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Television

Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season Two, Ep. 1 “Strange Energies” Review

DW takes a look at the Season Premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks!

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my childhood watching reruns of The Next Generation as well as new episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager with my dad. Despite the fact my dad is the absolute least nerdy member of my immediate family, he is the big sci-fi buff and because of that my brother and I were satiated on a steady diet of all things Rodenberry, which in the 90s, was about as big as any sci-fi franchise could be. With that in mind, I was hesitant about Lower Decks. So much of it screamed red flags to me, and yet, here I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Season Two. How exactly did I get here?

Suffice it to say, I quite enjoyed the Season Two premiere. Season one ended with some very huge moments for our motley crew of lower decks ensigns and I appreciate that the premiere starts off pretty much right where we left. While I still don’t love this particular animation aesthetic, it’s grown on me and I find that it often works to reinforce the show’s sincerity in a lot of ways. Something about the lines and colors being very flat and simple works with the overall theme of our protagonists being the bottom of the food chain, oft forgotten crew members aboard the Federation starships whose bridge crews Trek fans have come to know and love since the shows’ inception. I think the best thing Lower Decks has going for it is a combination of its faithfulness to the universe (and time period) it’s in and ensuring that in not taking itself too seriously, it stays genuinely endearing and heartfelt. 

The following section of this review will contain spoilers for the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season Two premiere. Read at your own risk! 

While it felt odd not having any Boimler action until the very end of the episode, I thoroughly loved how laser-focused it was on Mariner, specifically with regard to her new relationship with her mother. We left Season One with everyone finding out Mariner’s mom was none other than the Cerritos’ own captain. I was very curious to see how this would play out beyond the immediate repercussions of it prompting Boimler’s departure to adventure with Riker aboard his ship, Titan. While the episode primarily deals with Mariner’s tenuous-but-faking-everything-is-fine newfound partnership with her mother, it also makes it very clear that Mariner is feeling a bit untethered without Boimler to be her straight man. 

I also thought the b-plot with Tendi and Rutherford was incredibly charming and I truly love how steadfast the writers seem to be with ensuring that their relationship is an incredibly intimate friendship and nothing romantic (although I’ll be eating my words if this happens in the future, I suppose). The juxtaposition of Tendi’s heartfelt pleas to Rutherford regarding her feeling like he could easily decide she is no longer his best friend as easily as he has decided to have a relationship with a fellow Trill crewmate he’s recently started seeing again (or liking pears) with the visual gags of Commander Ransom’s literal godlike transformation as his disembodied head lays siege to the Cerritos is the exact kind of humor this show employs so, so well. 

Ultimately, the jokes and both A and B plots in this episode really worked for me, and it made it feel like not much time has really passed since Season One ended. Every gag landed and got a hearty chuckle or full-on guffaw from me. I’m excited to see where this season goes and I hope that episode two gives us more insight into what appears to be Boimler’s living hell aboard the Titan with Riker and his crew. All in all, I am absolutely delighted to have this extremely fun addition to the Star Trek universe back to tell us more stories about the unsung heroes of the lower decks of a Federation starship. 

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