For reasons I will try my best to articulate, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 Episode 5 may be my favorite episode of the season so far.
Maybe it's the incredibly purposeful construction of the narratives. Maybe it's the fact there is no real villain to overcome. Maybe it's the glory that is Berserker Boimler.
Who are we kidding? It's Berserker Boimler.
Of course, finding out what Rutherford was like before his implant is pretty mind-blowing. It's like Bart Simpson turned himself into Flanders. Almost a Jekyll and Hyde transformation.
Pre-implant Rutherford is obviously brilliant and ambitious, but was it his daredevil ways that caused the explosion that haunts Rutherford's dreams, or did the mysterious high-ranking figure from their memories have more to do with it?
The premise of two consciousnesses/personalities being too much for one human brain to handle is a long-time Trek trope. However, this might be the first time both consciousnesses belong to the same person.
It's probably meant to be proof of pre-implant Rutherford's impulsivity (or brilliance), but I cannot figure out his plan in trying to escape the Cerritos.
Rutherford: How come you never tried to take over before?
Young Rutherford: I did, dude! Haven’t you noticed this thing is always bugging out? Your programs turning against you? Behavioral shifts?
Rutherford: I did like pears for a minute.
Young Rutherford: I love pears! That was me trying to get my body back.
Was he going to steal the captain's yacht and fly back to his garage? Maybe race it for money like in the old days? Wait, didn't the Federation do away with monetary systems? Oh, he probably bought his parts from traders who still use currency.
Great, now I'm talking to myself.
But going back to my point about how well thought-out this script is, I submit as evidence the choice of Tulgana IV for the setting of the mission.
For those keeping track at home, this is the Cerritos's third mission to Tulgana IV.
On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 2, "Envoys," Boimler and Mariner became lost on the planet trying to deliver General K'orin to the Embassy. On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 10, during Boimler's brief stint onboard the Titan, he was part of Deanna Troi's escort to the planet.
Tulgana IV's ionic field's interference with communicators and transporters is established on the K'orin mission. This explains why Boimler and Mariner have to shuttle the recruitment booth down to the planet.
Also, the ionic field serves to foil pre-implant Rutherford's attempt to transport to the planet. (Again, what did he think he'd do down there with post-implant Rutherford constantly punching them in the implant?)
Tulgana IV's many culturally-specific districts (also seen originally on "Envoys") make it a very logical place to host a job fair. It's quite the crossroads for numerous species, and being a neutral planet, it makes sense that groups like the Collectors would hang out there.
Boimler: I know it’s not super exciting, but it’s our assignment. What are you going to do?
Mariner: Hm, complain the whole time and make it twice as miserable?
Boimler: Ah, that is your specialty.
It tickles me that there's a guild for Independent Space Archeologists or that Conspiracy Truthers feel the need to recruit. Also, do Collectors really consider their calling a job?
Seeing Mariner cowed and fearful of being sent to Starbase 80 is enlightening.
Mariner: Starfleet! Getcha Starfleet! We got new worlds! They’re strange and they need seeking out!
Boimler: Wow, it’s crazy to hear you, like, actually trying.
Starbase 80 is another callback to Season 1. By fascinating coincidence, when T'Ana mentions it on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Episode 6, she's threatening Mariner with banishment there.
Starfleet! Getcha Starfleet! Prepare yourself for Warp 10 excitement! Discover the Undiscovered Country!Mariner
Point of fact: the "Undiscovered Country" is a Shakespearean euphemism for the afterlife, meaning one would have to die to find it, so, yeah, not the greatest selling point for Starfleet.
Keener Keeping-It-Cool Mariner is highly entertaining but, Praise the Prophets, Berserker Boimler is the BEST.
WITHOUT STARFLEET, NONE OF YOU WOULD EXIST! WE DON’T WANT TO PROTECT YOU FROM THE KLINGONS AND THE BORG! WE JUST WANT TO EXPLORE AND STUDY F*CKING QUASARS! BUT, YOU KNOW WHAT? IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!Boimler
I love that it's disrespect to his rank pip that blows the top of his control. And I LURVE what Boimler losing control looks and sounds like. On anyone else, it would look like an aneurysm, but on Boimler, it's exactly right.
Dude's got depth, and on the rare occasion when we see it, it's truly AWESOME.
Georgia King as Petra Aberdeen was about as Lara Croft/Indiana Jones/Rick O'Connell as we could hope to see. She's reminiscent of Vash and maybe even overlaps a bit with Thadiun Okona. Truth is, they're probably all guild members.
Tellarite: Do you ever get to touch mummies?
Petra: Constantly. And you never have to go back in time to save Earth!
Mariner: That only happened… like, FOUR times. Five, tops.
Petra and Mariner have a fun dynamic. Maybe Jennifer has some competition?
Again, kudos to the writing for introducing Petra's exact purpose -- stealing from the museum -- so early that we almost forget about it by the time she springs into action.
Tendi plays a strong but distinctly supporting role here, which is in keeping with how she interacts with Rutherford.
I appreciate that when she realizes something's wrong, she is confident and practical in calling for an emergency medical team.
Boimler: Well, someone’s gotta do it.
Mariner: Uh, do they? Cause last time I checked, no one’s ever signed up for Starfleet at the recruitment booth.
Tendi: I did!
Mariner: Shh, you’re not helping.
As demonstrated on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 Episode 4, the team togetherness of Beta Shift is key to their success, and post-implant Rutherford knows this intrinsically when he crews his Delta Flyer.
I'm glad the Rutherfords came to a binary conclusion. Their core motivations are too different for them to integrate.
Pre-implant Rutherford is an angry speed-obsessed Alpha/Mariner-type. The team dynamic would be completely thrown off even if he learned to play better with others.
Young Rutherford: I was always so angry. At everything. But you… all that rage is gone.
Rutherford: Can’t we merge and just be both of us? All our memories combined?
Young Rutherford: Nah, then we’d both be gone. Sometimes, it’s better to grow.
With pre-implant Rutherford laid to rest, we can assume Rutherford's implant will stop glitching. Maybe he can even try to program Badgey 2.0, and maybe it won't turn psychotic?
I can't imagine we'll get another Berserker Boimler episode this season, but now that we know it's possible, we can hope.
In this bouquet of Trek canon trivia, can you choose your favorite blossom?
Who's on your top ten list of sinister wipe-your-memory high-ranking officers? My money's on Jellico, but since money isn't a thing in the Federation, that means very little.
Will Petra be back? Will successful recruitment spike thanks to Berserker Boimler? Will Boimler develop a liking for brig life?
Hit our comments with your thoughts and theories. Name your biggest hits and misses!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.