Star Trek: Lower Decks: Terminal Provocations
September 10, 2020 7:23 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

[Note: Fletcher didn't die on the way back to his home planet.]

Memory Alpha hates you, father:

- Although most of the holodeck characters that Ensign Rutherford mentions appeared in previous holodeck stories, he also mentions a couple of characters that were not depicted on the holodeck, such as Cyrano de Bergerac and Robin Hood. These are most likely references to Reginald Barclay performing the role of Cyrano onstage in TNG: "The Nth Degree", and Captain Jean-Luc Picard's transformation into Robin Hood by Q in TNG: "Qpid".

- J.G. Hertzler is in this? As the Drookmani captain, I'm guessing?

"I can't believe I actually made eye contact with one of the Zebulon sisters! Oh God! I forgot how to breathe."
"Oh my God, and then when they added the third Chu and they were doing the Chu Chu Chu dance? They're geniuses!"

- Brad Boimler and Beckett Mariner

"Fun fact, I'm gonna rip your eyes out!"
"That fact wasn't fun!"

- Badgey and Tendi, as Badgey goes corrupt

Poster's Log:

IMO, this ep follows another venerable Trek tradition: The B Plot Is Better, Sometimes. Fletcher seems pretty obviously dropped in the plot to make some kind of screw-up that they don't want to saddle the main characters with, and that's fine, but the idea that random bits of junk strapped together gain sentience and go rampant is... a bit much? I think? There's an interesting joke/concept there that the Internet of ShitThings might result in your toaster and electric toothbrush forming a collective and deciding to go all Skynet on you, but it seemed a little "random thing goes blergh". I made the Poochie joke above as kind of a comment that Fletcher really wasn't a Poochie, even though they got rid of him with a quickness via the Second Pip of Doom. In fact, as io9 says in their review, we finally meet an ensign who actually sucks at their job. Too bad he didn't cut it on the Titan; that's the ship that Riker and Troi are running, and maybe Wesley Crusher is on there as well.

The B plot, though... do you remember Clippy? Do you still, deep in your heart, harbor hatred for the little bastard? Yeah. Tendi is kind of cute with her never having really gotten the hang of EVAs (it reminds me of Ezri Dax having a problem with space sickness), and Rutherford is kind of cute coming up with his own space walk training program (I'd think that that sort of thing would be standard already in holodeck training programs, but whatever), but Badgey... I knew that he was going to be trouble from the very moment that I saw him, and his going rampant was both hilarious and plausible. (I believe that, deep within the bowels of Windows 10, dead Clippy waits, dreaming...)

Poster's Log, supplemental: Man, poor Shaxs; he just wants to blow shit up, is that so wrong? I think that nacho cheese probably would be hard to get out of fur. I'm hoping that Delta Shift comes back as their nemeses/foils/possibly reluctant buddies. Also, Q gets name-checked a couple of times; hey, guess what?
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Jack McBrayer is a treasure.

Agree that the Fletcher plot is a little half-baked. Complete personality reversal, I guess because of the computer-interface brain zap? The initial Fletcher was a fun eager-idiot archetype but it went off on a less entertaining tangent.

Also, were there flip-style communicators in the junk? I have to know!
posted by supercres at 9:44 AM on September 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

The junked ship they were fighting over was an Antares-type freighter, first referenced in TOS:"Charlie X" but first seen in TAS:"More Tribbles, More Troubles". NCC-502, recorded on her warp nacelle, was the registry number for the USS Darius, a Saladin-class destroyer listed in the original Star Fleet Technical Manual.
posted by hanov3r at 4:20 PM on September 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

Every episode of this show has been 7/10. It’s great — it’s network television. Reliably pretty funny, no tedious mysteries. The only plot arcs are will-they-won’t-they. What a relief.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:36 PM on September 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Of course I remember Clippy. No one can forget Clippy. And as far as I'm concerned, no amount of Clippy-derision will ever be too much. Hashtag never forget.

New prediction: Frakes cameo as Captain Riker of the Titan, b/c of Boimler mentioning it as his ideal posting. Might make a good season-ending cliffhanger. Indeed, they may be saving the most high-profile guests for season 2 for all we know; from CBS's perspective, this show is a gamble.

But, as vogon_poet put it, a successful one so far. Badgey was fun, though I couldn't help feeling that the twist was a little been-there-done-that and/or not twisty enough, but I may be saying that because I watched well over half of Rick & Morty, which of course would have actually shown Badgey wearing human skin. It did get a laugh out of me when Badgey's pupils widened a la Spongebob.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:13 AM on September 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

I can't win. I liked Avenue 5 till Ethan Phillips turned up and was even more annoying than Neelix, and now you tell me Q is going to show up in this show.
posted by zadcat at 8:16 AM on September 12, 2020

Absolutely everyone (except the captain and I guess Delta shift) made the most stupid possible choice at every opportunity! That includes whoever decided that low power = keep holodeck running but disengage safeties???

I liked the previous episodes, but I don't think it's too much to expect everyone to be minimally competent and not... whatever 1980s cartoon nonsense this was.
posted by Acari at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2020

I feel like this has been the weakest episode so far. Not really for any specific reason, just that pretty much every aspect of this episode has been done before. Safety-less holodeck shenanigans are nothing new. Sure, it's a clippy analog committing graphic violence, but even that sort of character isn't entirely new to Star Trek.

Meanwhile, Fletcher's story seems pulled right from a sitcom bible. Well-meaning guy who gets in trouble and ends up in deeper trouble by covering up his earlier trouble? While our heroes try to help him out in good faith? And then it turns into fighting a weird computerized version of Fletcher? The whole thing feels like it needed another writing pass, and the whole thing felt more like what you'd see in say, Futurama or Rick and Morty.

I guess I appreciate that Boimler is generally depicted as knowing what he's doing (as long as he's on the ship), it would be easy to let him keep being the butt of every story and really cutting his likability off at the knees.

Normally I'm happy to spend time away from the bridge, but here I found the standoff between the Cerritos and the Drookmani over a junk field floating in space more interesting than either other plot. They ought to have tried catching the incoming junk with their own tractor beam and throwing it back, like a bizarre game of catch.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:51 PM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

the whole thing felt more like what you'd see in say, Futurama or Rick and Morty.

I'll be blunt and say that that's a feature, not a bug, as far as I'm concerned. And, yes, it's very sitcommy, but that's also fine as long as they stick to the situation that this particular comedy is premised on.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:01 AM on September 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

I watched the first part of this this evening and I squealed with delight when I saw Badgey. I also scared the crap out of my dad when I started laughing at the TNG references in the holodeck.
posted by kathrynm at 7:59 PM on September 16, 2020

Did Star Trek decide to dispense with lieutenants junior grade (one solid, one open) when everybody got collars?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:35 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

pretty much every aspect of this episode has been done before. Safety-less holodeck shenanigans are nothing new

Sure, but that's the whole shtick of Lower Decks. They are revisiting old tropes and squishing one hour stories into 30 minutes while highlighting the silliness of them. I think there's enough of those in Trek they may never run out but I'm a little curious to see what happens if the writers attempt something novel.
posted by Nelson at 8:05 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm starting to notice the Cerritos has red and green navlights on both port and starboard. It's really bugging me!
posted by traveler_ at 9:14 PM on October 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

The whole thing feels like it needed another writing pass
A charismatic frat bro who is loved by many, and turns into a complete monster once things stop going his way? His friends cover for him anyway, and he ends up failing upward?

Yeah, so..... unfortunately, that character might be a little too believable and on the nose.
posted by schmod at 3:49 PM on October 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am very, very late to this party but recognized Fletcher's voice and looked it up -- it's worth mentioning that Fletcher is voiced by Tim Robinson, whose I Think You Should Leave is (IMO) one of the funniest things of the past few years -- his whole deal is "white dudes with off-the-charts levels of unearned confidence operating out of their depths and ruining everything, sometimes plunging into horrifying but shallow bursts of self-recrimination."

Knowing Fletcher is essentially Hot Dog Car Guy (also, I think Boimler is Donald) after watching the episode made the whole thing so much better, to the point that I'm wondering if somebody was a Robinson fan and wrote Fletcher for him.
posted by Shepherd at 3:14 AM on May 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is one of the more forgettable episodes, to be sure, and suffers from a few issues surrounding Fletcher (even in season 1, the sixth episode is a little tough to pretend that some new dude has been there all along, and so they end up having to build him up before his meltdown, which doesn't totally connect, etc.) So yeah, not perfect.

But damn, Tim Robinson makes that character funny as hell to me. The "connected my brain to the warp core" thing is so dumb, but it's also something you can very easily imagine as an episode plot in the TNG era, just with whatever character (but let's be honest, it'd be Barclay) trying out this theory and everything going haywire from there. It'd just be played straight, and probably have a better reason behind it than "If I were smarter, I could finish this work faster, and my friends who normally keep me from being an abject idiot all the time are at the Chu-Chu Dance performance."

But also, this episode has J.G. Hertzler as the Drookmani captain, an unsung performance that just tickles me so much in how wildly unreasonable the character is while Capt. Freeman is trying to find a peaceful solution. As best as I can recall the exchange:

DROOKMANI: I thought you said this trash wasn't worth fighting over! (hurtles space-junk at the Cerritos)
FREEMAN: We're not fighting!
DROOKMANI: Avoiding taking damage IS fighting! (hurls more space-junk at the Cerritos)
FREEMAN: We can talk this out!
DROOKMANI: {bleep] You!

So congratulations to Hertzler for getting likely Star Trek's first-ever* "fuck you" and making that line reading so incredible.

*Unless there's one hidden in Disco somewhere. I just couldn't with that show.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:01 PM on June 14, 2023

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