Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8 Review: I, Excretus

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While it's always fun getting to know the Cerritos crew and following their adventures, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8 makes no bones about the fact this show's core attraction is its self-referential nature.

Keen-eyed viewers will have spotted a literal list of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: The Original Series that the simulation drills were drawn from.

And the Pandronian consultant is a salute to Star Trek: The Animated Series, the spiritual predecessor of Lower Decks. It's an Easter Egg avalanche. And I'm totally here for it.

No Way - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

Mirror Universe has been in the Trek consciousness since Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 and the introduction of the (literally) killer character of Emperor Georgiou.

So, of course, Mariner gets dumped in there first. Her failed mission isn't all that interesting, but glimpsing the Mirror Universe versions of other crew members is totally worth the trip.

Mirror Billups: Nothing makes me hornier than torturing someone. I'm horny all the time.
Mirror Rutherford: And being horny always gets me in the mood to torture!
Mirror Billups: You can lose a whole day to that cycle.

The Western frontier analogy to space exploration has been used repeatedly in numerous series besides the many times it has been the setting for Trek adventures -- Firefly, anyone? There was a high level of irony in Mariner failing the drill at all, but failing by horse trampling was another level altogether.

What's fascinating is that seeing our superstar butt-kicker get her butt kicked by simulations doesn't detract from her bad-ass-ness at all.

Looking for Trouble - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

We know that Mariner isn't by-the-book Starfleet. That's her whole thing. In her own words, she's "a maverick."

And Tendi and Rutherford are well-meaning, but they lead with their heart, which will not score points on standardized testing either.

So who excels at simulation drills? Boimler, of course.

Borg Queen: A remarkable creature. Your design very nearly passes as human.
Boimler: I am human...?
Borg Queen: Ew! Well, then you need to drink more water. Your skin is a mess. But still, I think I should add your biological distinctiveness to our own. It's kind of our thing.

The Borg Queen mistakes him for an android.

The doofus actually retakes the drill when he's insulted by his first assessed score. And then, like any addiction, the improvement he makes isn't enough.

Mirror Universe Shenanigans - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

You can lay down good latinum that Mirror Universe Boimler wouldn't have bothered saving Borg babies.

This is an ingenious script in that Boimler's compulsiveness buys time for Freeman and Mariner to extort the consultant.

Freeman: Sherri Yin Yim is no longer working for Starfleet. Apparently, she's stepped down because of on the job stress.
Mariner: Feels good, ruining a jerk's career.

In return, Boimler's documented losing streak continues, as he's forced to let his perfect simulation score slip away to save the ship IRL.

In true Cerritos' style, the crew learns a lesson no one was trying to teach them.

In Space - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

I wasn't sure how well the role reversal trope would play when the bridge crew was initially breezing through the ensign duties.

Honestly, I can see how relaxing it would be to go from facing high-stress dilemmas regularly to a few days of menial grunt work.

Freeman: Not going to argue with you, Beckett! I have to make impossible life and death decisions every day.
Mariner: Yeah, no kidding. It's always our life or death!

To be fair, standing at the ready in the transporter room is a far cry from cleaning out the holodeck bio-filters.

Once again, the show is called "Lower Decks," so having only one simulation featuring the bridge crew being flummoxed by the barriers that block ensigns from doing anything meaningful was enough.

Family Resemblance - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

Throughout the series, it's been a running theme that Mariner is a lot more like her mother (and vice versa) than either wants to admit.

Seeing them with their roles reversed gives us a clue why Carol's career hasn't risen at the same rate as her husband's.

(I also occasionally entertain the thought that Admiral Mariner has pulled strings to keep his wife and daughter a few lightyears away, but that's probably a bit unfair.)

It hurts me to say this, but maybe the bridge crew's jobs are actually harder than we thought.

Mariner

The most bonkers simulation was Mariner's foray into the Naked Now/Time scenario in a no-holds-barred win.

It's an odd thing to throw in since Mariner takes nothing away from the experience except trauma.

Mariner's Pissed - Star Trek: Lower Decks

Mind you, that trauma leads her to freak out while in command of the simulated Cerritos.

Which then cascades into a confrontation with her mother, leading them to fail the most basic ship maneuvers.

Mariner: I can't believe we didn't even make it out of the space dock.
Freeman: There's not even a numerical score for that. Just 'incomplete'
Mariner: Oof, somehow, that feels worse.

So, again, points for an ingenious script.

But, seriously, we never need to see the implication of a naked Boimler butthole ever again.

Ever. Again.

All's Right With the World - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

To return to Boimler's drill experience briefly, his assimilation as Excretus of Borg is my favorite send-up of Trek to date.

Maybe it's because he'd be a really successful Borg. In his interactions with his Lower Decks team, he's obviously yearning for a collective to belong to.

Maybe it's because Borg are only terrifying if you're worthy of being assimilated. Take that how you will.

Maybe it's because we've been dealing with freakin' Pakleds all season. Seriously, enough already.

In Space - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

But, in bittersweet news, there are only two more adventures left in this season. Bitter in that we'll have to wait for new installments, but sweet in knowing that the final two are sure to be over-the-top crazy awesome.

What are your predictions for how the season wraps up?

Will we see another Lower Decks implosion?

Will T'Ana make an honest resurrected Bajoran out of Shaxs?

Curled Up For Comfort - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8

Now that we know what Boimler is capable of, will we see him step up with some confidence?

Does anyone else find Tendi's fascination with pesto weirdly hilarious? Huh, just me, eh? Well, carry on.

On my personal wishlist is a plotline where we get to see all the missing family connections. Mariner's dad, Rutherford's folks, Tendi's whole clan, and maybe Boimler has a rebellious sibling or something.

Your turn: What would be your Lower Decks fantasy pitch? Please keep it clean -- well, within reason -- and throw it in the comments below!

I, Excretus Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (2 Votes)

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8 Quotes

Freeman: Not going to argue with you, Beckett! I have to make impossible life and death decisions every day.
Mariner: Yeah, no kidding. It's always our life or death!

T'Ana: There we go. Nothing a little lung rejuvenation won't fix.
Freeman: See? You're fine.
Mariner: Oh yeah. Act like it's not a big deal you left us to die in the void.
Ransom: This all could've been avoided if you'd followed protocol and signed out your magnet boots.
Mariner: Or maybe that wouldn't have even mattered since lower decks are so expendable to you.
Shaxs: Ridiculous! We're all equals on this ship. Right?
Ransom: Um, they sleep in a hallway.
Shaxs: Oh.