Star Trek #1507: Terminal Provocations

CAPTAIN'S LOG: A dumb but personable ensign causes problems during a stand-off with scavengers.

WHY WE LIKE IT: 'Shipping it. (Shakx and Dr. T'Ana, I mean!)

WHY WE DON'T: Flashbacks to irritating work situations.

REVIEW: The episode introduces Fletcher who is basically the social guy who gets along with everyone, is fun at office parties, and quite chill on the job, and that everyone thus thinks is competent. You know this person. You've worked with this person. Fletcher seems well equipped to be a Starfleet officer, but he's coasting. Boimler's known him since the Academy and even he hasn't noticed that something's wrong. So of course, this is the episode where Fletcher will, after getting OUR trust, prove to be one of the stupidest officers on record, in a panic start chucking ethics out the airlock, and almost destroy the ship. You also remember when this happened at your work.

The storyline has two Lower Decks staples going for it. One is that it's office comedy disguised as space opera. Boimler and Mariner shirk off their duties to go to a show, and Nice Guy Fletcher offers to stay behind and complete the work so they can go. He screws up, tries to blame Delta shift (who are basically Mirror Universe versions of the cast, I love that their Rutherford has an eye patch), but is ultimately found out. Dude is so dumb he hid the evidence in his own bunk. It's still Star Trek so the computer he plugged himself into becomes a stupid maniac itself and goes on a rampage (but think of this as a photocopier malfunction). The other thing is that everything is happening in the shadow of a mission they know nothing about, namely a fight for the recovery a TOS-era wreck with local scavengers (their captain is voiced by J.G. Hertzler whose voice I'm happy to hear again), and Fletcher's shenanigans will first put the ship at risk, then accidentally solve the problem. He gets promoted off the ship - all part of Mariner's plan - so it's less a question of failing upward (Captain Riker booted him off the Titan in a matter of days though) as it an inter-office scheme to get someone out of your department so they can be someone else's problem.

Meanwhile, Tendi and Rutherford are seeing the most action they've seen (at least together) since the start of the series. Definitely meant to evolve into a couple (there are romcom elements aplenty), their story is essentially a holodeck malfunction episode, and the humor is based on computers from the '90s. Rutherford has created a character akin to Microsoft's Clipp, Badgey (voiced by Jack McBrayer, good choice), who becomes a demented Frankenstein's Monster intent on killing his father when the safeties go off. He's also really slow to load training programs. I guess this is also "office humor". Thematically, both duos fight a murderous computer being.

LESSON: Enterprise-D goes TSSSSSSSSSS, but Voyager goes JZZZZZZZZZZ. Important stuff.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: I would call this a typical and very watchable example of Lower Decks, no more, no less.

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