Star Trek: Lower Decks: Crisis Point
October 1, 2020 6:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

At the end of the universe... lies the beginning of scenery chewing!

Memory Alpha will bathe in your blood:

- This episode features parallels to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Hollow Pursuits", as well as several of the Star Trek films.

- The flyby that the bridge crew does with Cerritos is similar in nature to the flyby that James T. Kirk and Montgomery Scott do with the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The lens flare and the ship breaking frame from the alternate reality films.

"Captain, we're ready for your command."
"Hmm, time to take this puppy off its leech. Warp Me!"

- Hologram Jack Ransom and Carol Freeman, about to go to warp

"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

- Beckett Mariner, from The Tempest, Act I, Scene II

"Our revels now are ended."

- Beckett Mariner, from The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I

Poster's Log:

So, it's obviously Star Trek: Lower Decks: The Motion Picture: The Episode: The Holodeck Novel. (I) This one flirts with kicking LoDe out of canonicity--early on, Boimler hacking into everyone's personal logs (what, did everyone leave the default password as "password"?) thumb-wrestles with Mariner's rewriting the scenario in about ten seconds for unlikelihood--but it's all good for the whole point of the thing, which was to get that somewhat overheated, action-heavy movie groove going. Not everyone was down for it--Tendi has had enough of your stereotyping, fanservice-heavy Planet of Hats bullshit, thank you very much--but Mariner had a personal breakthrough, thanks to an encounter with her light side; Rutherford fell in love (let's stick a pin in that and see if/how it plays out IRL); and Boimler hopefully learned the dangers of overprepping for an interview.

The real revelation--and one that's probably going to figure in the season finale, going by the preview--is that no one knew that Mariner was Freeman's daughter. That may even be more unlikely than Boimler's l33t h4XX0r1ng. Granted, we haven't gotten into the Parental Issues episodes with the other main characters yet, and a lot of Mariner's talking about herself probably revolves around all the wacky shit that she's seen and done, but the Cerritos doesn't seem to be that big of a ship--maybe she's got a different name from her mom because she's actively trying to hide their relationship? (We don't know the name of her dad, the admiral who's voiced by Phil LaMarr--let's just call him "Dadmiral.") Be kind of interesting to see where they go with that.

Poster's Log, supplemental: The "rat people" and the "lizard people" seem based on the Anticans and the Selay from TNG's "Lonely Among Us"; the lizards aren't really much like the Selay, but the rats are a closer match for the Anticans. And Gary Cole is a guest VA in this episode; is he maybe the admiral who gives the holo-Cerritos their mission?
posted by Halloween Jack (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I was laughing my ass off at the flyby scene. I have no idea why it was so funny. WHY???

The way that they’ve been skirting around the whole mother/daughter thing the whole season, I’ve always just assumed that nobody else knew.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

The saucer section rolling on its edge was *chef’s kiss*
posted by sixswitch at 9:28 AM on October 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

I assumed from the start of the series that by mutual agreement they were both keeping their relationship a secret to avoid any appearance of favouritism, and that Mariner using a different surname to make this possible.
posted by confluency at 9:52 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's such a small thing but I loved "This is the 80s, dude! We don't have psychiatric problems!" Because of course that's what someone would say in-universe instead of always including the century.
posted by supercres at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

Oh yeah, another lol at "Many Orions haven't been pirates for over five years!"
posted by supercres at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2020 [12 favorites]

“Many Orions haven't been pirates for over five years!”

If this is Tendi’s first assignement, this coincides nicely with when Tendi would have started at Starfleet Academy. There’s probably some backstory there.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:27 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

brb trying to figure out what my ao3 password was
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

"When you get to hell, tell the pah-wraiths that Shaxs sent you... special delivery straight from Bajor!" — holo-Shaxs
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:01 PM on October 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

I love so, so much of this episode. The fly-by.... the little touches of TWoK music stingers... "Vindicta"'s insistence that the final fight needed to be on a rickety metal catwalk.

What was off? I already hate Migleemo. Please tell me that we will never see him again.

Also, I feel terrible for confusing Xon with Commander "No, let's not use the transporter" Sonak.
posted by hanov3r at 4:32 PM on October 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd assume that the similarity between "Xon" and "Sonak" was intentional; I remember reading about Xon in a story about the planned revival of the franchise a few years before the movie came out, and Sonak always seemed to me to be Roddenberry or whoever's nod toward their original plans to replace Spock before they got Nimoy to change his mind. (Just as David Gautreaux, who was originally cast as Xon, was recast as one of the people on the station that V'Ger annihilated, which means that in effect they killed off the character twice in the same movie.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:42 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I quite enjoyed this one, and just want to add two observations.

The cloak getting caught was actually in the script she wrote on the holodeck (as were a few set pieces like the whole borg-head scene).

"If we bypass the indicontrols and suppress the sativent..." is clearly a not very veiled cannabis reference (indica & sativa).
posted by Marticus at 6:07 PM on October 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

The flyby was indeed sweet. I particularly liked the movie style soft focus for the station scene.
posted by porpoise at 7:25 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Well, I'd like to see ol Beckett Mariner wriggle her way out of THIS episode’s character growth!

*Mariner wriggles her way out of the episode’s character growth easily, resetting once again to her default characterization at the beginning of next episode

Ah! Well. Nevertheless,
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:58 PM on October 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Fair point, Ian, but I'm reasonably satisfied that this episode was truly about the characters. I'm glad I was able to predict that Rutherford wasn't really gonna cuss out his boss, and also that I was not able to predict their tender moment. I'm glad too that they finally addressed the Orion thing.

That, and of course the Mariner/Vindicta stuff, is how you build character enough to transition to the character-based humor I mentioned in the last thread. The only thing I didn't enjoy about this episode isn't even the episode's fault: it's the fact that Mrs. OfBrazil didn't know who Xon was ;)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:24 AM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

"Stone cold badass": What Rutherford see when he looks at a nerdy engineer slurping soup. Alone.
posted by mark k at 10:02 AM on October 2, 2020

1. Enjoyed SO MUCH LENS FLARE. Even on the bridge!
2. Was Replacement Boimler’s name “Shempo”?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:22 PM on October 2, 2020

I don't find Mariners quick-script-rewrite that unrealistic, which means I do in general but not based on what we've seen of holodeck "programming" so far: there's just way too many scenes in previous Treks of people assembling characters, settings, and even alternate plotlines based on a few openended verbal commands to the Computer. It comes across more like someone using a character customizer, or at best a level builder, than coding event handlers in some scripting language.

So I more or less assume that canon holodecks come with an extensive template library of humanoid personalities and modular physics engines and whatnot, and make full use of the ship's (near-sentient!) AI to engineer some sort of ad-hoc glue logic around the template pieces they request.

Against that background it's very believable that a clever ensign could type out a few lines of stage direction and trust the magic compiler to build something coherent from it.

Unrelated: somewhere along the line I figured out that Sam Rutherford is voiced by Eugene Cordero, the same guy who did Jamie the dramatic postman on Steven Universe, and I'm loving it! His VA work was always so fun.
posted by traveler_ at 7:17 PM on October 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

All Mariner had to do was insert her already-existing fic into Boimler’s holodeck program.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:51 PM on October 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yeah exactly, I feel like Mariner's rewriting the program could have been handwaved if she just said she took elements from other programs and told the computer to integrate them. She could have said she was working on a revenge holodeck story and Boimler's beta-level simulations of the crew was just what she needed to finish the project. Also I don't think Boimler's taking everyone's personal logs is that weird in-universe, where folks seem to have very different ideas of privacy. Like, in TNG's Hollow Pursuits nobody was that concerned that Barclay was making creepy holodeck versions of the crew, just that he was letting it interfere with his life. Maybe Boimler just asked the computer to analyze the logs without him ever directly interacting with them.

Rutherford saying he doesn't want to bother the obviously lonely chief engineer was downright sad, especially after the holodeck predicted they could be best friends for life if only he asked.

Also, from the preview for next week's episode: An Exocomp Starfleet officer is absolutely the kind of dumb fanservice I want in this show, because it's directly building on a past episode rather than just having characters spout references.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:47 PM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

CheesesOfBrazil: I agree, I thought the character work in this episode was the best of the season so far, and I hope we see more of Holodeck!Mariner's characteristics in MarinerPrime moving forward.

Despite the fact that most of my comments so far in these threads have been mildly negative, I really am enjoying the show. I have things I'd change about it—I'd reduce the deep cut 'memberberries by at least 50%—but there are at least a couple laugh out loud moments every episode for me, and I can see the beginnings of a solid character-based show in the future, if the series is interested in that. Which...maybe they are? I hope they are.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:11 PM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's such a small thing but I loved "This is the 80s, dude! We don't have psychiatric problems!"

That moment really rubbed me the wrong way. I hated Mariner's kneejerk "I Don't Need Therapy" attitude throughout the episode. The idea that only broken or disturbed people "need" therapy is deeply untrekky. Mariner's POV is retrograde even now, and it shouldn't exist in the Federation. A big reason that Troi was written into TNG was to show that, in the future, therapy has become completely normalized.

If they wanted Mariner to rebel against her mom's suggestion, they could have made her only issue that the ship's counselor was terrible. But that wasn't her only issue: she thought she didn't need therapy and it didn't work. So we got this really old-fashioned "hey, therapy does work!" punchline at the end of the show. Blaugh. This show's been great at avoiding the conservative sitcom tropes that I initially worried about, but here it stepped on a rake. Sometimes poking fun at Trek's vision of utopia gets things wrong.
posted by painquale at 8:57 AM on October 4, 2020

Also I don't think Boimler's taking everyone's personal logs is that weird in-universe, where folks seem to have very different ideas of privacy. Like, in TNG's Hollow Pursuits nobody was that concerned that Barclay was making creepy holodeck versions of the crew, just that he was letting it interfere with his life. Maybe Boimler just asked the computer to analyze the logs without him ever directly interacting with them.

The TNG rewatch just reached "Booby Trap", wherein Geordi attempts to use the personal logs of Dr. Leah Brahms to make a holodeck recreation of her. The computer tells him "personal logs are restricted", and he ends up asking the computer to use her published works and public appearances to create the personality.
posted by hanov3r at 7:39 AM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

“I don’t want to do a movie!”

“That’s okay. You were kind of a Xon, to be honest. You probably weren’t going to make the final cut.”

I can think of about fourteen times that TNG tried to be funny. This five seconds is better than almost all of them*. I mean, a character is planned (and cast) for a never-launched TV series and then is omitted from any future feature films. Then 41 years later he is name-checked. The Daystrom Institute has had a team of researchers working for year to find a deeper cut than this.

*Michael Dorn can bring the funny. Brent Spiner almost as much. The rest... less so. Despite this, how many times did we see Jonathan Frakes valiantly struggle to land a joke. Yeesh.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

So that's a good post but it can't be the cast that was the problem though. Patrick Stewart has a sense of humor and is funny on occasion. Colm Meany definitely has comedy chops. Whoopi-fargin'-Goldberg was a recurring cast member.

TNG is just impossibly earnest, and the writers never developed the confidence to move past that.

I need to give Michael Dorn more credit for being funny even in that setting.
posted by mark k at 11:14 PM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

To follow along from painquale's comment, there were two things that rubbed me wrong in this episode:

- I didn't like that the culmination of the Rutherford holodeck storyline was him and the Chief Engineer talking about "running away together" in a way that was romance-coded but not romantic. It felt like the punchline was "two men look like they're talking about being romantic together, isn't that hilarious and ridiculous?" Maybe the show was hinting at something coming down the line, but as of what we know right now it felt like the concept of two men being romantic was the punchline.

- Initially, I liked that Mariner's apology to Tendi for stereotyping the Orions was straightforward and sincere. But I felt like the show undercut the moment by having Tendi admit that a lot of the stereotypes were true after all. Like, imagine the same scenario but Tendi was an Earth minority that suffers from real-world stereotyping; ending on "that's okay, most of us ARE [lazy/drunk/cheap/etc] would be hella gross.

I don't know, maybe I'm beanplating both of these...they didn't outrage me, they just felt like questionable creative decisions.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

I read Rutherford's end scene as being an actual romantic connection and the joke being that they bonded over engineering nerdery. What I did not appreciate here was how much the word that was scripted for T'ana and then bleeped out sounded like a homophobic slur rather than "fucks" as some people have reported hearing it.

In either case, the fact that that wasn't caught before air doesn't speak well of the production team's diversity.

If it turns out that happened and RutherfordxChiefEngineer wasn't even a date I'll be pissed off.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 9:10 AM on October 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't know, maybe I'm beanplating both of these...

I beanplate Trek stuff all the time; look at my recent comments on TNG's "The Measure of a Man", for example. In this case, though, I think that Tendi's statements were really lampshading [TVTropes] the fact that all of the Orions' previous appearances in the franchise were pretty sleazy, being either pirates, slavers, slaves, or gangsters; even the Orion Starfleet officers in the Kelvin timeline were framed in a sexual context--Gaila, the woman that K-Kirk mistook for Gaila, and the woman in the beginning of Beyond who was kicking a guy in his underwear out of her quarters. I think that there's a tension in LD between satirizing the franchise's more risible tendencies and pointing them out while playing them pretty straight, and I think that you could frame Tendi's comments as trying to defuse her criticism of Mariner by saying that, yeah, we're not all pirates, only 90% or so. Similarly, I don't think that it was Rutherford's attraction to a man that was really the issue, it was the idea of dating someone in his chain of command; if this was meant to be an implicit criticism of the same happening in previous iterations of the franchise, that's a good thing.

tl;dr--the plate of beans really does support different interpretations, viewed from different angles.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:11 PM on October 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was wondering during the episode whether they would address that Orion women secrete pheromones to make men do their bidding. It would be nice if they could subtly shelve or defuse that piece of canon with a joke.

My little headcanon until they address it is that it's difficult to do and only a few can do it well. Tendi is so clumsy that if she tried she would just stink really bad.
posted by painquale at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

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