(written from a Production point of view)
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Lower Decks, and thus may contain spoilers.
Captain Freeman seeks the ultimate payback after Mariner blatantly disrespects her in front of the crew. A well-meaning Tendi accidentally messes up a lieutenant's attempt at spiritual ascension and tries to make it right.
- "Stardate 57538.9. The Cerritos is working alongside the USS Merced in the relocation of an ancient generation ship, which due to some unknown calamity never reached its destination. Her crew adrift for centuries, mummified in disabled cryo units. Their most precious cargo, mysterious containers of molecular fluid which generates life from inorganic material. We suspect they planned to use it on a dead planet to create a habitable environment they could call home. The Merced is here to ensure the generation ship is preserved during transportation, and I want everyone to give them full support. Captain Durango and I both served on the Illinois many years ago, and it is a true delight to be able to work with him again."
Captain Carol Freeman is briefing her senior officers about their mission regarding the generation ship in the conference room, when she is interrupted by Ensign Beckett Mariner, who lets out a loud yawn. She orders her to distribute PADDs to her senior officers, and Captain Durango, a Tellarite, continues the briefing. He tells them that Starfleet believes the generation ship is equipped with a unique terraforming technology in the form of an elemental fluid which transforms inert matter into a living ecosystem. He also explains that towing the ship will be a very delicate procedure, and that any flux in the tractor beams could damage the vessel. As he continues, Mariner yawns again, and this insults Durango, who accuses Freeman of her crew not appreciating the mission at hand. Freeman assures him that her crew is the finest in Starfleet, only for Mariner to let out another loud yawn, much to Freeman's annoyance. It is apparent that Freeman is at her wits end with Mariner's antics.
Freeman takes Mariner into her ready room where she angrily tells Mariner that she won't stand for her disrespectful behavior anymore. Mariner doesn't seem to take the warning seriously, and leaves the ready room, sarcastically flashing the Vulcan hand salute as she leaves. Commander Jack Ransom enters the ready room and delivers the ship's sensor data to the captain. Freeman is still preoccupied with Mariner, admitting that she doesn't know what to do to curb this behavior from her. Ransom suggests assigning her the worst tasks on the Cerritos to potentially influence Mariner to request a transfer off the ship. Freeman happily accepts this idea.
In the lower decks crew quarters, the crew is getting their assigned tasks for the day. Ensign Brad Boimler is excited to get to clean up the ship's conference room, happy to potentially get better food from the ship's replicator in the room. Sam Rutherford is disappointed he has to monitor power fluctuations in the tractor beam while he wanted to monitor power fluctuations in the impulse relays. Ensign D'Vana Tendi runs over and excitedly explains how she's about to watch the ascension of one of the crew. Mariner checks her duties, and sees that she's been assigned lubing the turbolift, removing waste from the holodeck, and scraping carbon off the carbon filter. Mariner can't help but feel suspicious she's getting some of the worst jobs on the ship.
Tendi enters the quarters of Lieutenant O'Connor, who is sitting in meditation in front of a sand mandala that took him two years to make. She sits next to O'Connor, but is distracted by a Tzutchian gong. As she goes over to look at it, she hears the crew behind her begin to exclaim that O'Connor has begun his ascension, and she turns around, accidentally knocking the gong off its pedestal. The gong rolls across the sand mandala, and she accidentally slides across it, trying to catch it, destroying the mandala in the process. O'Connor is mortified by the accident, and Tendi tries desperately to fix it with no success.
Boimler and Mariner are walking in the hall, going to start their tasks, and Mariner seems to be dwelling on the nature of hers. Boimler just proudly heads to the conference room, sarcastically flashing the Vulcan salute to her as he leaves. Mariner begins by removing the waste from the holodeck, then lubing the turbolift. While she works on the turbolift, Shaxs disregards the warning outside the turbolift that it's being worked on and uses it while Mariner is on top of it. She then joins the crew to help scrape carbon off the carbon filter, but finds fun in the task when she and the people she's working with race each other in who can finish the fastest.
In engineering, Rutherford works with Chief Engineer Andy Billups to sync the tractor beams with the Merced, and the two ships begin towing the generation ship. Rutherford finds himself enjoying the task more than he thought he would.
Tendi meanwhile goes back to O'Connor's quarters and apologizes for ruining his ascension ritual. She gives him a Hiverian metronome, hoping it will help him potentially finish his ascension. O'Connor angrily destroys the metronome, and says he doesn't want her help.
On the bridge, Freeman asks if Mariner has requested a transfer yet, but Ransom reports that she seems to be enjoying her tasks, despite their odious nature. Realizing that the plan isn't working, Freeman doesn't seem to be convinced that there's something they can do to get Mariner to resign. But Freeman suddenly gets an idea that she is certain will work. She has Mariner report to Conference Room 5.
Mariner reports to the conference room and sees the senior officers all sitting at the table, while Boimler is washing the windows in the room. Mariner jokes about if they're debating about the Prime Directive, which they laugh at. Mariner seems confused as to why they'd laugh at her jab, since she's making fun of them, but Freeman approaches and says that she's only making fun of herself, since Freeman's decided to make Mariner one of her senior officers. She then promotes Mariner to lieutenant, much to both Mariner and Boimler's horror. Ransom gives Mariner an operations uniform and the senior staff applaud her promotion, while Boimler seems on the verge of a panic attack. Mariner tries to excuse herself, but Freeman sits her down as a participant in their current staff meeting. Shaxs starts the meeting off by saying they need new conference room chairs. Mariner finds herself quickly bored, much to Freeman's delight, as the senior officers begin to argue what kind of chairs they should have.
Mariner quickly finds herself in discomfort with her new position as she is constantly called upon to do multiple trivial tasks ranging from mission audit, management training (which involves watching Freeman do a vocal jazz scat performance), and a poker game with the senior officers, during which Shaxs scolds her for going all in during a friendly game.
In the mess hall, Tendi is stressing about how she's trying to help O'Connor ascend, but how he refuses to let her help him. Rutherford asks her if she might be taking things a little too far, but Tendi simply says that her approach will have to work as she dedicates herself to studying twice as hard in an effort to blow O'Connor away in spirituality. Tendi excuses herself, saying Rutherford can finish her taco lunch, and Rutherford happily takes her pudding.
Boimler enters Mariner's new quarters, seeing a very unhappy Mariner laying on her bed, missing how close everyone was down in the lower decks. Boimler just wonders what she did to get her promotion, and Mariner seems just as dumbfounded as he is as to how it happened. Mariner is then called upon to review the scheduled ops, and she leaves her quarters in an unenthusiastic mood. Thinking that perhaps the senior officers like officers who break the rules, more than simply follow them, Boimler decides he will try to break protocol.
Tendi has dressed herself like a priest and follows O'Connor around engineering while chanting a prayer. O'Connor angrily asks her if she has work to do, and Tendi replies that she's taking her vacation days off to help him. She tells him that mixing and matching different prayers from other cultures might increase his chance of ascending. O'Connor once more begs her to leave him be, before she releases a swarm of florkas at him, which she identifies as being an essential part of ascension for the Tamarians. O'Connor angrily tells her that she's just a villain who destroyed his chance for ascension, and she embraces him, begging to help him align his spirituality.
Boimler wanders the ship, thinking of how he might be able to break the rules like Mariner, when he is called to report for bridge duty. He schemes that he will report for bridge duty, and he will give the bridge crew "exactly what they deserve," without realizing that the bridge officer heard his scheme over the combadge.
Mariner enters Freeman's ready room, and Freeman amusingly asks her for a status update. Mariner gives an unserious answer, to which Freeman offers to find her another post on a different ship if she feels like she doesn't fit in. Mariner declines and is about to leave, when Freeman informs her that later she'll have to attend Ransom's birthday party, during which he will be singing songs he wrote on his acoustic guitar about his month spent in Barcelona. Mariner tells Freeman that she knows what she's trying to do, and that she's a dick for it.
The Cerritos and Merced continue towing the generation ship, and on the bridge of the Merced, Durango believes that the position of his ship does not reflect well that he is in charge of the mission; he has his helmsman get them closer to the ship without realizing that the position is affecting the strength of the tractor beam. The hull of the generation ship begins to buckle.
On the Cerritos, Ensign Barnes informs Ransom of the Merced's position, and Ransom hails the Merced, informing them that they are out of formation. Durango angrily says that the protection of the ship is his duty, but immediately after he says this, the generation ship suffers a hull breach and the elemental fluid begins to escape the ship. Drawn in by the tractor beam, the fluid begins to cover the hull of the Merced. The fluid immediately begins to terraform the hull of the ship, transforming the exterior and interior of the ship. The Cerritos loses contact with the Merced. Ransom tries to execute evasive maneuvers to avoid the fluid, but is unsuccessful. The fluid is drawn in by the tractor beam, and begins to transform the Cerritos as well. Ransom informs Freeman about what the fluid is doing, and as he does this, Boimler deliberately spills hot coffee on his lap, making Ransom angrily scold him.
Evacuations begin on the decks that are being affected by the fluid, but the structural integrity of the ship is rapidly degrading. The crew initiates force fields to help contain the terraforming, but it's clear that this won't stop the fluid for long. In the ready room, Mariner notices a drop in air pressure and a rise in humidity, concluding that the air is being modified, and shortly afterward, rocks begin to penetrate the bulkheads of the ready room all around Freeman and Mariner.
Terraforming continues throughout the ship with certain decks being flooded with water, and others getting modified with different terrain. Rutherford avoids getting hurt with the help of his cybernetic implant.
Water begins to flood engineering, as a coral reef begins to form around the warp core. O'Connor and Tendi are trapped, with the water rapidly rising. O'Connor angrily vents how Tendi ruined his ascension, but Tendi simply returns the anger saying that despite her attempts to help him, that he's only been a jerk to her, and that she never cared about helping him ascend, but just wanted him to like her. O'Connor seems taken aback by this, and Tendi confesses that she just wants people to like her, and that if someone doesn't like her, it stays with her and disrupts her. O'Connor then confesses that his ascension was never going to happen, and that he had been faking it in an attempt to stand out from the crew. But with the amount of time it took for him to potentially ascend, he was worried the crew would figure out that he was pretending, and used Tendi's accident to make it seem like it was her fault. Realizing that they were "both jerks" Tendi realizes that she and O'Connor are actually friends, and hugs him.
Freeman and Mariner are tunneling through the new terrain in the ship in an effort to reach the ship's environmental controls. Freeman seems concerned that the rock that Mariner is using isn't the best for digging, which only seems to annoy Mariner. The two bicker with each other as they continue to dig through the tunnel, talking over one another until they reach a shaft. They begin to rappel down the shaft using vines that have grown into the walls, and Freeman voices concern to make sure that Mariner is gripping the vine with both hands, and isn't going too fast. Mariner only tells her to stop treating her like a child, which in turn makes Freeman tell her to stop acting immature. Mariner simply replies that Freeman is being immature in return by trying to trick her into quitting her job on the Cerritos.
In engineering, the water level is rising, and the room is nearly completely flooded, but before the water completely fills the room, Tendi dives into the water, and grabs one of the glowing rocks, which are helping the reef grow as fast as it is. She places it against the wall of engineering, and it penetrates the wall, releasing the water into the hall, saving both of them. However, as they get up, the hall rumbles, and a large rock falls from the ceiling towards Tendi. Before it falls on her however, O'Connor pushes her out of the way, and the rock falls on him, severely injuring him. Tendi rushes to his side to try and lift the rock off of him, but he tells her to save herself. Tendi refuses to leave him.
Mariner and Freeman exit a Jefferies tube, and are happy to see the environmental controls are still online. Mariner notes that the affected areas of the ship are saturated with carbon polymer dust, and concludes that combating the affected areas with Parizene gas would reverse the terraforming effect with radiation from the main deflector. Freeman is impressed with the conclusion, saying that it would have been what she suggested, and asks if Mariner by chance read her mission brief. Mariner admits she skimmed it to potentially make fun of it later. They proceed to vent the Perizene gas into the ship, neutralizing the terraforming effect.
As the gas combats the terraforming, the rock on top of O'Connor vanishes, and he and Tendi laugh as they realize they will be okay. They reconcile, and kiss, and as soon as they kiss, O'Connor begins to levitate. O'Connor seems scared by what's happening as his body begins to glow, but Tendi realizes that O'Connor has begun to ascend, realizing that O'Connor's act of sacrifice was what truly aligned his spirituality. However, shortly after the process begins, O'Connor feels a burning sensation, and as his body begins to illuminate, he panics and begins to regret ascending. As he begins to transform into pure energy, he begins to see that time has no meaning, he is everywhere and nowhere, and that he can see everything. Tendi can't help but wonder why the process is taking abnormally long. O'Connor begins to scream in pain as he says he can see Abraham Lincoln, and that the entire universe is balanced on the back of a giant, smiling koala. Before he can reveal what the secret of life is, he vanishes, and Tendi wishes him luck in his new life, before apologizing for helping him ascend.
Ransom reports to Freeman that the terraforming effect on the ship has been neutralized, but that the damage done to the Merced is far greater, and that the ship cannot be saved. With the ship's life support at a critical level, Freeman and Mariner initiate an emergency transport for the entire crew of the Merced to go directly into the stasis chamber of the generation ship. With a successful transport of the entire crew, Mariner and Freeman hug each other for a brief moment.
Later, the generation ship has been brought to a Federation outpost, and the Cerritos is leaving. Mariner and Freeman stand in the conference room, awaiting the arrival of Admiral Vassery. As they wait, Freeman commends her daughter, and expresses that she is happy that they were able to work together. Mariner agrees that it was a nice change of pace, compared to their usual habitual conflicts. Freeman tells Mariner how proud she is of her, and wonders if Mariner is indeed fit to be one of her senior officers. Mariner doesn't seem to care for this idea.
Vassery enters the conference room and is welcomed by Freeman. Vassery awards both Mariner and Freeman with a medal, before excusing himself, noting that they've picked up a strange signal with their sensors. Mariner cannot help but laugh at how Vassery pronounces the word "sensors" as "sense-oars." Freeman tries to say that this is how the word is said, but Mariner simply replies that it's not how Freeman has ever said it. Vassery angrily asks if Freeman's crew treats authority like this, and asks if they are making fun (pronounced "foun") of him. Freeman angrily scolds Mariner for her behavior, and Vassery begins to reprimand her, only to be interrupted by a loud yawn from Mariner.
In the lower decks crew quarters, Tendi and Rutherford are discussing O'Connor's ascension, and Tendi says that she realizes that life is too short to be hung up on whether or not everyone likes her. Rutherford is happy she sees this, and says that there will always be a few people on the Cerritos who probably don't like her. Tendi laughs it off, before she obsessively tries to get Rutherford to tell her who doesn't like her and what they say about her.
Boimler notices Mariner back in the crew quarters, and asks what happened to her lieutenant's pip. Mariner simply replies how she's always been good at getting demoted. Boimler only seems flustered that Mariner had everything that Boimler had been striving to achieve, and never cared about it. When he asks how they even became friends, Mariner simply gives him her senior officer access card which gives access to the good replicator programs. Boimler excitedly leaves with the card, hoping to get some macaroni with a breaded top. Mariner simply lays on her bed, happy to be where she belongs: with everyone in the lower decks.
"If you ever disrespect me like that again, I'll skip the court martial and blow you out the airlock!"
"Cool. Well, live long and prosper."
"Don't you give me that sarcastic Vulcan salute! BECKETT!"
- - Carol Freeman and Beckett Mariner
"It just- I feel terrible about this… you know."
"Don't worry about it. Don't talk to me."
"Anyway, I went and found a Hiverian metronome, and apparently if you just relax, and let it sync to your biorhythm, we can get you back on track and ascending by this afternoon!"
"You think I can realign a decade of spiritual enlightenment by this afternoon?!"
"Tomorrow morning at the latest."
- - D'Vana Tendi and O'Connor
"Has Mariner submitted her transfer request? I'm going to frame it."
"She's… having a great time."
"She's finding little ways to inject joy into otherwise horrible tasks."
"Then give her worse jobs."
"I've got her emptying *bleep* out of the holodeck's *bleep* filter!"
"… Ugh. People really use it for that?"
"Oh yeah. It's mostly that."
- - Freeman and Jack Ransom
"Barstools hurt my back."
"You're not sitting on them right."
"Not sitting on them right? I've killed better men for less."
"No, you haven't."
"Well, I've threatened to kill better men for about the same."
- - Shaxs and Andy Billups
"SHE FOLDS! You all fold! Every time, you all fold! You fold!"
"Don't tell me what to do! … I'm gonna fold."
- - T'Ana and Mariner, playing poker
"Ensign Boimler, report to bridge duty at 15:30."
"Oh, I'll report to bridge duty, and they'll get exactly what they deserve!"
"Uh– Oh, nothing! That was a holodeck. Uh, Moriarty."
- - A bridge officer and Brad Boimler
"You know, I get what you're trying to do here, and it is sick."
"I'm doing exactly what I need to. It's called being a captain."
"No, it's called being a dick."
- - Mariner and Freeman
"Computer, hit it."
- - Freeman and the computer
"Is this how your crew treats authority? When it's known I mispronounce things? Are you really making foun of me?!"
- - Admiral Vassery, when Mariner makes fun of how he says "sensors"
"Where's your pip?"
"I'm pretty good at getting demoted."
"In the last hour?!"
- - Boimler and Mariner
- "Stardate 57538.9. The Cerritos is working alongside the USS Merced in the relocation of an ancient generation ship, which due to some unknown calamity never reached its destination. Her crew adrift for centuries, mummified in disabled cryo units. Their most precious cargo, mysterious containers of molecular fluid which generates life from inorganic material. We suspect they planned to use it on a dead planet to create a habitable environment they could call home. The Merced is here to ensure the generation ship is preserved during transportation, and I want everyone to give them full support. Captain Durango and I both served on the Illinois many years ago, and it is a true delight to be able to work with him again..."
- This is the second installment of the series where the teaser of the episode is part of the primary plot instead of an unrelated bit, after "Second Contact".
- This is the first episode of the series where Beckett Mariner calls Captain Carol Freeman "mom", or is even willing to acknowledge their relationship. In the series premiere, "Second Contact", their relationship was first revealed to the audience, and the plot of this episode is a continuation of that theme.
- This is the second episode of the series in which one of its main characters, in this case Beckett Mariner, is seen wearing multiple uniforms with different division colors within a single episode. Previously, Ensign Sam Rutherford wore all three colors in "Envoys".
- A humanoid transforming, evolving, or "ascending" into a non-corporeal lifeform is a well-established Star Trek trope, with previous examples including John Doe in TNG: "Transfigurations" and Kes in VOY: "The Gift". Tendi dismisses Rutherford's comparisons with Q and the Traveler, though the changes undergone by Amanda Rogers (an apparent Human who was revealed to be a member of the Q Continuum in TNG: "True Q") and Wesley Crusher (who joined the Traveler to explore different planes of existence in TNG: "Journey's End") are not completely dissimilar from the "ascension" sought by O'Connor.
Links and references
- Tawny Newsome as Beckett Mariner
- Jack Quaid as Bradward Boimler
- Noël Wells as D'Vana Tendi
- Eugene Cordero as Sam Rutherford
- Dawnn Lewis as Carol Freeman
- Jerry O'Connell as Jack Ransom
- Fred Tatasciore as Shaxs
- Gillian Vigman as T'Ana
- Haley Joel Osment as O'Connor
- Eric Bauza as
- Al Rodrigo as
- Paul Scheer as Andy Billups
- Vanessa Marshall as Merced sciences officer
- Jessica McKenna as
- Unknown performers as
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