Star Trek #1487: The Trouble with Edward

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The secret origin of the tribbles.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tribble fun.

WHY WE DON'T: Pike's inclusion is hardly worth it.

REVIEW: I'm dumb. I saw the title. I saw the tribbles in the Short Treks trailer. I didn't put two and two together until I saw the episode. I'm dumb, but don't tell anyone I'm dumb. Anyway, you quickly understand what kind of trouble this will actually be when the title starts to pop like the aforementioned critters. From there we move on to Pike sending one of his officers off as the newly-minted captain of the U.S.S. Cabot, a science vessel (which is probably why everyone's wearing the Discovery blues), the optimistic but soon-to-be-jaded Lynne Lucero, played by Alita: Battle Angel's Rosa Salazar. Good to see Pike, but his only real contribution is foreshadowing the events of the episode. "If you show weakness, they'll eat you alive" is clever enough, but "not everybody's on your level" is perhaps too on the nose.

The bulk of the epiode is a workplace comedy in the style of The Office, with Archer's H. Jon Benjamin as the misfit Edward Larkin. Unlike Reg Barclay, who might be another example of this type of character, Larkin doesn't have what it takes to be a team player, and doesn't quite grasp the ethical implications of the science he nevertheless brilliantly exercises. He doesn't like the new boss, tries to undermine her (doesn't work, nobody likes him), and is soundly punished for his insolence. He's a bit unhinged too, going off the rails when he's found wanting. There are a couple of scenes - Larkin feigning a broken PADD and later arguing about his transfer orders - that feel like a live action version of what the Lower Decks cartoon will be like, but I did find the acting a bit broad at times. Larkin's realization that his autonomy is at an end is an eye-boggling caricature, and Captain Lucero's "I look forward to more fascinating work from you" is stilted and awkward. That, at least, can be explained. She's supposed to be green, and I think she's probably faking it 'til she makes it, giving her best Pike impression. Nothing Larkin does is appropriate, but I dare say she makes mistakes too. Sidelining Larkin by putting him in a department way outside his specialty is the wrong thing to do, and only setting him up to fail (justifying his transfer) even if he weren't a problem case well beyond that, for example.

But he does misbehave and for people who had long wondered how the tribble could have possibly evolved in ANY ecosystem gets their answer. Larkin genetically modified them to create a food source (not sure why the use of his own DNA is such a sticking point with the crew even if they'd eaten some, which they hadn't, not that kind of tribble anyway) and the experiment got out of control (cue Johnny Appleseed, which is a fun tune to put over the tribble-hunting montage). The episode is worth it just to see mounds of tribbles rolling around the Cabot's windows. Larkin is the only casualty, a fun visual in and of itself, but the ship is lost, the planet below has to be evacuated, and tribbles somehow find their way into Klingon space to set up their distaste as per The Trouble with Tribbles. (But we get another question: Why doesn't Kirk's Enterprise have this incident on file?) Not sure if Lucero got another command, as Starfleet seems to think she was passing the buck on this disaster, but her arc is definitely a downward one. The officer Pike sent off to the border wouldn't never have written someone off like that.

Stick around after the credits for a well-done 80s-90s cereal commercial that could have come from Larkin's dreams. Now I want to see the U.S.S. Ravenous characters in my Star Trek Timelines game (a couple decades ago, I would have been first in line to draw up dream cards of them for the Star Trek Collectible Card Game).

LESSON: Every office has one.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: It's a bit cartoonish, but well worth it for the crazy visuals and the amusing comedy bits.

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