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‘Star Trek: Lower Decks S1E2: Envoys’ (review)

Before I begin my rundown of the top five things I liked about this week’s episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, titled “Envoys”, let me just say that I’m such a well-balanced Star Trek fan that I bleed Starfleet red, blue and gold!

I accept everything associated with the franchise and have my own preferences. I still think the TOS episode Balance of Terror is still the best Star Trek episode ever made and The City on the Edge of Forever is the most complex one bar none. The TNG episode Best of Both Worlds is the one that saw the maturity of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the development of the franchise by Star Trek: DS9 and Star Trek: Voyager is too much to describe within the confines of this piece. I take everything from all the incarnations of the franchise and like everyone else, I have my favourites.

That’s what I like about Lower Decks; it does the same thing. I also like laughing at Star Trek and Lower Decks is not only a Trek show I can get behind, but also just a fine laugh that is badly needed. Remember John Belushi’s portrayal of Captain Kirk on Saturday Night Live back in the seventies? If not, I urge you to look it up. Or how about Jim Carrey from In Living Color? I think Star Trek humour is one that has been absent from popculture. To see it laughing at itself is a sign of its own maturity and as fans, I think that’s a type of solidarity that needs to be embraced and appreciated.

After all, risk IS our business, right? So, take the risk and laugh.

I need to talk about what was great about Episode Two, titled “Envoys”, and I’ve identified my five favourite things. Warning: there may be spoilers in this, so choose to read on at your discretion.

Still with me? Cool.

Here’s my quick-pick list of Easter Eggs that were jammed into this episode. See if you can add to it:

  • Jamaharon and the Horg’ahn.
  • A Klingon Blood Bond.
  • Castro from the TNG Episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” gets a mention.
  • Mariner’s dream about Khan Noonien Singh.
  • Mention of the Khitomer Accords from Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country.
  • A Section 31 Mention – when Boimler power walks.
  • The Shapeshifting creature from TAS.
  • The Klingon shopkeeper has an array of old-style Klingon weapons.

Those were the ones that stood out for me the most. Like I said: see if you can add more to it.

The Prelude

The prelude is my first favourite thing. I love when a recurring joke of a show is going to be the intro. Think The Simpsons. In this case, there is an energy being that invades the USS Cerritos. Instead of it possessing the crew, or sneakily evading detection, the being is encountered by Ensign Mariner who wrestles it into submission and makes it her bitch. Huh … good idea. Whoever would have thought of that? It’s irreverent but at the same time, definitely reminds Star Trek fans of all the times when we’ve all argued with each other about just this same damn thing! If these entities can take over bodies then why can’t they be manhandled? Remember Day of the Dove? Take a firehose to the damn thing!

The Shuttlecraft

Here’s the other thing I liked about this episode: the name of the shuttle (with the incredibly entertaining blast shield) assigned to Boimler and Mariner’s mission?

It was the Yosemite. There’s a political piece of humour that was well-timed! Even if that wasn’t intentional, based on recent headlines, we can still have some fun with that! Could that be the next name of the first ship in the Space Force?

The Plot Balancing

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The intermittent weaving of the major and minor plots is also a skillful feature that can’t be overlooked. While not getting into details, the main plot involving Ensign Mariner and Boimler is classic comedy, along the lines of The Odd Couple. If I’m dating myself, sorry, but the idea here is that this is a universal comedy that all generations can appreciate. I watched this with my 9-year old and she loved the relationship between the two characters.

Oh, and Ensign Rutherford trying to discern which career choice is best? Not only a great opportunity to spotlight the supporting cast, but it also emphasizes the nature of his character. Naïve, tech-oriented and possessed of cybernetic abilities that we are able to learn about. In short: pure fun.

The “Janeway Protocol”

Another thing that I liked, but wanted to know more about: just what exactly is “the Janeway Protocol”? Not only is the scene one for entertainment, but it forces me to go back and watch more Voyager episodes just to see if I can discern exactly what that protocol is. It makes me ask questions and that’s a true Star Trek feature.

Ensign Mariner

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Finally, I can’t help but be entertained by the character of Ensign Mariner. She’s the lead, she’s supposed to be. But the fact that she has a hidden, well-experienced background makes me want to know more about her. I mean, having a blood-bond with a Klingon general, knowing all sorts of interstellar trivia, first contact and species knowledge in complete contrast to her book-learned pal, Boimler makes her not only the type of fall-guy we want to see, but is a perfect voice to all those fans out there who actually know what she’s talking about! Mariner is the epitome of the Trek-viewing audience who also know everything that’s about to happen in the story. She is their voice.

It’s a show that for its duration is crammed with relevant, funny and intelligent details that is fast-paced and filled with humour about a franchise that we all know and love. How McMahan manages to balance a mix of humour, canonically funny details and pacing is definitely something to appreciate.

 

Can’t wait to see what next week’s episode will bring!

 

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