Star Trek #1534: First First Contact

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The Cerritos crew assists Sonya Gomez's ship, but is it the last mission for one or more of them?

WHY WE LIKE IT: A roller-coaster of emotion.

WHY WE DON'T: No T'Lyn? Boo!

REVIEW: Ok, so yeah, T'Lyn, the Vulcan Lower Decks from the previous episode isn't (YET!) assigned to the Cerritos and doesn't appear (BOO!), but her existence looms over this season finale anyway. There's a mission etc., but the real suspense comes from the episode's attempts to make us believe a character will be leaving the show. And not just one character, SEVERAL characters. I might even have given it the title "And One Shall Surely Leave" or something (too TOS?). Will it be Captain Freeman who's been offered a promotion but not the chance to transfer her bridge crew with her? Or Tendi, whose sickbay assignment Dr. T'Ana is deleting from the system? (As blueshirt T'Lyn waits in the wings.) Will it be Boimler or Mariner, both of whom had near misses with death? It could even be Rutherford, whose implant is acting up again.

In this final mission for SOMEone maybe, the Cerritos is going assist the USS Archimedes with their first contact mission, staying at the edge of the system in case an unstable planetoid blows. Well, of course it does, and it leads to a crazy rescue in the nick of time, in which the Cerritos has to fly through a radiation/debris field without its armor plating. And with the Archimedes out of action, Captain Freeman gets to do a first contact herself. What's fun here is that the other ship is captained by Sonya Gomez who, as a Lieutenant (j.g.) was part of Geordi's staff on the Enterprise-D for two episodes (including the Parkled one so there's a connection to this season there). She's the one who spilled hot chocolate all over Captain Picard. I wished then they had done more with her - I guess some of her potential was 'ported over to Barclay - and really enjoyed her as the star of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers ebooks, but they missed a trick by not having her be a total klutz. An ensign trips and falls and she gives her a comforting word, it's cute, and her ship does suffer a mishap, but I think you could have had respect for the character and still have her be the unluckiest or clumsiest captain in the fleet. At least Lycia Naff got to voice her.

So who leaves? Not Tendi. She's instead reassigned to Science because she's impressed in that field. Not Boimler. He almost drowns saving the ship, but Tendi does her medical best and saves him. Not Rutherford. He removes some back-up memories from his drive and he's fine, simultaneously exposing a strange memory that could lead to some Section 31 take-down next season. He ALSO saves the ship by getting the winning idea through good ol' Star Trek analogy - it's based on Mariner's need to take her defenses down. It's not Mariner either. She's saved by her Andorian nemesis Jennifer, which turns them into friends (and possibly more, stay tuned). So it has to be Freeman, right? After her crew pulls off a miracle, she decides to refuse the transfer to a "better" ship. Except wait, the Pakled homeworld has been destroyed and she's been framed for it! Just like Lower Decks to have that important an event happen off-screen. But she gets arrested instead of promoted, takes it with great aplomb, and we cut to the dreaded "To be continued" first seen at the end of The Best of Both Worlds. Lower Decks, what are you doing to me!?

Between Tendi and Rutherford taking a tour of the ship (which she thinks is her last) and the mission requirements, we get to see a lot of Cerritos. The best bit is without a doubt Cetacean Ops, where a beluga comedy double act entertains with their whale-centric perspective. Other fun bits: Everyone who works in medical has a name starting with the letter "T" apparently. The shockwave that hits the Excelsior-like Archimedes looks like the one caused by Praxis that hit Sulu's Excelsior in Star Trek VI. The mention of Jadzia Dax having T'Ana exclaim "Who the f*** is that?!". Drunk Freeman. It's an exciting episode I think any "straight" show in the franchise would have been proud to put out and it shows that even the lowliest Starfleet ship is filled with heroes, but more importantly, it shows the crew working as a tight family. Gets me right in the ticker.

So there IS a rubber ducky room aboard starships! (See the famous Okudagram of the Enterprise-D for details.)

The up and down of emotion, from worry to relief, really worked for me. Cerritos strong!