Star Trek #1511: No Small Parts

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Mariner's secret is out, an exocomp joins the crew, and the Pakleds make their return.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Oh crap! They mean business!

WHY WE DON'T: Canonizing "TOS" is fun, but the acronym needs work.

REVIEW: It's an episodic cartoon, so I was expecting just another episode, albeit one that dealt with Boimler having learned that Beckett was the captain's daughter, probably with him acting strange around her, but not upending the status quo. Boy, was *I* wrong! Cat's out of the bag on the rest of the ship before the opening credits roll, and that's not even what the episode is ABOUT!

First, let me say the joke references are on point, this week - the Enterprise song? Remco's 1976 Star Trek Space Fun Helmet?! - and in service of the plot and theme. The Cerritos makes "second contact" (its primary job in terms of exploration) with Beta III, where Kirk defeated Landru, but it's been so long between visits that the people there have reverted to the Purge--I mean, the Red Hour and have to be saved from themselves all over again. Then the main plot re-introduces the Pakleds, who were a joke in TNG, but left to their own devices have become quite dangerous. The subplot involving Starfleet's first Exocomp crew member also revisits an old episode and gives Tendi something to do. Things go sour there too - the joke is that Exocomps are still tools - though less because of the point the show is making. That point? That the hero crews we're used to watching go in, do the exciting bit, then leave people without a status quo to fend for themselves. This gives purpose to secondary ships like the Cerritos, unheralded though that purpose may be. This is stuff that's often been said about Doctor Who (though the TARDIS doesn't have a clean-up crew swooping in later), but we always took it for granted that the "Federation" came in later and did the boring work. Seems Starfleet is lagging behind.

And of course, you also need those hero ships to save the day, and I was very excited to see Riker, Troi and the USS Titan, the latter in its first onscreen appearance. (Designed as part of a reader contest held by Pocket Books, it was only seen on book covers to date.) It's a comedy version of the Rikers, but their sense of humor doesn't feel like a betrayal of the way they're presented in, say, First Contact. And the Titan IS needed. The Pakleds in this time destroy another California-class ship easily, all hands lost, including unlucky Captain Dayton, formerly of the USS Robidoux earlier in the season. You don't expect that from a comedy show. The Cerritos looked like toast too, and ultimately, the climax involves the heroic death of Shaxs. Now, the bridge crew are the supporting cast behind (above?) the Lower Decks gang, but you still don't expect any of them to die (especially in an animation context much less affected by actor availability). A big surprise. And if the status quo wasn't already affected, Boimler is promoted to the Titan and Rutherford's implant is destroyed, rebooting his friendship with Tendi. Like, whattttt?! At least Captain Freeman refuses a refit that would change the interior sets.

As with the previous episode, everyone gets in on the action and on the solution, not just doomed Shaxs. Rutherford's subplot has him changing personalities randomly because of a malfunctioning implant, but he's the one who brings Badgey (from Terminal Provocations) along to en-virus the Pakleds' systems. I'm not very happy with his memory reboot (I don't like that trope), but maybe they'll do something good with it. The Captain asks Mariner to offer options that are borderline Starfleet, which is what she's good at. She even gets to be in the captain's chair during the battle, leads to a compromise with her mother, and of course she knows Riker. Her stash of contraband weapons also comes in useful. Some comedy from Ransom and T'ana too. They really found a balance in the last few episodes (admittedly, the last two have been a few minutes longer).

LESSON:
The other ships leave a trail of broken hearts behind them.

REWATCHABILITY - High: What a finale!


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