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Captain Freeman assigns the Lower Deckers an overly safe mission to try and keep a self-destructive Mariner out of danger.



On Persioff IX, Brad Boimler and T'Lyn have finished installing a power relay for a research station. With everything done, Boimler asks one of the outpost scientists what they do here. The scientist explains that they research the venomous tremble lizard. He explains that they have neurotoxin covering their skin, and their blood is corrosive and touching them causes your eyes to shoot out. Beckett Mariner, clearly bored with everything, asks why he doesn't just join Starfleet and see new aliens, but he explains he has a tremendous passion for them. One of the lizards bites a wire, causing part of the fence to go down, sending the scientist into a panic as the creatures charge toward the station. Boimler and T'Lyn go to put on their antivenom suits, but Mariner snatches the tool Boimler used and runs out despite her friend begging her to put on a suit.

As Mariner races out, fighting off the creature with a metal tray, the scientist thinks she must love outpost scientists. When Boimler tells him she thinks they're "weirdos," he questions why she's risking her life for them. T'Lyn can only say it is "illogical." Mariner fixes the fence and escapes back to the inside before it gets restored. As Mariner enters the building, Boimler snaps at her, but she deflects his question, asking for baking soda for her shirt before turning around, revealing a tremble lizard on her back. The lizard pounces on the hapless scientist before Boimler goes to rescue him again.

Act One[]

On the USS Cerritos, Boimler and T'Lyn meet in the hallways and muse about the latest away mission that's devolved into Mariner-based violence. T'Lyn has noted that her caviler behavior has gotten more dangerous since the mission to Ferenginar. Reaching the ready room, D'Vana Tendi and Sam Rutherford are already there, noting how weird it was for them to be in the room together and without Mariner. At that point, Captain Carol Freeman joins in with Jack Ransom, Shaxs, and T'Ana, with the captain demanding of the room to know what is wrong with Mariner, as Ransom noted that the past week, she jumped out of a shuttle to fight what she thought was Borg but ended up being a pile of junk. Boimler suggests sending her to Migleemo, but there's no time as Starfleet Intelligence has new info on the mysterious ship.

The ship attacking non-Starfleet affiliated ships has now turned its attention to former Starfleet personnel. Ransom gives them a list of four targets: Seven of Nine, Beverly Crusher, Thomas Riker, and Nick Locarno. Boimler is ecstatic that they're going to meet Dr. Crusher, but sadly for him the USS Vancouver was assigned to look for her, and they get Locarno, whom Tendi's never heard of. Ransom explains that he was drummed out of the Academy for getting another student killed during a prohibited maneuver, and now works as a pilot-for-hire. T'Lyn realizes that if Mariner hears of this, she'll make things worse by precipitating in more dangerous behavior, so Freeman needs her distracted. Mariner will see it coming from a mile away if she hears it from Freeman. Tendi recalls that there's an old space buoy in the Sherbal system that stopped transmitting data, a very safe mission which they could play up as being super dangerous. Freeman approves the mission and thanks them for the idea.

At the shuttle, Mariner is excited that they're on a girl's trip (plus Boimler), and Boimler warns her that things could get dangerous. Mariner wants to know what the mission is. T'Lyn says it would be 2.47 times 'more dangerous' if she doesn't find out, which she agrees with. With that, the shuttle departs the Cerritos and arrives at the buoy at Sherbal V, where Mariner is annoyed. She doesn't understand how repairing an "old-ass weather satellite" is dangerous. Tendi notes that space debris or a solar flare could strike at any moment, while Boimler notes the storms on the planet. Curiously, Tendi finds the communications array has been tampered with, earning Mariner's ire, wondering who would care. Unknown to them, a Klingon Bird-of-Prey is watching them.

Meanwhile, the Cerritos arrive at New Axton – "Twice as lawless as Old Axton without any of the charms.", according to Shaxs. Freeman notes that it's a favorite spot for troublemakers, and Ransom reveals Locarno peddles his services at the capital. Freeman knows that they have to act like criminals before they get hailed by traffic control, who gripes about them parking the Cerritos where it was. He tells Freeman to park the ship by the second moon and that a shuttle comes around every three hours before a mysterious figure contacts them, traffic control letting him through. When Freeman complains, traffic control brushes her off and tells her to park her ship on the moon, which she reluctantly agrees.

At the buoy, the shuttle turns to leave, with Tendi making the last uploads. Mariner groans, wishing there was some dangerous space anomaly when the Bird-Of-Prey decloaks in front of them. As the ship locks weapons, Mariner throws Boimler out of the pilot's seat and takes control, sending the shuttle towards Sherbal V. The Bird-Of-Prey's disruptors drains the shields, forcing Tendi to emergency transport the four onto the planet as the shuttle is destroyed. Arriving on the planet, the four recover their wits before Mariner realizes that something is very wrong – the Sherbal system is nowhere near Klingon space, so why did a Klingon Bird-of-Prey attack them? They hear mysterious screams in the distance. Despite their desire to keep quiet, Mariner goes crazy again and charges deeper into the jungle as the other three chase after her.

Act Two[]

Deeper into the jungle, the four come to a stop, prompting Mariner to declare they rest, and she's going back out there. Boimler doesn't understand how she still has so much adrenaline when Mariner says that there's an apex predator out there, and she wants them to know that she is the new apex predator here. Tendi reveals she downloaded all sorts of data on the planet, which, T'Lyn notes, will help them until a search party finds them. However, Mariner hushes them as they spot Gem being chased and knocked down by Vrek. Gem tries to bribe Verk with latinum, but Vrek wants information. The four overhear that they were both stunned and woke up on this planet suddenly. However, a third figure prepares to pounce before its leg gets snared in a makeshift bear trap, revealing that Gem and Vrek are working against him. Confused, Boimler suggests staying hidden only to see Mariner jump in to knock down Gem. Vrek and Mariner briefly duel, allowing the cloaked figure to escape the trap and attack while Boimler and T'Lyn drag a dazed Mariner away.

In New Axton, Freeman, Shaxs, and Rutherford arrive on the shuttle. Rutherford groans at how long the shuttle took. Freeman notes that Locarno frequents the Pickpockets District and heads off in that direction. Rutherford jokes to Shaxs that they don't have pockets in their pants, only to find out they do. Arriving at Mudds, Freeman notes that all types of unsavory people frequent here. Claiming she aced her Hoodlums and Racketeering seminar at the Academy and wants to be the one doing the talking. The bouncer stops them, and Freeman tries to talk her way in, but the bouncer refuses – they're Starfleet, and there's a two-hour wait despite the bar being empty. He tries to direct them to Zorky's, but the mysterious figure from earlier pushes past them and gets let in with no problem. Freeman decries that, only for their wait to get extended another thirty minutes.

Back at Sherval V, the crew realizes Vrek is tense. And Mariner suggests it's probably because of the Klingons, like the fight with the Pakleds. T'Lyn asks if Mariner is in that battle, and when she tries to ask if T'Lyn is, a Cardassian drops out of nowhere and pins Boimler to a tree by his neck. Mariner tries to fight him off, but T'Lyn employs a Vulcan neck pinch to knock him out. Needing shelter, Tendi discovers a good spot and leads the way. They climb into a large tree and note that the storms are getting worse. Realizing there might be a monitoring station nearby, Tendi suggests getting over there to make it a makeshift distress beacon. Boimler noticed the campfires and suggested taking a long way, which causes Mariner to scoff at that, saying that both Tendi and T'Lyn are more capable of fighting than taking "the long way." T'Lyn finally reveals that the captain specifically ordered them to keep her out of danger. Mariner was shocked by this. They asked her what was causing her to put herself in more danger. Despite their best efforts, Mariner refuses to open up and suggests everyone get some rest so they can wake up not "being dicks." Later that night, Mariner reveals herself to be fully awake, and she takes the opportunity to escape and dive deeper into the jungle despite the storm. However, she ends up in the territory of the strange figure, who reveals himself as Ma'ah, demanding she leave. Mariner refuses and insults him, leading them to fight. However, their fight is interrupted as a glass storm rains down on them, forcing them to take shelter.

Act Three[]

Reaching shelter, Mariner and Ma'ah catch their breath and pull glass shards out of their bodies. Ma'ah calls the planet honorless for the storm, but Mariner accuses Ma'ah of stranding her and her friends on the planet. Ma'ah reveals that his crew betrayed him and left him on the planet. He vows to drive his d'k tahg into their hearts. Frustrated, Mariner demands they fight again, but Ma'ah points out that their shelter is too small to resume fighting; they will have to wait out the storm first and then continue outside. Mariner reluctantly agrees.

Later that night, Ma'ah speaks up, noting how Mariner is Starfleet yet acts like a warrior. Mariner gets upset because of his chattiness, but she decides to open up, thinking it won't matter.

Mariner reveals she got a promotion she never wanted and tried to get demoted, but it didn't work. Ma'ah laughs, thinking Mariner hates Starfleet. But in actuality, she tells him she doesn't and reveals that when she was in the Academy, her dream was to be a captain and model herself after her perfect friend. She made mistakes but rallied, graduated ahead of Mariner, and got stationed on the USS Enterprise-D.

Ma'ah is impressed and mentions that he knows of its tales, but Mariner says so did Sito and how it got her killed by Cardassians. Tearing up, Mariner tells Ma'ah that her death destroyed her, and then, before she knew it, there was the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar.

Ma'ah realizes that she fought in the Dominion War and wishes he could have, too. When Mariner tells him it was nothing but massacres, he's confused – Starfleet was victorious! Mariner says, "Starfleet is supposed to be about puzzling together the mysteries of life, not fighting wars! I don't want to be a general. I don't- I don't wanna send my friends off to die!" Throwing away her extra pip, she says, "I just wanna be an ensign. If it was good enough for Sito, then it is good enough for me."

However, after considering this for a few moments Ma'ah calls her out for this attitude. Sito gave her life to allow Mariner to continue her own way, her own path, of being Starfleet, and she should honor her by resuming her position, exploring, and studying. Mariner, realizing Sito would think she was behaving like an idiot, concedes Ma'ah's point – though her stance on Starfleet's flaws is unchanged, she won't improve matters by stalling her own career. Ma'ah returns the extra pip, and Mariner immediately puts it back on, finally accepting her promotion. With the storm over and the sun rising, Ma'ah decides they could continue their fight in a nearby clearing, but Mariner is ready to work together to get out alive and hugs him, much to Ma'ah's annoyance.

Back at Mudds, Freeman, Rutherford, and Shaxs meet with the information broker, who knows their names and threatens to destroy them. Despite Freeman still wanting information on Locarno's whereabouts, the broker refuses. Freeman pulls Rutherford and Shaxs aside and states that this is probably an old trick – due to his odd mannerisms and movements, that's not an alien, it's a puppet. Freeman grabs the broker and shakes him violently, but Rutherford's implant reveals that it isn't a puppet at all – just a very small alien with a large head!

Freeman sheepishly puts the alien back down, and indignant, the alien decides that he will not sell the info on Locarno to the Starfleet officers, but to the mysterious helmeted figure instead. The mission fails, and the trio gets kicked out by the bouncer as the patrons jeer them.

Back on Sherbalt V, Mariner and Ma'ah watch as the Ferengi, Romulan, Orion, Cardassian, and Bynar commanders get into a scuffle caused by the Ferengi trying to get fruit by the monitoring station.

Ma'ah suggests attacking the Orion leader and their fear of him will make the rest scatter, but Mariner proposes something more challenging: A time-out.

Learning that the other groups were betrayed by their ensigns and left stranded, Mariner thinks the best thing to do is to work together to escape. But the Orion captain, Cosmia, and her first officer refuse to listen. Thankfully, Tendi arrives in the nick of time, recognizes the captain and asserts her title as Mistress of the Winter Constellations. Thanking Tendi, Mariner rallies the other aliens to work together because they all chose to see the stars. She tells them to use the monitor station as a distress beacon when she gets teleported away. The group freaks out, but thankfully, Ma'ah convinces the group to stay the course as he has a plan.

On New Axton, Rutherford and Shaxs lament their failure at getting the info, but Freeman reveals it was a success as the mysterious figure arrives and removes his helmet, revealing it to be Andy Billups. Freeman knew they would be targets, so she used the locals' biases against them, and with the info in hand they head off to find Locarno.

Back on Sherbalt V, as the mysterious ship flies away from the Bird-of-Prey, the Klingons detect a distress signal and go planetside to the source. They get close to the station down among the cliffs and destroy it, allowing Ma'ah to lead the others to jump on top of the ship from a cliff edge.

At Locarno's hideout, the four officers call for Locarno and enter with caution.

On Sherbalt V, the group helps Ma'ah pry up one of the hull plates and enters the Bird-of-Prey. With Tendi and the other Orions backing him up, Ma'ah storms the bridge and personally kills the captain, but Boimler discovers that Mariner's not on board.

At Locarno's hideout, the four officers try to find Locarno, but Rutherford has found something more: The mysterious ship's blueprints, horrifying Freeman.

On the mysterious ship, Mariner comes to and, briefly confused about the minimalist-styled room and tries to free herself, only for the door to open. She swings at the figure in the doorway, but stops when she sees who it is: Nick Locarno, who looks much older than he should. When asked what he is doing, Locarno tells her they are going to cause trouble together.


Memorable quotes[]

"Ah, New Axton. Twice as lawless as Old Axton without any of the charm."


"Well, joke's on them - these pants don't even have pockets! (gasps) Wait, they do! Captain, did you know we have pockets?!"


"Teach me how to tap-dance, Beverly Crusher..."

-Boimler, talking in his sleep

"Starfleet is supposed to be about puzzling together the mysteries of life, not fighting wars! I don't want to be a general I don't-I don't wanna send my friends off to die! I just wanna be an ensign. If it was good enough for Sito, then it's good enough for me..."


"Sito made her choice. You want to solve puzzles and mysteries? Your friend gave her life to protect that. She would not approve of your actions."
"You're...! You're right. She'd... she'd say I'm acting like an idiot. A benaH. Okay, but Starfleet can do better! I'm not wrong to call out bull*bleep* when I see it!"
"vaj Duj DachIj. Honor your friend, slay your enemies, and study your... what was it, plants?"
"Yeah, I mean... yeah, sometimes it's plants."

-Ma'ah and Mariner

"Nick! Nick Locarno! We're Starfleet!"
"We need to take you into protective..."
"Oh, my God!"

- As Shaxs and Freeman search for Locarno, Rutherford notices blueprints for the Nova One

Background information[]


Cast and characters[]


  • According to creator Mike McMahan, "The last couple of episodes for this season are a big swing and I am really proud of them and I cannot wait for you to see them. We held them off [from the press] because I don't even want a breath of what happens in them to get out. And it just feels like the ultimate Star Trek, the ultimate Lower Decks." [1]


  • The protection suit helmets in the teaser resemble the spacesuit helmets seen in TOS: "The Tholian Web".
  • Starfleet is tasked with the recovery of four yet-to-be-found ex-Starfleet members, including Beverly Crusher, Seven of Nine, Thomas Riker, and Nick Locarno.
    • While Seven and Dr. Crusher's futures following the events of VOY: "Endgame" and Star Trek Nemesis, respectively, were revealed to the audience in Star Trek: Picard, this is the first indication of Thomas Riker's survival after his imprisonment subsequent to the events of DS9: "Defiant", as well as the ongoing activities of Locarno.
  • Mariner and T'Lyn finally make the connection that they were both present at the battle appearing in the Season 2 episode "wej Duj".
  • Boimler sleep-talking about how he wants Crusher to teach him how to tap-dance is a reference to TNG: "Data's Day" where she taught Data how to dance.
  • This episode marks the first post-Dominion War appearance of live Cardassians in the series. Mariner's exercise holo-program from Strange Energies involved a Cardassian interrogator.
  • This episode reveals that Mariner was once friends with Sito Jaxa, who made a significant impact on Mariner's view of Starfleet.
    • Mariner describes Sito as having "made some mistakes", referring to the events of TNG: "The First Duty", in which Nick Locarno convinced her and the other members of Nova Squadron to cover up the accidental death of their teammate Joshua Albert. Mariner also says that Sito "rallied" afterward, referring to her being assigned to the USS Enterprise-D before her untimely death in TNG: "Lower Decks", the episode which gave this series its name.
  • Rutherford being surprised that his uniform has pockets is a reference to how Starfleet uniforms since Star Trek: The Original Series were designed to not have pockets as Gene Roddenberry wanted the make them look sleek and futuristic.
  • Mr. Broker resembles Balok's puppet in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", though he is not a puppet himself, bringing to mind the expanded universe explanation that Balok species is called the Linnik, and the puppet's species is the Dassik as seen in the expanded verse novel The Face of the Unknown.
Nova Fleet emblem

Locarno's emblem

  • The emblem painted on the IKS Che'Ta' and appearing on Locarno's jacket is a stylized depiction of the Kolvoord Starburst, the same banned maneuver he and the members of Nova Squadron attempted unsuccessfully in 2368, resulting in, among other consequences, his expulsion from Starfleet Academy.

Links and references[]


Special guest star[]

Guest cast[]

Characters with unknown voice actors
  • Orbital control officer
  • Outpost scientist 1

Background characters[]

USS Cerritos
IKS Che'Ta'
New Axton
Persioff IX
  • Outpost scientist 2
Sherbal V


acid; adrenaline; Albert, Joshua; antivenom suit; apex predator; baking soda; Billups' ship; black market; blood; Borg; bounty hunter; Bynar ship; Che'Ta', IKS; communication relay; Cosmia's ship; Crusher, Beverly; Death Valley; Dominion War; electrical storm; energy barrier; Enterprise-D, USS; Ferengi shuttle (unnamed); Ferenginar; fruit; Gem's starship; glass storm; happy hour; Hoodlums and Racketeers; hug; information broker; Jem'Hadar; jipper; Kings Canyon; Klingon territory; Kolvoord Starburst; Locarno's ship; Migleemo; monitoring station; moon shuttle; Mudds; neurotoxin; New Axton; Nova One; Old Axton; Orion ship; Outpost 76-type (unnamed); outpost scientist; panic; Persioff IX; pH; Pickpockets District; pilot; power relay; puppet; reservations; Riker, Thomas; sandwich board; seminar; Seven of Nine; Sherbal system; Sherbal V; Sito Jaxa; skin; solar flare; space buoy; space debris; spear; Starfleet Academy; street; tap dance; Taxor; thermosphere; time-out; trap; tremble lizard; triped; Vancouver, USS; venom; Vorta; Vrek's starship; weather satellite; Yosemite II; Zorky's

Meta references[]

47; cliffhanger; intertitle

External link[]

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Star Trek: Lower Decks
Season 4
Next episode:
"Old Friends, New Planets"