Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3 Review: We'll Always Have Tom Paris

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Not to take anything away from the writers, but Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3 feels like a bit of a miscellaneous, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink script.

We have three separate plotlines, which is a lot when the show runs an hour. In a thirty-minute offering, it's positively dizzying.

With Tendi and Mariner on their wacky Gift of the Magi mission, attempting to retrieve -- then repair -- a family heirloom for T'Ana, Boimler hallucinating in the Jeffries tubes, and Rutherford unable to accept Shaxs' resurrection, it wouldn't be that far-fetched to propose that the whole thing was a fever dream.

Boimler in a Crisis - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Rutherford's plot is especially clunky and surreal, although the fact Fred Tatasciore's name was never removed from the opening credits was a clue that the Bajoran Security Chief was always bound to return.

The surrealism comes from the fact that no one else (except that one, unfortunately, junior grade lieutenant) thinks it's odd that Shaxs is back.

Rutherford: Shaxs is alive?
Mariner: Yeah, guess so. Bridge officers are always coming back from the dead. You gonna finish that muffin?

And, yeah, historically, Star Trek has used the more fantastical elements of its genre to bring back characters who have died or been seemingly lost.

Rutherford: He saved my life! You know what, I'm going to ask him.
Boimler: They don't like it when people ask how they came back, man. It's probably just a transporter buffer thing.
Mariner: Yeah, or a restored katra, or a Mirror Universe switcheroo, or the Borg rebuilt him...
Boimler: Or he could be a future son from an alternate timeline, or maybe he got Genesis deviced, or a time ribbon.
Mariner: Or he was trapped in the Nexus.
Boimler: Nexus, time ribbon, it's the same thing.

However, returning Shaxs by explaining that Starfleet has some sort of regulated, ritualized resurrection process that traumatizes all who learn of it borrows a bit much from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for comfort.

Shaxs is Overworked too - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 3

To be fair, of all the team members to learn of this process, Rutherford is the best candidate to seek out the truth and keep it under wraps.

His whole fixation and refusal to accept that it is what it is can be explained by his brainwipe, and implant reset.

His need to know is definitely an emotional human reaction but mostly a scientific compulsion.

Shaxs: There's a reason we don't anyone how we come back.
Rutherford: I know. You can't tell me because I'm just an ensign.
Shaxs: It's nothing to do with rank, son. We're sparing you dark truths about scientific depravity that would haunt you for the rest of your days. Once you know, you can never go back to being the man you were before.
Rutherford: Works for me! Tell me, tell me!

But, ultimately, it was a pretty softball explanation for bringing back Tatasciore.

Interestingly, Kayshon is still on the bridge crew, so it's anyone's guess as to how the Security Chief position is officially being staffed at the moment.

Bridge Crew - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Boimler's plotline was a surprisingly deep metaphor for him finding his place after being transporter-cloned and losing his position (and promotion) to his clone on the Titan.

The fact that the ship's newly upgraded security protocols do not recognize him as an identity or even as a body is a clever actualization for the adage, "You can't go home again."

First, I get kicked off the Titan. Then, the Cerritos doesn't even know me anymore. Where do I belong?


Every decision that he makes, leading to his final crisis, talking the commemorative plate Paris while trapped in a fume-filled Jeffries tube, is completely Boimler.

Instead of dealing with the replicator and door issues by taking it to Billups, he chooses to ignore and carry on.

Eager for a Meal - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Instead of recognizing the issue at the turbo lift, he bristles at Jet's (totally patronizing) offer of help and decides to climb through the ship's internal access tubes instead. (Which, you'd think the ship would have better security about.)

Instead of radioing for help (assuming his communicator is still working) and asking to be transported out of the Jeffries tube, he tries to rewire it (at the suggestion of his hallucinatory buddy on the plate) and ends up shoving his souvenir into the panel in frustration.

Of course, that's what solves the issue. A very Fonzy-jukebox/Scotty-esque solution.

Boimler: This black eye he gave me is way cooler than a signed plate.
Mariner: True. There's like only a couple of people in the quadrant who can say they got beat up by Tom Paris.

How he goes from full uniform to looking enough like a Kazon for the actual Tom Paris to attack him, I'll chalk up to crisis creativity.

Getting Robert Duncan McNeill back to voice Tom Paris (both on plate and bridge versions) is impressive. A show that draws the majority of its viewers from the followers of the various previous series is smart to tap into the VOY fanbase.

Tom Paris - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

To reach for some narrative parallelism, both Boimler and Shaxs are seen here to be dealing with a difficult return.

Transitions are challenging, and whether it's from one ship to another or from a decapitated state of demise back to life, there will be some bumpy bits. I guess.

What up? We doing the sci-fi stuff today?


On the flip-side of the action, Mariner and Tendi have the ultimate animated sci-fi Thelma & Louise road trip, complete with a self-induced attempted shuttle crash finale.

For a straightforward retrieval mission, they end up taking a lot of detours on the way back. All the things they learn about each other are heart-warming even if T'Ana's family heirloom libido post gets destroyed in the process.

Qualor II - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Their first stop to Qualor II is like a Vegas fun-stop where Mariner finds out that Tendi is into Klingon Acid Punk music. Not information that we as the audience were ever privy to, so... okay, that's pretty trivial knowledge.

Then, when they break the head off the post, Tendi learns that Mariner was once stationed on Deep Space 9 before they head for Starbase Earhart. The audience knew that Mariner had been on multiple ships and assignments, so maybe Tendi hasn't been listening too well.

Mariner: Don't be so hard on yourself. It was just a mistake.
Tendi: I don't get to make mistakes like you do. It was hard getting into the Academy. There's still a lot of stigma around Orions. A lot of humans think we're all thieves and pirates! Wait, my cousin works in a thieves' den in a pirate outpost in this sector. He might be able to help us out.
Mariner: As long as you aren't bothered by the optics, it works for me.

When they're undercover on the Orion Pirate Outpost, the discussion about Mariner's taste in men is pretty funny, but when Mariner reveals she doesn't even know Tendi's first name is D'vana... whew, that's a doozy of an oversight.

Tendi: I don't know if I've ever seen you date anyone. You usually seem to be with Boimler.
Mariner: What? Ew! No, what? Yo, that is so messed up.
Tendi: What? I don't know. You guys practically sleep in the same bunk.
Mariner: We do not! Ew! He's like a pet!

Platonic work relationships between female-presenting characters are tricky at times, as evidenced by Mariner's interaction with Jennifer the Andorian on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 1.

Team Bonding - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Actual friendships when the characters have been mostly paired off with others (as Tendi points out as they're setting out for Qualor II) are even more problematic.

Both Tendi and Mariner come to Lower Decks with personal baggage. Tendi carries the stigma of being Orion (something she's been pigeon-holed by already twice on three episodes this season). It makes her over-eager to please.

The reason you don't much about me... that's my fault. I'm always so busy making everyone else happy that I never open up.


Mariner's got the whole mommy/captain thing going and, apparently, a fear of abandonment too. Who knew?

Mariner: Don't feel bad that you don't know much about my life. I keep it vague on purpose.
Tendi: Why?
Mariner: Every time I open up, people get promoted and take off. It's better to just keep it surface level and never have friends instead of always losing them.

I would've preferred more off-ship time between Boimler and Rutherford's on-ship crises and the Tendi-Mariner bonding going on. Also, some backstory on the whole "Mistress of the Winter Constellations" would've been appreciated.

Or an explanation why the false green effect wore off so quickly. Or what the phrase "false green" even means in the context of Orion culture.

In the Tubes - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

With all the vagueness around Shaxs' resurrection and Boimler's weird Jefferies tube epiphany, they really could've just shown Boimler climbing into the tubes and then falling onto the bridge, talking to the plate and looking like a Kazon.

It would've made just about as much sense, and we could've still watched Tom Paris beat Boimler up.

Meanwhile, T'Ana's whole thing with the libido box came in was a fitting ending to a ridiculous road trip. It might've been interesting to know why it had to be that particular box, but in an episode so light on exposition, I'm not going to expect that.

Props are due for dropping in such a diverse cast of characters. In addition to Kayshon, our Starfleet Tamarian, we had Nausicaan gamblers, a huge range of Orion pirate thieves, the Kazon reference, and the Caitian bin keeper on Qualor II. Representation matters, people.

T'Ana, Looking Rough - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3

Also, it's nice to see that Quark's, as a franchise, is still a going concern.

So, did you enjoy this road trip? Was Shaxs' return a satisfying one?

Now that Paris has made his appearance, who would you like to see next? Another VOY crew member? Or maybe the Cerritos docks at DS9?

Hit the comments with your best thoughts and shots!

We'll Always Have Tom Paris Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Diana Keng was 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 X.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3 Quotes

Rutherford: Shaxs is alive?
Mariner: Yeah, guess so. Bridge officers are always coming back from the dead. You gonna finish that muffin?

What up? We doing the sci-fi stuff today?