The season one finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks saw the USS Cerritos endure a lot of drama. The crew survived a brutal attack from the Pakled and they lost one of their own in the process. In addition, our young ensigns dealt with various personal issues. Rutherford loses his long-term memory and Boimler is promoted and transferred to the Titan. The departure of her partner in crime leaves Mariner at a crossroads and decides to team-up with her mother when pursuing her zany side missions.
In the episode, the crew are assigned the simple task of helping a leader determine their new Star Fleet phone number. But of course, Mariner has her own agenda and her exploits expose Commander Ransom to the titular “Strange Energies.” The first officer soon gains godlike powers and becomes out of control. Elsewhere, Tendi suspects Rutherford is suffering from synthetic memory degradation due to his new implant.
The season two premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks allows us to check into Mariner’s mental state under the new status quo. First, working with Captain Freeman has taken the joy out of her secret projects but she doesn’t have the heart to break off the agreement with her mom. Then, she has the abandonment issues of Boimler leaving so suddenly and without saying good-bye. This is all shown in the cold opening, which serves as an amusing misdirect considering we learn her Cardassian prison break is only a simulation. At least the training module, keeps her physically and mentally fit.
The transformation of Ransom brings the tension between mother and daughter to the forefront since the commander is caught up in the drama. He voices what both are feeling publicly and the pair are able to resolve their problems by reverting back to their previous relationship.
Jack’s plot lends itself to the animation because the series can go bigger and more outlandish compared to live action. It’s funny that his powers accentuate his bro tendencies including working out his bis and tris. In addition, the solution fits with Lower Decks’ more unusual and silly inclinations with how Mariner solves the problem.
For all the Star Trek fans out there, she also manages to incorporate the same methods of dispatching the original character who experienced strange energies. They name drop Gary Mitchell and the reference is a deep cut to the original television series. However, if you have to explain your Easter egg, it takes away from it a little bit.
The Tendi and Rutherford subplot sees the latter trying to go back to normal after the last episode’s events. You can tell how close the duo is with Tendi’s concern about his mental state, but her overreaction to her friend’s date could indicate something more than their friendship. It’s like Tendi is trying to purposefully sabotage any of Rutherford’s romantic entanglements.
The actors behind the characters addressed the sexual tension between the two during media day, but at least here, they are able to settle things without involving too personal feelings. Though it should be interesting to keep an eye on where Tendi and Rutherford go this season.
We can’t forget about Boimler so we check in with him onboard the Titan at the end of the season two premiere of Lower Decks. If he didn’t enjoy his misadventures with Mariner before, he’s definitely not enjoying his new post fighting the Pakled. At least we receive more of the animated version of William Ryker. He’s so pleasurable to watch and Jonathan Frakes’ turn as this larger-than-life persona is reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris in the Harold and Kumar films. Will Boimler last in his new position or will he burn out?
“Strange Energies” brings a lot of the fun and Star Trek references we’re accustomed to while setting the stage for the character arcs that will be played out this season.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are released Thursdays on Paramount+.
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