(written from a Production point of view)
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Lower Decks, and thus may contain spoilers.
The USS Cerritos is dispatched to a planet to investigate an unexplained sighting of a dangerous Mugato.
In the gym on the USS Cerritos, Ensigns Brad Boimler and Sam Rutherford are preparing for a quick round of anbo-jyutsu before they have to give the area to Shaxs, and Beckett Mariner asks if she can join them. Boimler accepts, and gets excited, as both he and Rutherford have been secretly practicing to get better at anbo in hopes of beating Mariner. They take their positions, and as they start, Boimler and Rutherford quickly take Mariner by surprise, getting a point. Boimler and Rutherford are proud of the progress they've made, before they realize that Mariner was hurt by the last hit. They ask if she's alright, before she just smiles and says that she feels great, and can "finally get in a real workout". Mariner goes on the offensive, and begins to take out both Boimler and Rutherford with ease. As she effortlessly takes them out, Shaxs enters, and Rutherford cries out for help, but he just tells them not to mind him, as he knows he's ten minutes early.
- "Captain's log, stardate 58036.4. The Cerritos is en route to Frylon IV to investigate the reported sighting of a mugato, a dangerous creature not indigenous to this planet."
Shaxs is briefing Captain Carol Freeman and Commander Jack Ransom about a recent mugato attack on a couple of Denobulans, and Freeman is a bit annoyed that the Cerritos is involved in another animal control operation. Shaxs notes that the bio-electrical signatures have made it difficult to pinpoint lifesigns, but with people on the ground, they will be able to find the mugato.
In the lounge, Boimler and Rutherford are in the middle of a match of Diplomath, and get scared when Mariner runs over and invites them to the phaser range for some target practice, but they decline as they continue their game. They go over to the bar to get a couple more drinks, and the bartender, Honus, informs them of a rumor that Mariner isn't who she seems to be, and is in fact, a secret black ops agent who has been trained into a "killing machine". Boimler and Rutherford laugh the rumor off, and say that they spend most of their time with Mariner, and would know if she were a secret agent. Honus says that he's aware of a lot of inside information surrounding her, and tells her that when her back is against the wall, her training will kick in. Boimler is dismissive of the rumor, and Honus is about to tell them about a story regarding Mariner's service aboard the Atlantis when the bar manager yells at him to get back to work. Boimler once more dismisses the rumor, though Rutherford seems a bit preoccupied with the rumor as he watches Mariner play the knife game from a distance.
In sickbay, one of Ensign D'Vana Tendi's patients is entering an unstable condition, but before Tendi can help her, a couple other nurses push her aside and do what they can to save the patient's life, dismissing Tendi when she tries to intervene. Dr. T'Ana calls Tendi into her office, and gives her a list of the crew who have avoided their annual physical examinations. Tendi is confused why anyone would find the non-invasive physicals to be bothersome, and T'Ana tells her she needs to hunt each patient down and give them a complete scan. Excited for her new objective, Tendi promises not to let T'Ana down.
In the repair bay, Boimler is talking about how mugatos have alternate pronunciations of their names, and Rutherford is seemingly preoccupied by what Honus said about Mariner. He's looked into Mariner's service record aboard the Atlantis, and discovered that while she was there, half of the crew mysteriously vanished. Boimler tries to blame it on reassignment, but Rutherford notes a lack of personal logs, which confuses even Boimler. Asking if he thinks Mariner has anything to do with it, Mariner enters the room to their surprise and Boimler throws his tricorder at her in surprise, only for her to make an incredible catch. She laughs the incident off and tells them not to get in her way on the surface of the planet.
In the transporter room, Shaxs informs the away team that the mugato are sensitive to phaser fire, and beams down with them. Shaxs quickly picks up the trail of a mugato by finding trails of their dung, and leads them to what appears to be a Ferengi outpost, that is illegally attempting to harvest and sell the mugatos (Specifically their horns) for profit. A Ferengi named Kynk is about to make a deal with an alien named Hyde, while Boimler tries unsuccessfully to contact the Cerritos as a dampening field has cut off communications. Before they think of anything else, Shaxs and Mariner attack the Ferengi, and Shaxs tells them they are in violation of Federation conservation law. Kynk tries to deny it all, while Hyde reports a false account of what happened. Shaxs doesn't buy it and tells them to be prepared to be searched. Kynk tries to settle the situation, before he surprisingly attacks Shaxs with an energy whip, but hits a control panel, freeing several mugatos from their captivity.
As the chaos unfolds around them, Boimler and Rutherford look over to see Mariner pulling a knife on Shaxs, stabbing him, and seemingly biting into his chest and eating him. Mortified by this, the two flee into the woods, convinced that Mariner is indeed black ops, and that her training has broken her. Mariner chases them with her knife drawn.-
The Cerritos detects Hyde's ship leaving the planet, and Freeman hails the ship, wondering if they had potentially made contact with their away team. Hyde dismissivly tells them he's not interested in helping them, and not to hail him again. Freeman orders a tractor beam to be put on his ship, but as soon as it's activated, his hull stability begins to fail. Freeman immediately orders an emergency transport, beaming Hyde to the bridge just in time for him to see his ship explode, much to his dismay. Freeman scolds her tactical officer, and the officer responds that the tractor beam was set at the lowest factor. Hyde begins to weep that his whole life was on the ship, much to Freeman's discomfort.
Boimler and Rutherford continue through the woods, hoping to get out of range of the dampening field, but run into a wild mugato. They hide amongst the roots of a nearby tree, and meet a Tellarite named Patingi, a renowned biologist who claims to have written five books on mugatos. He offers to take them to safety, much to Boimler and Rutherford's relief.
Boimler and Rutherford continue to follow Patingi, as he imitates mugato sounds. Boimler excitedly asks if he and Rutherford will be in his next book, making Patingi clarify that he doesn't actually write, but that he's read five books on mugatos and that he figured he knew enough to walk amongst them. As he says this, a mugato appears and bites off Patingi's head. Boimler and Rutherford tumble off a nearby cliff as they run in fear.
Stevens is flirting with another officer at the bar, talking about how he often spots for Ransom during his workouts, and Tendi takes his glass and uses the opportunity to scan Stevens with her medical tricorder. Tendi notes that his bones are weaker than usual, and recommends him to drink more milk. Stevens denies this, but after taking one step, his hip cracks, and he requests an emergency transport to sickbay as he screams in pain.
Back on Frylon IV, Boimler and Rutherford ponder if they'll have to turn Mariner in when they return to the Cerritos, when they stumble upon two mugatos, and quickly crawl into a hollow log. The mugatos inspect the log before they begin to mate with one another. They begin to push the log into a nearby pond, making Boimler and Rutherford scared they will drown, but before they can escape, another mugato appears. Boimler is scared that the mugato will try and assert dominance, which will make the mugatos far more violent, but despite the other mugatos being disturbed, the intruding mugato sits down and allows them to continue, while beginning to stroke his own horn, leading Boimler to conclude that he just likes to watch.
Tendi continues her scans of the crewmembers, picking up results from officers like Jet Manhaver, and Lars Lundy before she realizes that there's only one patient left, simply labeled as "Patient 08.019", much to her confusion.
As night falls on Frylon IV, the mugatos have finally fallen asleep in exhaustion of their mating, and Boimler and Rutherford are able to slip away. As they walk on, Rutherford wonders if Freeman knew that Mariner was undercover, and they realize that the Mariner might not even be Freeman's daughter, when Rutherford's implant detects a mugato trap. As they walk around it, Mariner finds them, scaring them both. Mariner is confused at their reaction, but steps in the mugato trap. She calls for help, as the Ferengi are coming, but Boimler tells her that they saw her eating Shaxs, dumbfounding her. She immediately clarifies that Shaxs was stung by a Mugato, and that she had to suck out the venom in his body. Boimler and Rutherford tell her that they know her secret, and Mariner realizes that they've heard the rumor that she's a black ops agent. She tells them that she deliberately started that rumor, as she likes having a mystique. Boimler asks her what happened on the Atlantis, and she says that half the crew vanished from the records due to the crew getting Kerplickian lice, and that it's not on the official records, since it would be too embarrassing to Starfleet. Mariner is then distraught that they looked at her records and actually believed she was an undercover killer. She says that the rumor was meant to keep people she didn't like away from her, and that she never would have thought her friends would believe such rumors, though Boimler and Rutherford say that is partly the reason, since it would be so implausible that someone as "badass" as her would want to be friends with them.
As they reconcile, the Ferengi get closer, and Mariner tells them to hide, and that it's up to them to save everyone. Boimler and Rutherford hide as Kynk and his associates take Mariner into their custody.
T'Ana checks on Tendi's progress with the physicals, and Tendi reports that she only has one person left, which impresses T'Ana. Tendi notes how the last person doesn't even have a name, rather than just a serial number, and wonders if someone erased the information. T'Ana brushes it off as a glitch in the system, and tells Tendi to return to her station. Tendi is about to when she notices the exact same serial number on a nearby display, showing that the serial number belongs to T'Ana. T'Ana congratulates her for figuring it out, though Tendi is confused as to why she wouldn't just get her exam out of the way. T'Ana feels no need to see another doctor, and that she only picked Tendi for this job because she figured she'd just give up, though Tendi refuses to do so. T'Ana then throws her lab coat at Tendi and quickly runs away in a feral frenzy out of sickbay and out into the halls. Tendi chases her through the corridors, finding her underneath a shuttlecraft, and chases her into the Jefferies tubes .
In her ready room, Freeman is negotiating compensation for Hyde's ship, offering to give him a shuttlecraft. Ransom asks her if that's the best idea, since Starfleet would likely not agree with such a move, but Freeman is convinced that they are helping a traveler in need, and that they'll tell Starfleet that they lost a shuttlecraft to a black hole. Hyde agrees to take a shuttlecraft, but also mentions that he lost many antiques on his ship that could never be replaced. Freeman asks what he lost, and Hyde begins to list objects that are sitting on Freeman's shelves. Freeman notes that the items on her shelf hold special meaning to her, but low on options, she reluctantly gives in.
Back on Frylon IV, Boimler and Rutherford manage to sneak into Kynk's facility, and spot Mariner and Shaxs in a cage. They both wish that Mariner's rumor was actually real, or that they had special powers themselves, but then they both get an idea on how to free everyone.
In the Jefferies tubes, T'Ana yells at Tendi that with her medical expertise, she believes she would know for sure that she's healthy. Tendi comes to an opening and spots T'Ana right below her, and drops down to get her, but T'Ana sees her and runs off, causing Tendi to land hard on the floor, breaking her arm in the process. T'Ana at first believes she's faking the injury, until she sees a piece of bone sticking from her skin. T'Ana immediately apologizes and moves to help, and as she comes to Tendi's assistance, Tendi manages to scan her before falling unconscious. T'Ana is impressed with her, and notes how the scan was quick, and wasn't sure why she made such a big fuss out of it.
Meanwhile, Mariner is berating the Ferengi, saying that people can just replicate whatever they're selling, and that they're not very smart, saying that Ferengi like Quark were much better at what they do. At that moment, Boimler and Rutherford enter the room, with Rutherford holding what looks like a makeshift weapon. The Ferengi are intimidated by this, but the weapon is actually a holographic projection that Boimler and Rutherford have put together in the form of a cost/benefit analysis for greater long-term profits. They tell Kynk that poaching Mugatos is not as profitable, and that they can earn up to 150% more with living specimens. What Kynk has to do is make a nature preserve for mugatos, and make revenue from ticket sales, merchandise, concessions, among other things. Kynk is not thrilled that this endeavor will require an initial investment, and more effort, but admits that he cannot argue with the profit margins. He also notes that he does not like releasing captives, and Rutherford simply replies that they would normally be apprehending them for assault on Starfleet officers, leading them to come to a compromise.
Later in sickbay, T'Ana is treating Shaxs' mugato wound, and says that their venom can have latent effects, and that she will be checking on him later, before entering a bit of flirtatious talk with him. Tendi gets up from her biobed, her arm fully healed, and a patient nearby her starts to become unstable. The two nurses who interrupted her earlier try to attend to the patient, but Tendi pushes them aside, and tells them to give her some space. T'Ana commends her confidence, and tells her that Tendi has made a really good impression, before grumpily telling her that the patient isn't hers and to get out of the way.
Captain Freeman is in the middle of a talk with Admiral Freeman and tells him about their recent encounter with Kynk and their upcoming preserve, when the Admiral Freeman asks her if she's had any accidents, noting that there have been reports of a scam being run in the sector in the form of a junk ship that deliberately self-destructs and tries to blame it on Starfleet. Captain Freeman, knowing who this is referring to, says she will look out for it. Freeman immediately tracks Hyde down, and tractor-locks the shuttlecraft, which is packed with Freeman's belongings. Freeman hails Hyde, and threatens him with incarceration, but offers a way that he can pay for his crimes by doing some good. Hyde asks what she means.
Later, Kynk has begun construction of Kynk's Mugatoland, and he assigns Hyde cleanup duty, telling him to move enormous piles of mugato dung away so that they can construct a gift shop. Hyde is not thrilled, but starts to shovel, as Kynk promises that moving forward, they will work for the mugatos, hoping that his preserve will be a "horned heaven."
In the Cerritos lounge, Boimler and Rutherford are teaching Mariner how to play Diplomath, and they apologize for so easily falling for the rumor. Mariner apologizes for making the rumor up, and making them believe they were not her equals, and admits that they were badass with how they handled the Ferengi. Mariner gets a little overwhelmed with the rules of the game, and briefly leaves to go get them more drinks, and as she leaves, Boimler and Rutherford ask themselves how she is beating them so hard at the game, and move to alter the board without her knowing.
Mariner approaches Honus, and points over to Boimler and Rutherford, and calls them the "Mugato Twins", saying that they fought off a dozen mugatos bareheanded, ground up their horns, and snorted them, acquiring strange powers in the process. Honus promises that the secret is safe with him, before his supervisor once more yells at him for procrastinating on the job.
- "Captain's log, stardate 58036.4: the Cerritos is en route to Frylon IV to investigate the reported sighting of a mugato, a dangerous creature not indigenous to this planet.
"What's got you so jumpy?"
"Just excited to see a mugato."
"Oh, you would be. Just stay out of my way down there. Or else."
"Ahh! Or else what?"
"I don't know, we'll get poisoned by a mugato – you guys are so weird, sometimes."
- - Mariner, Boimler, and Rutherford
"Hey, no need for this. We're licensed businessmen."
"Oh really? You have a permit?"
"Yes, a permit to whip you!"
- - Kynk and Shaxs
"Even if we did believe you, how do you explain the Atlantis? Half the crew disappeared with no explanation."
"Did you eat them?!"
- - Boimler and Rutherford, to Mariner
"Congratulations. You got me."
"I- I just don't understand. Why not just get your exam?"
"You want me to see a doctor? I AM the doctor!"
- - T'Ana and Tendi
"Bad Dr. T'Ana! Bad!"
- - Tendi, as she chases T'Ana for her physical
"I wish Mariner was a super soldier."
"Or if only we had special powers."
"Wait, we do. I mean, maybe not here, but here."
"Our brains. It's our brains."
"Brains, right. Brains are inside of our skin."
- - Boimler and Rutherford
"Oh, Mariner, what's happening?"
"Those two beautiful, nerdy men are negotiating us to safety using the power of math."
- - Shaxs and Mariner
"Mugato venom can have latent effects, so I'll need to check on you later… in your quarters. I just got my physical. I could heal you all night."
- - T'ana, to Shaxs
"Now that's confidence. You really showed me something today, kid."
"Thank you, doctor."
"But this isn't your patient, so get the *bleep* out of our way!"
- - T'Ana and Tendi
- The title was announced in a ViacomCBS press release on 30 August 2021. 
- The title is a reference to the confused naming of the Mugato in TOS: "A Private Little War". The creature was named a "Gumato" in the script, but DeForest Kelley could not pronounce the word "Gumato", so it was changed to "Mugato" (which Kelley and William Shatner proceeded to pronounce "Mugatu"). However, Janos Prohaska was credited in the episode as "Gumato". (citation needed • edit)
- The title also riffs on the expression "tomato, tomato", which derives from the line "You say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to" in the song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by George and Ira Gershwin.
Story and script
- Series producer Mike McMahan said, "Ben Rodgers, who wrote that episode ["Mugato, Gumato"], just could not get over how NOBODY decided on a consistent way for the actors to pronounce “Mugato” in that episode ["A Private Little War"]. ... [W]atching it again, we digging into it in a new way, watching it with more than one person; your brain reacts in a different way, finding things that are funny because of how someone else observes things. On top of that, you’re realizing the [production] mistakes they made, like now they didn’t go back and reshoot things because maybe the actors were getting prickly about mispronouncing this made-up word! To us, that’s something to celebrate rather than something to make fun of." 
- This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of the Denobulan species since Star Trek: Enterprise, including their defensive "face-puff".
- The mugato was first introduced as being native to the planet Neural in the Star Trek: The Original Series second season episode "A Private Little War".
- This episode marks the first appearance of a Kzinti in Star Trek since the Star Trek: The Animated Series first season episode "The Slaver Weapon". While this appearance establishes at least one Kzinti has joined Starfleet, they may not be members of the Federation, given Riker's dialogue in the Star Trek: Picard first season episode "Nepenthe".
- Mariner calls Kynk and his associates "some creepy throwback Last Outpost-style Ferengi", referring to the first appearance of the Ferengi, and their fur bearing uniforms, as seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation first season episode "The Last Outpost".
- The holographic projector that Rutherford and Boimler make resembles the makeshift cannon Captain Kirk built when he fought the Gorn in the Star Trek: The Original Series first season episode "Arena".
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
- Anthony Atamanuik as Honus
- Robert Gilbert as Patingi
- Tom Kenny as
- Phil LaMarr as
- Jessica McKenna as
- Ben Rodgers as Steve Stevens
- Paul F. Tompkins as Hyde
- Characters with unidentified voices
- Andy Billups
- Lars Lundy
- Jet Manhaver
- Alien ops cmdr
- Benzite ensign
- Ferengi goons
- Human cmd ens
- Human cmd lt cmdr 1
- Human cmd lt cmdr 2
- Human sci ens 2
- Human sci ens 6
- Human sci ens 8
- Human sci ens 10
- Human sci lt 1
- Human sci lt 3
- Human sci lt cmdr
- Kzinti officer
- Lundy's female companion
admiral; Andorian; anbo-jyutsu; annual physical; Atlantis; avionics bay; Bajoran; bar; bartender; Baumer, Sophia; beer; Benzite; bioelectric signature; biologist; black hole; bones; Caitian; ccs; captain; chief; commander; concessions; conservation laws; coolant intake compressor; d'k tahg; Denobulan; desalinated paviatic fluid; Diplomath; doctor; doll; Dominion War; dung; emergency transport; energy whip (whip); Federation space; Ferengi; Ferengi ground vehicle; Ferengi shuttle; flight control interface; Frylon IV; Frylon system; gold-pressed latinum; Gorn; Haliian; hang glider; hip; holodeck; holographic projector; horn; Human coffee; Hyde's species; Joshua Tree; Kerplickian lice; knife game; Kynk's Mugatoland; Kynk's shuttle; Kzinti; Ladyjane; Last Outpost style; lice; lieutenant; lieutenant commander; lime; Logan, Brandon; Maker; Maquis; mating; merchandise; Migleemo; milk; mister; mugato (gumato, mugatu); mugato trap; nautilus; navigational deflector; ninja; Orion; pain reliever; Palmera, Mo; patient; Patient 08.019; peach daiquiri; Personal Access Display Device; phaser range; pineapple; plasma transfer subsystem; poacher; powder keg; primary field generator; preserve; profit margin; Quark; raktajino; replicator; Rose, Mariah; scam; scan; secret agent (spy); Section 31; Sequoia; signal dampener; strange powers (special powers); stardate; Starfleet; Starfleet black ops; Starfleet Command; Starfleet insignia; Starfleet Intelligence; Starfleet uniform (2370s-early 2380s); Starfleet uniform (early 2380s); Storm Alert; super soldier; surfboard; surfing; Tamarian; Tellarite; ticket; tractor beam; tractor factor; treadmill; tusk; Tuvok; Type 6A shuttlecraft; Vulcan; Watcher
"We'll Always Have Tom Paris"
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"An Embarrassment Of Dooplers"