Star Trek: Lower Decks: Old Friends, New Planets
November 2, 2023 8:50 AM - Season 4, Episode 10 - Subscribe

That's not how I would have called that match.

From hell's heart, Memory Alpha stabs at thee; with its last breath, something something at thee:

- In addition to Robert Duncan McNeill returning as Locarno, Wil Wheaton guests as Wesley and Shannon Fill as Sito Jaxa. (Fill had a relatively brief career as an actress and currently works as a clinical social worker in California.)

- As far as we know, this is the first time that a Genesis device succeeded at its ostensible purpose.

"I believe the only response in this situation is cerritosstrong."

- T'Lyn

"They put a paywall on a bomb?"

- Locarno

Poster's Log:

You know, I bet that, if Starfleet didn't want its officers to mount a rescue operation in direct violation of orders, they could put in some remote command lockout codes. Just sayin'.

Overall, a good fulfillment of last week's promise. Locarno's plan wasn't very good--a handful of small ships and a weapon of mass destruction, guarded by a shield that could be defeated by ramming a derelict ship, what could possibly go wrong?--but the ultimate problem was that trying to create a better Federation out of a bunch of people whose only common factor was a grudge against authority figures was bound to fail. Which didn't stop him, as it often doesn't stop people with attractive but deeply flawed ideas.

I was wondering if we'd see Sito having survived in the present day; webcartoonist Mae Dean had a theory about that [Xitter link, and obviously spoilers], and it might have worked... but it might not have. (Dean also pointed, via Bluesky, to this interview with Mike McMahan on the Comics Beat site in which he talks about the last two episodes this season, the season as a whole, and some teensy hints about S5.)

Soooo, the cliffhanger this season finale is Tendi going back to being Mistress of the Winter Constellations, at least for a while. How long will she stick with it?

Poster's Log, supplemental: However long Tendi does the MotWC gig, I hope that we get to see more of B'eth, the big bruiser with the allergies. She's not just a Shaxs-and-a-half, she's a snack-and-a-half. (Yes, she's awakened something in me.)
posted by Halloween Jack (22 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was blown away by this episode. Funny this "little thirty minute parody" is telling some of the best Trek stories up there with any other series. The others are boldly going, but Lower Decks gives us a chance to check in with old friends and foes. The show itself is Project Swing By.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:52 AM on November 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

B'eth is a great name
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

He looks just like Tom Paris.

I don’t see it.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2023 [23 favorites]

I was overjoyed by the return of Twaining it up as a way to compromise.

They really do write a good season finale on this show--the only way you top the entire California coming to the rescue is to steal from the best film in the series. Was kinda hoping for some bagpipes, though.

(I need T'Lyn and Tendi to be science besties. You promised me, show. YOU PROMISED.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:44 PM on November 2, 2023 [8 favorites]

Here's the Twitter thread from Mae Dean about Sito Jaxa. (If you're not logged onto X, it only shows one post.)
posted by Pronoiac at 8:49 PM on November 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

I have no idea why I lost it at "What up, Bynars?", but I absolutely did. WHAT UP, BYNARS.

Also, Shax's face when Tendi requests barter by combat. So good.
posted by phooky at 9:39 PM on November 2, 2023 [11 favorites]

The ship that Mariner appropriated is named after Fabio Passaro, a Trek artist who passed away from cancer last year.
posted by Marticus at 10:17 PM on November 2, 2023 [7 favorites]

You know, I bet that, if Starfleet didn't want its officers to mount a rescue operation in direct violation of orders, they could put in some remote command lockout codes. Just sayin'.

Starfleet has always had amazingly terrible computer security. Their ships get hacked in a hundred different ways all the time. I expect the self-destruct built into ships is implemented using ancient and airgapped (sorry, spacegapped) tech to avoid it being used to threaten by outside entities. Other disabling systems would have to be implemented very carefully to avoid that. (And this is really why the Texas-class ships from the previous seasons would have been unworkable in reality, just too vulnerable.)
posted by JHarris at 11:17 PM on November 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

I love that LDS has established a pattern of amping up the production values in their finales. Half of why I laughed so hard at Mariner's "THIS GUY SUCKS" on Locarno's bridge was the use of camera-like effects.

Sito surviving would've cheapened the Mariner-Sito backstory, which wasn't IMO quite robust enough to survive any cheapening.

Props to Wil Wheaton for basically voice-acting a Boimleresque version of himself: so well-done that I wanted more. It was one of many big laughs for me in this one. I also thought the much-neglected Steamrunner-class looked pretty badass out there—until I learned that the Passaro is actually some manner of Steamrunner derivation.

What I winced at a bit, and what I really hope doesn't become a pattern, was the audiovisual TWOK references without an apparent joke attached. At times it almost felt like we'd been put inside one of their holo-novel episodes, like the last thirty seconds would be a pullback to the actual characters saying "Computer, end program."

Obviously Locarno is a piece of shit, and dangerous, but I find myself debating whether that meant he deserved death. He COULD have had a bright career designing starships (maybe while safely put away someplace like a Federation prison in, um, Tasmania? Oo, or Paris!). He's obviously a Sisko-level or better ship engineer if his talent is so out-there and edgy that he had me thinking it was Whale Probe aliens. But I guess the thing that pushes it over the line for me is, he did try to straight-up kill Mariner.

The whole Locarno rascal-fleet story is pretty strange, looking back on the season. It might have been a better mystery box if, instead of Mystery Ship attacking every time, it was a variety of the represented species' ships—Bynar, Ferengi, Cardassian, etc.—all attacking with the same unknown and unstoppable weapon…and maybe attacking their own people. That might also have made a bit tighter the Admiral's reasoning for ordering Freeman to stand down. But I'd guess the writers didn't want Locarno's fleet to seem that overtly hostile.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:57 AM on November 3, 2023 [6 favorites]

The return of the bizarro 3D shield from "Encounter at Farpoint" was excellent, as was the marked lack of antialiasing when viewing it from above — it was very clearly a 2D plane, a choice made even funnier by the cinematic flourishes of the rest of the episode.

Mariner's "oh, fucking Romulans!" around 18:10 was surprisingly gross. It would be one thing if she were engaging with a Warbird or a larger Romulan operation; then I'd at least understand the use of a collective noun, if not the venom. But she knows these are two misguided lower-deckers (there but for the grace of her Cerritos family goes she) and it was just... weird to hear her label them thus.
posted by lumensimus at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2023 [2 favorites]

Some of the visuals and the music cues during Mariner's escape into and then from the debris ring felt very Star Wars instead of Trek - the Romulan ship decloaking to chase after her just said Boba Fett to me. "Look at the size of that thing" was pretty blatant. It's cool though, it was all great fun and a wonderful wrap up to the season.
posted by Molesome at 9:40 AM on November 3, 2023

If I understood the setup, the shield surrounded a whole system of planets. I think it would look indistinguishable from a plane from a few km, just like the earth's surface looks flat from a few thousand feet.

Is there any deeper joke in the particular override code for that ship Mariner stole? A reddit post hypothesizes it could be Captain Freeman's birthday as a stardate. I sure thought "sounds like a stardate" when I heard it, though the leading zero is odd.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2023

It could be a reference to the regular date Jun 10, 1972 (or, if we're European, Oct 6, 1972). Any Trek-related birthdays that day?
posted by hanov3r at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2023

"Okey dokey" didn't move me as much as "I have been and always shall be your friend," but I wasn't unmoved either.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:42 PM on November 3, 2023 [3 favorites]

God there was just so much I loved here. Having Shannon Fill back as Sito Jaxa was very moving to me, as was Boims being Acting Captain for the ramming-maneuver, but really this was just wall-to-wall fun surprises. B'Eth! Migleemo! T'Lyn solving problems via Twaining! "THIS GUY SUCKS!" The Ferengi paywalled Genesis Device!

So much to love here. Hope Tendi gets out of Mistress of the Winter Constellations duty fast, though, because she and T'Lyn really do need to be Science Besties.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 PM on November 3, 2023 [8 favorites]

I hope that eventually the Cerritos will be thought of, in the franchise lore, in a similar way that the Enterprises and Voyager are. I think it's possible that Boimler is kind of a larval Picard figure, as Mariner is kind of a proto-Kirk.

The way I see it, Boimler is the kind of person who has to learn all the skills he needs. Things don't come easy for him, but because what he has is hard-won he understands how hard things can be for others. Mariner, on the other hand, has many natural gifts, and more struggles with direction. That gives her some problems with empathy.

Rutherford and Tendi are already their best selves, though!
posted by JHarris at 11:00 PM on November 3, 2023 [10 favorites]

Boimler is kind of a larval Picard figure, as Mariner is kind of a proto-Kirk

Or perhaps it's the other way around a la this Kirk vs Picard meme.
posted by Pryde at 5:32 PM on November 6, 2023 [7 favorites]

What a fantastic episode! I love when they hit this tone, a proper Star Trek adventure but then some jokes along the way. Revisiting Locarno as a character was a great idea. And then they could throw in the "he looks just like Paris" jokes and it was hilariously Lower Decks.
posted by Nelson at 6:47 AM on November 7, 2023 [3 favorites]

Starfleet has always had amazingly terrible computer security.

I'm still convinced that the only way the crew gets info from any ship sensor is by noticing when the sensors stop working due to mysterious space energy/gas/radiation/crystalline entity farts.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I definitely appreciated the bit about comms being down in cave episodes. Always.
posted by nat at 1:36 PM on November 18, 2023

Until now Tendy's Orion persona hadn't made complete sense to me. She seemed to be some kind of combination of hereditary celebrity, politician, and combat expert.

Last night for some reason it clicked....last year I read a pile of trashy romance fiction (I say trashy with love). Sarah Maas writes these blockbuster fantasy series with generally female protagonists who are generally combat experts and/or princesses, fabulously rich and beloved by all (after they triumph over their enemies, of course). Tendy on Orion - it's as if one of these characters ditched her sexy alpha male, ran away from the faerie kingdom, and joined Starflight.
posted by bq at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2023 [3 favorites]

Boimler is kind of a larval Picard figure, as Mariner is kind of a proto-Kirk

Or perhaps it's the other way around a la this Kirk vs Picard meme.

I appreciate that Kirk is more cerebral and Picard more fists-up than they're generally respectively stereotyped to be, but I think that:

1. If either one of them were to have "getting stabbed by a Naussican in a bar-fight" be the crux point between a daring life that takes them to the Captain's chair, it'd be Boimler. He needs those kicks-in-the-ass away from protocol in order to be his best self, and it's easy to see him going the way of alternate-timeline Picard if he didn't have those.
2. If either of them were to hack the system in order to "pass" the Kobayashi-Maru, it'd 100% be Mariner. True, between the two of them, Boims would be the one obsessed with beating it, but he'd just try to beat it legitimately like 50 or so different ways. Mariner would feel no qualms about cheating just to troll the other cadets.

So yeah, I see Mariner as Kirk and Boimler as Picard. But both sets of characters have a lot of nuance to them in any case.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:40 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]

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