Star Trek Lower Decks (LOW) Season 2 Guest Reviews
Season 1Season 2
Stardate not given: The USS Cerritos is orbiting the planet Apergos, completing the last details of "second contact mission" between the inhabitants and the Federation. Hoping to clean soot off several of the ancient buildings in the Apergosian capital, Ensign Mariner inadvertently activates an ancient artifact powered by "strange energy." When Commander Ransom is struck by a discharge of the strange energy, he begins to possess godlike powers, which threatens both the Apergosians and the Cerritos. Fortunately, Doctor T'Ana is able to stop Ransom using the same procedure employed by Captain Kirk when his helmsman Gary Mitchell was exposed to strange energy at the galactic barrier.
Did Spock's resurrection in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" cheapen his sacrifice in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?" Although Spock was my favorite character in the original series and I wanted him back, I nevertheless think it did. At the end of Lower Decks' first season, I gave the finale a "10" for unexpectedly blowing up its own formula. Boimler was promoted and transferred off the ship to serve on Riker's USS Titan. Ensigns Tendi and Rutherford's season-long flirtation was upended when he lost his cybernetic implant and his memory of their relationship. And finally, the season-long feud between Ensign Mariner and her mother, Captain Freeman, ended with both resolved to act together as a mother-daughter team.
However, within the course of a single episode, Lower Decks fully resets Tendi, Rutherford, and Mariner back to their first season formulas, leaving only Boimler's advances intact. Apparently, the writers were not up to the challenge they set for themselves and decided to immediately flee back to safety. Lower Decks is a face-paced series, but the speed of the reset is jarring and abrupt.
Mariner and Captain Freeman explain that their mother-daughter team hasn't worked out through lengthy exposition. It's a bit amazing that this makes one of the most visually exciting sequences in all of Star Trek -- Mariner's escape from a (holographically generated) Cardassian prison asteroid -- rather duller than it should be. Likewise, Tendi's concern that she's losing Rutherford escalates far too rapidly from cute to preposterous madness. Both resets would have worked better, had the writers given the characters the chance to experience the dissonance of the altered relationships. Let Rutherford have a date and even a relationship that goes wrong before he returns to Tendi. Why not see how the mother-daughter team doesn't work at least once prior to tanking it in exposition?
The A-plot centers on Commander Ransom receiving god-like powers. Like Commander Riker when tempted by Q (TNG: "Hide and Q") or Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell when exposed to strange energy (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"), he is not up to the challenge. His inflated ego causes him to recreate the planet into a society of shallow worshipers while he attacks the Cerritos in a way reminiscent of Apollo (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"). Once again, the story seems too abrupt, but it's rather fun that the whole incident is par for the course for Doctor T'Ana, who treats Ransom's condition as if it were Starfleet routine.
All in all, "Strange Energies" was a bit of a mixed outing. Hopefully, having pushed through these resets, Lower Decks has now cleared the decks to recover its pacing for the second season.
- Remarkable holo program: For exercise, Mariner uses a Cardassian prison break program that faithfully replicates the interiors where Picard was tortured, including Boimler being show four lights (TNG: "Chain of Command"). The prison is built on an asteroid that houses captured starships, including a Jem'Hadar attack ship, a Bajoran assault vessel, a Federation runabout, a Maquis raider, and a Romulan Bird of Prey, among others. Mariner steals the USS MacDuff, NCC-1877, which faithfully replicates the USS Reliant from ST2:TWoK.
- Remarkable "Grabbing": As a god-like space energy entity, Ransom manifests a disembodied head and hands, causing the helmsman to shout "Brace for grabbing!" An homage to the memorable grabbing the USS Enterprise received at the hand of Apollo (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?").
- Remarkable rival(s)?: Although I surmised that Mariner's rival "Jenn" is the character that looks just like her, we now see that she doesn't get along with an Andorian named "Jennifer."
- Remarkable literature: As Ransom recuperates in Sickbay, Lt Cmdr Stevens (who has a serious crush) is excited to read him "Nightingale Woman" -- a final call back to TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before," where Gary Mitchell cites it as "one of the most passionate love sonnets of the past couple of centuries." (As fans know, the poem was actually written by Gene Roddenberry when he was an aviator, to express his love for his airplane.)
Rating: 6 (John Hamer)