Star Trek: Lower Decks: I, Excretus
September 30, 2021 7:32 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Don't worry about the title; probably not what you're thinking. Also: pesto.

Horses love Memory Alpha! Shut up!:

- TAS reference du jour: Shari Yn Yem (the evaluator) is a Pandronian, the same race as the title character of "Bem."

- Some of the listed test scenarios are actual episode titles (e.g. "Naked Time"), while others are suspiciously familiar-sounding. Speaking of which, pretty much everyone is actually naked in "Naked Time."

- Speaking of naked, I found Shaxs' pose on the bridge to be... evocative.
posted by Halloween Jack (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
That was very fun, but I could have done without all the sexy times. There are people for whom the loss of inhibitions involves singing in public, or doing somersaults.
posted by suelac at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

What exactly is Boimler?

This is twice now he's proven to be the only person on the crew to be able to deal with something. Once when buffer time was eliminated, and he was the only one who could keep up. And now when he managed to get 100% on a simulation rigged to fail the crew. Now I know the actual answer is that Boimler is actually very competent when he gets out of his own way and doesn't lock up from overthinking. It's what makes him a good foil/partner to Mariner.

At the same time. it's kind of been bugging me. Humans don't have naturally purple hair, the Federation has made genetic enhancements illegal, and the most uptight, buy the numbers guy on the show dyes his hair purple? There was the the setup for a joke in the episode "You can almost pass for human". Not conclusive, but still, what if Boimler only thinks he's human. He bleeds red when sliced open with a bat'leth, so probably not an android.

The baby Borg in this episode made me start to wonder if any of them might have survived in the wreckage of the cube that blew up over earth. It might seem absurd, but think about it. Boimler has a deep need to be part of something bigger than himself. He's attracted to rigid structure and rules, and indeed thrives within such structures. This is kind of what you would expect a "baseline" Borg to be like isn't it? And it's exactly the sort of thing a parent would conceal from their adoptive child, if they could otherwise mostly pass for human.

Also, interesting fact, excretus can in Latin mean "Separated", "Sifted out", or "Grown up". Now I'm pretty sure this name was just another joke. But if not, well, those are all fitting names for Bradward "Baby Borg" Boimler.

Conspiracy theory on this aside, I like that Lower Decks is embracing not just the old animated series, but the wackier parts of it. I thought they did interesting things with Shari Yn Yem's body language in this episode, and neat that they're doing things visually that really wouldn't work in live action nearly as well.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:34 PM on September 30, 2021 [11 favorites]

Boimler is the person who does really well on standardized tests.
posted by schmod at 6:05 AM on October 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

The Borgler Hypothesis isn't that much less probable than others that have been entertained in the past, including by me (i.e. that "The Cage"'s Number One and Lwaxana Troi are the same person).
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:26 AM on October 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

The 'Naked Time' scenario and the public viewability of individual sessions that Freeman mentions to explain how she knows about the horse (even though they only communicate with Boimler in his extended session, and Ransom behaves as if only eavesdropping through the door is possible) is a problem in view of what is essentially deepfake PDA (and more) of actual crew.
posted by channaher at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

channaher (and suelac), all very true, and all very congruent with what we find out about Yem's real purpose for running the scenarios in that way. In TOS and TNG, the "Naked" viruses aren't that difficult to overcome--probably less so than the "zombie" virus that the Lower Deckers overcame in the first episode of this series. If it had been just people painting graffiti on the walls and crying that they never gave flowers to their mothers and singing "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" while they tried to crash the ship into the nearest planet, Mariner probably would have taken care of it in about thirty seconds. Instead, Yem set it up so that she was alternately repulsed and intrigued enough to flunk it, and Yem doesn't care whether or not the crew is humiliated.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

grimgrin, there might be an argument to be made that Boimler is the child of Control — a wayward, nay Bradward offshoot of that ill-fated project, the distilled soul of Starfleet in undeniably awkward, fiercely well-meaning, and almost certainly not megalomaniacal humanoid form.

Who better than the embodiment of Starfleet's better angels to teach the (albeit holographic) Borg Queen empathy? They'd practically be peers, those two.
posted by lumensimus at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think Schmod has it. He's just a guy who works really, really well when he's put into a strictly defined situation. Tell him exactly what to do and he can knock it out of the park. Give him a quantitative goal and he will doggedly figure out how to maximize it. But then put him in an open-ended situation with no specific goal and he'll flounder.

I've always imagined his purple hair is just a little character joke that in this culture nobody thinks twice about a really uptight guy having anime hair. This level of self-expression is so basic and easy in the Federation that pointing it out is as nonsensical as pointing out that a really uptight guy has a mustache. It's a non-sequitur to them.

Based on this and how people react in previous Star Trek episodes it seems like there's not really any nudity taboo, or at least people seem to operate in a mindset of "That's not me, that's a hologram" even if it's a completely lifelike hologram of you raw-dogging your colleagues. It's a world where it's trivial to conjure up perfectly accurate nude images of anyone you can think of and have them do whatever you want, and this is apparently fine as long as you keep it on the DL (ahem, Barclay) or let it affect your job (ahem, Geordi).

Anyway, I thought this was a pretty weak episode. It was structured as one big excuse to reference other Star Trek properties, and the storyline of Shari Yn Yem being a fraud didn't work for me. I've been through actual real-life fleet inspections, they're all incredibly painful, but they work, and they're conducted by experienced folks who know what to look for and where to find it. I'd rather see a storyline where the Cerritos actually legitimately failed the inspection and either bullied Shari Yn Yem into doctoring the results, or better yet just took their lumps. Failures happen. Sometimes the captain gets their keys taken away, sometimes there's just lots of painful "upgrades" scheduled and the expectation that the next inspection had better show improvement. Once again I'm left wishing this show did more to actually show what it's like to be someone at the bottom of the chain of command on a ship, especially a ship with a pretty inept chain.

Also they called her a "drill instructor" which I guess ended up being two words that describe her but conjured a VERY different image in my mind. Now that I think about it, maybe that was intentional.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah this might be one of my least favorite episodes of the show. Did we really need 25 minutes of basically "those who can, do; those who can't, teach" and/or "experts who give you feedback you don't like are frauds" in 2021? It just felt like such filler. I don't feel like we learned anything new about any of the characters, and I think some of it was actually fairly out-of-character? Just kind of a letdown, imo.
posted by potrzebie at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ok, the above said, all week I kept thinking of how Rutherford said "my boot!!" and cracking up. Eugene Cordero is a genius.
posted by potrzebie at 10:44 PM on October 8, 2021

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