Star Trek #1533: wej Duj

CAPTAIN'S LOG: It's the one with alien Lower Decks.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Lower Decks on other ships!

WHY WE DON'T: What, no Cardassian Lower Decks?! I'm kidding.

REVIEW:
The Cerritos is relegated to B-plot / Easter Egg engine in this one as a flip comment from Boimler about the lower decks on Klingon ships becomes an invitation to see just how it is on a bird-of-prey. The Klingon title prepared us for it, I suppose, but not for the additional twist of seeing a VULCAN Lower Decks. And then as punch lines, Pakled (Red Alarm!) and Borg versions. Love that gimmick. Love, love, love. In the two main cases, we really focus on ONE Lower Decks character and their interactions with bridge crew. But are these alternate leads Mariners or Boimlers? In the Klingon's case, Ma'ah is a boot-licking Boimler who has ambitions, but is also all about his culture's core values. What he hasn't really noticed before, out of loop doing menial chores, is that he's serving under a dishonorable captain. Togg is trying to foment war in the quadrant, trying to make Q'onoS great again... he's basically a Duras or a Chang. I don't know if this definitively resolves the Pakled arc, but by the end, our boy Ma'ah has deposed (i.e. killed) the captain for arming the galaxy's idiots (from whom I get all my belly laughs these days) and letting them fight his battles for him. The secret's out and this is only the penultimate episode of the season. Or is there some cleaning up to do?

The answer may lie on the Vulcan ship Sh'vhal (homonym for "cheval", French for horse, while the bird-of-prey was the Che'Ta, or cheetah, the two fastest runners on Earth... coincidence?) where the menial tasks aren't so scuzzy, but still tedious. T'Lyn is Vulcan's version of Mariner, unapologetically rebellious in her use of instinct and her at-best-passive-aggressive "emotional" outburst. Her tense relationship with her captain had me waiting for the eventual reveal that they were father and daughter. But no (or at least, we're not told). Like Ma'ah, and indeed, our Lower Decks characters on a regular basis, she saves the day. If she hadn't been shirking imposed meditation for gut feelings and off-book projects, the Vulcans would never have arrived in time to save the Cerritos from the Pakled-Klingon fight. At the end, T'Lyn is reassigned to a Starfleet ship where her impulsiveness might be an advantage - is this going to be the Cerritos? That could create conflict or interest for the finale, and also a measure of suspense. Though the show is juggling many characters of all ranks, if there can only be four Lower Decks leads, is T'Lyn a promise or threat that one of them will leave? Mariner and Boimler have been well catered to, but the writers seem to have had trouble latching on to Rutherford and Tendi - are they throwing in the towel? Or just making us BELIEVE T'Lyn is a new cast member, only to reveal she's a Romulan spy or something? Stay tuned.

As for the Cerritos, there's some fun to be had seeing them take some R&R and ending up fighting enemy forces out of uniform, evoking many holodeck and shore leave episodes in the process. Captain Freeman trots out a gray gym shirt like the ones on Discovery (RITOS rather than DISCO, so are there ENTER and FIANT shirts?). The Voyager's luau program is referenced in Ransom subplot that has Boimler fake Hawaiian origins to get into the commander's clique. Shakespearean, Napoleonic, Troi's yoga leotard, ambo-jitsu, jet boots... All that stuff. (Speaking of wardrobe, there's a background officer wearing a regulation hijab - I don't think we've ever seen that on Star Trek before.) Anyway, it wasn't Boimler's first attempt at fraternizing with the bridge officers, first unsuccessfully trying to crash other ensign-bridge crew play dates. These provide various levels of amusement, Mariner protesting way too much at having to spend down time with her mother, for example, though they both admit this is just how they relate to one another. Anyway, Boimler eventually fesses up that he ISN'T from Hawaii, but as it turns out, the whole group, Ransom included, were lying about that. Then they realize they all come from the moon, or at least A moon, and Boimler is shut out again. Except he really isn't. The story ends on a cadet going up to Boimler to ask for help and insight, on Ransom's recommendation. Cute.

LESSON: wej Duj means "Three Ships".

REWATCHABILITY - High: More that its fun gimmick, this episode has a real impact on the season's arc and provides some well-crafted human(oid) moments.


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