Star Trek #1530: The Spy Humongous

CAPTAIN'S LOG: A Pakled spy, some dangerous materials, and Boimler falls in with the wrong crowd.

WHY WE LIKE IT: More about the Pakleds. Boimler's story.

WHY WE DON'T: I'm with Mariner and Rutherford - anomaly consolidation duty is stupid.

REVIEW:
Because of the Pakleds' innate silliness, they're perfect for Lower Decks, and have somehow become a big enough concern that Riker's Titan has been seen in all-out battle against the scavenger species. So it's kind of a big deal that the Cerritos is sent to negotiate a cease-fire with them, no matter how stupid they are. And for us, it's a chance to learn more about the goofy aliens. We see the Pakled Planet, unimaginatively called "Pakled Planet" (hey, ours is essentially called Dirt) and their hierarchy based on who has the biggest hat. They have a simplistic view of Starfleet, every ship being the Enterprise and Captain Freeman obviously having to be Janeway. And when they send a spy to the "Enterprise", Rumdar is just about the most obvious unintelligence agent, easily manipulated by the crew and jettisoning himself out an airlock while trying to go to the bathroom. What's unusual here is that this whole plot doesn't star the usual leads. Freeman is on the planet as a frustrated hostage (who tricks the Pakleds into revealing their plans) and Ransom and Kayshon (who I'm glad is still in the mix) dealing with Rumdar. The show's actual leads are busy with the subplots. Am I saying that's a bad thing? No. It pulls focus from the show's premise, but it makes for a better developed crew.

Our favorite ensigns are actually assigned anomaly consolidation duty, a glorified trash day where they have to go around the bridge crew's quarters and dispose of dangerous stuff from untold missions. This is an excuse for sci-fi slapstick, weird transformations, and (surprisingly few) deep cut references. It feels like kiddie stuff for the most part, short vignettes that could have been bigger parts of another episodes. We're in and out of each fairly quickly (except for the last one), and only Tendi is excited for this "adventure". Mariner and Rutherford whine their way through it. But as it turns out, Tendi secretly volunteered them for it, and they'll learn to look at things in a more positive way. Yadda yadda.

Now of course Boimler would have been into it, but his new friends, the "Redshirts", get him out of it. Elitism is certainly (and ugly) part of Starfleet. Nova Squadron, Red Squad, and now this little group of ambitious ensigns who want to be captains some day and see Boimler as one of them (the Titan connection). This is the real heart of the episode. Douchey Ensign Casey and his gang (including the Kzinti and Jennifer the Andorian) are big talkers, but they don't want to do the work. They make captaincy a cult of personality and a P.R. problem, whereas Boimler puts friendship and duty first. When Tendi is turned into a giant scorpion, the Redshirts try to inspire the crew, but bring nothing but motivational speaking to the table, while Boimler puts himself in danger and ultimately humiliates himself to make the monster laugh and draw Tendi back out. It's lovely how most of the Redshirts see his point and leave the opportunistic Casey behind. Casey gets the coveted "acting captain" shift - it's obvious the bridge crew don't think of this as an important honor - and gets his comeuppance by drawing Pakled clean-up duty (my one solid laugh). It's Boimler who gets noticed by Ransom.

Oh and there's an appearance by Armus, pranked called by the gang with one of the "anomalies". I guess it's a kind of revenge for what he did to Tasha Yar (without mentioning it, which I think would have been tasteless). Fun moment to end an episode on.

LESSON: Big talkers are small doers.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium:
A bit all over the place. Boimler's subplot is top notch and the exploration of the Pakled culture interesting, but "trash day" blows its chance to drop in some nice Easter Eggs.

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