WHY WE LIKE IT: The final fist bump. And NOMAD!
WHY WE DON'T: Heyyyyyy, what's all this Upper Decks stuff?
REVIEW: Now that all of our starring ensigns are lieutenants junior grade, it's time to look at the consequences of those promotions. Boimler is assigned his first mission, commanding three ensigns, with T'Lyn in tow in an advisory capacity - for science, but she'll end up giving Boims the key pep talk. She's really proving her value with a great deadpan delivery that reminds us of the best of Spock, Tuvok and other deadpan comedians. Boimler, for his part, has to learn command, which he first interprets as a micro-management. His natural nerves get the better of him and he's at once scared someone will get hurt, and insecure because his team were basically his peers a few days ago. It's a nice little lesson, if rather obvious. Personally, I don't know why they parked the shuttle so far from the entrance. Boimler also suffers his first death, and we get a glimpse at why Shaxs was so disturbed post-resurrection - spoiler: it's that damn Kosmic Koala again - though the rest of Lower Decks doesn't get to react to any of this. A bit unsatisfying.
One of the things that doesn't quite work for me either is how much of the episode is given over to Freeman and Ransom WITHOUT the benefit of interacting with Lower Decks. Necessary given the plot mechanics, but it still breaks the format. The Bridge Crew in this series have feet of claw, of course, but it's still the captain acting foolish as she fiddles with an ancient computer on a Halo-type world and causes a disaster movie to happen. We appreciate the computer jokes - I hate updates too, you're never sure what you're going to get - so reboot, safe mode, default settings, lagging, etc., and for once the computer isn't evil and doesn't get sent to the Vault. But every time we're with them, I just want us to get back to the characters we consider our protagonists.
Mariner, Tendi and Rutherford, meanwhile, have been given a job so tedious, Tendi believes they are being hazed. It's in the computer core, so there's your thematic connection with the A-plot, and it's been assigned by Lt. Dirk, first named here, but present since the pilot, usually in the shuttle bay. He's always been a jerk, so is perfect for this expanded role. We're also introduced the Billups' ferret Lancelot, a chaos agent used in the hazing without the engineer's consent. Wanting revenge on Dirk, the team set up a trap for him in his quarters using some of the items in the Anomaly Storage Room (recently opened to them), which isn't well-named (are the recognizable artifacts really "anomalies"?) and though we glimpse my favorite, NOMAD, it also includes two of Trek's silliest and more irritating items, and of course, those are the ones that get featured. One is a Betazoid Gift Box, cursing up a storm and teetering on the edge of sentience. Not funny. The other is the Wadi Chula game from what many consider the worst Deep Space Nine episode. Rutherford falls into the trap while trying to disarm it after Dirk admits to PTSD from being trapped in the game as a kid (had me looking at calendars until it was revealed to be a lie), and races through it like someone doing a video game speed run. So it doesn't amount to many gags. The best part of this plot, really, is when Dirk and Ransom reveal it WAS hazing, Lower Decks none the wiser.
LESSON: Walk the talk! Practice what you preach! Other aphorisms!
REWATCHABILITY - (Lowish) Medium: Very basic sitcom plots and flashbacks to episodes I'd rather forget. Just okay.