(written from a Production point of view)
Ensign Tendi has her first day of work on Starfleet's USS Cerritos, where she meets three fellow support crew members, Ensigns Mariner, Boimler, and Rutherford. Meanwhile, Boimler is tasked with a secret special assignment and Rutherford attempts to keep his dating life intact while an outbreak strikes the ship. (Series premiere)
- "Captain's log, Stardate 57436.2. The Cerritos is docked at Douglas Station for routine maintenance and resupply. We will soon set course for the capital planet of the Galar system, where we're scheduled to make second contact with the Galardonian High Council. First contact is a delicate, high-stakes operation of diplomacy. One must be ready for anything when Humanity is interacting with alien race for the first time. But we don't do that. Our specialty is second contact. Still pretty important. We get all the paperwork signed, make sure we're spelling the name of the planet right, get to know all the good places to eat."
Ensign Brad Boimler is recording a personal log like a fake captain's log in the closet until he is interrupted by Beckett Mariner passing by with a box full of contraband, who makes fun of his antics. Apparently intoxicated on (illegal) Romulan whiskey she got from Douglas Station, she waves around a Klingon bat'leth and ends up accidentally slicing Boimler's leg open.
A shuttlecraft lands in the shuttlebay of the Cerritos, where a group of young ensigns disembark for assignment, including an awed Orion science officer named D'Vana Tendi. She informs the lieutenant checking the arrivals' duty assignments that she's been transferred from Outpost 79, but despite her wanting to express her excitement to be on the Cerritos, the lieutenant is disinterested and promptly dismisses her.
Boimler, now healed from the bat'leth incident with Mariner, is fixing a malfunctioning replicator that is spontaneously replicating hot bananas when Tendi shows up in the repair bay and informs him that he is her orientation liaison. While the two get acquainted with each other, Mariner also introduces herself. Boimler is not impressed with Mariner's lack of etiquette, but Mariner in turn finds the formality of command to be overrated, having experienced it herself, and believes that down in the lower decks is where the real action of a starship happens.
Boimler and Mariner then take Tendi on a tour of the Cerritos, where they meet an engineer named Sam Rutherford. Rutherford has recently become cybernetically enhanced just two weeks prior and is not used to his new Vulcan implant, which tends to act up and suppress his emotions. Rutherford mentions he has a date with Ensign Barnes, and admits he would be nervous if not for the implant. Mariner makes a small adjustment and Rutherford wanders away, dwelling on the date. Mariner and Boimler continue the tour with Tendi before they arrive to a hallway lined with bunks where most of them sleep, as ensigns do not have their own quarters on the Cerritos. Tendi does not seem bothered by the environment and is only taken aback by the majestic view through the hallway's single large window of the Cerritos at warp. Boimler lets Tendi know that after she gets settled in she should report to Nurse Westlake as she will be his assistant, but Mariner suggests a trip to the ship's holodeck.
They visit the holodeck where Mariner loads up a Hawaiian beach. Tendi seems fascinated by the environment, having never seen sand before, before she asks the holodeck to load up the Adashake Center on Orion. They then convince Boimler to load up a place he'd like to visit, and he has the holodeck reproduce the ship's warp core. He is then called by Stevens to report to the bridge. While Tendi is impressed that Boimler gets to report to the bridge, Mariner simply replies that he's probably only going there to clean up a spilled drink. She then has the holodeck load a personal program of an Olympic training room full of male athletes in the nude, which Tendi notes as being very detailed.
On the surface of the planet of the Galardonians, Commander Jack Ransom is wrapping up his visit with the Galardonian High Council and informs the Chancellor that they will be sending construction teams down from the Cerritos to help with the assembly of a subspace communication array. As he says this he is bitten by a flying insect. He thinks nothing of it as he signals for the Cerritos to beam them up. On board the Cerritos, Stevens asks if Ransom should get the bite looked at, but Ransom dismisses the worry before inviting Stevens for a drink later.
Boimler arrives at the bridge, and walks slowly inside, very nervous. In his nervousness, he doesn't realize that Ransom is wondering why he isn't at his post. At that moment, Captain Carol Freeman enters the bridge and asks Ransom to brief her about his meeting with the Galardonians. He reports that things are ahead of schedule, which pleases Freeman. She then takes Boimler into her ready room.
Freeman reviews Boimler's personnel file. She asks if he keeps a personal log, to which he replies that he sometimes records five in a day: she comments that many is excessive. She asks him if he sees himself as a captain one day, and he replies that he hopes to be one. She notes that she sees potential in him, and gives him a special assignment. She tells him to monitor Ensign Mariner, wanting a full report for any break in protocol. She informs him that she wants her crew in lockstep, and that there is no wiggle room on the Cerritos when there are lives at stake. Boimler accepts this assignment. Freeman tells Boimler to keep it secret, and dismisses him.
In the lounge on the Cerritos, Rutherford has begun his date with Ensign Barnes, a brunette Trill. Despite Rutherford's implant giving him some difficulties, Barnes seems interested in him, noting that her father was also cybernetically enhanced.
At the transporter, Boimler and Mariner are getting ready to beam down to the planet with an away team, and she teases him as to why he was called to the bridge. She tries to get a laugh out of him with a joke, but Boimler is visibly unamused as they beam down. On the surface, Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups begins to get the crews working on the subspace array. Mariner leaves the group shortly after.
Back in the lounge, the date is going really well between Rutherford and Barnes when suddenly Ransom begins to have a seizure at the bar, as his insect bite has given him a virus. The crew panics as he suddenly begins to behave feral and attacks other crew members, biting and infecting them. The crew tries to subdue him by setting their phasers to stun, but the crew is quickly getting infected. Despite the chaos unfolding around them, Rutherford and Barnes still take some time to get to know each other.
On the planet, Boimler notices Mariner sneaking a crate of supplies in the back of a vehicle and driving away. Suspecting her of illegal activity, he follows her.
With the ship at Red alert, Tendi walks into sickbay and is shocked to see multiple infected crewmembers being restrained on biobeds, spewing ink-black bile. The chief medical officer, a Caitian named T'Ana, orders her to assist in strapping infected crew to their beds. Tendi is put off by the scene, and notes that she was supposed to be assisting Nurse Westlake, but T'Ana reports that the infected man she's strapping down is Westlake. As she restrains him, she says how much she is looking forward to working with him, as he spews black bile all over her.
Boimler follows Mariner to a small hut, where she is meeting two Galardonians. He immediately confronts her, and accuses her of selling Federation weapons to the Galardonians. She tries to calm him down, but he demands an explanation for what she's doing. The Galardonians back away, intimidated by Boimler's behavior, but Boimler pulls out a phaser and holds them all at gunpoint. He cites a breach of Starfleet regulations, but Mariner tells him that he is breaking regulations as well simply by aiming the phaser at them. Mariner angrily tells him that all she was doing is giving them farming equipment, as the Galardonians she's meeting are farmers, but Boimler doesn't believe her until she shows him tools from the crate she smuggled out. The farmers run into a caged enclosure, frightened, which disturbs a giant spider-like animal kept inside it from its sleep, and it begins to chase Boimler and Mariner.
The spider creature searches for Mariner and Boimler as they hide from it. Mariner angrily explains that she left her post to help the farmers, knowing that they wouldn't be able to wait for any approval of Starfleet to give them the tools they needed. When Boimler asks how she knew about them, she explains that she was present during first contact with the Galardonians as a member of the USS Quito before she was demoted and transferred to the Cerritos. She goes on to explain her service record includes experience on five ships, and that Boimler's experience as a Starfleet officer pales in comparison to her. Mariner has learned to think for herself and not rely on Starfleet protocol and regulations that Boimler is strictly following. Boimler signals the Cerritos for an emergency transport, but Mariner throws away his combadge before it is beamed up, refusing to leave the farmers. As the farmers need the spider creature they are hiding from, it's their responsibility to bring it back to them, and she cites General Order 5. Boimler suggests stunning the spider creature with their phasers, but Mariner believes that the farmers likely get milk from it, and stunning it could spoil said milk. She comes up with another idea which involves them stripping off their uniforms and using the local foliage to make dummies to distract the spider creature.
As the spider creature attacks Boimler's dummy, Mariner jumps on its back and tells Boimler to jump on as well, since the creature is unable to reach them on its back. Boimler hesitates, but jumps, only to be caught in the maw of the spider creature. As he panics and begs her to phaser it, the Galardonian farmers arrive on the scene and tell Mariner not to stun the creature, as doing so could spoil the milk they get from it. Mariner is worried about Boimler's life, but the farmer reassures her that the creature is an herbivore and that she is only suckling him for a bit of moisture. Mariner tries to relay this information to Boimler who is getting thrown around playfully, but he doesn't seem to hear her over his distressed cries. As the spider creature continues to happily suckle Boimler, the farmer offers Mariner a snack, to which she asks if he has any of the creature's milk.
On the Cerritos, the situation with the infected crew is quickly getting out of hand, and an announcement goes out for any uninfected crew to meet at Transporter Room Eight to stage a rallying point. Rutherford and Barnes are cut off from the crew, and embark on a space walk to get to the rally point. They continue to get to know each other as they walk on the hull, with Barnes noting that she has an interest in a classical band known as The Monkees. They reach Deck 8 and take down more of the infected crew, but almost get trapped when a sealed door doesn't recognize their combadge signatures. With a quick adjustment, Rutherford gets the door open, and both he and Barnes make it through before the door shuts, separating them from the infected crew. Barnes immediately kisses him, but Rutherford seems more concerned about the fact that the doors didn't open for them. As Rutherford ignores her advances, finding himself more concerned with the doors, she walks away annoyed.
In sickbay, T'Ana notes that the anesthetic she's using on the crew is having no effect and has Tendi manually pump Stevens' heart with her own hands. She apologizes with each pump as Stevens cries out in pain.
On the planet, the spider creature has finally worn itself out and falls asleep, and a traumatized and naked Boimler, his underwear apparently lost in the process, is pulled from its maw by Mariner. He is covered in a pink slime from the creature, and with his uniform ruined, Mariner gets a pair of overalls from the farmers for him to wear. As they drive back to camp, Mariner is feeling good about helping the farmers, and believes that she and Boimler actually make a pretty good team. Boimler tells her that he was ordered to monitor her and report breaches of conduct directly to Freeman. Mariner only responds that she doesn't know why he holds them in such high esteem, and that all they care about is glory and getting mentioned in history, and that they don't care about the crew that's under them. Boimler refuses to believe her and says that he intends to report her.
They arrive at camp and immediately join their away team to beam up to the Cerritos, where in Transporter Room Eight they are taken by surprise as they see the crew fighting their infected crewmates. The battle is quickly turning against them and Freeman asks for recommendations. Security Chief Shaxs, a Bajoran, recommends detonating the warp core, but Freeman disagrees. As this happens, T'Ana approaches Boimler and analyzes the pink slime that is still covering him, and realizes that it holds the key to saving the crew. She informs Freeman, and the crew fights their way to sickbay, protecting Boimler and the slime. Once in sickbay, T'Ana discovers that the slime completely neutralizes the rage effect found in the virus and synthesizes a cure. She gives it to Ransom via hypospray, and he is disturbed when he is told that he ate flesh. T'Ana distributes the cure as a gas through the ship's ventilation system and the crew almost immediately returns to normal. Freeman commends her for her cure and that it will lead to publishing another award-winning research paper, but T'Ana only seems frustrated that it's still more paperwork. As the senior officers leave, Mariner scolds them that they gave Boimler no credit for saving them; she is ignored, but Boimler is clearly glad that she tried. Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford sit together in sickbay, and on Mariner asking if she's still glad to be on board, Tendi expresses how excited she is that she got to hold a Human heart.
- "Once again, solely thanks to the brilliant efforts of Dr. T'Ana, the crew is saved. Undetected by the first contact team, the alien virus is exactly the type of eventuality that can make a second contact mission a life-or-death situation. Luckily, my senior staff are always up for a challenge. End recording."
Having gotten cleaned up, dressed, and reported to Freeman's ready room, Boimler rolls his eyes at once again being given no credit in the Captain's log she's finishing. When she asks about Mariner's behavior on this mission, Boimler, after correcting her on his name, reports that Mariner did not breach protocol and that they spent the whole time adjusting the subspace comm array. Freeman doubts the accuracy of the claim, saying that he was beamed back to the Cerritos covered in bite marks and wearing an alien frock. Boimler blames the pink "goo that saved the ship" for possibly having effected his memory, and says that Mariner engaged in no insubordinate behavior that he remembers. Frustrated, Freeman dismisses him.
After he leaves, she answers a call from a Starfleet admiral asking about the rage virus, but she assures that they're fine and that Ransom tried to eat someone. Switching topics, she tells him that she has had enough of Mariner's behavior, and that she intends to throw her in the brig. The admiral reminds her that treatment doesn't work with Mariner, and that she loves the brig. Freeman protests that Mariner undermines her in front of the crew, and the admiral tries to assure her that surely no one notices, but she disagrees. He then tries to sweet talk her, but Freeman has lost all patience and reminds the cringing admiral of a deal to have Mariner transferred back to the Quito if she didn't fit in on the Cerritos. Rather than giving an answer, the admiral tries to excuse himself with "admiral stuff". Freeman angrily tells him that Mariner is his daughter too, and that he can't just hang up on her.
In the lounge, Tendi and Rutherford are talking about his recent date with Barnes, and Tendi expresses sympathy that the rage virus ruined his date, but Rutherford is unconcerned with that. He explains that she was smart, pretty, and very effective in a ship-wide crisis, but that they likely won't see each other again, since she seemed disinterested in why a red alert overrode the maintenance hatch access protocols. Tendi seems far more interested in this as well, and talks more with him about it.
Meanwhile, Boimler approaches Mariner at the bar and thanks her, admitting that it felt good helping the Galardonians, and that while the way she does things is unorthodox, Starfleet is still better with her involvement. Confirming with him that he did not report her as he threatened to, she immediately forgives him, and promises to help him one day reach the rank of captain. She appoints herself as his mentor and declares him her cha'DIch, and begins to express pride for the lower decks crew. As Freeman watches from a distance, shaking her head at Mariner's behavior, Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford walk out of the bar, with Mariner excitedly talking about Starfleet history and important historical figures like Spock, Khan Noonien Singh, Hikaru Sulu, James T. Kirk, Worf, Gary Mitchell, and Deanna Troi.
The USS Cerritos makes its way from the planet of the Galardonians, and enters warp for its next mission.
- "Captain's Log, Stardate 57436.2. The Cerritos is docked at Douglas Station for routine maintenance and resupply. We will soon set course for the capital planet on the Galar system, where we're scheduled to make second contact with the Galardonian High Council. First contact is a delicate, high-stakes operation of diplomacy. One must be ready for anything when Humanity is interacting with an alien race for the first time. But we don't do that. Our specialty is second contact. Still pretty important. We get all the paperwork signed, make sure we're spelling the name of the planet right, get to know all the good places to eat..."
- - Brad Boimler, recording a personal log pretending to be the captain
- "Once again, solely thanks to the brilliant efforts of Dr. T'Ana, the crew is saved. Undetected by the first contact team, the alien virus is exactly the type of eventuality that can make a second contact mission a life-or-death situation. Luckily, my senior staff are always up for a challenge."
"Ensign D'Vana Tendi, reporting for duty. I'm a transfer from Outpost 79."
"Deck 4. Follow the yellow line. Take the turbolift all the way down."
"Thank you so much! And can I just say that I'm really honored to be-"
"Keep it moving, lower decks. Next!"
- - D'Vana Tendi and a lieutenant
"Yeah, no, we're not really elite. We're more like the cool, scrappy underdogs of the ship. You know, we don't wash our hands, we're doing kick flips all the time."
- - Beckett Mariner
"I have served on five ships, man. I have seen stuff. One time I got trapped in a sentient cave for weeks. You ever been trapped in a sentient cave? That's a dark place that knows things. I almost got my head taken off a singing crystal. I have been in a Klingon prison where I had to fight a yeti for my own shoes for no reason. He was just being a dick. You've been on what, four planets?"
"Five, if you include Vulcan."
"Of course I don't include stupid Vulcan! You may as well count Earth."
"I was counting Earth."
- - Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler
"There's a maintenance hatch on the other side of the saucer that should give us access to Deck 8. What kind of music are you into?"
"We have just enough oxygen to get there, but we're cutting it close. I really like this classical band called The Monkees. Ever heard of 'em?"
"Let's just say 'I'm a Believer.'"
- - Sam Rutherford and Barnes
"The anesthetic is useless. We have to work through the pain. Your hands clean?"
"Pump this. Don't pass out. Nobody's authorized to pass out!"
- - T'Ana and Tendi
"We need to get this man to sickbay immediately! He is very important!"
"What makes him so special?"
"Nothing. He's worthless. It's the slime, captain. He's covered in slime that could save us all!"
"Everyone, protect this slime!"
- - T'Ana and Carol Freeman
"Oh, what happened? Where am I? And… did I eat flesh?"
"Uh, hardly any."
"HOW MUCH DID I EAT?!"
- - Jack Ransom and Tendi
"Still uh, happy to be here?"
"Are you kidding? I got to hold a heart!"
- - Mariner and Tendi
- This is the series premiere of the second half-hour Star Trek series and the second overall animated series, following Star Trek: The Animated Series. As such, this episode is the shortest premiere episode of a main Star Trek series since "Beyond the Farthest Star". It is also the first entirely animated episode of a main series since "The Counter-Clock Incident".
- However, the companion series Short Treks had a shorter premiere, as well as entirely animated episodes.
- This is the first Star Trek episode or film to premiere in the month of August since VOY: "The 37's" in 1995.
- The release of this episode marks the first time two Star Trek series have launched within a single calendar year, as Star Trek: Picard debuted, with the episode "Remembrance", in January 2020.
- On 23 July 2020, the teaser of this episode was released as part of an online "Star Trek Universe" panel, released as part of San Diego Comic Con 2020 (aka Comic Con @ Home). 
- This is the first episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is the first overall Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise in which the episode titles are displayed at the beginning of the first act of each installment. Most episodes of Star Trek: Short Treks do display the episode title at the beginning of the short, and the name "Nepenthe" does appear on-screen at the beginning of the first act in "Nepenthe". However, it is used as a place name in that context. Prior to that, the most recent installment to display the episode title at or near the beginning of the episode was "The Girl Who Made the Stars", the penultimate installment of ST Season 2, as the finale of that season, "Children of Mars" has the episode title at the end.
- This episode featured the first use of a censored expletive in the Star Trek franchise. Specifically, Doctor T'Ana is "bleeped" when she discovers that the slime covering Ensign Brad Boimler can be used to treat the rage virus.
- As in every spinoff series opener in the franchise so far, this episode also feature a previously established character, in this case it's Nomad who is featured in the prologue, at the background, during the closet scene.
- 22 July 2020: Title publicly revealed 
- 23 July 2020: Teaser publicly revealed
- 6 August 2020: Premiere date on CBS All Access
- 13 August 2020: Briefly released internationally, on YouTube 
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
- Jessica McKenna as
- Phil LaMarr as
- Ben Rodgers as Stevens
- Paul Scheer as Andy Billups
- Unknown performers as
- All-Nude Olympiad holograms
- Away team members
- Bar workers
- Benzite ensign
- Bridge crew
- Crew in the bar after the outbreak
- Crew in the bar during the outbreak
- Crew infected by the rage virus
- Galardonian councilors
- Galardonian farmer 3
- Human in towel
- Klingon ensign
- Operations ensign
- Operations lieutenant 1
- Operations lieutenant 2
- Operations lieutenant jg
- Operations staff
- Orion holograms
- Sciences ensign
- Sciences ensign with a VISOR
- Sciences lieutenant jg
- Sciences officer
- Sickbay staff
- Transporter operator
- Vulcan ensign
- Vulcan sickbay officer
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First episode in series
|Star Trek: Lower Decks