Star Trek: Lower Decks: We'll Always Have Tom Paris
August 26, 2021 8:10 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

No points for guessing who's guesting this week. Tendi is helping someone who's itchy and scratchy, and Rutherford is in search of... answers.

Memory Alpha is bringing Shaxsy back:

- Mariner and Boimler go down the list of Trek resurrection methods; seems pretty comprehensive.

- Qualor II is from the TNG two-parter "Unification", although in that episode, we didn't see the planet, just their junkyard.

- "Klingon acid punk." Count me intrigued. I wonder if HIchmey nga'chuq counts as that?

- Crisis on Infinite Shaxsen!

- Mistress of the Winter Constellations!
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it looks like Mr. Encyclopedia called it.

I want to hear more about the black mountain.
posted by Marticus at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

Well, it looks like Mr. Encyclopedia called it.

I take no pleasure in this. For my next prediction: This hasty retreat to the status quo will play into a later story arc (either in the rest of this season or crossing between the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3) where things will dramatically change seemingly beyond repair, only to be again walked back even more rapidly. This will play into a meta-commentary on how because of Star Trek's syndication the status quo is god.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

The actual Prime Directive: You Do Not Fuck With The Reset Button.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:43 PM on August 26, 2021

It's always Christmas in the Nexus.
posted by rocketman at 5:48 AM on August 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

I was hoping for the Nausicaans to have similar voices/delivery to the one in Tapestry ("Play Dom-Jot human?"), but I guess that wouldn't have meshed with the fast-paced dialogue in this show.

Paris thinking Boimler was a Kazon might have given me my biggest laugh so far.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 7:20 AM on August 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh my god. The entire episode was an elaborate setup for a stupid cat joke. I love it.

I’ll add to the disappointment in the show’s insistence on resetting the clock at the end of each episode. It’s reminiscent of the early seasons of DS9, and not in a good way.

I’m a little less bothered about reviving Shaks (partly because we got some jokes/commentary out of it, and also because his character was interesting and underdeveloped when he was first killed off). However, I’m continually frustrated that the writers can’t seem to figure out how to write Boimler and Mariner, which is a much larger problem, given that they’re the main characters. I don’t think I’m alone in finding the “base” versions of both characters to be tedious and unlikable, so it’s perplexing to me that the writers insist on continually rebooting them back to the most-unlikeable versions of themselves (from the first episodes of S1)

Similar to that, some of the meta-commentary in the episode made it painfully obvious that the LD cast isn’t really functioning as an ensemble. The main 4 characters barely seem to have any interactions or relationships with anybody outside of their clique – Mariner/Freeman might be the only relationship outside of the Lower Deck crew that actually spans more than one episode. Interestingly, Discovery has a similar problem (despite having a much larger cast).

And, finally… this is the first time that LD’s meta-commentary and throwbacks felt like they got in the way. For the most part, the throwbacks have been easy to ignore for folks who haven’t seen 100% of Trek, but it felt like there were more than a few deep-cuts awkwardly inserted into the script. (And, yes, I’m considering anything beyond Kirk/Spock/Picard/Riker to be a deep cut)

[Also, I really enjoyed it, so please don’t take this commentary the wrong way!]
posted by schmod at 7:44 AM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

The main 4 characters barely seem to have any interactions or relationships with anybody outside of their clique

But that's a pretty standard workplace arrangement, isn't it? Workers have a small group of folks that they interact with regularly and may or may not consider 'friends', sometimes but rarely have interactions with related teams (and may have 'rival' teams, like those guys on Delta shift), and have almost no contact with the folks in the C* offices unless something's gone wrong.
posted by hanov3r at 9:39 AM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

That’s fair, but I’m not sure it makes for good television? I’m don’t know if these 4 characters have enough depth to carry the entire show indefinitely.
posted by schmod at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2021

This was a big rant about how the show differs from what actually being a "lower decks" on an actual ship is like, and how they feel the need to spend time on the senior staff that's probably unnecessary (and how splitting time between the 4 main cast members and the senior staff is probably hurting them in the long run). I guess I just wish they had someone with actual military experience in the writer's room, people don't realize how important Roddenberry's time in the Army Air Corps in WWII was for Star Trek's look and feel. I guess I'm just disappointed that Lower Decks isn't more like Hey Shipwreck, the most realistic depiction of what it's like to be a low-ranking crewmember aboard a ship.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:10 PM on August 27, 2021

I laughed aloud noticeably more often during this one than the last two. But I might've liked just a smidge more time with Tom, if only to have a clearer sense of what he was doing there.

This ep's title is doubtlessly a reference to the late season 1 TNG episode with the Mannheims (FF previously).

it felt like there were more than a few deep-cuts awkwardly inserted into the script.

Yeah, I noticed at least one that struck me as eyerolly, though I don't recall precisely which.

the LD cast isn’t really functioning as an ensemble.

The optimistic interpretation of the Mariner/Tendi stuff here is that the writers noticed this about their own show, and are letting us know that they intend to address it. I share the worry about the characters' depth, but in (possibly weak) defense, right now they're at least as deep as, and I'd argue deeper than, the TNG main cast were by the time they'd had the same number of episodes (not even hours—just episodes).

Now all that said, they've got to be careful just how deep they DO go for an animated comedy show. E.g., I liked the Rutherford subplot here a lot in terms of its interaction with Rutherford's characterization. But a true dramedy like The Boys would have had to actually kill Rutherford in this episode and have him experience the Black Mountain, the Nexus, the Rainbow Bridge, the Three Seashells, and the Highest Peak Onto Which to Smite the Ruin of the Balrog of Morgoth (and am I the only one who thought of Gandalf when Shaxs was telling his tale?). OTOH I guess he could just erase those memories! …or COULD he
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing this isn't the last we hear of the Black Mountain.

I'm choosing to characterize it like Night Vale's dark planet.
The knife presses harder against your throat, but it doesn’t hurt. Your eyes wander up and you see above you the dark planet of awesome size perched in its sunless void, an invisible titan all thick black forests and jagged mountains and deep, turbulent oceans.

A monster.




It’s so close now.
posted by schmod at 6:40 PM on August 27, 2021

Brad whistling the Voy theme was definitely A Moment for me.
posted by Kyol at 9:46 AM on August 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

I really liked this one. Was good to see more of Tendi's background, some nice slapstick with Boimler.

I think I miss Voyager more in retrospect. It feels like it's the last of the Trek-style Treks with a sense of optimism. Everything after that was post-911 and veers between grimdark misery and militarism.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:46 PM on August 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I'm on a rewatch of Voyager at the moment and I know it takes a bit of a turn later on, I'm curious if the fanfare threads identify it the same way fandom seems to have or not. At the moment it's gloriously Peak Trek, with all the issues that that entails, for better or worse.
posted by Kyol at 6:24 PM on August 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mariner and Boimler go down the list of Trek resurrection methods; seems pretty comprehensive.

Just about exactly a year ago there was a similar brisk listing of all the ways someone might be replaced by a duplicate.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:37 PM on August 30, 2021

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