There is nothing more important to a series than a strong season finale. The last episode of a season is the lynchpin that either urges people to come back for more or makes viewers wonder if they should bother continuing.
Historically, Star Trek has been a mixed bag of season Finales. From the tremendous Best of Both Worlds from STNG to the pretty terrible Shades of Grey (also TNG), with a finale, you really never know what you are going to get. Thankfully, Lower Decks doesn’t just pull off a tremendous finale bookending the season with some much needed action, it manages to commit to some significant changes for the Cerritos crew in doing so.
So let’s talk about the season one finale of Lower Decks No Small Parts.
Ensign’s Log….everyone wants a log….
After a successful follow-up to a known planet (Beta III from TOS) Captain Freeman and her crew head off to rescue a ship only to find themselves in a terrible situation. Meanwhile, while Ensign Tendi shows a new crewmember around, Mariner’s secret about being the Captain’s daughter is out and she realizes that she needs to find a way off ship before it gets any worse.
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
I will get this out of the way immediately, this is possibly the best episode of the season. Why you ask, well, much like the rest of the series this one takes on a trope that has been lingering for years, but the trope it takes on is one that has bothered me (and I am sure many others) for some time. The ‘monster/crisis of the week trope’.
Now before we continue you have to understand this trope to get the very meta joke going on here. You see, in most episodic series such as The Original Series, The Next Generation and even Voyager (not so much in DS9 though), the crew would face a weekly threat only to fix the problem, defeat the alien, free the people and then move on. Rarely did we ever get a chance to revisit these events to see what happened. Ironically, one of the few times we did resulted in a tremendous movie which marked the return of Khan after the Enterprise unceremoniously dropped him off on a doomed planet. So thus a trope was borne. The crew fixes a problem and never look back…but what happens to those people that were helped? Do they keep on the path of righteousness or fall into despair once again? Well…
From the start this episode dive in with a return to Beta III from the classic series episode The Return of the Archons. The folks on Beta III worshiped a computer, Kirk and the gang fixed that and left and we never found out what happened until now…and let’s just say they didn’t learn as The Cerritos returns over 100 years later to find them back at it again. The episode then goes on to explore more of these tropes including the return of the ExoComp from the STNG episode Quality of Life and the Pakleds from The Samaritan Snare (also STNG), the later showing up in force and causing some significant destruction.
The beauty of this episode is that it finally addresses what happens when Star Fleet (and past series) fail to go back and check on their previous missions as Kirk promised Khan he would do at the end of Space Seed…and we all know how that turned out. Mariner says it best with ‘Well that’s Starfleet, good at observing, bad at maintaining’.
The other aspect that makes this episode so great is that it is chock full of character development on every level. When the crew learns that Mariner is in fact Captain Freeman’s daughter, they go out of their way to make her ‘feel welcomed’ only to make her realize that they only way to prevent this is to get a transfer. She begins to be the model crewmember, much to Boimler’s dismay, however, when the Cerritos find’s itself in dire straights it is Captain Freeman who realizes that she needs her daughters reckless streak to get them out of a bad situation. What follows is a finale like no other, full of action, some surprising cameos (which we will talk about below because SPOILERS!) and an ending that promises great things for season two. Additionally, we finally meet an Exocomp and Ensign Tendi does her best to show the latest artificial lifeform some kindness aboard the ship. In true Lower Decks fashion, this plays out admirably.
Overall, THIS is what I had hoped to get from Lower Decks and it delivered in every way. I have to say, after that ending, Season Two is going to finally give us something we have wanted ever since the the final moments of Star Trek Nemesis and it is sure to be something special.
Gleanings, Questions and cool bits: (MAJOR spoilers here)
Okay, if you are in this section you dont mind spoilers so here goes…
Ok, I am completely convinced that Jonathan Frakes is determined to appear on every Star Trek series post STNG. So far the only one he has not appeared on is Discover but, seeing that they are going to be far in the future in season three, there is still a chance. That being said, seeing the USS Titan swoop in to battle with Riker and Troi at the helm was one of the most exciting and memorable parts in the series so far. I was literally at the edge of my seat gasping as he rescued the Cerritos from certain death with the STNG theme playing the entire time. Chills.
When I said that this was one of the most action packed and intense episodes to date, I was not kidding. Not only does the Cerritos face near destruction but we also see the death of an entire crew on another ship and the death of a beloved crewmember on the Cerritos. For proprieties sake I wont say who but… it’s one I really didn’t expect. Plus, we also see the return of Badgey who is clearly still upset with Rutherford and wants nothing but sweet revenge.
Finally, Ensign Boimler being transferred to the USS Titan at the end promises some significant changes to the series next season as it has been confirmed that Riker and the Titan will return. I can not wait!
- TOS era meta referenced as ‘THOSE OLD SCIENTISTS’
- The Exocomp ‘Peanut Hamper’ is set up as the perfect savior only to betray them all in a beautiful twist on the Deus Ex trope all scifi falls prey to.
- After Rutherford’s accident he apparently has no memory of Tendi or the rest of the crew, how will this play out in Season Two? Will Rutherford remember who his friends are or will he have to start over? Will they do a “Search of Rutherford” episode….I have a feeling they will…. I mean, maybe he transferred his ‘digital katra’ over or something?
- I love how Mariner and Riker know each other and that Riker is the source of most of her contraband. Brilliant.
- The iconic Original Series Space Helmet Toy is finally canonized in a very fun way….
- …and the Animated Series is further canonized with an image of Spock and Kirk in Animated Form directly from that series!
- Plus Captain Riker has his own ‘engage’ and it is pretty ‘Jazzy’….
Well, that is it…but wait…there’s more…. come back next week when we discuss the season premier of Discovery Season Three…. until then we have a few images of things to come below….
Thanks for reading the SciFi TV Review I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you!
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 10/11/20