Star Trek: Lower Decks: Veritas
September 24, 2020 7:14 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

AKA That One Trial Scene From Star Trek VI As A Whole Episode, although, shocking plot twist, [REDACTED]

You want the truth? Memory Alpha can't handle the truth!:

[incidentally, the episode summary is partially up as of this particular moment; looks like some MA editor is on the job, posting updates as they finish each section. Sweet!]

- This is the last of twelve Star Trek episodes with titles derived from Latin, in this case meaning "truth". The other episodes with Latin titles are "Dramatis Personae", "Sub Rosa", "Ex Post Facto", "Non Sequitur", "Alter Ego", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", "Terra Nova", "Vox Sola", "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", and "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2".

- Guest VAs include Kurtwood Smith (who was in STVI, as well as in other roles in the franchise) and John De Lancie (as you-know-Q).

- The "Crazy Ivan" is a reference to a) real life submarine hijinks, b) The Hunt for Red October, and/or c) Firefly.

- Roga Danar appeared in the TNG episode "The Hunted."

"I think we should do what you want to do, Captain. Captain's choice."
"I'm not asking you to kiss my ass. Come on. No wrong answers."
"Well, okay. We could do uh evasive maneuver eighty… eight?"
"Is he *bleep* serious?"

- Boimler, Carol Freeman, and T'Ana, over what course of action to take

"I need you to tell me that your senior officers are infallible heroes!"
"Well they're not, and that's okay. We all joined Starfleet to dive first into the unknown. We're explorers, of course we don't always know what's going on. Did Picard know about the Borg? Did Kirk know about that giant Spock on Phylos? Did Dr. Crusher know about that ghost in the lamp thing from the Scottish planet that she hooked up with that one time? That whole thing. You clearly want us to say that the captain and her crew messed up, but we simply don't have the full story, and that's the truth! Whatever they did, I guarantee you it was all for good. You have shown no evidence that they're guilty of a crime, in fact, I find you guilty of trying to take them down with this sham of a trial! DRUMHEAD!"

- Clar and Boimler

Poster's Log:

The alien trial is one of the franchise's most beloved cliches, popping up arguably as early as TOS' "The Corbomite Maneuver"; even though Balok wasn't in a court room, he was obviously judging the Federation as represented by the crew of the Enterprise. That the crew (or at least anyone that the audience cares about) will eventually get acquitted or pardoned or something, even if it takes a while (Kirk and McCoy in STVI, Burnham in DIS), is beside the point: you get dramatic courtroom scenes and scenery-chewing, you don't have to particularly stick to established legal principles (because aliens), and if you're lucky you get to have someone doing a big Kirk Summation or Patrick Stewart Speech [TVTropes], as Boimler does here. That it all turns out to be a big misunderstanding is not a great plot twist--LoDe used it just last ep--but it's the journey, not the destination, right?

And the big benefit of this is that it has all the Lo-Deckers in the same plot, and Tendi and Rutherford (did we know before now that his full first name was Samanthan? And is that a real name?) get the better bits IMO. Tendi had fun with the black ops squad (a minor disappointment is that we didn't see her nervously tug at her collar and reveal that she got the tattoo, too), and Rutherford's implant rebooting repeatedly due to incremental updates and his POV skipping ahead to different scenes in their mission was a decent storytelling device. And Q's cameos were funny and pointed out further the basic bogosity of the trial plot. I also liked the randomness of T'Ana getting on the wrong ship by mistake and everyone on the Alhambra being a doppelganger of the Cerritos crew, especially Pretty Shaxs.

Poster's Log, supplemental: Clickets? That's the worst alien race name since the Bringloidi. (who aren't really aliens, but anyway)
posted by Halloween Jack (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

To be honest, Roga Danar did embarrass the Enterprise-D crew by running circles around them to a degree rarely managed by anyone else, other than perhaps Data when he's run amok. He did lack Khan's charisma, however.
posted by Pryde at 9:31 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

That it all turns out to be a big misunderstanding is not a great plot twist--LoDe used it just last ep--but it's the journey, not the destination, right?

On the one hand, yeah, but on the other this is two instances of a spooky scary scenario turning out to be the exact opposite in a row, and it really lays bare how much of a contrivance it is.

It seems like the show wants to take the basic premise (Important Things are going on but we focus on the little people who have no idea) and then still show off the Important Things. I wish they had the confidence to make Seinfeld-like plots where nothing of consequence happens and it's just a bunch of folks inflating petty differences to be equal to a theoretical Important Thing happening off camera.

I understand they're working from the TNG Lower Decks mold, which very much was about an Important Thing happening off-camera that affects the people we're focusing on, but this show could be a lot more than that. Make it more about how people live in this weird utopia, and for the love of Cor Caroli tone down the constant references to past Star Trek stuff. It was cute at first but this episode really went a bit far, especially with how poorly Q was utilized.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:25 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Argh, can't believe I left off the MA link! Grr.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:10 PM on September 24, 2020

I hope next season does a better job of differentiating Tendi and Rutherford’s characters. Right now there isn’t a single appreciable difference in their personalities and I feel like their plots and even their dialogue could be swapped without anyone noticing.

I’d really be interested in hearing what the writers think the distinguishing features are between the two characters. They’re both super-competent, competitive in a good-natured way, and friendly. I suppose Tendi’s a bit more naive because she’s new? But it’s not like Rutherford is a hardened cynic.

I dunno, it’s weird.
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:22 PM on September 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

I also liked the randomness of T'Ana getting on the wrong ship by mistake

Something about that gag just cracked me up hard.

All those stupid twilight zone like episodes with no tension because you know next week's episode is going to be like last week. Only this time the explanation makes sense and everything falls into place.
posted by mark k at 3:26 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

When Rutherford rebooted the second time, the beeps at the end reminded me a bit of Mechwarrior 2
posted by mikelieman at 4:01 PM on September 24, 2020

another 7/10 episode. maybe like 7.3/10.

there are many reasonable complaints to be made but I think this is clearly the best season 1 of any Star Trek show. Odd to think about.

assuming this show runs for a while, i think it is likely that there will be an episode revisiting the Bringloidi. too terrible of an episode, tons of comedy potential even if you necessarily tone down the Irish stereotyping. per the end of "Up the Long Ladder" the state of Bringloidi society during Lower Decks time period involves some kind of outrageous polygamy scheme.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:38 PM on September 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

To be honest, Roga Danar did embarrass the Enterprise-D crew by running circles around them to a degree rarely managed by anyone else, other than perhaps Data when he's run amok. He did lack Khan's charisma, however.

Big trek fans I was watching the episode with: "Roga who?"

Me: "The only rare non aligned card from Star Trek CCG Premiere, of course, and one of the best cards overall!"

In a way it kinda mirrored the dialogue between the characters. Can tv shows be diagetic?
posted by StarkRoads at 11:16 PM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm with Mr.Encyclopedia; it's almost too obvious to state, but Q is at his best when he's unpredictable, as the last failed Q episode (DS9's "Q-Less") demonstrated. The weird chess/card game setup was cute, but the rest of it was exactly what you'd expect from a canonically-Trek comedy show.

And yeah, they crossed the red line in terms of Trek-lore jokes, though I'm willing to excuse it due to the context. (And I enjoyed the Roga Danar stuff. I just rewatched "The Hunted" and you can definitely imagine him becoming something of a folk hero in the aftermath of that episode's storyline.)

Were I showrunner, the next handful of episodes would delve further into these characters to lay the foundation for more character-based humor (the best and most enduring kind). The core four here are likeable and interesting enough to support that approach.

Kurtwood Smith nailed it, though. Perfect blend of angry-trial-alien gravitas and cartoony comedy, which isn't surprising given his résumé.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:03 AM on September 25, 2020 [3 favorites]

First Picard and now Q have returned to our screens in this most horrible year. I feel oddly blessed.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:03 AM on September 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

From the link to the Roga Danar card:

Angosian male. Biochemically altered into a formidable perfect warrior ranked Subhadar.

Sub... hadar? For a biologically engineered warrior?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:57 AM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sub... hadar? For a biologically engineered warrior?

Nice catch. Memory Alpha suggests the derivation. It could be a total coincidence, a lot of the same folks worked on both shows.

I think the writers of Lower Decks would appreciate our in-depth Danarology.
posted by StarkRoads at 1:02 PM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also, I guess this is the final step in the transmogrification of Q into Wacky Uncle Q, huh
posted by StarkRoads at 5:44 PM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

The wedding just killed me. It wasn't clever, but after the whole bit of Rutherford loosing the plot for the reboots to end up at the wedding resulted in my having to pause it for a minute so I could catch my breath.

As far as the differences between Tendi and Rutherford, I do not see Rutherford aching to clean the Conference Room or even thinking to do something like Dog. He might try to jigger a .5 sec faster transporter but I doubt that he would be the kind to decide to re-engineer warp travel on a whim. As far as I can tell Tendi is far more dangerous than Rutherford.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:30 PM on September 25, 2020 [7 favorites]

Rutherford's reboots killed me. So funny.
posted by suelac at 9:23 PM on September 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

This show has been growing on me steadily. As I remarked on Twitter just now, it's one level above being a Rick & Morty knockoff for not centering on a (looks at notes) "omnipotent misogynistic superbastard" that gets idolized by dumb fans.
posted by JHarris at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was just working on a TNG FF post and happened to notice that Roga Danar is one of the "Popular Pages" on Memory Alpha right now. Bet the MA admins didn't see that one coming before this week.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:25 AM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is probably the first "great" episode of Lower Decks? Looking back, we can see that every season picks up a lot of momentum towards the ends, has one "experimental" episode in the back half, and then a kick-ass blow-out of a finale. If "wej Duj" and "A Mathematically Perfect Redemption" are the "experimental" episodes for seasons two and three, respectively, I think this is the example for season one, and it rules.

Everything with Tendi is delightful, of course (and that they somehow manage to keep milking comedy out of the redactions in her story) and I love Mariner and Boimler winging the red alert to different degrees of success (though to his credit, between the two of them, Boimler didn't fire on another vessel based on a wink-nudge understanding of what the Captain was asking for.) But Rutherford's first among equals for me, with the time-jumps very reminiscent of the all-timer Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slippin'" but somehow funnier in that Rutherford is the only one experiencing them as jumps, leading up to finally the never-explained Gorn Wedding and then jumping from like five Gorn attacking Rutherford to... that still continuing, which was probably the biggest laugh of the episode for me.

(Side note, as someone whose experience with TOS is extremely limited, I only know the Gorn as the monster Kirk fights in that famously campy fight scene. Then Strange New Worlds revived them and played them totally straight as a species to be deeply feared. To be fair, SNW does what it can to deliver on that promise, but it's still The Gorn. This feels like a much better way to bring them back into the fold, where like, yeah, finding yourself surrounded by these things hell-bent on eating you is very threatening, but it's still inherently comical because, you know. Gorn.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:01 PM on June 14, 2023

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