Hi everyone, Justen here, your Starfleet historian. After covering Strange New Worlds on my show, the Babylon Podject, I’ll be covering Lower Decks here and notating some of the callbacks made by the show. Because if there’s one thing that the writers of Lower Decks love, it’s Star Trek. So, let’s start with our season opener, “Grounded”!
After the destruction of Pakled Planet, Captain Freeman is awaiting trial after her implication, and the USS Cerritos is impounded, pending judgment. Though her father stresses patience, Mariner is less than trusting of the legal system and decides to act on her own. She recruits Boimler, saving him from his family’s raisin farm, while Rutherford and Tendi enjoy being tourists on Earth.
There’s a fantastic scene at Sisko’s Creole Kitchen, now with Ketracel White-Hot sauce as a standard condiment, where Mariner recruits Rutherford and Tendi. They plan to sneak into the impound at drydock but have to access a secure transporter to make it so. The transporter chief, Denny, is much more accommodating than they expected. When confronted by the accusation that they’re trying to sneak onto the Cerritos, they instantly break down and admit to what they were planning.
Denny sympathizes with them, but he can’t beam them up because a space organism, the verugament, is blocking surface-to-space transporters. Instead, they beam to…Bozeman, Montana, where Zefram Cochrane launched the Phoenix for humanity’s first warp flight and first contact. It’s now a theme park, complete with a replica of the Phoenix that people can ride into orbit.
The gang hijacks their rocket, including abducting a tourist named Gavin, who they give the Phoenix to after they dock with the Cerritos. Once aboard, however, Mariner refuses to accept that Boimler’s logs will be allowed as evidence because he put too much personal information in them. Boimler insists that they need to trust Starfleet to see the truth.
As they are preparing a shuttle to leave, Mariner locks them in and sets the shuttle to autopilot. She then proceeds to the bridge to hijack the ship, telling the others that she needs to find hard evidence. The gang redirects the shuttle back and tell Mariner they’re going to help her. The Cerritos breaks free from drydock, but Rutherford locks navigational controls.
Mariner expresses frustration at not being able to do anything to save her mother, but the gang assures her that they’ll be there for her. As Starfleet arrives to detain them, the verugament arrives, and they start attaching to the hull. Tendi, thinking on her feet, tells Starfleet security that they’re on a scientific mission to study and facilitate this endangered species’ reproduction. When Security boards the ship, well, it’s about as gross as you can imagine an alien extremophile reproduction can get in a Star Trek show. The security officers just need to know who authorized the mission. And after some hesitation…
Captain Freeman declares that she did! The Captain explains that a Starfleet security team, led by Captain Bateson and including Commander Tuvok (I guess he kept that job from Elite Force 2, an FPS from the mid-00s? What a pull), revealed that the Pakleds blew up their own planet. Mariner’s father iterates that she should have trusted Starfleet from the start. Mariner and her parents discuss her future, and Captain Freeman states that the final measure of whether she stays in Starfleet will go to…Commander Ransom.
We also learn that Gavin’s joy ride with the Phoenix ended somewhere around Jupiter, where a Starfleet team is trying to pry him from the controls as the credits roll.
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