Synopsis: This week on Star Trek: Lower Decks Mariner (Tawny Newsome) again pushes against protocol, leading to tensions with Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), who’s also her mother. In typical fashion of this show the result is quite out of the ordinary . . .
An interesting take by Lower Decks on the whole “episode within an episode”. Good use of the holodeck as a plot device. Captain Freeman has had it with her daughter, Mariner. Mariner thinks that she’ll be sent to the brig, her usual punishment for her rebellious ways. It’s worse. Much worse. Therapy! It’s Mariner’s idea of hell. So, she highjacks one of Boimler’s (Jack Quaid) programs and loads up a holonovel of her own. In the story, she takes on the role of Vindicta. Basically a Kahn type figure, deternined to destroy her mum. The original series movie era is heavily played on, with a funny scene of the U.S. S. Cerritos that lasts longer than it should. Those familiar with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) will get the joke.
Once Mariner’s resolved her anger issues, with the help of her “lower decks” crew, a reluctant Tendi (Noel Wells) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), the action switches back to the ship. Mariner has a realisation that her mum isn’t all that bad. We see Boimler attend his appraisal interview, the event he was practicing for when mariner hijacked things. Things pan out in a clever and inventive way. More strong character development for the show’s central charcter.
The Voices and Characters
Tawny Newsome’s Mariner absolutely steals the show this week. Her dual role shows her versatility as a voice actor. Newsome really knows Mariner. It must have been an absolute hoot to play an evil version of herself. The voice was notably different when the two faced off. That matters when the show is animated, as voice is the only real way to show the differences between the two versions.
Captain Carol Freeman also gets some development, here. Dawnn Butler brings a lot of fun to the role and never fails to show the stresses of command. What Butler really captures is the absolute impossibility to remain neutral when it comes to managing Mariner as just another member of the crew.
At the start of the episode we’re introduced to yet more species. The use of animation has allowed for lots of that in this series. A good way to expand the Star Trek universe. Those species we’ve been introduced have been original and look as if they belong in a series that’s era seems to be the TNG, DS9 and Voyager one. The artists know their stuff, in that sense.
The scene where the U.S. S. Cerritos in looked at longingly whilst in dock was very well done. The angles were identical to the famous ones that it’s parodying. Using animation means that scenes like this are relatively easy. Certainly, compared to the original it’s referencing, which was groundbreaking at the time.
An episode like this may have been quite involved to do, if it was live action. There were many complex effects. Especially the extensive fight scenes and fake phaser fights. Animation took care of all of that. They looked good.
Following the same pattern as last week’ s episode , there’s more experimentation from the creators of Lower Decks. The idea for the episode did work. Mostly, because it had an episodic feel. There was a central tension, Mariner’s anger and ambivalence towards her mother and Starfleet. By the end of the episode it was resolved. The very reason that may have meant it didn’t work why it did. A variation on a theme. More of the same from Mariner. this showed great core character attributes and that her attitude isn’t going to easily change.
Reference wise, there was also lots going on. The central conceit was absolutely nailed. Not easy making things appear more filmic than usual. The meta concept came through too. That aspect of the show worked great. The right balance between homage and poking fun is critical. They nailed it this week. Smart writing and good pacing made for a fun adventure. Hopefully, next week’s finale will finish season up season one of Lower Decks on a high.