Replacing a dead core character can be a tricky maneuver, and Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 2 doubles so by replacing the deceased Shaxs with Kayshon, a species of Tamarian that speaks only in metaphor.
To be fair, on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tasha Yar's position as Security Chief was filled by promoting Worf, the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet. Bringing Kayshon, the first Tamarian to serve, onboard to replace Shaxs is a pretty on-the-nose nod.
Furthermore, Kayshon being Tamarian reminds fans that when the species was introduced on "Darmok" (ST: TNG S5E2), the central message was one of fostering understanding. This is echoed here in the interaction between Mariner and Jett.
Ironically, Mariner and Jett, like Picard and Dathon, are both would-be leaders of the Beta Team because they're both Alpha-type personalities.
Of course, they're diametrically opposed in their approach to Starfleet duties and protocols.
Jet: I'll try to come up with a plan.
Mariner: Enough with this whole textbook leader routine. We're not buying it.
Jet: I'm just trying to step up here. You're the one with the act. The whole dive-in headfirst thing. You're just desperate to be seen as some kind of renegade hero.
Mariner: No, I'm not! Diving in is just how I work best.
Jet: And I like to think things out. Sorry if that comes off as all 'textbook' to you.
From the (figurative) pissing contest in the (literal) sonic showers to planning out their escape from the Collector's defense system, they can't seem to get onside with each other's perspective.
Not until they discover they both can't stand Ransom. It seems like some of the best of friendships are founded on mutual dislike of a third party.
Kayshon is a pretty vanilla addition to the crew. Not aggressive, not offensive. Competent and eager to interact, despite the complicated language issues.
He's a responsible commander, as demonstrated by his (successful) effort to block the puppet ray from Tendi. (Also: A puppet ray? Random? Canon? Someone enlighten me if I'm missing a reference.)
I love how excited Tendi is to meet and work with him. As an Orion, she's in the same situation of being a rare species among Starfleet personnel.
Of course, her default setting is "excited and enthusiastic," so I may be reading more into it than is necessarily meaningful.
It's indicative of Lower Decks' ethos that she and Rutherford prove to have the solution to their situation where Mariner's bluster and Jet's bravado only get them barricaded by a bunch of bones, hiding from killer Roombas.
It also speaks to the fact that Mariner and Jet maybe aren't ready yet to be commanders because they overlooked their team members' strengths for so long.
We don't need to be heroes today, people. We just need to survive.Jet
Boimler's return to the Cerritos was a burning question of "How" not "When" among the fandom.
For him to get transporter cloned was probably getting pretty good odds in the betting pool.
It's fitting in a lot of ways.
Boimler: Aw, man. A copy me got transported out? Boo.
Boimler Copy: I'm the transporter clone? Boo.
Riker: The distortion field must've... oooh, I've heard this tune before.
One, Riker is one of his heroes, so to have the same thing happen to both of them is pretty fan-boy delightful.
Two, to have his own clone backstab him for the Titan posting is so on-point, it's painful.
Boimler: I got transporter cloned.
Rutherford: Ah-ha! Pay up.
Tendi: Dammit. How did you possibly guess that?
Rutherford: I dunno. It just seemed like a Boimler thing to happen.
Three, it sends the O.G. Boimler out as a hero to his away team.
First Officer: This is what we signed up for, men. To boldly go. Boimler?
Boimler: Uh, I'm sorry. I gotta be honest. I didn't join Starfleet to get in phaser fights. I signed up to explore, to be out in space, making new discoveries and peaceful diplomatic solutions. That's boldly going.
His Pollyanna-ish optimism about Starfleet's role in the universe (and his own within Starfleet) serves to reboot his team's perspective on the job and even earns him a pretty cool call-sign (which would get super confusing if he ever has to serve aboard an Enterprise).
Having the Titan and the Cerritos adventures juxtaposed provides a fascinating comparison of two of the major facets of Star Trek missions.
If we were to agree that Star Trek is -- and always has been -- an examination of "humanity" with all its diversity and challenges, open-ended exploration and diplomacy is a much richer environment in which the characters can learn and grow.
Mariner: So, was the Titan as awesome as everybody says?
Boimler: Eh, it was a bunch of complex characters thrown into heavily serialized battles which always ended in mindblowing twists and made me question the basic tenets of my reality. But who cares about that? Tell me more about this puppet ray! That's the kind of stuff I live for.
The Titan, a ship engaged in a perpetual series of conflicts, provides a static context where the characters become homogenized with the need to survive and surmount impossible odds.
Boimler: Are you talking about the D? The flagship? They went to different dimensions! They fought the Borg! They insurrected!
First Officer: They had regular string quartets. Wow. What a rush.
Boimler's wake-up call to his teammates reminds them of the wonder and curiosity that drew them to a career in space.
It wasn't always covert ops and blasting your way out of a stand-off. It was moss and beaming at some point. Maybe remembering that is the true Boimler Effect.
Boimler's return to the Cerritos brings our crew around to the nearest semblance of status quo, as could be expected after the events of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 10.
The gang's back together (although Jet has reason to feel pretty hurt after being shunted).
Mariner and Freeman are back to being adversaries.
Freeman: What the hell is going on?
Rutherford: The ship tried to collect us, Captain.
Freeman: Where's Kayshon?
Tendi: Kayshon. When he became a puppet.
Freeman: This is what being hands-off gets me? Well, NEVER AGAIN!
Rutherford and Tendi are as tight as ever.
The Cerritos is back to its second contact duties.
Oh, I guess Shaxs is still gone. But I guess Tasha's exit was a permanent one too. Except for "Yesterday's Enterprise." And she sort of reappears in "Redemption." And then they brought her back for "All Good Things."
Did I mention Fred Tatasciore's name is still in the opening credits? Hmm...
Are you tired? Because you've been Arnok at the Race in Netarra through my mind all night. [crew member leaves] Well, Shaka When the Walls Fell.
Kayshon's not a bad Security Chief, per se. No more than Polaski was a bad doctor. He's just incredibly bland compared to Shaxs.
But he has potential. Any character who communicates in memes is bound to find himself caught up in some interesting shenanigans.
So sound off, readers. Did Boimler's adventures scratch your itch for adventure? Or was the constant screaming starting to grate on your nerves, too?
Were you hoping Jet would stay on Beta Team? Or was it always going to be a Mariner battle for him?
Who's dreaming of inventing a puppet ray of their own? I know you're out there.
Hit the comments section with your best spotted Easter Egg from the Collector's ship!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.