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The Lower Deckers go on a classic cave mission.

Summary[]

Teaser[]

As the USS Cerritos orbits Grottonus, Beckett Mariner enters the transporter room to find Brad Boimler in there. They both reveal they have a research mission and Boimler muses that they rarely get paired up for missions anymore, just as Sam Rutherford and D'Vana Tendi arrive. However, the excitement dampers from Mariner as they find out they're researching moss inside a cave, which Mariner groans out as they're transported down to the surface. While the others enjoy their time, Mariner wants them to get out as fast as possible as bad things tend to happen. When Boimler tries to reassure her, Commander Jack Ransom calls them through Boimler's combadge to warn them of tremors, which causes a cave-in trapping them inside. Mariner is less than surprised.

Act One[]

Rutherford activates a light on his implant, allowing them to see. Mariner, already knowing what happens, tries to call for any hidden creatures to just go ahead and attack them. Boimler tells her to calm down and he'll contact the ship, only to get static, causing Mariner to mumble about how rock easily defeats centuries of technological progress. Kicking the moss in frustration, it springs to life, illuminating the cave and allowing them to scan for possible escape routes. However, the moss starts to follow Mariner before it snags Tendi's boot. Phaser blasts have no effect as it quickly grows back and Boimler suggesting they only had a few hours before it consumed them all. Rutherford suggests they might have a way to get out as they all been stuck in caves. Tendi starts reminiscing about the time they were stuck on a turbolift, but Mariner cuts her off. This causes Boimler to remember an incident with Lieutenant Steve Levy, using gammanite to boost their comm signal. Mariner is amused that Boimler was stuck with Levy and his conspiracy theories, causes Boimler to remember what happened...

On Kyron 4, the two were on a dilithium survey when an ion storm blew in out of nowhere. Taking shelter in a cave, Boimler tried to contact the ship, only to get an error signal, causing him to muse that the storm must be blocking it. Levy suggests that they don't make more advanced comms so they can't hear what they don't want others to know about, which annoys Boimler, who investigates the cave deeper. When Levy suggests just waiting out the storm, Boimler points out they could last for years and asks if he read the mission log. Levy tells him he'd rather just experience the mission with his own two eyes and make his own conclusions. When a mysterious noise spooks the two, Levy says that it's the Vendorians, which causes Boimler to point out that Vendor Prime is in the Beta Quadrant. When Boimler picks up a signal on his tricorder, Levy tries to stop him, saying that it's all a Vendorian plot, but Boimler brushes him off.

Following the signal, they discover a dusty and cracked, yet possibly still running transport, Boimler suggesting it might have been left there on a previous mission. While Boimler ponders the fact that it only has one seat, Levy decides to use his phaser to destroy it, causing a cave-in. Boimler yells at him for his act, which Levy justifies as a Vendorian morality plot. This sets off Boimler, telling Levy the reason he's been stuck as a lieutenant for around a decade was because he was insufferable despite his genius. He tells him that Wolf 359 was a tragedy, Q exists, Jean-Luc Picard is not a hologram and that The Doctor is and that him being stuck in a cave-in is a good thing because no one else has to deal with him. This upsets Levy greatly, who tearfully just uttered he wanted to help. However, this causes a group of stalactite to reveal themselves to be Vendorians and that they failed their morality test, surprising both men.

Act Two[]

Tied up and being dragged to a hole, Boimler begged for the Vendorians to let them go, giving the definition of a conspiracy theory as a reason. A Vendorian laughed in his face, telling him that's exactly what they wanted them to think before throwing them in. Another tells them that they were going to be punished for not working together. Levy explains to Boimler that the Vendorians were going to tie them face to face while they lay their eggs on their necks, making them look them in the eye while their young burst out of their chests. The Vendorians are shocked – Levy knows of their customs? Boimler convinces Levy to keep going, the latter explaining that he does like how they act. The first Vendorian wants to know how he knows so much and Levy explains that he goes on subspace forums to "trade" information. This convinces the other to get "Tarmax". A bit later, Levy is busy explaining more of his theories, which impresses them, though they do dismiss the idea that they caused the Klingon Civil War. Levy is actually quite impressed with the creatures, and Boimler still believes he's a crackpot, but at least he's learned not to try and yell at him, which the Vendorians take as accepting the two as friends.

Back in the present, Boimler explains that the Vendorians set them free and explained how to use gammamite to boost their comm signals. Mariner can't believe they got along and Boimler explains they've even hung out in the holodeck a few times. This shocks the others: he hung out with someone without them? The guy who believes the rest of them came from the evil mirror universe? Tendi tries to talk about the turbolift situation again, but Mariner stops her again before Rutherford points out that the moss is on the move again. It spits out the bones of a four-legged creature, horrifying the group. Boimler's tricorder picks up another signal – it's for trigammanite, which would have the same effect. Rutherford immediately demands for Boimler's pants, which he easily does with Mariner mocking him for how fast he undressed – they're roommates, they're used to it. As Rutherford uses the pants to reveal the trigammamite by having Mariner bounce a phaser off the rock onto the pants, Boimler does realize he shoulda gave him his jacket instead. Boimler asks how he did that and Rutherford casually mentions how he picked it up when he was trapped with T'Ana and their kid, causing the others to look at him in total shock.

Rutherford explains that Billups had came down with Porgian swamp rash, so he and T'Ana had to go down to medicinal ferns on Balkus 9. As their guide, Thusa, guides them to the ferns, T'Ana explains that they can't replicate molecular fungo-sites, so getting the actual thing is the only thing they can do. Thusa is proud to be their guide and picking up their knowledge. However, as she starts to pick the ferns, Rutherford's tricorder picks up something and they should probably leave. Thusa dismisses it, explaining that the Grafflax haven't lived in these caves for generations. However, she is proven wrong when it breaks the surface, grabs her with its maw and tosses her against a wall. Rutherford and T'Ana drive it off with their phasers, but they have a problem: Thusa landed on a stalactite. Despite T'Ana trying to stabilize her, Thusa declares that her body is gone and lays her hand on Rutherford's face, transferring her essence into him, dying.

Things soon turn awkward as it turns out that Thusa made him pregnant as T'Ana, explaining this is how Thusa's kind procreate through cloning, casually sets up to perform a Caesarean section on him, giving birth to an infant version of her. Rutherford comes to from the traumatic incident to find an aggravated T'Ana dealing with the baby Thusa. The baby seems to like being around Rutherford more, which allows T'Ana to make a plan, deciding to investigate the various tunnels to try to find a way out, taking turns to also watch the baby. As T'Ana leaves, she admits that she doesn't like babies or engineers. Time passes and none of the tunnels prove to show a way out. However, T'Ana and baby Thusa bond over time, T'Ana deciding they're "co-adventurers". However, the Grafflax returns and starts to attack the three. In desperation, Rutherford modifies the tricorder's universal translator to speak the creature's growls, which shocks it. It explains that it's protecting its baby, which it clarifies to be its young within the grotto. Rutherford tells the creature that if it can get them out, they'll make sure no one else gets in. Gathering its young, the Grafflax reveals that it had been watching them and compliments the two as being good parents. It smashes an opening, allowing the three to leave, though Rutherford asks T'Ana if he's the first engineer she likes, T'Ana telling him to "shut the *bleep* up".

Act Three[]

In the present, Mariner is aghast that Rutherford had a kid and didn't tell them. He tries to explain that she was a clone and it really wasn't his kid. Boimler's equally hurt as they're roommates. Rutherford counters that he didn't tell him about the Vendorians and when Tendi brings up the turbolift story again, Mariner snaps at her, causing the moss to react in anger. Mariner hops up onto the ledge, removes her combadge and begins to shift it in the trigammanite. Rutherford wants to know how she learned how to modify microcircuitry, but Mariner tries to brush it off. Boimler jokes that she probably learned it from Delta shift, which leads to shock when it turns out he was right. Mariner awkwardly explains that she was assigned to lead them on an away mission, but their shuttlecraft Kings Canyon got hit with a magnetic anomaly, causing them to crash land on Glish.

As the shuttle comes to a stop, Mariner stumbles out, followed by Karavitus and Amadou, the former mocking Mariner for her poor landing. Mariner shoots back that without power, she did her best with the brick-shaped craft to keep them alive. Mariner mocks the cave when she finds out comms are working, but they're instead out of range. However, Asif stumbles out with his leg mangled. Mariner gets Karavitus to tend to Asif and Amadou to check on the shuttle. Amadou points out the shuttle's sound, but power's dunsel unless they find some pergium. Thankfully, there's some pergium just nearby. However, as Mariner gets closer to the pile, she begins to age, shocking the three. Karavitus approaches her and she, too, starts to age. As they retreat and return to their natural age, Amadou tells them that there's a mineral vein that emits chronotons, causing them to experience a bio-temporal flux depending on how close they get to it. Karavitus believes she's going to be a spry old lady and sprints towards the pergium. Mariner chases after them and they get older and older, unable to move further in exhaustion. Mariner tries to get her back, but Karavitus refuses, claiming Mariner hates her because she's Delta shift, but Mariner clarifies she hates her because she's an "asshole". As their hips give out, Karavitus reveals that Delta shifts does all the same jobs Beta shift does, but everyone's asleep. They've only met Captain Carol Freeman five times and Ransom three or four – they'll never rank up because they feel that no one thinks they exist. Realizing how crappy such things are, Mariner suggests they get together one time between shifts, which Karavitus agrees to... if they can escape. They're too old to reach the pergium.

They then realize Asif is younger than them and he can go further. Asif points out that his leg is still broken, which Karavitus tells him will heal with the time dilation. As Asif crawls over to them, the leg does heal, but it heals completely wrong, much to the ladies' horror. As he tries to stand, the leg finally falls off to everyone's dismay. Thankfully, Amadou, now a child, has discovered a larger quantity of pergium at a safer spot. Tired of the old age, the ladies drag Asif away and back to the shuttle, leaving his leg behind after Mariner decides T'Ana can grow him a new one. With the pergium installed, the shuttle powers up, allowing Ransom to contact them. The ladies congratulate each other before Karavitus and Amadou break into a chant of "Delta shift!" that Mariner joins in on, with Asif begging to get his leg back.

In the present, Boimler is indignant that Mariner chanted with delta shift, and Rutherford agrees. To Tendi's horror, the trio start arguing over everything before Mariner angrily just tosses Rutherford the combadge and demands that they just leave. However, before Rutherford can, the moss comes alive and traps them, declaring that they cannot leave until it hears Tendi's story. Tendi tries to use the same excuse Mariner did, but it is unmoved and Mariner tells her to tell it.

The story takes place on Tendi's first day on the ship. The group has gone to the bar to have drinks, but Mariner switched out the synthehol early on, so everyone's drunk. Tendi worries that T'Ana might need her help, but as they enter a turbolift, Mariner points out that they survived a rage virus, so everyone is on downtime. Boimler drunkenly says they shouldn't have any other problems until tomorrow afternoon, which is when the turbolift shuts down. Rutherford contacts Billups, who tells them that many power relays were damaged, but they'll be put onto a list, cancelling contact before he can answer if they can be transported out. Rutherford laughs it off and says he's sure they'll have it fixed in a jiff.

Two hours later, they're throwing their socks at a makeshift hoop from Boimler's jacket, playing a variation of "horse" called "targ". Rutherford is out and Mariner throws her sock at Boimler's face, getting it stuck on his nose. Three hours later, they're playing "I Spy" with Tendi somehow guessing isolinear chip in two guesses. Four hours later, they're all passed out, ready to sleep. Tendi admits she was worried that she would be hated for being an Orion, but Mariner and Rutherford sleepily tells her she's one of them now. However, the moment is interrupted as Shaxs throws the door open, loudly declaring he's here to save them, scaring the wits out of them.

In the present, the four laugh at that moment, Mariner admitting she nearly peed at Shaxs' appearance, Boimler admitting he fully did. Mariner apologizes to Tendi for cutting off the story for so long, but Tendi doesn't mind; the most important thing is that they're all friends no matter who they hang out with. The moss is moved and asks if they can be its friend. Tendi agrees, saying they came here to take scans of them. Happily, it releases the four and lets them continue scanning it as long as they continue to tell stories. As they try to speak up, Tendi remembers one cave incident where they ended up meeting themselves. As they continue on, two stalactites in the distance transform into Vendorians, who reveal that the entire incident, unbeknownst to them, was another test, reminding them of their friendship no matter what new responsibilities they may have. One Vendorian asks if they should lower the communications blocker, but the other decides not to for the moment, letting them have their fun.

Memorable quotes[]

"I hate caaaaaaa-- (transports) --aaaaaves!"

- Mariner

"Look, I know you're some sort of "outside-the-box" math genius, but do you ever wonder why you've been stuck at the same rank for like a decade? No wild unfounded theories on that? Huh?! Well, it's because you're insufferable. Wolf 359 was a tragedy, Q exists, Picard isn't some hologram, and Voyager's EMH is! Ugh! You know who benefits from being stuck in a cave? Everyone! Because they don't have to deal with you."

-Boimler

"Quick, Boimler, take off your pants."
"On it."
"Wow. You just straight-up did that, no questions asked, huh?"
"We're roommates."
"The fiber should weaken the phaser beam just enough. Mariner, fire at the wall so it reflects through the pants."
"Probably could've used my jacket..."

- Rutherford, Boimler, and Mariner

Background information[]

Title[]

  • This episode is called "Caves" because it features people telling stories about caves while in a cave.

Cast and characters[]

Continuity[]

  • The running gag of Levy dismissing the Battle of Wolf 359 as an inside job is brought back here. This was first mentioned in "No Small Parts".
  • While a Vendorian appeared in "Envoys", this is the first full episode where the race made a prominent appearance in the franchise since their first appearance in TAS: "The Survivor".
    • The repeated "reveals" associated with the Vendorians and their motives is reminiscent of the structure of TNG: "Future Imperfect", an episode that also largely took place in a cave.
  • Tendi's story takes place immediately after the events of "Second Contact". The lighting on the Cerritos for this segment is changed to match how the lighting was for the first season of the series.
  • This episode makes numerous references to away missions involving caves being frequent to the point of being mundane for the characters. This is likely an in-joke to the real-world use of the same cave set being frequently repurposed to represent caves on different planets in various live-action entries throughout the franchise.
    • Rutherford also mentions the "flat floors" in caves, which is likely an in-joke reference to the fact that (unlike real caves), cave sets usually have flat, smooth floors, so the camera dolly can move there. (see Inside Star Trek: The Real Story)
  • Rutherford becoming pregnant through an alien influence references similar experiences that happened to Deanna Troi in TNG: "The Child" and Trip Tucker in ENT: "Unexpected".

Links and references[]

Starring[]

Guest cast[]

Background characters[]

USS Cerritos
Kyron 4

References[]

24-hour clock; alcohol; alcove; Andorian; arms; away mission; away team; baby; Bajoran; Balkus 9; base mind; Battle of Wolf 359; beaming (aka transporting); Beta Quadrant; bickering; biting; body heat; "Boims"; bone; bottles; brains; bricks; brood pods; Caitian; California-class; captain; carnivorous; cave; cave mission; centuries; Cerritos, USS; chanting; chests; chief; chronitons; "Chu Chu"; clone; combadge; commander; commanders (title); comms; consciousness; conspiracies; conversations; crashed; creature; crickets (Kyron 4 cricket); cruelty; cybernetic implant; data; day; decade; dermal contact; dilithium; disaster; distress call; doctor (aka "doc"); double finger; "Dr. T"; "dream vehicle"; duty shift (beta shift; delta shift); dying; eating; EMH (Doctor, The); enemy; engineer; ensign; evac; eye; face; fan; ferns (Balkus 9 medicinal fern); fiber; fiction; fraction; Freeman, Carol; friend (aka pal); future; "gal"; gammanite; Glish; Grafflax; green; grotto; Grottonus; Grottonus creature; guys; hero; holodeck; hologram; hug; Human; hyperbole; information; inside job; ion storm; ionic shielding; isolinear optical chip; jacket; jerks; kid; Kings Canyon; Klingon Civil War; knowledge; Kyron 4; leg; lieutenant; lieutenant commander; lieutenant junior grade; life; magnetic anomaly; medkit; mirror universe; mission (aka "mish"); molecular fungo-sites; morality; morality gambit; morality test; moss; myth; neck; night; obelisk; Orion; osmotic; outbreak; pants; parent (father); people; pergium; phaser; phaser blast; Picard, Jean-Luc; Porgian swamp rash (aka swamp rash); power; pregnant; procreation; protein mass; punished; Q; rage virus; ration; replication; reputation; research mission; rock; roommate; rubble; scans; seconds; sentient cave; shoe (boot); shuttlecraft (aka shuttle); SIMs beacon; skeleton; skin; socks; soluble minerals; Starfleet uniform; status report; story; subspace; subspace forum users; subspace forums; synthehol; tantrum; targ; Tarmax; tentacle; thing; throats; Thusa's species; torch; transporter; transporter room; tremors; tricorder (medical tricorder); trigammanite; turbolift; twenty questions; type 2 phaser; Type 6A shuttlecraft; universal translator; vehicle; Vendor Prime; Vendorian; vibrations; Voyager, USS; Vulcan; wall; warp speed; water; weeks; Wolf 359; years; zombie

Meta references[]

bleep; flashback; intertitle

External link[]

Previous episode:
"A Few Badgeys More"
Star Trek: Lower Decks
Season 4
Next episode:
"The Inner Fight"
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