Star Trek: Lower Decks: Much Ado About Boimler
September 17, 2020 7:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Did you have that friend from school who ended up doing a lot better than you did? Mariner's got one of those. (At least one, now, that we know of.) And we find out what happens to the weird science accident victims that Starfleet's miracle medicine can't fix...

Memory Alpha updated the dog:

- This episode is the twelfth episode or film to feature the name of a character played by a member of the series' regular cast in its title, in this case, the name of Brad Boimler. Previous characters with episode titles include: Spock (TOS: "Spock's Brain"; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Data (TNG: "Datalore", "Elementary, Dear Data", "Data's Day", "A Fistful of Datas"), Deanna Troi (TNG: "Ménage à Troi"), Jadzia Dax (DS9: "Dax"), Quark (DS9: "The House of Quark"), and Julian Bashir (DS9: "Our Man Bashir", "Doctor Bashir, I Presume").

- This is the first episode to feature the "space vessel lifeform" since their introduction in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint". It was also the first appearance of an Edosian since TAS: "The Counter-Clock Incident".

"Dude, what is wrong with you?"
"Nothing. I'm just phasing. No biggie."
"Disagree. Kind of a biggie."

- Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler

Poster's Log:

This whole episode is kind of a biggie, as it breaks with the pattern that we've seen in most of the LoDe eps, that the Command Kids (Mariner and Boimler) generally have the A plot and Rutherford and Tendi get the B plot. Here, the A plot is mostly Mariner, Boimler joins Tendi in the B plot, and Rutherford is mostly off-screen, probably trying to fix whatever he did with the suspiciously The Fly-looking experimental transporter. The A plot is pretty straightforward, as described above the cut; Ramsey is wondering why Mariner isn't the big deal that she seemed to be heading toward in the Academy. (Again, I'm wondering how old Mariner is; her former classmate's a captain, and even though we've seen some pretty young captains (most notoriously, the Kelvin timeline Kirk), I think that that's rare.) If they really wanted to do something interesting with the character, they could have Mariner leave Starfleet, at least for a while.

The real treat, though, is the B plot, both with Tendi's The Dog (who occasionally seems to edge into The Thing territory, speaking of classic SF/horror movies) and with phased Boimler encountering Division 14, which seems determined to out-sinister Section 31. Tons of easter eggs there; even the black half-capes that the D14 staff wear is a sort of call-back to the capes that military nurses used to wear. I was a little disappointed that the salamander dude wasn't called "Bob Janeway-Paris", but maybe that would have been too obviously lampshading the joke. Also a pity that Starfleet hasn't completely eliminated the delta radiation leak problem.

Other bits: Jennifer Hale VAs The Dog and Durga; I know her mostly from Mass Effect, but she also played Jerry's tri-breasted alien warrior girlfriend from the Rick and Morty episode "The ABCs of Beth." Speaking of the temp crew: is the death-metal-looking guy from a known species, or can we assume that he's one of Jaylah's people? Also, speaking of the temp crew, not only is Jellico from the TNG two-parter "Chain of Command" name-checked, but the black ops leotard outfits from that episode are used here; they also show up in the next episode preview. Cool, cool.

Poster's Log, supplemental: My parents got us kids baby ducks for Easter once, and after one of them was killed by a neighbor dog (or maybe because my parents reconsidered the wisdom of having half-a-dozen ducks running around our yard), they got taken out to a farm in the country. (Although we lived in farm country, so it could have been real; I guess that, these decades past, I Want to Believe.)

Poster'sPlayer's Log, supplemental: Hey, I just got a coupon for a T6 ship in Star Trek Online, does anyone have any suggestions for what to get? It doesn't apply to some of the newer ones, but I was looking at some of the Temporal ships, and since my character is a TOS-origin character that got shifted forward in time, it seemed appropriate, plus the Temporal T6s look pretty cool.

io9 review: Star Trek: Lower Decks Took a Serious Turn, and Really Earned It
posted by Halloween Jack (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
is the death-metal-looking guy from a known species

MA calls him a Rigellian.

Super happy to see the evil-sounding Edosian guy from Division 14.

Something I noticed for the first time - there's a sting in the opening score (right around the time the Borg ship fires on the Cerritos) that's straight out of the starship porn sequence from TMP (just before the shuttle carrying Kirk and Scotty docks with the Enterprise).
posted by hanov3r at 10:09 AM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

He’s a Rigelian, not a Rigellian.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

He's the most metal Rigelian ever, then.

Was that Maurice Lemarche as the D14 captain? Definitely a familiar voice, and IMDb lists him in this one, but not which role.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:38 AM on September 18, 2020

Re: Captain Ramsey’s age: If they had made her a commander, not a captain, it would probably be a little more believable, and I think she still would have been the ranking officer on board.

Also: is that a Cardassian Starfleet member?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:08 AM on September 18, 2020

He's probably Napean.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:34 AM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing Mariner is probably in her early 30s? Everyone seems to regard the fact she's still an ensign as unusual. In "Tapestry" I recall Blue Shirt Picard as having tapped out his career a mere half-pip above ensign. He was described as particularly risk-averse and mediocre in that timeline, unlike Mariner, and nobody seemed overly concerned with why he wasn't advancing, unlike Mariner. So I think it's more a Mariner thing than a Starfleet thing.

Observations as a Submariner:
- At the beginning of the episode, everyone is laying in their bunks. Generally, it's bad form to lay in your bunk in uniform. This is officially against the rules, but also the last thing you want to do is get dirt from your work day in your nice clean bunk. You usually strip down to skivvies when it's time to get some sleep, or even if you just want to lay down for a while. There are some rare instances when you're either only sleeping for a short time (like if you have a nighttime watch to stand in port) or if you expect to be woken up soon (you're getting some shuteye before the upcoming drill period) where you might keep your uniform on. Even in these cases, however, only a total monster would sleep in their boots. We must maintain some standards.
- Speaking of bunks, it's extremely disconcerting to me personally that there seems to be no options for privacy. Come on, guys, this is the 24th century. You're telling me there's no soundproof material that can separate you from the rest of the world while you sleep? We had nice thick curtains that cut down on noise and also let you have your rack light on without shining on the rest of your bunkmates. Also, the total lack of bedding is kinda weird. Not even a blanket? I feel like they designed the bunk hallway based on like three pictures of Navy racks and never talked to anyone about how they're actually used. On ship, your rack is literally the only place you're guaranteed privacy, and these spaces are well defended as such. When not in use they look much like they do in the show, triced up and ready for display, but in use they become private cocoons and often the only spot folks can really relax.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:11 PM on September 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

The bedding situation in the franchise has always seemed not-great, as in "there must be some kind of miracle substance in their bedding material that makes it way more comfortable than it looks, because it doesn't look comfortable at all." The sick bay beds are even worse.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:26 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

So, was Mariner consciously and intentionally screwing up, or was her subconscious fear of taking on more responsibility leading her to make mistakes?

I feel like the show tells us its the former, and I hate that explanation. I know it's just a silly animated comedy, but it implies that she was being dangerously incompetent and putting people's lives in danger on purpose. If it's the latter I have less of an issue with it.

Honestly, I was hoping that the actual explanation was that Mariner wasn't actually as hyper-competent as we've been told she is, at least not compared to people who actually give a shit like Captain Ramsey and her crew. That felt much more realistic to me and more in line with the big-talking "I could do it if I wanted to, I just don't" Mariner types I've known in real life. But that's not this show.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:56 PM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

I don't think that she was consciously screwing up, I think that she was still locked in the mode that she usually operates in when she's being commanded by her mom. It's not terribly mature, but it amounted to forgetting the tricorders, pressing the wrong button on the bridge, and messing up (initially) with the gravity boots.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:54 PM on September 19, 2020

Halloween Jack, you didn't mention what class character you play, but the Paladin Temporal Battlecruiser is a lot of fun, and you can unlock a skin for it that is one of the best modern creations using TOS aesthetics, the Ranger class, though it's not free to do so, unfortunately.  The ship's a lot more nimble than most engineering ships, yet not nearly as squishy as an escort or science vessel.

If you're Tactical or Engineer, or play those styles, it's got a lot of extended playability.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:53 PM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Aww, I already got the Ouroboros-class Temporal Raider with my token. But that Paladin is tempting, and the Temporal Agent Starter Pack throws in an original Constitution-class cruiser and the ripped TOS uniform, gotta love that!
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:46 PM on September 21, 2020

Does anyone else think the premise of the Osler - or at least, what we're led to assume is going on with it - is reminiscent of 'The Discarded', an episode of the short-lived anthology series Masters of Science Fiction? That featured a spaceship of exiled mutants and, in a Trek connection, was directed by Jonathan Frakes and introduced by Stephen Hawking, who famously was the only person ever to star as (a hologram of) himself in any incarnation of Trek.
posted by Major Clanger at 6:44 AM on September 22, 2020

(And I neglected the other big Trek connection: 'The Discarded' was written by Harlan Ellison, based on one of his short stories.)
posted by Major Clanger at 6:46 AM on September 22, 2020

another adequate, moderately funny episode which lacks any connection to events from other episodes. this is currently my favorite TV show.

my big complaint so far is that from time to time, they break the rules of the sci-fi universe. no matter how weird its DNA, an earth-DNA-based animal should not be able to turn into a metal cube. but, that visual gag was pretty funny. not sure whether laughter or pedantry wins out here.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:13 PM on September 22, 2020

Maybe it's still biological but appears to be a metal cube as camouflage.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:25 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I just want to honor the writers' commitment to the ongoing California gag. All the ships (and various other things) are named after small California cities, mostly around LA. Mocking the way TOS was always filmed on Planet Southern California. Every time they say Cerritos I giggle. But Rubidoux is a pretty deep cut, I had to look it up.
posted by Nelson at 9:07 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Including a ship named the Vancouver suggests to me that they're mocking pop culture a little more broadly than just TOS.

I laughed out loud multiple times during this one. The serious and comedic aspects were really well-balanced here, and I liked that the comedy didn't take place at the expense of any of the characters (with the exception of Tendi knowing nothing about dogs)

I'm not sure if any of the turns were taken deliberately, but oh my god, I'm glad that Boimler's starting to be likable, and that Mariner's character actually has some depth -- yes, she's a competent slacker with good street smarts (not unlike, say, Kirk), but there actually seems to be a bit more going on.
posted by schmod at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2020

This is definitely an instance of an early episode when the show was good but hadn't quite reached great yet (though if you're on your first watch through and reading this, it gets there. Oh my god does it get there.) I agree whole-heartedly with Ian A.T. that Mariner sandbagging herself intentionally feels like a cheat, and pretty badly undercuts some real-ass moments from prior to that reveal. I think another pass or two at the story stage could have made it work that running into Ramsay again gave Mariner the yips, so to speak, and still tied that into Mariner not being sure if she wants to ever rank up but still being able to snap back into herself when the moment called for it. What we got was neither here nor there and feels mostly like a missed opportunity for a great character moment (made worse by the fact that the groundwork for that character moment had been laid really well prior to the reveal.)

Tendi doesn't get a ton to do here (and Rutherford almost nothing, though I guess he technically saves the day at the end) but Tendi creating The Dog is a huge moment in defining her character, and is endlessly wonderful. I love love love that The Dog is a complete horrowshow rendered in the visual language of horror movies, but is still always a good, good dog. Boimler going to the Edosian Captain of the Osler with the mutiny, explicitly just trying to avoid a catastrophe and get people to work things out, and the Captain dropping the dime on him as hard as possible, was hilarious. Ultimately, this is one of the more forgettable episodes, but it gives us The Dog, which makes it work for me.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:36 AM on August 7, 2023

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