Star Trek #1532: I, Excretus

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The Cerritos crew go through training scenarios evocative of old episodes.

WHY WE LIKE IT: A lot of fun call-backs.

WHY WE DON'T: Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

REVIEW: The point of Easter Eggs and references in a show like Lower Decks is to add nostalgia value. We love all those other shows, and seeing them referenced makes us feel all warm inside. Recognition makes us feel clever, but really, for that split second, we remember another episode, perhaps one that means something to us, and it makes us smile. I, Excretus has found a way to do vignettes that pack that nostalgic punch, while still working as a longer story. So I really love it.

The conceit is that the entire Cerritos crew has to submit to evaluations/training in personal holodeck pods, with the lower decks taking on the roles of bridge crew, and vice-versa. Hilarity of course ensues, but as this comes on the heels of our gang being left behind in dire circumstances when the ship gets a distress call, it's also a chance to explore the "rank gap" and how, despite Starfleet's exalted values, the service is still a den of inequity. Of course we know the leads of the show won't be "redshirted", but if this were any other show, they'd probably be dead by now. It's sort of a Boomer v Millennial situation, with each side coming away from it wiser and more appreciative of what their leaders/subalterns go through. AND it's all a plot from the Pandronian drill instructor who wants to scatter the crew to the four winds by making them fail (and of course, failure is funnier than success) to protect her job in the face of ultra-competent Starfleet crews. Pandronian? That's the same as the guy who splits into three (floating head and torso, and legs) in the Animated Series' "BEM", so Lower Decks keeps pleasantly diving into that pool.

There are many more tests than what we see, and you'll be freeze-framing to read the score board, catching their names, either those of old episodes, or at least based on them. There's a fun take-down of Mirror Universe tropes, and a porntastic version of The Naked Time (I didn't need to see that, but it's how the Enterprise-D finds the crew that infects it in The Naked Now, so). There's a parody of TNG's "Ethics" and Klingons as a death cult. Spectre of the Gun, the ending of The Wrath of Khan, Qpid, stealing the Enterprise in The Search for Spock, a lot of great memories and gags. Only Boimler refuses to accept a bad score and keeps going into "Borg Encounter" over and over again until he gets that impossible 100%. That kid's going places (and I personally relate, as it's the way I play video games). Surprise guest star Alice Krige as the Borg Queen! But once Boimler gets a perfect score, he's told he can't end the simulation lest the drill instructor send her damning results to Starfleet. Not until the crew gets together to teach her a lesson (it happens to be Crystalline Entity season so putting the ship in danger is pretty easy) so she revises the scores. He makes the ultimate sacrifice (well, the simulated ultimate sacrifice). Well, real or not, it's pretty epic.

LESSON: The real test is appreciating one another.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Looks like it's just gonna be a lot of episode parodies, but then finds its heart and its action through-line. Love the pesto jokes too.


googum said...

A lot of complaining on Twitter on this one; I loved it. This show's been better and better lately.

Siskoid said...

I haven't seen the complaints - I guess I don't follow very many people who watch it - but I feel like there's been naysayers about this show (heck, about all of NuTrek) since the beginning. I'm glad I'm not the only fan!


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