It can be tough to be an ensign on Star Trek: Lower Decks and it seems they never are respected. Case in point, the cold opening sees Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford out in space doing repair work when the Cerritos takes off on another mission leaving the group behind. In “I, Excretus,” the roles are switched between command and the underlings hopefully enlightening everyone of the other person’s plight.
It’s evaluation day for the ship with every member on board having to complete simulation tests. If that wasn’t tough enough, both tests and scores are open for the public to see so you can easily figure out the dead weight of the crew. The only catch is that in the exam, the rank of the participants is swapped placing everybody in unfamiliar positions.
Every simulation the characters are tested in are fun and amusing. There are plenty of callbacks to many aspects in the overall Star Trek Universe and fans will be impressed how much is packed into the episode of Lower Decks. The running gag of the trivial jobs for ensigns continues with the command having to stack containers regardless of what excitement is going on. Yet, Captain Freeman and her officers happen to fail their test.
We also witness how much more growing our real ensigns need before they are ready for the big leagues. Tendi, Rutherford, and Mariner are placed in unwinnable situations and must make tough decisions as leaders but all manage to fail miserably. On the other hand, it is fitting for Boimler to pass his exam but being the overachiever, he is never satisfied with his score and replays the situation hoping to get 100%. Only if it were that simple to take out the Borg.
One of the main results of the testing is the team building and the greater appreciation for peers after being in their shoes for a day. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the intention and the big reveal is a little weak. It does tackle the book smart/street smart discussion because all the knowledge from a class isn’t necessarily as valuable as being out in the field and experiencing things first hand. Regardless of the test results and all the bickering, we know from the almost two full seasons we’ve watched Lower Decks, that everyone is capable and can be relied upon when it counts.
This week’s episode has plenty of fan service and some really entertaining scenarios but the big reveal/twist in the end is a little disappointing.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are released Thursdays on Paramount+.
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