Nicely done, Lower Decks. Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 10 held a lot more genuine surprises and delightful moments than I could've hoped for.
From the revisit of Beta III to the callous nature of exocomp logic ("Sucks to be organic!" LOL), this was not only a good episode, it was a great finale.
Every one of our Lower Decks crew has a character-altering experience in this finale. It moves the narrative beyond the episodic adventure template and sets up something that, while not wholly novel, promises something bordering on the strange and new.
Plus, we got both RIKER and TROI!
Biggest shocker: Boimler and Mariner part ways.
For a show where the bulk of the storylines have involved Boimler and Mariner working together, working at odds, competing, and/or complementing each other, Boimler actually getting his dream promotion and LEAVING the Cerritos definitely wasn't on my top ten predictions.
But the clever writers seeded two major elements of this script way back on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 6.
One was Badgey, of course (more on him later), but the other was the vacancy created on the U.S.S. Titan when Fletcher was kicked out of Starfleet.
I like that they played a long game on that. And with subtlety.
That wasn't the only echo that played out across the season.
When Riker and Freeman meet up in the crew lounge, he's quick to point out how Mariner's benefited from his mentorship.
Riker: You know, I was her mentor.
Freeman: Yeah, well, I remember it differently.
Riker: You were sort of my cha'DIch! We used to get into so much trouble!
On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 1, Mariner literally makes herself Boimler's mentor and names him her cha'DIch.
I'm not totally sure Boimler has appreciated that role much.
Mariner: Look at Brad Boimler being cool for once! Wait, is this because of my teachings?
Boimler: Okay, you don't teach. You just instigate chaos.
Mariner: Exactly! Helpful, character-building chaos.
So does that make Mariner the up-and-coming Riker and Boimler some reincarnation of Freeman?
Does that put Mariner on a future Titan with Boimler making captain in the second contact fleet?
Although not so much a shock as a surprise, I was expecting Boimler to sit on his knowledge of the Freeman-Mariner connection for a bit longer.
And a tech quibble: since when can people listen in through a com badge without the receiver tapping to open the link?
Yeah, yeah, I know this is an animated comedy but it's still STAR TREK and the tech's gotta pan out.
Unless it's a movie.
Rutherford: Sir, are you okay?
Billups: I'll live but the rest of the crew...
Rutherford: ... will be fine. I initiated a rapid repeating emergency transport sequence and beamed the entire crew before we crashed.
Billups: What? That's not possible.
Rutherford: No, it's a movie. You can beam whatever you want. You can do all sorts of beam-y stuff in a movie.
I may have questioned the motives behind hiding the relationship but after seeing the fallout from the reveal, I kinda get it.
Freeman: Why did we ever keep this a secret in the first place?
Mariner: I just wanted to fly under the radar.
Freeman: And I didn't want anyone to know the most demerited officer in the fleet was my daughter.
What completely works is that Mariner's epiphany from Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 9 means that, now, she's able to entertain the idea of transferring off her mother's ship.
She doesn't need the safety net because she knows that she's capable and that she's true Star Fleet.
Furthermore, Freeman's come to understand that Mariner's insubordination isn't necessarily a terrible trait.
Ransom: We're out of options!
Freeman: Then I need someone to make me some.
Mariner: Me? What am I supposed to do? I don't know these guys!
Freeman: Do what you do best. I need a dangerous, half-baked solution that breaks Starfleet codes and totally pisses me off. That's an order.
She gets that her daughter has the freedom to innovate where she can't. And, ultimately, it saves (most of) their butts against the Pakleds. Temporarily.
And it inspires her to offer Mariner a chance to be her rogue agent in the Lower Decks.
Mariner: Wait, are you saying, work together for a change?
Freeman: Might be useful to have a captain on your side, y'know? Instead of up your ass?
While this seems uncharacteristic of the captain on first glance, I have to again tip my hat to the writers for foreshadowing the move in the opening scenes with the Betans and Freeman's comments to Ransom.
Freeman: Nothing against second contact missions but the Cerritos should be popping in on those legacy civilizations BEFORE they unravel.
Ransom: Yeah, but popping in is against regulation. We would need specific orders.
Freeman: I just hate seeing a perfectly good society get destroyed by a Gamester of Triskelion and/or whatever because Starfleet has a policy of SOME intervention.
Speaking of Ransom. Once again, I have to award him the Worst First Officer booby prize.
Seriously. From not knowing his crew to having only one strategy in his toolbox for dealing with alien conflict to his desperate horndog persona, I'm not sure how he got promoted to his "fly-in-amber" station.
And then the fact he can't even decide between Boimler and Mariner for a promotion... this Number One is full of number two.
Ransom: Boimler, your record is spotless. It's freaky.
Boimler: Thank you, sir. There is more on the bat.
Ransom: On the other hand, Mariner is the captain's daughter.
Mariner: Hm, sort of stuck between a rock and a kiss-ass place, aren't we, sir?
It might be just me but Peanut Hamper's side-bit was my favorite secondary plot here.
First of all, EXOCOMP! Woot! What a great ST:tNG throwback.
Then, to have her NOT live up to Tendi's optimism and idealism? Hilariously brilliant.
Tendi: What about the needs of the many?
Peanut Hamper: I joined Starfleet to piss off my dad, not to be a virus bomb.
Finally, to leave her floating in space? And Kalla space, potentially full of other Pakled hoarders? Perfect karma.
Hopefully, Dr. T'Ana got all the info on that skin-grafting procedure that she needed.
Freeman: I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to replace [Shaxs]
Mariner: Well, wherever he is, I'm sure he's full-throat screaming in someone's face and ejecting a warp core.
Freeman: I'd like to think you're right.
One thing we don't see that often on animated comedies is mass deaths. Strange, right?
So the fact that the U.S.S. Solvang is destroyed with all hands lost is a bit of a shock. Then, to lose Shaxs as well is to add a gravitas to the grim reality of armed conflict.
Rutherford's memory loss of all his time with Tendi is another casualty although, in typical Tendi fashion, she looks on the bright side.
The return of Badgey was pretty intense. I have a theory that patches up a couple of plot holes for me but it's just me spitballing.
After Rutherford disables the safety protocols, Badgey makes it pretty clear that he's a lethal threat to Rutherford and the entire crew.
Badgey: Can I teach you a lesson?
Rutherford: Badgey! I need you to code a virus for me.
Badgey: To do that, I would need you to disable safety protocols.
Rutherford: Wait, you're not going to try to kill me again, are you?
Badgey: Haha, I'm BADGEY!
So why wouldn't Rutherford just reactivate the safety protocols once he has the virus?
I think he does do that. Only Badgey made himself a part of the virus which is what we saw when Rutherford downloaded it into the Pakled computer.
Which means Badgey still exists in the Cerritos's computer. Only Rutherford doesn't remember that now that he's lost all his memories since he got the implant.
Mariner: They've got us outgunned and they know it. But they're taking their time. If we can plant a virus in their system, we can cripple their ship.
Ransom: Who here could whip up a code like that? They'd have to be some sort of morally-bankrupt genius.
Amazing, right? It's like Next Gen's Moriarty hiding out in the computer except nowhere near as civilized and not-psychotic.
So there you have it. When you watch Star Trek: Lower Decks online, the credits roll on a wholly different cast of characters from when the curtain went up all those weeks ago.
Mariner is more secure in her abilities and willing to step up for some responsibilities, even willing to team up with her mom.
Boimler's got his dream gig and some significant walk to back up his talk thanks to Mariner's "mentorship".
Boimler, you can't keep ducking me forever. It is a really small galaxy out there. Sooner or later, I'm going to run into you and I'm going to feed you to an armus! You hear me?Mariner
Tendi's Pollyanna optimism may have dimmed ever so slightly with her experiences but only to increase her delight in the potential of the world she works and plays in.
Rutherford's somewhat reckless programming experiments saved the day but it's questionable whether he'll get a new implant considering the many issues that came about with his first set-up.
So do you think this is the last we've seen of Boimler? Badgey? RIKER?
Did you think this was a worthy finale?
What are you hoping for next season?
Who has BORG on their ST:LD bingo card?
Where will the Cerritos go next and will you follow? Are your fists set to stun and your kicks to kill?
Log it all into the comments and WARP ME!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.