Star Trek #1504: Temporal Edict

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Captain Freeman's order to by hyper-productive causes a diplomatic mission to go awry.

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Kirk Fu. More clever than it seems.

WHY WE DON'T:
Hey, don't make me believe in a time travel episode!

REVIEW: I don't know if the show is calming down exactly, but I really liked this one, and laughed out loud a number of times. Behind the silly jokes, however, is an actual message and allegory for our times. Freeman's insane scheduling order, forcing the crew to accomplish tasks in pre-determined times - no "buffer time", no chance to seem like a miracle worker like Scotty - driving them to distraction and fatigue-driven mistakes, seemed at first just a lesson about personnel management, one that I happen to agree with. But the fact that the big problem of the episode is caused by an Away Team delivering the absolute wrong gift to new Federation entrants brings the issue into focus: This is specifically about Amazon warehouses, and any other business that drives its workers to a burn-out for little pay. Obviously, the episode takes it to extremes with the Captain requiring the crew to complete their tasks WHILE dealing with a boarding party, everybody's passing out, and even she's jumping from station to station on the bridge because no one can see straight.

And amusingly, the only person who thrives in this environment is by-the-book Boimler, who doesn't LIKE buffer time in normal circumstances, and so has the energy to save the day. He probably won't get the credit he deserves. The episode really exposes Captain Freeman's weaknesses and why the Cerritos is a "joke" in Starfleet. She is a extreme egotist who sees every assignment as an insult and blames others for the ship's failures. Handing down edicts - as after this incident, buffer time becomes MANDATORY (and it's called the Boimler Effect, the reverse of Boimler's ethos, even into the far future) - she never finds a middle ground, never really compromises. Her image of herself (and to some extent, the bridge crew) prevails no matter what actually happens.

Meanwhile, Mariner is down on the planet getting into some action and coming in conflict with Commander Ransom who sees himself as the hero of the story (always). And so does she, so they end up fighting each other for the honor or battling the planet's big giant bruiser, and sparks fly in that romcom "hate/love" way, albeit to a comic extreme. Though Ransom is a bit of a poser, he CAN fight. He breaks the rules, then infuriatingly enforces them. It's possible he's exactly the same as Mariner, but he has authority where she does not. Aliens with a crystal-loving culture enliven these sequences with jokes that pleasantly remind me of Futurama, and once they board the ship and the crew are allowed to "break the rules" to fight them, I really quite love how the show has basically decided that Starfleet's martial arts style is essentially the stupid stuff Kirk used to do on TOS (drop kicks, and volley-ball punches, etc.).

Other notable bits: Mariner's rock band is so loud it almost ruins negotiations with a Klingon ship (you'd think they'd enjoy it). Ransom rhyming off dangers he's faced and of course they're all TOS/TNG references. Mariner actually thinking being ethical is sexy. And I haven't mentioned this yet, but I really like the show's theme (which is also used for the rousing fight-back moment). Discovery and Picard really haven't done it for me in terms of music. No orchestral bombast.

LESSON: Take a break. Read a blog article. Something relaxing.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: This is the first episode of Lower Decks to get belly laughs from me.

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