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A consultant arrives on the USS Cerritos to run drills that require the lower deckers and bridge crew to swap duties.



Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, D'Vana Tendi, and Sam Rutherford are completing some repairs on a satellite, and gazing upon a nearby nebula in awe, when the USS Cerritos gets a distress call from the USS Bakersfield that they are in a temporal causality loop. The Cerritos enters high warp, leaving the four behind, still on the hull of the satellite. Mariner is concerned about how much oxygen they have left in their EV suits, but Tendi predicts that the Cerritos will return for them "any second."

Six hours pass, and the Cerritos returns when they realize they left them behind and beam the shivering ensigns directly to sickbay, throwing blankets over them, and treating them for lung trauma.

Act One

Dr. T'Ana continues to treat the four ensigns, and Mariner angrily criticizes Captain Carol Freeman for leaving them behind, resulting in Commander Jack Ransom telling her that they would not have left them behind if they had signed their magnetic boots out as protocol dictated. Mariner says that it wouldn't have mattered since the lower decks crew is seen as disposable, and Freeman rebukes the claim, saying that she is forced to make life and death decisions everyday involving the crew, before telling Mariner to lose the attitude as they have a Starfleet drill instructor visiting the ship later for crew tests, and doesn't want her to potentially hurt their score.

The crew assembles.

The crew reports to a giant room full of simulator holopods, and are greeted by a Pandronian named Shari yn Yem, who gives them a brief motivational speech before telling the crew that they will enter the pods and be tested in situations that previous Starfleet crews have experienced, and that each test has an amount of points that can be earned. Yem tells them that to better evaluate the readiness of the crew, their ranks will be switched around, with the ensigns being tested as high-ranking officers, and the senior officers being tested as low-ranking officers. The crew start to enter the pods in excitement, eager to experience what it's like to be in command, as Freeman and her senior officers believe that they will pass their tests easily, since the duties of the lower decks will be very simple.

"Mirror" Mariner

Mariner enters her pod and is given a scenario in which she finds herself in the mirror universe and must find her way back home. At first, Mariner gets immersed in her part, but decides to try and deviate from her objectives, hoping to infiltrate the Terran Empire, and dismantle it from the inside. However, as she tries this, the test docks points from her score for deviating from the mission parameters. Mariner encounters the Terran counterpart of Boimler, and she salutes him, but he immediately realizes that she saluted him with her left hand, and since the Mariner of their universe is right handed, he sees her as an imposter, and has her arrested. He uses an agonizer on her, and the test ends in failure for Mariner.

Tendi enters her pod and is told to assist a paralyzed Klingon in a ritual suicide. Tendi tells the Klingon that she is not allowed to cause any harm, which results in a docking of her score. Seeing this, Tendi pulls out a hypospray, ready to give him a quick and painless death. The Klingon demands for her to use his ceremonial blade, and when she objects, her score is further lowered. The Klingon, furious that she is refusing to honor his culture, tries to take his blade back, but falls off the bed. Two nurses run into sickbay, and ask why the Klingon isn't dead yet, and begin to try and assist him in his death, but the Klingon's backup organs begin to heal him, and they give up, much to the Klingon's dismay. Tendi apologizes as the test ends in failure.

Mariner finds herself in a literal facade of a 19th century old west town and told to survive as a wanted man. To her confusion, she immediately gets points deducted as she tries to go to the saloon even though she wasn't trying to be creative, but then looking over and seeing her group mounting horses, she realizes that is what she's supposed to do and goes over to one. Confident that she can ride it, as she took lessons in the past, she climbs up onto the saddle but the horse gets agitated, bucks her off and tramples her, resulting in another failure.

Rutherford's test puts him in the engineering section of a refit Constitution-class starship, where the warp core is in the process of a breach. Rutherford moves to try and enter the core to stop the breach, but the handle of the door burns his hand due to the radiation. Rutherford gets an idea to take his boots off to cover his hands and opens the door that way, but unfortunately, he takes too long, and the ship explodes, resulting in his test failing to his annoyance.

Boimler begins the "Borg Encounter" program.

Boimler is put in a test in which he must fight off the Borg and escape a Borg cube, but he is more than confident as he's read everything written about the Borg. Boimler successfully fights off the Borg drones, and makes his way through the cube, before coming upon a chamber of Borg babies, however he chooses to enter a shaft above the chamber, which leads to a room with a Borg sphere that he uses to escape the cube. The test ends with him passing, but Boimler is unhappy that he only scored a 79%. Eager to do better, he asks if he can take the test again, and the computer warns him that if he gets a failing score, he will be locked out of the test. Undeterred, Boimler restarts the test. He fights off the drones, but upon finding the Borg babies, he takes them with him before escaping on the sphere. He once again passes, but scores only 83%, making him want to try again. He retakes the test, and rescues even more babies, along with a couple drones, before escaping on the sphere, resulting in a score of 84%. Boimler, getting frustrated, orders the computer to restart the test.

Mariner is about to start her final test in which the entire crew has been afflicted with polywater intoxication. While she is not enthusiastic about the nature of the mission, she tries to pump herself up, and enters the mess hall to see the crew completely naked and involved in a huge orgy. Rutherford can be seen, possibly with ensign Castro. Mariner tries to ignore it all and talk everyone out of their outrageous behavior but is unsuccessful. She sees Boimler showing off his genitals, causing her to run out of the mess hall in horror to see Steve Stevens spanking Ransom, while holding him on a leash. Shaxs then runs up to her, while T'Ana clings to him. Unable to take the lewd nature of the test anymore, Mariner runs to an airlock and blows herself and the crew into space, begging to return to the old west scenario.

As the test ends, the ship's average score falls to 37%.

Act Two

In Freeman's ready room, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are enjoying a fancy meal of senior officer replicator recipe codes at the captain's desk, but distraught that they all failed their tests so horribly, and never thought that the command duties of the senior officers could be so demanding. Tendi tries her bowl of pasta with pesto and finds the sauce delicious but being unfamiliar with it has to ask the computer to identify it. Mariner wonders where Boimler is as he loves the senior officer recipes, and Rutherford replies that he heard he was still taking his test. Mariner speculates that he probably failed like them and is just too embarrassed to admit it. (Boimler is still in his Borg drill, retaking the test again and again, altering his approach each time and managing to score as high as 94%. The pod's computer points out that this places him in the top 10%, but he's still not satisfied and snaps at it to retake the test.) Mariner doesn't like to admit it, but she admits that the senior officer's jobs are harder than they thought, though Tendi replies that they are probably realizing that their jobs are difficult as well.

In the lower decks crew bunks, Shaxs is already asleep in Rutherford's bunk, while Ransom stretches, and Freeman, sitting in Mariner's bunk, talks about how she's nearly forgotten how easy it is to be in the lower decks, noting how all she did was stand in the back of a banquet all day. T'Ana notes from Tendi's bunk how all she did was stand in the transporter room until someone needed to be transported somewhere. As Ransom wonders why they even bothered ranking up as he gets into Boimler's bunk, Freeman notes how the cramped showers and limited selections from the replicator (such as only one slice of pizza at a time) is a small price to pay for a simpler job. T'Ana also notes how she likes the close quarters of the bunks, before cuddling with Shaxs. They all lay down to sleep but then the ship's red alert alarm, which is positioned above the bunks, startles them; T'Ana painfully falls to the deck when Shaxs jerks awake.

Tired and grumbling, they enter a group holopod, and begin a test involving a Klingon encounter. They are instructed to support their commanders and find themselves in a cargo bay as the ship shakes from a supposed attack and knocks down large stacks for crates. A commander enters and tells them to stop goofing around, and to restack the crates in the cargo bay; Shaxs asks what happened but is told to not worry about it and to just get to work. Freeman is dumbfounded that in the middle of a Klingon attack, their job is to stack crates, which is made harder due to the hexagonal shape of the crates themselves, and the continued rocking of the ship under attack. The commander comes back and asks if they've seen Q anywhere, before running off screaming of a Jem'hadar attack and ignoring Freeman's pleas to help. Shaxs successfully manages to stack a wall of crates, but it crashes down as the ship rocks again, resulting in the test ending in failure.

For the crew's final test, a joint exercise between the senior officers and the lower decks crew will be simulated on the bridge. They are instructed to steal the Cerritos from Spacedock to save Spock from the Genesis planet. Mariner takes the command chair, and has Ransom get them some coffee before instructing Freeman to take them out of spacedock. As they approach the doors, Shaxs gets up and starts to stretch, as his back hurts from sleeping in the cramped quarters of the lower decks. However, as he continues to stretch, Mariner is reminded of how he looked fully naked in her final test and is visibly disturbed. Freeman speculates that she's remembering her bad experience with the horse, which angers Mariner, and she tries to send Freeman to the brig. The two start to quarrel, and pay no attention to the test, resulting in their ship colliding with the space doors, and ending the test in failure in a record time. Ransom didn't even have enough time to return to ask how they like their coffees prepared.

Later in the lounge, Freeman and Mariner are at the bar having a drink, distraught that they didn't even make it out of spacedock (they scored an 'incomplete', not even a percentage) and they apologize to one another, realizing that they never truly realized that each other's duties were so strenuous. With a newfound respect for each other's work, they notice a new sense of comradery with the crew as the senior officers and lower decks crew bond and laugh about their performances in the tests, and it leads Freeman and Mariner to realize that the tests were odious with the intent on making the crew better understand what their fellow officers go through.

Freeman and Mariner head to Yem's office and tell her that they figured out that her tests were only meant to bring the crew closer, and that moving forward, the crew will show more empathy and appreciation towards one another. However, as they say this, Yem just laughs, and shows them their failed grades, and says that they won't be moving forward at all.

Act Three

Yem continues to laugh and says that their scores are way below passing, and that she intends to have the entire crew reassigned. She also reveals that the drills' only purpose were to preserve her job in Starfleet, as her drills were easily passed by the crews of other ships, and Starfleet was beginning to question the necessity of her job. To fight this, she deliberately targeted the Cerritos, who's captain had left four ensigns stranded in space for a distress call, and rigged the tests to be harder in an effort to show Starfleet that the drills were still necessary. Mariner accuses her of being the reason she failed the old west scenario, but Yem reveals that she didn't have time to reprogram the horses and amusedly notes that Mariner failing was actually her own fault. Freeman tries to get the crew to do more drills and improve their score, but since the entire crew has been locked out of the tests due to their failing scores, there is nothing they can do to improve them. She is about to submit the finalized scores, when Mariner notes that one test is still active: Boimler is still in the Borg drill, trying to score higher than 98%. Yem wonders what he's still doing in there, but notes that one passing grade will not save their scores. Realizing that if the drills aren't finished, the scores cannot be finalized, Mariner contacts Boimler in the holopod.

Boimler is about to finish the drill, having finally achieved a perfect 100% after saving most of the Borg crew, beating the Borg Queen in chess and teaching her empathy. Freeman orders him not to finish the drill, and Mariner tells him that Yem is trying to deliberately fail them, and that as long as he's in the drill, she cannot finish until he finishes. Understanding, Boimler continues to interact with the drill, despite it lowering his score to 99%, much to his disappointment.

Freeman and Mariner rush to the bridge, as Yem wonders what they're trying to do since they're just delaying her finalized scores, and torturing Boimler in the process. Freeman expresses faith in her crew, noting that despite them being on a smaller and more insignificant ship, the crew is tougher than most. Yem boasts that she's read all about life on a starship and the work in space, and doubts that they are anymore reliable than any other crew she's tested. Freeman notes that Yem has read about it all but has never really experienced it in person. They reach the bridge, and Freeman orders Tendi to make a long-range scan for any potentially dangerous anomalies. Mariner notes a tetryon wormhole, a chroniton radiation stream, and numerous Crystalline Entity sightings in the immediate area. Freeman orders Rutherford to set a course for one of the entities, and Yem notes how the entity is in her drills, and is eager to see what they intend to do.

Boimler is running from the Borg drones but running out of places to evade them and finds himself coming face to face with the Borg Queen. He asks how her empathy is, and she says she was able to assimilate it. After this, two Borg drones take Boimler away, and he screams about his score.

The Cerritos approaches a Crystalline Entity.

The Cerritos reaches a crystalline entity that is feeding on unstable nebula radiation, and Yem is a bit unsettled that the entity is much bigger than she thought it was. Freeman orders the shields raised and orders Rutherford to take them closer, much to Yem's discomfort, since in her drills, one was not allowed to approach the entity. They ignore her protests and get closer. Tendi notes that the shields are holding but detects transphasic energy close to the perimeter. Freeman orders a closer look, causing more protest from Yem. The Cerritos is then caught in an electromagnetic resonance belt, and Freeman notes their dire situation.

Back in the holopod, Boimler is strapped to a table, and is scared as the Borg Queen approaches him and gently blows on his skin. The Borg Queen calls Boimler a "remarkable creature", and that he nearly passes as human, which makes Boimler say that he is human. This takes the Borg Queen by surprise, and she recommends that he drink more water, as his skin isn't in the best condition, but decides to have him assimilated, despite his protests of having hay fever and acid reflux.

On the bridge, Freeman orders a graviton pulse to be fired so that they can escape the crystalline entity, and takes her time to give the order, much to Yem's terror. The Cerritos escapes the crystalline entity with ease, and Freeman orders for another scan for something dangerous, hoping they can find a black hole. Yem asks why she's doing this, and Freeman says they will keep doing this until she changes their scores. Mariner notes a black hole feeding on a temporal rift nearby, and Freeman orders a course for it. Yem angrily says that she can't be blackmailed at the expense of Freeman's crew, and Freeman only says that her crew does this kind of work on a daily basis, and that they will be engaging dangerous anomalies until she changes their scores.

The Cerritos approaches the temporal black hole, and they begin to experience numerous distortions. Yem panics and screams for it to stop, finally saying she will change their scores. She shows their passing score of 100%, and Freeman orders Rutherford to get away from the black hole, and Rutherford effortlessly stops the ship from spinning. Yem is confused at how easy it was to get away from the temporal black hole, and Mariner notes how it is just a regular black hole, and Freeman notes how Yem would have known the difference if she weren't a fraud at her job, and vows to mention that in her own report. Mariner tries to contact Boimler that he can leave his drill now, but gets no response, as he has been completely assimilated by the Borg by this time.

Excretus of Borg

Outside his holopod, Shaxs notes that he can hear Boimler shuffling around within, and Freeman calls him to come out, but Boimler replies that he is Excretus of Borg. Ransom orders Andy Billups to get Boimler out of the pod, who cuts the door open, and Shaxs catches the exhausted Boimler as he falls out. Dazed, but back to his normal self, he asks where he is, and Freeman tells him that the crew owes him a debt of gratitude. Mariner approaches him as he laments about his assimilation and guides him to the lounge so that they can have a drink. As they leave, he asks if he got his perfect score, and Tendi says that he did, despite him actually getting a score of 8%.

Later on in the mess hall, Freeman tells the lower deckers that Yem has resigned from Starfleet due to "on-the-job stress," and Mariner notes how good it feels to ruin the career of a jerk. Freeman agrees, but notes that there was one thing she managed to show them. At that moment, Shaxs and T'Ana wheel a new replicator into the mess hall that is updated with most of the senior officer menu codes, believing that as the lower decks crew are constantly facing danger, they deserve better food. As Tendi excitedly realizes that she can get more pesto in the future, Boimler eagerly asks if it makes the lobster mac and cheese with the breaded top, causing Shaxs to tease him that the Borg didn't take away his appetite. As everyone laughs at the joke, Boimler laments how the Borg took everything that he was.

Memorable quotes

"A view like this make you realize it doesn't matter what deck you work on, we're all in it together." (The Cerritos warps away) "And they left us. They left us. How much oxygen do we have? A lot? A little? Ballpark?"

- Mariner

"They actually think they're gonna be able to handle our jobs?"
"This is gonna be rich."
"Alright, Deck 12, follow the yellow line. Move it along, lower decks."

- Ransom, Freeman, and a Command lieutenant

"Nothing makes me hornier than torturing someone. I'm horny all the time."
"And being horny always gets me in the mood to torture!"
"Oh, you can lose a whole day to that cycle."

- Billups (mirror hologram) and Rutherford (mirror hologram)


- Shaxs (hologram), affected by polywater intoxication

"OH! Fail me! Fail me! Seriously, why is this drill still going?! Fail me! Put-Put me back in the western!"

- Mariner, horrified over the "Naked Time" scenario

"You must help me kill myself. I broke my back picking up a peanut."

- Paralyzed Klingon (hologram)

"Oh yeah! That's right! Boimler's the Borg man!"

- Boimler

"If they wanted us to stack these, then why are they shaped like this?!"

- Shaxs, about the hexagonal crates

"Dang, that's gotta be a record."
"Actually, it is."

- Ransom and Shari yn Yem, about the failed bridge simulation

"I knew it! That mirror universe drill was rigged!"
"They were all rigged!"
"And those horses? I would never get trampled by a horse!"
"Oh, actually, no. The horses weren't rigged. I ran out of time. That one's on you."
"Horses love me! Shut up!"

- Mariner and Shari yn Yem

"A remarkable creature. Your design very nearly passes as Human."
"I am Human."
"Oh! Wow. Then you need to drink more water, your skin is a mess. But still, I think I should add your biological distinctiveness to our own. It's kind of our thing."

- Borg Queen (hologram) and Boimler

"Get me out of here! GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
"Whoop, whoop! Oh, we could do this all day, lady!"

- Shari yn Yem and Mariner

Background information



Links and references


Special guest star

Guest cast

Characters with unidentified voices

Background characters


19th century; 24-hour clock; acid reflux; agonizer; airlock; ally; Andorian; Antaran; anus; appetite; artificial satellite; assimilation; attacking Klingons; attacking Jem'Hadar; baby; back; Bajoran; Bakersfield, USS; banquet; battle stations; Birdseye-type (unnamed); black hole; blackmail; Bolian; boot; Borg; Borg Collective; Borg cube (unnamed); Borg drone; Borg sphere (unnamed); brak'lul; breading; bridge; brig; bunks; Caitian; California-class; "cap'n"; captain (rank); captain (title); ccs; ceremonial blade; Cerritos, ISS; Cerritos, USS; chamber; chess; chief; chief engineer; chief medical officer (aka head of medical, senior medical officer); chroniton radiation stream; coffee; collar; combadge; commander (rank); commander (title); Constitution-class (unnamed); Constitution-class decks; crate; cream; creativity; creature; crew; Crystalline Entity; culture; "damn"; danger; Danube-class (unnamed); design; disease; distress call; doctor; drill; drill administrator (aka drill instructor, drills consultant); drills program; drinking; ear; Earth; eating; electromagnetic resonance belt; EMH; empathy; ensign; environmental suit; evil; Excretus of Borg; experience; failure; feather; Federation; flight control; flogging; fraud; frisky; frontier town; *bleep*; Genesis Planet; girl; God; goosing; graffiti; graviton pulse; guys; Haliian; hallway; hand; hate; hay fever; head; hearts; Hegh'bat; "hell yeah"; "hit me"; holographic duplicate; horga'hn; horny; horse; hours; hull; Human; hypospray; improvement; impulse power; "in trouble"; infestation; inhibitions; Jem'Hadar; jerk; job; joint exercise; kiss; Klingon; Kzinti; lady; laughing; lawless; leash; lessons; lie; lieutenant; lieutenant commander; lieutenant junior grade; life-and-death situations; lobster mac and cheese; love; low-level officer; lower decks; lower-decker; lung rejuvenation; magnet boots; Mariner, Beckett; master systems display; maturation chamber; maverick; maximum warp; medical tricorder; menu codes; Merp's species; Migleemo's species; mirror universe; mission parameters; mister; "moving forward"; murder; nachos; net negative; nudity; numerical score; Obena-class (unnamed); (order; organs; Orion; oxygen; Pandronian; paralysis; pasta; peanut; percent; perch; permission; pesto; phaser; "piece of cake, a"; pizza; playback; points; poison; polywater intoxication; Pon Darra's species; protocol; proximity alert; puke; Q (individual); Q (species); radiation; rank up; record; red alert; replicator; report; rescue; right handed; rogue planet; saloon; scan; "screw us [over]"; second; "send you off"; senior officer; sex; "Shari Bing Bang"; "Shari Yingo Yango"; shields; ship; shoulder; showers; "shut up"; simulator holopod; sir; skin; sleep; slice; soaking; son; Spacedock; spacewalk; spanking; spin; Spock; stacking; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starfleet insignia; Starfleet uniform (2370s-early 2380s); Starfleet uniform (early 2380s); Starfleet uniform (late 2270s-2350s); Starfleet uniform (mirror); Sto-vo-kor; stress; stretch; stuff; Tamarian; team building; teamwork; temporal causality loop; temporal black hole; temporal rift; temptations; Terran Empire; tests; tetryon wormhole; thing; Tholian; thrusters; tickling; tightrope walk; time quake; torture; transphasic energy; transporter bay; transporting; tribble; trickster; Trill; triple threat; tub; tumbleweed; unstable nebula radiation; Vaarza; void; Volis' species; Vulcan; warp 4; warp core; warp core breach; warrior; water; Western; whale; years; yeoman

Starfleet simulation scenario references

Borg Encounter; Carbon Based Units; Cause & Effect; Chain of Command; Crystalline Entity, The; EMH Tak[...]; Escape from Spacedock; Escape the Void; Evolution; Extreme Engineering; From Q to Q; Good of the Many, The (aka The Good of Many); Hero Worship; Klingon Encounter; Kobayashi Maru; Medical Ethics; Mirror Universe Encounter; Naked Time; Natural Selection; Old West Planet; Survival of the Fittest; Teleportation Death Tag; Tholian Web, The; Time Loop; Time Trap; Tribble Infestation; Tribble Troubles; Whale Rescue

Meta references

bleep; censor bar; intertitle

External links

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Star Trek: Lower Decks
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