This article contains spoilers for season two, episode 10 of ‘Star Trek: Lower Bridges. ‘
Last week I postulated that seasons one and two of Lower decks together would constitute a narrative arc of the series. Considering this week’s finale, it looks like we’ll be dealing with the aftermath of the Pakled threat a bit longer. But when an episode is this good, I totally agree that I am wrong.
Especially when this episode encompasses so many of my favorite things about Star Trek. It’s not just the delicious appearance of the captain Sonya gomez – you may remember her as the ensign who spilled hot chocolate on Captain Picard back in season two of The next generation. And it’s not because of the first on-screen appearance of cetacean operations, a concept mentioned in various shots but never really mentioned with real seriousness.
This is the general plot of the episode, where the whole team must work together to save the day. I’m a real sucker for teamwork scenes, like the final battle in The unknown country or, more recently, when the crew of the Discovery of the USS had to disguise themselves as their counterpart from the mirror universe. Star Trek has been described as “skill porn” by many people online, in the way it portrays people who are incredibly good at their jobs and work well together.
The first two seasons didn’t always showcase the crew at their best. We saw Boimler and Mariner lose the Klingon diplomat they were supposed to be escorting, Freeman arguing with the captain of another Starfleet ship, and the crew fail their (rigged) assessment test. spectacularly. Sometimes the show looks a lot Office, more interested in the personal life and antics of his employees than in the current company.
However, even Office would sometimes remind you that the staff at Dunder Mifflin were doing their jobs well, especially Michael Scott. Michael was a terrible manager, but a hell of a salesman. And this episode of Lower decks Shine the spotlight on Carol Freeman, whose excellent work over the past two years is being rewarded with a promotion to a Better Ship. The USS Cerritos is a California class ship, a real workhorse of a ship that doesn’t get a lot of respect. That the Cerritos Even become important is completely due to the circumstances of the encounter and survival of the newly empowered Pakleds. But it gave Freeman a lot of time in the spotlight, with his task a few episodes ago with the negotiation of a ceasefire with the Pakled government. (It was a ruse, but it’s not his fault.)
Last week I thought this episode would end this story, given that we now know the Pakleds were receiving help from a Klingon Captain, who is no longer alive thanks to the actions of a Lower Deck. Instead, this episode focuses on Freeman’s possible promotion, the reaction of his senior executives, and the future of our Lower Deck brands.
All this takes place within the framework of a first contact mission. The USS Cerritos mainly specializes in second contact missions – we are told in the very first episode. This means they come in and handle all the boring administrative tasks after flagship products like the Business enter and establish initial relationships. Now the Cerritos participates in the most important first printing, but only as a safeguard of the USS Archimedes.
Sitting on the bench ends up serving the Cerritos Well, when a solar flare and an unstable planetoid eventually deactivate the Archimedes and put it on a crash course with the planet below. Freeman is willing to sacrifice himself to save the other ship, but Rutherford and his company have a better plan, one that can prevent deaths on both ships. But they only have 20 hours, so the whole crew has to participate. That means piloting Ransom, with Billups overseeing the hull removal and Tendi giving Mariner a much needed pep talk. The latter may not be necessary for the ship to function, but it is important to the show as it pushes the two women towards the emotional resolution they need.
We also meet the cetacean operations crew, two beluga lieutenants named Kimolu and Matt. But it is Boimler who must save the situation, because the clamp that they must loosen is not made to be turned by fins. (I really appreciate the accessibility joke here, as Starfleet has often been cited over the decades as an OSHA nightmare.) Needless to say, the crew succeeds (it’s not a movie, after all, so we are not lose the ship). After the bravery shown by the entire crew of the Cerritos, especially Boimler and Rutherford, it’s hard to imagine that season three won’t start with some specials.
But first, there’s the issue of Freeman’s transfer, which she decided to turn down in favor of a crew that have proven capable of being truly excellent. Sadly, this Pakled story comes to bite us once again, leading us to the very first cliffhanger in the series and the very first end-of-season cliffhanger in the new one. The Kurtzman era Trek programs.
Star Trek: Lower Bridges had a lot to prove when it debuted last year: It was the first animated show since the ’70s, and the franchise’s first attempt at a mostly comedy series. He also had to overcome initial impressions of it as being akin to Rick and morty Where family guy. The quality of the first season started off a little rough but improved over time, ending with the fantastic action-packed episode, “No Small Parts”. Season two’s “First First Touch” improves the game in several ways, not only in its element of danger, but also in the way the series is ready to use big storylines to move characters forward through the seasons.
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