The opener for Season 3 of Star Trek: Lower Decks picks up pretty much immediately where Season 2 ends. Pakled Planet has blown up, and the crew of the USS Cerritos is in hot water, as is to be expected. As this is a spoiler-free review of the first 7 episodes, I’ll stay as vague as possible.
As the show has progressed, we have slowly learned more about each of our favorite Lower Decks crewmembers. We’ve gotten the most about Boimler and Tendi so far, while only being fed crumbs here and there about Mariner and Rutherford.
Season 3 expands on Tendi’s uneasiness with Orion culture and its stereotypes, but the true gem in character work this season goes to dear ole Rutherford. As a huge fan of Eugene Cordero and Rutherford as a crew member, it was nice to finally see him as the central figure and give the audience some context and backstory. As for mysteries, Mariner remains an ever-unfolding enigma. Tawny Newsome is such an incredible presence and truly makes it easy to root for Mariner and her growth, even if watching her often ill-advised exploits makes the audience want to cringe with anxiety for what happens once the harebrained scheme comes to an end.
The initial Season 3 trailer was overflowing with so much information and little hints for what’s to come; I’m pretty sure I’m a solid half of the views it has on YouTube. The breakout story for me, by far, is the one I was anticipating most from the trailer: the Deep Space Nine episode. DS9 is my personal favorite Trek series, and I can’t imagine anyone who loves DS9 even half as much as I do not absolutely loving every second of this episode. It quite honestly feels like an episode of DS9, which I expected nothing less from the Lower Decks writing crew.
You can tell with any episode of Lower Decks that the writers for the show pour every single ounce of love they have for the Star Trek universe into each obscure respect, visual gag, and loving jab at the show’s existence over the last 56 years.
If there’s anything Lower Deck has in spades, it’s heart. Somehow this show, with the often-maligned descriptor of “adult animation”, became one of the most endearing and sincere Trek shows the world has seen in quite some time. If anything, Lower Decks shares its DNA with Galaxy Quest more than any specific previous or concurrently airing Star Trek show. Mike McMahan and crew have somehow managed to create a Trek show that is hilarious, often a bit raunchy, and frequently kind-of gross, but with all the love and care that any Star Trek fan could put into a show after being given the keys to the kingdom.
The Lower Decks crew are wonderfully charming, flawed, captivating characters, and their supporting cast from the Bridge Crew flesh out the universe in a way that feels incredibly familiar, but ultimately entirely unique. Once season 2 ended, I was anxiously anticipating season 3’s arrival. I am here to say it delivers (and not just because they brought back my personal favorite character, Peanut Hamper, voiced by the absolutely incredible Kether Donohue)! I can only hope that this show has many more seasons in its future; because I would love to keep seeing the unhinged adventures of the Cerritos crew for as long as possible