Oooh, that was GOOD. Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 5 is, by far, my favorite installment so far (and that isn't just because I'm Canadian and live in Vancouver.)
Seriously, this was the best twist on the "Canadian girlfriend" trope EVER. Not that Barb's Canadian by citizenship, but she's serving onboard the USS Vancouver, and she's suspected of being made up. Hence, a Canadian girlfriend.
It's also really fun to watch Rutherford and Tendi compete to be the messiah of technology for their respective departments.
There were also about a thousand metric tons of Star Trek references in all of Mariner's theories about Barb's true nature both in her crazed verbal spewage and her murder board.
And don't even @ me about the idea that the ship is named about Vancouver, Washington, people, because I've got my receipts.
The show's animation studio, Titmouse Inc, has an office in Vancouver, BC, CANADA, and much of the work on the show must be done north of the 49th parallel because Creative BC gets named as a "funding" sponsor in the credits.
Furthermore, when the Cerritos crew arrives on the Vancouver, one of its shuttles in the background is clearly named "Marpole," a neighborhood in South Vancouver.
And I checked, there ain't no Marpole neighborhood in Vancouver, Washington.
Right, so, as I said, my lurve for "Cupid's Errant Arrow" isn't completely based on the Vancouver/Canada references but on the very clever play on the fake girlfriend trope.
And Mariner knows her tropes. Especially her Trek ones.
Mariner: Brad, when a Starfleet relationship seems too good to be true, then RED ALERT man, it probably is.
Boimler: You think she's cheating on me?
Mariner: No, I think she's a secret alien who's going to eat you, or a Romulan spy, or a salt succubus, or an android, or a changeling, or one of those sexy people in rompers that murders you just for going on the grass!
Boimler: Woah, woah, I'm sorry. You're saying that because Barb is awesome and hot and dating me, that she's an alien? That is messed up, Mariner. That is not cool.
As it turns out, so does Barb. The fact that both women recognize that the other is so completely out of Boimler's league is really quite adorable.
Boimler, also, does not let us down in the dorkiness factor. He is so insecure about his relationship after finding out Barb and Jet used to date, he drops one of the better lines in the series.
I can't believe she used to date Jet. That guy's like a Kirk sundae with Trip Tucker sprinkles.Boimler
It also forced me to do a wiki-dive to figure out how Star Trek: Voyager's timeline lined up against Star Trek: The Next Generation and the film Star Trek: Nemesis, since I didn't expect to encounter a Trip Tucker reference. Ever.
For those paying attention, Mariner's protective attitude towards Boimler isn't a new thing. On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 2, she literally hosed down an Anabaj trying to seduce him to lay eggs in his throat.
Another trope being upended here is the best friend vs. romantic interest rivalry. However, instead of vying for Boimler's affections, they're both playing a protect-the-helpless card.
So discovering the parasitic influence was actually from Boimler all along was kind of brilliant. And, in hindsight, pretty obvious. #PoorBoimler
Boimler: She did break up with me.
Mariner: Hey, you'll find someone who loves you without a googa attached to your skull.
Boimler: You're just saying that.
The sight gags were heavily pulled from the pages of the Three's Company bible. Awkward "cool" act. Inappropriate proposals. Panicked apologies. Boimler is pretty much the Jack Tripper of the USS Cerritos.
Showrunner McMahon and his stable of writers have built some very useful devices into the foundation of the show.
For one, they've given themselves license to create completely new classes of starships to avoid the infamously nit-picky fan base from questioning the mechanics of the Cerritos and other vessels they encounter.
The Cerritos (and the Merced from Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 4) are from the hitherto unknown California class of starships. Apparently, all ships in this class are named after California cities or towns, and all their shuttles are named after state parks.
Here, as mentioned briefly before, they rendevous with the USS Vancouver of the also-hitherto-unknown Parliament class of ships. Its purpose is described as focusing on complex, large-scale engineering projects.
The fact that a Parliament-class ship captain is unable to solve a diplomatic dilemma like the dispute and protests presented by the Mixtus 2 and Mixtus 3 inhabitants is an irony not lost on this Canadian.
Anyhoo, Rutherford and Tendi have a good time playing country mice with the Vancouver's advanced tech.
Their discussion while performing repairs to the Cerritos' failing systems is a far cry from the expression of wonder when Tendi first joined the ship on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 1.
Rutherford: You know Kula told me the Vancouver has fluidic processors that self-replicate their own silicas?
Tendi: (gasps) Nuh-uh!
Rutherford: And he said they have tritanium hull brackets and, get this, T-88s!
Tendi: That can't be right. T-88s aren't even out yet.
Rutherford: I know!
Tendi: It's a starship! Not HEAVEN!
In fact, I think Tendi sighs the exact same "woah" when they arrive on the Vancouver.
It's the conceit of Lower Decks that the Cerritos is a very run-of-the-mill ship. It does the grunt work in the fleet. It's not flashy or impressive. It's a ship that manages to get by and doesn't look great doing it.
And its adventures aren't necessarily unique, although this crew's way of dealing with them might be.
Enti: You hear what happened on the Enterprise? Apparently Data's got an evil twin brother who teamed up with The Borg. Crazy, right?
Mariner: What? Man, it's like a new thing every week with those guys.
That the quirkily-named Lt. Cmdr. Docent is secretly looking to con a transfer swap onto the Cerritos in order to be "less epic" all the time is telling. Some people aren't cut out for epicness.
And some people steal tricorders from other ships. Which is, in its own way, totally epic.
From a couple of very exposition-filled, introductory scripts at the start, you'll have to admit as you watch Star Trek: Lower Decks online that the season has amped up its risk, its humor, and its ingenuity.
Granted, it is and always will be a half-hour animated comedy where the characters basically reset each week so I'm not expecting huge growth or development.
But as Captain Freeman mentioned on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 4, "it's about the notes [they] don't scat."
With the season half over, how would you rate this newest offering?
What have been the highlights? Lowlights? Biggest WTF moments?
Log your thoughts in the comments, and make it so!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.