The season 2 premiere episode of Star Trek Lower Decks pays homage to an original Star Trek episode, in its own wacky animated style, while keeping it original enough to be highly entertaining. This show and its characters are “not your Dad’s Star Trek” for sure, and so perhaps not for everyone, but myself being an old Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, I enjoyed it. Plus I found it a kick to see an extremely gung-ho and ready-for-action now Captain Riker (Jonathan Frakes), drop in on the series at the end of last season, and again at the end of this extremely fun premiere episode.
Spoilers below for episode one of Star Trek Lower Decks season 2!
In the premiere episode, as we return to what’s happening on Starfleet ship U.S.S. Cerritos, we see Ensign Mariner (voiced by Tawny Newsome) and her mom Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) trying to work together on the ship, in the absence of Ensign Boimler, but neither of them enjoying it entirely. This drives Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) to be both a bit jealous and feeling unappreciated by his Captain. As we later learn, he’s also quite frustrated with the mother and daughter not being honest with each other about their feelings and how they aren’t happy working together.
Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells) in the meantime, is quite concerned when her cyborg buddy Ensign Sam Rutherford is having memory issues after having his implant replaced. She also seems a bit jealous of Sam going on dates with another Ensign who he had forgotten he had previously decided wasn’t right for him. By the way, those of you familiar with Marvel might recognize Ensign Rutherford’s voice as this is actor Eugene Cordero who played the hilariously awkward and fish ignorant TVA agent Casey in the Loki series. His character in Lower Decks and Casey would be a funny pair for a crossover. But I digress…
Mixed in with troubled relationships, jealousy, and original Star Trek reference in the season 2 premiere, is lots and lots of exercise equipment. Because why not? It’s a good way to work off frustrations while stuck on a spaceship with a bunch of quirky, weird, and at times annoying Starfleet crew members, right?
The plot of the original Star Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” serves as the inspiration for what happens next as the catalyst for disaster in the episode when Commander Jack Ransom is hit with “strange energies” which quickly bestow upon him godlike powers. Something similar happens to Enterprise crew member Gary Mitchell, who gets hit with “strange energies” (the same name given to this Lower Decks episode), and he goes on a bit of a superpowered ego trip. Tho not with nearly as colorfully, or with as much madcap flair (or manifested exercise equipment) as Commander Ransom did. But thankfully the conflict is resolved without the tragic outcome of the original series episode.
The show acknowledges the references to the old series, with several mentions of Gary Mitchell and what Kirk did in a similar situation. Captain Freeman appears to have a different breakthrough with her wayward, angry, and at that point giant disembodied-headed Commander, when she realizes why he’s so upset. The Captain and her daughter agree, they were both frustrated with trying to work together so much because they were so different, and couldn’t keep going on the way they were. Captain Freeman then tries to give Ransom a bit of a pep talk and show appreciation before so that his out-of-control behavior would end.
It almost works too… but I’ll leave that particularly sensitive spoiler for you when you watch the show yourself. Yikes!
But Ransom isn’t the only one who seems a little jealous in this episode, as Ensign Tendi is chasing Rutherford around the ship, trying to shock him into remembering he doesn’t like pears… or Ensign Barnes either. The two come to an understanding as well, although it seems as if we’ll see more of this budding romance between Tendi and Rutherford later.
I mentioned my fondness for Star Trek Next Generations Riker in the opening paragraph, and as I mentioned he shows up at the end as the brave captain of the U.S.S. Titan, more than ready for the next (probably dangerous) adventure. This is the ship that Jack Quaid’s Ensign Boimler transferred to from the Cerritos at the end of the first season. Boimler was missed during the bulk of this premiere episode, both by his friends in the crew and by this viewer. But it looks as if he is beginning to regret his change in position, despite dreaming of being on the command deck for most of the first season. Likely, he’ll be reuniting with his Cerritos crewmates soon enough, however.
I was given the opportunity to preview the first five episodes of season 2 of this series. This was the first. I look forward to the remaining episodes as it is a very fun enjoyable series so far.
My rating for this episode:
★★★½ / ♥♥♥½
Star Trek Lower Decks is can be found streaming on Paramount+. Check out the trailer for season 2 below!