Nothing about Star Trek is all that confusing but it's not always straightforward either. Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 7 is entitled "Much Ado About Boimler" but I'd argue Boimler's plotline is secondary to Mariner's.
Go ahead, fight me on this.
Typically in Trek (but not always, I know), the A Plot is ship-centric and leads to some sort of permanent character growth while the B occurs on the periphery with an echo of the theme and some temporary shenanigans.
Here, Boimler's story takes him (and Tendi) away from the Cerritos to meet characters they'll probably never meet again. He returns by the end to a status quo situation, pretty much exactly as he was at the start.
Mariner's, on the other hand, keeps her with the ship, acting as First Officer, and forces her to confront and verbalize the whys and wherefores of her choice to stay Lower Decks.
Mariner: How do you do this every day? It's so boring.
Ramsey: You used to love space mysteries.
Mariner: Yeah, I used to be dumb.
Ramsey: That's one way to look at it.
Mariner: What does that mean?
Ramsey: I expected to be working with the capable Starfleet bad-ass I knew at the academy. Not whatever you are now.
Mariner: Yeah, and I expected to be working with my fun friend not a total b----
Amina Ramsey is a fantastic foil to Mariner, career-focused and comfortable with leadership. Also, having Toks Olagundoye, the fantastic voice actor of Ducktales (2017) and Carmen Sandiego (2019) acclaim take on the role was stellar casting.
(BTW, it tickled my nerd core to have Carmen Sandiego's Countess Cleo stepping in for The Chief.)
Their different paths may have to do with Mariner's legacy parents and the pressures that come from that. I'm sure we'll learn more this season.
Even recognizing that the titular Boimler plot is actually the secondary one, it's still entertaining. Not as much for Boimler but for Tendi's whole genetic-experiment-turned-The-Thing and the other passengers of the Osler.
Boimler does make for a nice entry point and, despite not going all "The Fly" on us, created the perfect opportunity to call in Division 14.
T'Ana: I've already alerted Division 14.
Boimler: The time travel police?
T'Ana: No! D14 handles unsolvable space illnesses and science mysteries.
Boimler: And they can make me a real boy again?
T'Ana: They've got this great medical spa in Endocronimus 5. Everyone just calls it 'The Farm'. You'll be pampered and tended to like a precious gem.
I had to do a quick Memory Alpha dive to decipher the references in the Division 14 ship.
The Osler is registered as NX-75300 which indicates it is an experimental or prototype starship.
Naming it "The Osler" is most probably a tip of the cap to the Osler-class ships which are hospital transports in the expanded Star Trek 'verse.
What I found most interesting was that despite the many causes of the injuries and mutations sustained by the Division 14 guests, most could plausibly be sorted into either transporter accident or chemical explosion.
Which makes The Dog sort of a unique freak among freaks.
It's fitting that Tendi would try to earn her extra credit by genetically engineering (and upgrading) a "perfectly normal" dog. Especially since her direct superior is a cat-humanoid.
In Medical, they encourage us to do side-projects so I took a bunch of inert carbon and built myself a fluffy friend from scratch.Tendi
But they needed The Dog to make sending Boimler to The Farm really ring the trope-twisting bell, right?
To make The Dog even more unusual, it's the only passenger being sent to The Farm that isn't going to be "cured". It's literally going to live out the dog retirement myth of The Farm.
Which is really nice for Tendi who just wanted to make a friend.
Back on the Cerritos, Mariner's attempts to prove herself inept seem to fool everyone except Ramsey.
I have to wonder if there's ever been an ensign-to-first-officer promotion before. It seems like an unlikely event. Even if you go way back with the acting captain.
Mariner: I thought you were on the Oakland?
Ramsey: Couldn't pass up a water filtration repair!
Mariner: This is crazy! Wait, and you're a frickin' captain now? Get those title bumps, girl.
Ramsey: Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal.
Having Ramsey and Mariner reminesce about their Academy days was a clever way of illustrating how their roles have reversed since their time as cadets.
(Quick aside here to give kudos for the "Saul Rubichek" reference. TNG Season 3 Episode 22, "The Most Toys", has always been a favorite and mostly because Kivas Fajo played by Saul RubiNEK was so memorable in an evil nerd hoarder sort of way.)
Ramsey's team is pretty much as un-Lower Decks as we've seen so far. Also, pretty un-Cerritos. My guess is that the Oakland is a more typical Starfleet crew.
So would Mariner fit in there? I stand by my theory that she's dealing with some insecurities that were triggered by something that occurred after her Academy days.
Cerritos is her security net. Moreover, the Cerritos crew is her team. She may not have volunteered to be zapped back and forth by Rutherford's new program but she recognized (and remembered) that it existed.
Mariner: Rutherford! We need your transporter thing up and running! Now!
Rutherford: It made Boimler weird!
Mariner: Boim us out of here!
Semantics quibble here. How could ordering, installing, and running Rutherford's program -- which had a goal of improving the speed of transport by .7 seconds -- have been faster than the traditional transporter?
Seriously, I want to know the answer to that one.
It's also pretty cute that Rutherford thinks his program was what "made Boimler weird".
Ramsey's visit serves multiple purposes but the most definitive is showing Mariner respecting and getting along with a captain.
With Freeman in command of the Cerritos, Mariner makes it her M.O. to be as insubordinate as possible when interacting with the bridge crew.
Seeing her operate as a part of a bridge team reminds us that she is Lower Decks by choice and design, not because it's where she belongs.
Freeman: Captain Ramsey, I just wanted to take a brief pause from our covert operation to check in on my ship.
Ramsey: The Cerritos and her crew have performed admirably, Captain Freeman. We repaired the waste pipe on Qampa and are waiting on the Rubidoux.
Freeman: Very good. I've got to go. These rulot seeds are highly volitile. I may be called to plant them at any moment.
As for the C Plot wher Freeman leads the covert botanical mission in her typical melodramatic and pompous manner?
Totally ridiculous but completely in keeping with the Cerritos bridge crew. Wondering if Shaxs got to shoot anyone while planting the thing.
And something Mariner and Freeman share in common is that they look good getting the job done. Whatever that job is.
So for a script with two (and a half) plots, named after the lesser of the two major plots, which explores the themes of unexplored potential and unexpected happy endings, it gets the job done as well.
When you watch Star Trek: Lower Decks online, let me know in the comments who/what you'd like to recur from this offering.
I could see Ramsey returning for sure. Also strong contenders are The Dog and Division 14.
What's next? Worm hole? Borg Cube? A new take on The Naked Time/Now?
When will we get the BIG CAMEO?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.