Star Trek #1503: Envoys

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Mariner and Boimler escort a Klingon diplomat. Rutherford explores his options.

WHY WE LIKE IT: The sweet endings.

WHY WE DON'T: The madcap middle.

This episode really feels to me like the production had created all these models for animated aliens in the Star Trek universe and couldn't wait to have them show up separately, so they're all in the same story. We've got Klingons, Ferengi, Andorians, Risians, a Vendorian from the original Animated Series, Kaelons from Half a Life, the Evora from Insurrection, Borg (in a simulation), and new critters like the Taxors and Anabaj. Not content with packing the episode to the gill, as it were, the teaser even features one of those "god-like" balls of light, which Mariner defeats pretty easily by goading it into expending all its (not very considerable) power before the captain walks into it unawares and its goes pshhh like a mote from a campfire. Over-full seems to be the order of the day for this show.

Or is this acting as the "second pilot" so many shows have traditionally done, RE-introducing everything either for people who missed the first one (not really a thing in the streaming era) or to cement elements in viewers' minds before moving forward? Could be. Rutherford's quest to find a new career track allows us to visit different parts of the ship and members of the bridge crew, for example. Meanwhile, Mariner and Boimler kind of go through a planet-side scenario not dissimilar to the Second Contact's, where she's off-book and knows everything, and his by-the-book approach gets him beaten up and humiliated. There is a difference in that Boimler is so disheartened, he wants to quit Starfleet and Mariner acts dumb and lets him get his mojo back by dealing with a situation successfully. Despite the "shuttle of silence" agreement, he'll be bragging about it in due course, and to her credit, she lets him have his fun and doesn't rumble him. I do think the reveal that she engineered the whole thing with a Ferengi friend of hers is unnecessary, but Mariner really IS the best of Starfleet (in the maverick Kirk mold), and her lack of traditional ambition is highlighted.

But there's still SO MUCH happening, the breakneck pace is kind of swallowing the jokes whole at times. If they are jokes. Having Mariner dream Khan's dialog from Star Trek II, for example, treats the simple act of referencing something as a joke that hopefully Trekkies will get. But is it though? A reference can make you smile knowingly, but that's not the same as being FUNNY. There's also a mention of a Bolian in the bathroom, which is such a deep cut that I don't think they did it on purpose. The speed at which dialog is delivered means it took me a subtitled second watch to catch that Mariner defeated an alien with "Kirk hands". And then there's the uncompleted pass of dropping the Janeway Protocol with no explanation or punchline. Not to say there aren't some funny bits - Mariner's ribald humor with the Klingon, the loss of the kindergarten in the bridge sim, "SmorgasBorg", come to mind.

As the incidents piled up in both the A-plot and the B-plot, I was ind of ready to pan this episode resoundingly, but then it managed to stick its landings. And it's really thanks to the Rutherford story (which the A-plot connects to by setting up a book smarts vs. street smarts story) that is about a very Star Trek thing: Self-actualization. When Rutherford, a very appreciated member of the engineering crew, asks to be transferred, his team is stoked for him. After a couple of bad experiences, he finds he has a knack for security but longs to go back to his Jeffries tubes and refuses the assignment, the security "bears" are equally stoked that he is being true to himself. This is what the Trek utopia is all about, right? So why would anyone be angry or disappointed that you were following your heart? It's a comedy show, so there's a bit of a fake-out, but this is great. His passion is lame, but it's his passion. He did all this for D'Vana who just wanted to watch a stellar phenomenon wide-eyed with someone (they find a way)... so who out in the audience is already 'shipping them?

LESSON: Just because you have a thing, doesn't mean you should use that thing.

Still not enamored of the fast pace, and I'm ready for different pairings, but jokes aside, the episode shows it knows what Star Trek is about.



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