Star Trek: Lower Decks – 07 – Boim Us Outta Here!

Tendi has science’d-up the ultimate dog that is more than a dog (a la The Thing and with shades of TNG’s “Aquiel”). Captain Freeman, Ransom and Shaxs go on a super-covert mission (a la “Chain of Command”). Rutherford’s experiments in raising the ship’s transport speed results in Boimler shifting out of phase (like Geordi and Ro in “The Next Phase”).

Star Trek: Lower Decks is proud of its encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise, and not afraid of mixing and matching a variety of references to past series and films and putting just enough of a twist on them different and say something new about the characters of this show, while crafting a story that, while ridiculous and weird, probably works even for those uninitiated in All [Good] Things Trek.

Fellow Trek maniacs Mike and Rich Evans over at RedLetterMedia recently listed their favorite TNG episodes, and “Chain of Command” is one of them because, in part, it totally subverts the “crew having to pull together to foil the evil outsider captain” trope. Captain Jellico isn’t a bad captain, he just does things differently than Picard. It ends up painting Riker in a particularly bad light—a pretty bold move for TNG!

Anywho, in “Much Ado About Boimler” the replacement captain is Ramsay, a good friend and academy classmate of Mariner’s. Seeing those four pips on young Ramsay’s collar is a wonderfully simple and effective symbol of Mariner’s wasted potential—she really should be a captain by now!

Meanwhile Boimler, so eager to impress the new captain, ends up being ordered off the bridge since a side-effect of his phasing issue is an extremely loud transporter droning sound. In a break from usual Trek routine of the ship’s doctor finding a cure to a crewman’s unusual malady, Boimler is transferred to Division 14, a shadowy Section 31-like Starfleet org focused on, among other things, medical oddities.

Mariner and Ramsay are super chummy at first, but as Ramsay witnesses Mariner continually slacking off or performing simple duties sloppily, the act gets old fast. That applies when they’re on a second-contact mission to fix some alien water filtration system, and when they encounter their sister ship Rebidoux to be infected by some kind of parasitic alien.

Since The Dog Tendi made is also of interest to Division 14, Tendi accompanies Boimler aboard the division’s super-sleek experimental ship en route to a facility ominously called “The Farm.” Once aboard they encounter a veritable freakshow of Starfleet officers having suffered all manner of space diseases and mishaps.

When power is restored to the derelict Rebidoux, the alien awakens and the very seams of the ship start coming apart. Mariner drops her slacker act and suddenly becomes competent, which irks Ramsay even more because it’s clear now that Mariner was looking bad on purpose so Ramsay wouldn’t recommend her for a transfer and promotion to the Oakland.

While Ramsay is understandably pissed by seeing how low her former elite classmate, the one everyone thought would make captain first, has fallen, Mariner also doesn’t like how captaincy has changed her friend. Both have valid points, though it’s really hard to argue Mariner shouldn’t still be an ensign!

While the other Starfleet officers aboard the Division 14 ship are convinced the ship itself is “The Farm” and they’re being held there because they’re “inconvenient” to Starfleet’s veneer of perfection, the truth is “The Farm” is a real paradise planet, and it’s spectacular, while the division chief is just a little eccentric and has a sinister laugh you shouldn’t read too much into.

Tendi says goodbye to The Dog, who gets up on hind legs, says goodbye back, then flies away. Turns out Tendi, who after all isn’t human, had a lot of misconceptions about what a dog could and should do. As for Boimler, the phasing issue wears off, so he is no longer welcome at The Farm and its sensual massages.

Mariner and Ramsay may not be the happiest about how their friend turned out, but the two work together to save the Rebidoux crew as well as their away team. That said, they’re ultimately saved by Rutherford’s upgraded transporter. Everyone ends up suffering the same phasing issue as Boimler, but they don’t care; they’re alive, and it will wear off.

Finally, the alien itself doesn’t kill anyone, and isn’t evil at all! Indeed, it emerges from the absorbed matter of the Rebidoux as a jellyfish-like space-dwelling alien very similar to those first discovered in the TNG pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint”.

Harkening back to a 90-minute episode that aired back in 1987, it’s amazing to see how Star Trek has evolved with the times. By modern standards, quite a few episodes of the previous series (particularly the original) feel glacially long and stretched out. In contrast, I honestly don’t think I’d be able to tolerate an entire hour of Lower Deck’s energy and pace. Twenty-five minutes is the ideal length.

After Mariner showed what’s she’s truly made of on the Rebidoux, Ramsay’s promotion and transfer offer are still on the table. Mariner is flattered and grateful, but ultimately declines. She may have the ability to be a captain someday, but right now she’s happy where she is, where she can still figure out what she wants. In this regard she’s much like Riker, who passed up many a command because he loved the Enterprise and his family.

Stray Observations:

  • Mariner mentions “phase coils” as the kind of nonsense Captains often mention to their subordinates. Coils of one kind or another are omnipresent in Trek technobabble.
  • Tendi calling her dog “The Dog” may be a reference to people often calling Wesley Crusher “The Boy” on TNG.
  • It’s always fun to see alternate Starfleet uniforms broken out, and here we see Starfleet waders for the first time!
  • The Division 14 ship is a veritable smorgasbord of references, none more iconic than the crewman in the same beeping wheelchair as Captain Pike in TOS’s “The Menagerie”.
  • I love how the senior officers’ secret covert mission involves…planting a plant, when given the go-ahead.

Dimension W – 12 (Fin)

dw121

I’ll be honest: I came into the DW finale with a “Let’s just get this over with” attitude. While initially promising, the Easter Island arc to close the show ended up repeating and amplifying the issues I had with the Haunted Mansion arc. In hindsight, I should have dropped the show then.

Over-stuffed with characters, plot points, explanations and contrivances, all surrounding an item—Genesis—that has no limits or boundaries to what it can do, Dimension W was just the latest demonstration that more is usually not more. More is meh. Cavalierly throw too much crap and I stop caring—and I stopped caring long ago.

dw122

But I got this far, so yeah, let’s get this over with. The big crucial memory Kyouma needed Mira to go into his head and “trace his memories” (what does that even mean?) is that when he had a chance to save Miyabi with Genesis, he didn’t. Instead, he destroyed it, and she died, perhaps to save the world from a cataclyism that would have resulted from its use. It’s the classic “too powerful for anyone’s hands” concept.

dw123

Haruka Seameyer, the most horrendously irritating villain I’ve come across in a good long while, wants that Genesis coil bad, but along the way offers Loser a chance to come over to his side (what side that is, why, or why in God’s name Loser would agree to that are all beside the point). When Loser refuses, Seameyer attacks him with his weird and pointless “Sophia Corpse-Bot”, which can morph into Sophia’s original human form.

Seameyer then turns his attention on Mira, who after the tracing is trying to get as far away from Kyouma since her coil is going critical. He considers using her to make improvements to his body, but Kyouma shows up to rescue her and ruin Seameyer’s day (which I’m all for) by telling him Genesis is gone.

With the help of Loo, the siblings, etc., they unearth a “particle accelerator” coil to tie up Seameyer’s monster, because all these characters need something to do.

dw124

Seameyer fumes and screams a lot, but Kyouma tells him to chill; nothing that happened is pointless; after all, because Miyabi died he has Mira as a friend and partner.

He tells Seameyer to go willingly into the “sea of possibility”, because even his future may not be as bad as he imagines. Of course, it sure looks like Seameyer is being swallowed up into oblivion, so I’m not sure what Kyouma’s on about…but I get his point about Mira…and I’m glad he gets it.

With the expulsion of Seameyer and closing of the gate, the island returns to a state of stability, and flowers start to bloom. Everyone returns to their lives, which for Kyouma is continuing his collector work with Mira as his official full-time partner.

As per usual, the nice Kyouma/Mira stuff saved the episode. If nothing else, I enjoyed the evolution of their relationship and where it ended up. But this arc was hampered by some serious restraint and focus problems.

6_ses

Dimension W – 11

dw111

With KK captured, Yuri neutralized, and Chrysler disabled by Loser, one would hope things would start to simplify towards the end, but this second-to-last episode does not comply with that hope.

Rather, it is very quickly descending into the anime version of tl;dr: tc;dc, or too complicated; don’t care. No one can say DW doesn’t have enough stuff going on in the frame, but the problem is so little of it matters; it’s all had a numbing effect on me.

dw112

I’m glad the surviving collectors are more or less working together now, or at least looking out for each other, but there are still way too many of them and I simply don’t care about the vast majority of them.

Another problem is that as our people draw closer to the story’s conclusion, the general nebulousness and wishy-washy technobabble-as-plot becomes more exposed and more problematic.

dw113

There’s plenty of cool imagery and action, but this episode was often choked with lengthy explanations from all sides. At some point it all kinda sounds the same and becomes a sparkly-yet-muddled mess.

The fact that Kyouma and Mira are able to enter and observe Loser’s memories of the events that led up to the calamity on the island lose a lot of their gravity due to the utterly boring, shallow, generic mad scientisty evil of Seameyer.

dw114

Seameyer’s evil and cruel for the sake of evil and cruelty, and it doesn’t elicit much more than an apathetic shrug. And we know even if he (and the giant robo-monster he somehow turned Sophia into…don’t even ask) are defeated, the bigger problem of what to do about the Genesis coil is the true conflict here. Seameyer is just taking up space.

But the thing is, Genesis is even more generic and nondescript as Seameyer. At least he has some semblance of a personality (he’s a dick); Genesis is naught but an all-powerful MacGuffin; a Holy Grail/God Machine that isn’t safe in anyone’s hands.

I regret to report that my enthusiasm for Dimension W, and my optimism for a strong finale, have dwindled significantly in this, the home stretch, but I’ll watch it to completion nonetheless.

5_ses