the ones still in charge. And the show would be crazy not to have them be.

The end credits being Borg Lower Decks was funny.

Those battles at the end were amazing. While I think DS9 and the series past it could have pulled them off, there is no way the Filmation cartoon could have come close. This may be a comedy cartoon, but I can take the visual effects seriously.

Speaking of which, the underling Klingon killing the Captain was a pretty great dramatic moment, mostly because I didn't get the sense it was being played for laughs (which it shouldn't have been). I thought that was cool and admired the series for it.

I noticed two continuity mistakes, but I won't heavily penalize them for it, because both of the things this episode contradicts have also been contradicted elsewhere.

But as far as the bright magenta Klingon blood goes, that was only present in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and used to prove that the assassin at the end was human. It existed for a story reason. Whenever Worf bled (and the dude bled a LOT) it was red. Same with Martok. Star Trek VI IS the most famous Star Trek project dealing with Klingon blood. But it is the one project inconsistent about the blood's appearance with everything else.

The other mistake could actually be considered a mistake on Deep Space Nine's end. But in the DS9 episode "The Ship" the Benzite crewperson doesn't use the famous breathing device. The Okudas speculated in The Star Trek Encyclopedia that in between the last Benzite appearance in Next Gen Season 2 and that episode, that Starfleet technology found a way for Benzites to breathe our atmosphere without them, and that was the agreed upon solution. But the air device is back here, and this episode is set after "The Ship", suggesting either this episode made a mistake, or The Ship's lack of the breathing device was ALWAYS the real mistake. To be honest, I would go with either. You cannot BELIEVE some of the more sloppy and outrageous excuses the Okudas were able to come up with in that Encyclopedia. A lot it is outright ballsy in its audacity to beggar our belief and not call them on it. I love the Okudas. But I think the worst part about the Roddenberry / Berman era of Star Trek was the inability to either admit mistakes or course correct when something didn't work. It was easier just to come up with an excuse, no matter how flimsy it sounded. Now you can argue the continuity of the first five series and ten movies is FAR more consistent and that actual explanations existed. I agree. If you asked me if those explanations were always credible, I'd have far a harder time doing so. If you asked me that despite what an utter, disastrous mess for the canon Discovery's first two seasons were, if it was actually better than most of Next Gen and ALL of Voyager and Enterprise, I'd tell you unequivocally yes, and suffer those looks of disgust from hardcore Trekkies. I think so much effort has been put into explaining why much of those first five Star Trek series didn't actually suck. I wish they had put that much effort into writing better scripts back then. In my mind, only Deep Space Nine did. And whether you want to say that Discovery and Picard are great Star Trek series or not, I would argue that (Discovery in particular) are great science fiction series. If Discovery had the exact same characters, scripts, and visual effects, but used different aliens and had no ties to Star Trek, I'd love it unreservedly. It may be a bad Star Trek show (at least for the first two seasons) but it's a great sci-fi show.

But maybe this episode saying DS9 was the one that made the mistake is the right move. The original canon wasn't perfect, and a LOT of it was sloppy. Maybe acknowledging mistakes as mistakes in hindsight instead of saying "Star Trek meant to do that" is what is called for at this point.

I said we'd have a lot to talk about didn't I? Whoo!

Great episode. *****.

Star Trek: Lower Decks "First First Contact"

I love that they actually brought back Lycia Naff as Sonia Gomez. And billed her as a special guest star to boot!

I was worried the Klingon / Pakled stuff from the last episode wouldn't be mentioned, and BAM!, it's the cliffhanger! Well played. Still hoping Worf and / or Martok show up in Season 3.

I love that the ship has dolphins for crew members. Or whales. Wasn't 100 percent on that.

I love the Captain Freeman Day thing. Because they aren't just poking fun of Captain Picard Day, they are deconstructing why it happens to begin with.

Dr. T'Ana not knowing who Jadzia Dax was sparked some outrage on my end.

The mysterious stuff Rutherford woke up to once he deleted the excess files looks juicy. Another reason to look forward to Season 3. I'm guessing we are due an appearance from Section 31.

I thought it was solid. And maybe I was a little disappointed, but maybe that's me not having proper expectations for a cartoon comedy. That's on me, not the show. ****.


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