Star Trek Lower Decks

Come now, Picard had some very good parts. Anything with Seven, Rios, Raffi, Jean Luc, Troi-Rikers, Jurati, Brent Spiner…actually anything just not related directly to the season arc. And season 2 seems to be Tapestry MK2. On the other hand ST DISCO outside of the time when Lorca and Pike were center stage has sucked great big donkey balls and the latest trailer seems to be an indication of doubling up on the element we detest.

By the way, did anyone notice that the Valeris cosplayer Vulcan was posted to Starfleet against her will, almost like a military reservist might be sent to the regular forces? Maybe that finally explains the relationship between Starfleet and the planetary exploration forces/militaries?

I’m loving this show. But why are seasons only 10 episodes long?

Because that’s the modern model. Shorter, higher-quality seasons. I personally think it’s usually a pretty good trade-off. I’d rather be left wanting more than slog through multiple filler episodes.

I thought S02E10 was a bit of a let-down from S02E9 - but only because “wej Duj” was one of the best Star Trek episodes of any series, while “First First Contact” was merely one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Seriously, how does a quasi-parody series manage an episode that’s genuinely more dramatically thrilling and emotionally engaging than any of the serious versions have for decades? And note to J.J. Abrams - no one got shot. Thrilling space action for a rescue mission, with no combat. And note to pretty much every other current creator, Star Trek or otherwise: genuine character conflict that’s organic to the characters and not just there for the sake of having conflict, which means it’s actually emotionally engaging for the audience, and its resolution is genuinely cathartic.

One caveat: the system’s sun just happens to release an unpredicted solar flare that just happens to hit the unstable planetoid made of technobabble, which just happens to strike the other Starfleet vessel at the exact moment it’s approaching the planet…groan. The odds against all of that lining up that way are literally astronomical. Still…I’ll suspend disbelief to get the rest of that episode.

A couple more caveats, I guess. I was enjoying having genuinely optimistic and humanistic Star Trek back, and then…Rutherford’s implants are apparently part of some sinister conspiracy (is he the Section 31 black ops embed on the ship? Wasn’t it established in the episode they were mentioned that the rumor is they sometimes don’t even know they’re Section 31 plants until they’re activated?). Ugh. But that does have a pedigree in TNG, and even moreso in DS9, so, ok. Also, Captain Freeman is obviously the victim of a conspiracy within Starfleet to frame her, and possibly spark a new war with the Klingons, which, again, ugh. But, again, there’s a pedigree for those sorts of stories in TNG and DS9, so…ok, I guess.

We really need a Season 3 now, though.

Whenever it seems too improbable, a Q did it.

Loved the cetacean sexual harassment!

Um…phrasing?


Also, I almost forgot - call back to the Cosmic Koala from S01E04! Since Boimler saw it while technically dead, I wonder if that’s who/what Lt. Shaxs had to fight at the Black Mountain when he died…or if Boimler nearly ascended…

(I think the latter is more likely, but more likely still is that the call-back was just a throwaway Easter egg).

Also loved that they brought back Sonya Gomez as Captain of the Archimedes. She’s come along way from spilling hot chocolate on Captain Picard shortly before first contact with the Borg!

There was active cussing at the SimHouse when the ‘…to be continued’ appeared on the screen.

best.cliffhanger.ever ~ even if we all know it will work out.

I really hope the explanation for Shaxs return is given as…the Packleds beamed him and his captors out before the explosion, he was kept as a PoW while being believed to be KIA, until Riker and the Titan rescued him

Two things I noticed.

  • The dolphins were probably a reference to Seaquest DSV.
  • The Rubber Ducky room is a reference to the in-joke graphics Mike Okuda used to embed in the ship schematics.

SeaQuest DSV was also the first thing I thought of when I saw the dolphins. And it may have been meant as a partial reference to that. But “Cetacean Ops” is actually a previously established element of Star Trek canon. It’s mentioned in dialogue in an episode of TNG, and in another episode Geordi mentions dolphins being on board. And the official, quasi-canon blueprints for “the D” released in 1996 contain a full cetacean navigation lab and cetacean lifeboats.

The blueprint book was relased three years after SQDSV premiered, so the cetacean lab there could have been a reference to Darwin and the SeaQuest, but “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, the episode where Cetacean Ops is mentioned, aired three years before SQDSV premiered.

I think I did know that, and I also considered that it’s a reference to Voyage Home, which is likely why there is a Cetacean Ops at all. But it was them talking that makes me think it’s more overtly SeaQuest connected. Though I am open to the idea that it has nothing to do with it at all.

Star Trek: The Voyage Home, from 1986, firmly establishes in canon that in the Star Trek universe, at the very least humpback whales are fully sapient and can communicate psychically with Vulcans and…by some means with…whatever aliens sent the probe. The technical manual I referenced above and other sources indicate that the Cetacean Ops section uses cetaceans for navigation, which would seem to indicate they have some means of communicating with the humanoid crew members. It seems perfectly logical that if cetaceans in the Star Trek universe are fully sapient, some might want to join Star Fleet, and Universal Translators would eventually enable routine communication with humans.

I think there are probably at least some elements of a feedback loop between SQDSV and the Star Trek franchise - they’ve got a largely overlapping fan base, and there was a lot of fanspec when SQDSV was on the air that it was in fact part of the Star Trek timeline. But Cetacean Ops as depicted in “First First Contact” seems to have a lot more in common with the Cetacean Ops of the TNG technical manual and blueprints than the “moon pool” and Darwin of the seaQuest.

I liked their suggestions for first aid, “Keep him wet!”

Shades of Brin’s Startide Rising

Larry Niven (who wrote an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series) also had intelligent dolphins in his Known Space novels.

Well now that the season is finally over I got my free seven day subscription to Paramount+ and binged Lower Decks season 2 over the weekend. Very good, as expected. Little to add other than I am really enjoying how they actually seem to be developing characters rather than just letting them stay stagnant. Comedic parody or not, they pay attention to plotting just enough to give it heft.

But re: P+ I did realize that they have Comedy Central content, which reminded me of Ugly Americans, which I remember sorta liking but I didn’t catch parts of the second season and I didn’t remember loving it enough to ever pay Amazon to catch up on it. So I guess I’ll give that a try again in my remaining few days. Still not worth the price they are charging for their no-add subscription though.

Oh and to expand on that a little, I sorta like that they seem to be suggesting a budding romantic relationship between Mariner and Jen. While they may be throwing a curve, setting up a short-lived fling or some kind of love triangle, I think I slightly prefer Mariner & Boimler as a Kirk & (neurotic, self-aggrandizing)Spock pairing. Bff who seek their romantic entanglements elsewhere would be a better set up.

So, who gave Rutherford his implants?

Section 31? Too obvious. I’m guessing Romulans.