Hi, everyone, Justen again, and this week we are covering Ep. 2 of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, “The Least Dangerous Game”! With the USS Cerritos back on track, we start our episode with the gang… wait, they’re playing an interactive Klingon board game? Like, you know, the VHS game that had Robert O’Reilly (Chancellor Gowron) tell you to…experience BIJ? (I invite you to watch that video, it’s great)
The game, as it turns out, is a Klingon RPG with a Gowron expansion (with J.G. Hertzler voicing). Mariner rues that since being assigned to Ransom, he’s been riding her extra hard. As if on cue, Ransom summons her to a mission briefing – an hour early. As she leaves, Boimler suggests that maybe this will be good for Mariner in the long run as she hasn’t been in the brig in a while.
Tendi suggests that making the best out of a situation would be good, like their old crewmate Vendome did, a Bolian who used to be assigned to the Cerritos but is now Captain of the Inglewood. Learning that an accident-prone goof got promoted to Captain makes him question what he’s doing wrong. Tendi suggests that maybe Boimler needs to take more risks and say yes to things more.
Mariner and Rutherford are helping repair the orbital lifts (definitely not space elevators) of the Delanians. Ransom tasks Mariner with helping him with the repairs, while Rutherford and Commander Billups go planetside to liaise with the locals and enjoy some hospitality.
Back on the ship, Boimler rues his missed opportunities and how his careful planning hasn’t gotten him promoted. Tendi reminds him that she hadn’t been trying to take a senior science route, but it’s been rewarding. At that suggestion, Boimler accepts an invitation to a Springball game. It goes terribly, but Boimler’s screams prompt Lieutenant Shaxs to invite him to join a bridge choir on the ship. Boimler’s performance impresses Shaxs, and Chief Lundy asks him to pose for an art class.
Ransom and Mariner are at work on the space elevator, while Billups and Rutherford enjoy the lovely hospitality of the local Delanians, including very colorful drinks. They are being treated to a dance and a feast, while Ransom promises Mariner they’ll be down there once the repairs are complete. As it turns out, repairs are not going well, as Ransom forgot to decouple the flow inverters. Beckett argues that the engineers would have done things quicker and correct, while Ransom just wants to treat this as a punishment, reminding her that Starfleet is more than getting fed fruit by hot aliens with weird nose ridges – I don’t know, that feels like at least five percent of the job.
As people stuck in orbit due to the lift’s malfunction are on the Cerritos, Boimler declares to Tendi that he will say yes to things moving forward! Cue an alien, K’ranch, who asks to hunt him for sport. K’ranch marks him with blood and tells him he has an hour to prepare. Tendi suggests to him to run, and Boimler does.
On the planet, meanwhile, things have gotten out of hand. The boys have caused a diplomatic incident by entering a temple without exposing their navels, and Mariner insists that they should go down to help. Ransom’s repair attempts have been failing, though Ransom insists that Mariner needs to follow his directions.
Boimler talks to K’ranch, who asks if the hunt is metaphorical. K’ranch assures him that it is not, and with a spear, axe, and blood painted on his face, he chases Brad through the halls. Boimler is only able to temporarily escape by hiding in Cetacean Ops. He goes to the Captain, and he explains the situation. Freeman is initially protective, but when she learns that it’s K’ranch who’s hunting him, she scolds Boimler for going back on his word and not respecting the alien’s traditions. K’ranch, walking on the ceiling, thanks Freeman for the mimosas before resuming the chase.
Rutherford checks in with Ransom from the surface – Billups is being sacrificed to a volcano. Mariner, fed up, steals a wingsuit from the orbital lift and dives down to the planet’s surface. Mid-dive, Ransom calls her and tells her that she was right, but he wanted to see if she would disobey orders, but they should head down to the planet’s surface. She terminates her dive and heads back into the elevator.
Boimler hides from K’ranch in the repair bay, where he accidentally reactivates the PADD the game was on. The programmed version of Martok tells him to fight like a warrior, and Boimler grabs a phaser rifle and puts oil and a chip bowl on his head. Declaring that the hunted has now become the hunter, Boimler…gets fucking owned with a spear through his shoulder. K’ranch approaches, moving to…grab a selfie?
K’ranch explains that all sapient life is sacred, so the hunt honors that. He does give Boimler notes on his role as prey, however, and promises to pass on his praise to the Captain.
Meanwhile, Mariner makes her way back up to the top of the elevator, where Ransom tells them they need to parachute down. They reach the volcano, learning that not only is it a sacred volcano; the society is ruled by a telepathic baby and an AI. As Billups and Rutherford are hung over the volcano, Ransom offers his best appeal to their health and wellness-based society, his shirtless muscular torso. This appeals to the Delanians, and de-escalation begins.
Back on the Cerritos, Ransom congratulates Mariner on following the rules but reminds her this was just one day. Back at the game in the repair bay, Boimler celebrates how much recognition he got today. Trying to get to the game, they are prompted to buy the next DLC for the game or to purchase a season pass, which honestly feels like a joke too real for the 24th century.