(written from a Production point of view)
Anomaly consolidation day on the USS Cerritos leaves the Lower Deckers with mixed emotions. Captain Freeman attempts to negotiate peace on the Pakled home world.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 58105.1. The Pakleds continue their unprovoked attacks on Federation trade routes. Seeking a cease fire, the Cerritos is on a diplomatic mission to the Pakled homeworld, which they call Pakled Planet. Starfleet entrusted me with this mission because of our experience with the Pakleds last year. Negotiating a cease fire would be a huge achievement."
Captain Carol Freeman and Shaxs are about to beam down to Pakled Planet for their negotiations, and Freeman notes that with a civilization like the Pakleds, negotiating with them shouldn't be too difficult. They beam down, and meet the Pakled ambassador, Grubdin, who confuses her with Kathryn Janeway. Freeman corrects him, saying she's there to negotiate. Grubdin tells her that he's been misinformed, and that he's not authorized to make cease-fires (due to the size of his helmet). As Freeman asks to see someone with a bigger helmet, a Pakled comes running out of the building they're in front of, telling everyone of an escaped Pakled prisoner, Rumdar, and that he escaped the planet and fled to the Cerritos. Grubdin accuses Freeman of taking him deliberately, and Freeman contacts Commander Jack Ransom, who confirms that Rumdar has arrived on the Cerritos, apparently seeking political asylum. Unwilling to accept this, Grubdin detains Freeman and Shaxs with the condition that they are not allowed to leave until Rumdar is returned to them.
In the Cerritos mess hall, Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, D'Vana Tendi, and Sam Rutherford are eating breakfast when they get their assignments for the day, and Mariner is dismayed to see that they've been assigned anomaly consolidation duty. While Boimler and Tendi are excited for the job (though she's not sure what it is), Mariner complains that it's basically just a once-a-year trash day for the material the senior officers bring back from missions. Rutherford adds that as the items are dangerous, they can't simply recycle them in a matter recombinator, and that they need to be packed up and sent to a facility. Boimler gets up, but loses his balance and falls to the floor, spilling his breakfast remains on himself. Tendi can't help but laugh at the look he had on his face, and Boimler excuses himself to get cleaned up. As he leaves, he's called over by Ensign Casey, who is sitting with Jennifer Sh'reyan, Castro, and a Kzinti ensign. They are aware of his service aboard the USS Titan, they invite him to join their club, the "Redshirts"; a club that helps command ensigns rank up. As they are down a member, following the promotion of Ensign P'jok, and their transfer to the USS Ventura. With Boimler's service with William T. Riker, they believe Boimler's contributions would be invaluable to them. They inform him of an acting captain's duty that will happen later in the day, and Casey promises to let him in on the job if he tells them about his time with Riker. Boimler is hesitant due to his consolidation duty, but Casey tells him that the reason he's likely back on the Cerritos is that he is unable to carry himself like a leader, convincing Boimler to join up with them.
Ransom and Kayshon are escorting Rumdar down the corridor, and Ransom asks for his reasons in seeking asylum, speculating religious persecution, or if he might be leading a rebellion. Rumdar tells him that he wishes to see how their shields work. Ransom and Kayshon realize immediately that Rumdar is not a refugee but has infiltrated the Cerritos as a spy. Stepping aside, they notify Freeman of the situation, and when she asks if there's been any problems, they deny, noting Rumdar's incompetency at his job. As they talk, Ransom and Kayshon watch Rumdar use a supposedly 'hidden' wrist flash camera to take a photo of his own foot. Believing they could use this against them, Freeman tells them to keep talking with him, in hopes that they can get some information behind the attacks.
Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are outside Ransom's quarters, and enter to find a bunch of unlabeled crystals on his desk. They begin to carefully put them inside storage containers, when Tendi picks up a container holding the skull of what she explains is a large frog. Rutherford warns her that it came from a planet with weird evolution, but accidentally drops the container when the specimen screeches, startling him. The skull emits a green mist that Rutherford inhales, causing his body to dramatically enlarge in a matter of moments. Tendi warns that the mist is altering Rutherford's biomatrix. As he continues to enlarge, Mariner tells Tendi to grab a red vial and to rub the substance under Rutherford's nose, causing him to return back to normal. Tendi explains that he just experienced full molecular engorgement in seconds and asks if it felt amazing; being disoriented, Rutherford 'responds' by vomiting on himself and the deck while Boimler and the Redshirts walk by, talking about Riker and how he is always cleaning his trombone.
Ransom and Kayshon finish showing Rumdar, now wearing a "Cerritos" T-shirt and baseball cap, the "top secret" gift shop and offer to show him the "high-security" juice bar next. Rumdar declines, wanting to see the warp core. Ransom and Kayshon have a small laugh that the Pakled isn't exactly a Tal Shiar agent and decide to try and see if they can get him to tell them about the Pakleds' systems, however when they turn around, they are shocked to see that Rumdar has disappeared. Ransom asks the computer to locate him, but the computer reports that there is no Pakled on the ship. Unsure how he has left the ship, or if he is in possession of a personal cloaking device, they split up in a rush to find him.
Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are continuing consolidation, picking up various items, all of which discharge various effects on Mariner, much to her annoyance.
On Pakled Planet, a Pakled offers Freeman some rotten mushfroot, which she declines, and says she just wishes to talk about the cease-fires. The Pakled (who still confuses her with Janeway) takes offense to this, but before anything can happen, another Pakled announces the entrance of the Pakled Queen. Freeman greets her, and the Queen tells Freeman that she cannot kill Rumdar, and that they want him so that they can kill him. Freeman assures her that they have no interest in killing him, and the Queen asks to speak to him. Freeman contacts Ransom, asking to speak to Rumdar, but Ransom tells her that they've temporarily lost track of him. Freeman tells the Queen that Rumdar is using the bathroom, and tries to initiate talks for the cease-fire, but the Queen tells her that she's not authorized to make cease-fires, as her helmet is not big enough, much to Freeman's annoyance.
Back on the Cerritos, Casey and the other Redshirts are giving Boimler a makeover, helping him adjust his posture, modify his uniform, and change his hairstyle. While Boimler is hesitant about these changes, when the makeover is finished, he admits that he does feel great. They exit the room, and accidentally bump into the cart that Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are using. Tendi and Boimler briefly chat, but the Redshirts call Boimler away. In his rush to leave, Boimler accidentally knocks over a container of nanobots collected from Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups, much to Rutherford's frustration. While they clean up the nanobots, Tendi tries to cheer them up, only for Mariner to scold her, telling her that her constant happy-go-lucky attitude can get grating, and that sometimes work can just be work, and frustrating. Taken aback by this, Tendi apologizes, while Ransom and Kayshon continue to desperately try and find Rumdar.
Castro tells Boimler that being captain is the role of a lifetime, and that the captain needs to be prepared to give a rousing speech to the crew at a moment's notice, and challenges Boimler to give a rousing speech concerning a temporal rift, a plasma grid, and broken replicators. On the spot, Boimler attempts a speech, but is hesitant, and doesn't impress the other members. Boimler says that it isn't the same experience as being on the bridge, and Casey replies that the bridge is wherever he is. He tells Boimler to close his eyes, think about Riker, and to say what he would say from the heart (specifically Riker's heart). Boimler does so, imagining himself on the bridge of a Galaxy-class, and gives a speech that prompts a small round of applause by the Redshirts, boosting Boimler's confidence.
Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford reach the office of Doctor Migleemo, and Tendi is surprised that even Migleemo has anomalies or that he apparently goes out on missions. Mariner just calls it a bunch of junk, and Tendi expresses frustration that all Mariner and Rutherford have done all day is whine, saying that if they're not happy with the job, then she will just do it herself. Mariner and Rutherford happily accept this, and sit down, while Tendi goes through Migleemo's items, and comes upon a storybook of Three Little Pigs. When she opens the book, however, it glows, and three enormous pigs come out of the book and materialize in the office, running amok. Realizing the book is a book that makes stories come to life, Tendi tries to wrestle the pigs to get them back into the book, but is thrown out of the room, and hits a canister, holding a gelatinous, alien slug. It grows to a large size, and shrieking, catches and swallows Tendi. Mariner and Rutherford rush to find the correct hypospray to use. Shortly afterward, the slug begins shrieking again and partially discharges Tendi through what is apparently its anus; Mariner and Rutherford grab Tendi's legs and pull her out the rest of the way. Mariner uses the hypospray in the slug's rear, and it shrinks back to small size. Mariner and Rutherford rush over to Tendi and ask if she's okay, and she laments that anomaly consolidation day really is not as good as she thought. Mariner tries to comfort her, but Tendi slaps her hand away and clutches her knees to her chest, traumatized at what just happened.
On Pakled Planet, the situation with the Pakleds is starting to deteriorate, and Shaxs recommends beaming back to the Cerritos, but Freeman is determined to make everything work out. At that moment, King Pakled (who has a bigger helmet than the queen) enters the room, and Freeman is about to engage with him, when the Emperor of the Pakleds (who wears an even bigger helmet) enters. Freeman, who is running out of patience, is about to talk with him, when suddenly, multiple Pakleds crash through the windows, declaring to be part of a "rebelution". A conflict breaks out between the Emperor's guards, and the rebels, and one of the rebels manages to assassinate the Emperor, declaring that the Pakleds will no longer be controlled by the "big-helmeted Pakleds". However, shortly after declaring this, the large helmet of the Emperor enthralls him, and he puts it on, declaring himself the new Pakled leader. The other Pakleds immediately bow and subjugate themselves to him, recognizing his strength.
Boimler and the Redshirts are walking through the halls, and Boimler admits that he does feel more like a captain than he usually does. Casey tells him he has to start living like one, saying that this includes changes to his social life, noting that their friends are as important as the officers on the bridge. Boimler points out his friends, who are still struggling with the anomalies, and Casey declines, saying that they are always doing dirty work. Boimler is confused, saying that they all work in Starfleet, and that they are always doing dirty work, and Casey says that Boimler's friends don't work in Starfleet, but for Starfleet. Boimler defends them, saying that they've been doing real work that benefits the ship while the Redshirts have been "playing captain" all day. Casey isn't convinced.
Tendi is still angry about the consolidation duty as she picks up a glowing pink cube, and while Rutherford and Mariner try to calm her down, Tendi explodes in anger, saying that she hates the Cerritos, and that she must have sounded so stupid in her excitement for the job, especially since it was originally her who volunteered them for the assignment. They ask her why she did, and she said that they are always disappointed that they miss out on cool missions, and that taking out items collected form the missions might have been just as good, but she was wrong, and wishes she were still on Orion. As she rants, the cube glows brighter, and begins to integrate itself into Tendi, causing her to slowly transform. Mariner and Rutherford try to settle her down, but before they can do anything else, Tendi transforms into a scorpion-like creature, screaming in a rage.
Mariner rushes to try and find information on the cube she was holding, but Tendi knocks her and Rutherford aside, knocks out Ransom and Kayshon, and bursts into the mess hall, going on a rampage. Boimler and the Redshirts walk by and see the scene, and realize they need to do something to help. Jennifer enters the mess hall, and begins a rousing speech, which starts to inspire some of the crew who are nearby, but in the middle of her speech, Castro, and Casey walk up beside her and begin speeches of their own. The overlapping speeches just confuse the crewmembers. Boimler asks if they intend to do anything, but when Casey says they're inspiring the crew, Boimler snaps that the Redshirts are the crew before acting on his own initiative and approaching Tendi, tells her that she will be okay while dodging her tail. Mariner tells him that Tendi touched a cube, Boimler realizes that it must have been an Ataxian mood shifter and gets an idea. Remembering the accident at breakfast, he rushes to the replicator, and replicates some hot baked beans, before deliberately dumping the bowl on his head. Tendi is confused by his actions but continues to attack him. Boimler then replicates a birthday cake with lit candles of various temperatures, and deliberately slips and falls into it, setting his uniform on fire. Tendi starts to get amused at the sight, and starts to laugh. Boimler then replicates a massive sundae of various foods, but the replicator malfunctioned due to the damage it took by Tendi's claws and shoots it at him causing a huge mess, and Tendi laughs even harder, reverting from the scorpion form and back to her normal self, the cube separating from her. Boimler makes sure she's okay, and Tendi thanks him for saving her. Casey, not impressed with the sight, walks away with the Redshirts.
Ransom and Kayshon come to in the corridor and are scared that they've been unconscious for an undetermined amount of time, and that Rumdar could be anywhere. As they regret underestimating him, Kayshon turns to see Rumdar's body out in the vacuum of space, and they quickly realize that they never underestimated him after all.
In sickbay, Dr. T'Ana manages to revive Rumdar, shocked that he was able to survive so long in space, unprotected. He's even completely fine, which Rumdar simply attributes that "Pakleds are strong". Kayshon asks how he was even able to get outside the ship, and Rumdar tells them that he went to use the bathroom, and upon flushing, was suddenly blown into space. Realizing that he mistook an airlock for a bathroom, Ransom orders Kayshon to have Rumdar transported off the ship after he asks for all the ship's codes.
On Pakled Planet, the Pakleds have surrounded Freeman and Shaxs when Rumdar is beamed to their location. The (new) Emperor boasts that they tricked Freeman (who he confuses with Janeway again), and that they never wanted peace, and that Rumdar was sent there as a spy. He asks Rumdar what he learned, and he says that he learned about the Cerritos bathrooms (though he confuses the Cerritos with the Enterprise), and that Freeman is not Captain Janeway. Freeman reiterates that she's been telling them that already. Rumdar brags that he tricked her, and that he didn't give up any information. Freeman seizes the opportunity and tells him that he is indeed very amazing, and just wishes she knew what information he kept secret to know just how amazing he is. She successfully tricks him into having him tell her how he didn't tell her anything about the plan the Pakleds have to smuggle a Varuvian bomb onto Earth. Masking their shock and having gotten the information they needed, Freeman calls Rumdar a master spy, and Shaxs calmly has them beamed safely back to the Cerritos. After they leave, the Emperor celebrates Rumdar's "victory" over "Janeway".
Having delivered the anomalies to a hazardous storage area in the cargo bays, Tendi apologizes for requesting anomaly consolidation duty, and for her rampage as a scorpion. Mariner tells her that collecting such strange items is indeed part of the fun in Starfleet, and that she and Rutherford were admittedly being too pessimistic about it. Rutherford adds on that they should have fed off her enthusiasm for the job, rather than try to tamp it down. Tendi hugs them, before realizing that she smells like "slug-digested scorpion", but Mariner simply says that it's the smell of adventure.
Casey and the Redshirts are heading for the bridge for the acting captain assignment, and they run into Boimler. Casey tells him he's no longer welcome amongst the Redshirts, as in his opinion, it was shameful that Boimler made a fool of himself "to make a bug laugh." Boimler responds that it's shameful that they're trying to build a persona by simply copying other captains, and that they are wasting their time with the Redshirt club: one ultimately needs to become their own captain. Casey is unimpressed, but Jennifer, Castro, and the Kzinti all decide that Boimler has a point, and that they should focus more on their duties. Casey grumpily allows them to leave, and as Ransom is walking by, he nominates himself for the acting captain position. Ransom nonchalantly accepts as it's apparently not really important to him, ignoring Casey's enthusiasm, before commending Boimler for his quick thinking with Tendi, noting that he showed real leadership. Casey can't help but notice this, dampening his excitement. As they all disperse, Castro invites Boimler to a Winger Bingston show later on.
On the bridge, Freeman has finished her communications with Starfleet, saying that everyone did a great job with the Pakleds, and invites her senior officers for a well-earned drink. Ransom gives Casey the conn, and leaves with Freeman. Casey approaches the captain's chair giddily, and sits down, but before he can even get comfortable, Shaxs arrives with a new duty shift, and yells at Casey to get out of the chair. Disheartened, Casey gets up, before Shaxs tells him to go and clean out Airlock 17, as Rumdar "did something unspeakable in there."
In the crew bunks, Tendi is enthusiastically telling Boimler about all the action he missed, and Mariner pulls out what Boimler excitedly identifies as a submanifold casting stone that she smuggled out of Shaxs' pile of items. Mariner notes how they can use it to broadcast their voice to other planets, and as they wonder what they can use it for, Tendi jokingly suggests prank calling Armus.
On Vagra II, Armus is sitting alone, wishing for someone to torture, when suddenly Mariner's voice tells him that he looks like a "big bag of crap." Enraged over who is speaking, he demands them to show themselves, and Boimler teases him that they're touching his stuff. Eager to find who is speaking, Armus threatens them with death, calling himself a skin of evil. He trips, and Tendi once more mocks him, causing him to curse them in a scream of rage.
"You call yourselves Redshirts?"
"Cool name, right? Makes us sound invincible."
- - Boimler and Castro
"You getting 'Bazminti when he pulled back the veil' vibes from this guy?"
"Oh yeah. (taps combadge) Captain Freeman, our Pakled refugee appears to be more of a Pakled spy."
"What? He hasn't gotten anything, has he?"
"No, I think we'll be okay. He just took a photo of his own foot."
- - Kayshon, Ransom, and Freeman
"You just experienced full molecular engorgement in a matter of seconds! Did it feel amazing?"
- - Tendi, to Rutherford
"Rumdar is, uh, in the bathroom. But he said you should negotiate a cease fire."
"Oh, I don't have a big enough helmet to do that."
"Are you *bleep*ing me?!"
- - Freeman and the Pakled Queen
"The bridge crew brought in this crap; they should clean it up! I'm not their mom!"
- - Tendi
"Computer, taffy, honey, shrimp, soda, corn, steak, chicken nugget, crispy lemon rock candy, chili, gravy, chocolate sundae! HOT!"
- - Boimler
"Sorry, you can't come with us. That move you pulled in the mess hall proves you don't belong in the Redshirts."
"Hey, my friend was in trouble."
"You made a fool of yourself to make a bug laugh. It was shameful."
"Alright, you know what's shameful? Trying to build a persona by copying other captains. You think Riker did that? You guys are wasting your time on this Redshirt stuff. Be your own captains!"
"Cute speech. I'm sure it'll play great on the lower decks."
- - Casey and Boimler
"New shift on deck. Get out of my chair!"
- - Shaxs, to Casey
"When I find you, I'm gonna kill you with a flake of my power! I am a skin of evil!"
"More like a puddle of *bleep*!"
- - Armus and Tendi
- The title was announced on StarTrek.com via their ongoing LD Season 2 photogallery 13 September 2021. 
- Ensign Casey's name is "officially" revealed for the first time on screen. It was previously "unofficially" established in the closed captions from "Strange Energies".
- The manner in which the plant in Lab 4005 sprays thorns from the center of its flower resembles the pod plant from Gamma Trianguli VI. Fortunately for Mariner, this plant's thorns, unlike those of the pod plant, were not poisonous. (TOS: "The Apple")
- The Kzinti ensign who first appeared in "Mugato, Gumato" appears in this episode for the first time as a speaking role. During his appearance, while discussing poor posture, he demonstrated an example that reflected the posture displayed by the Kzinti Telepath from "The Slaver Weapon".
- Boimler's uniform "makeover" with shoulder pads is a reference to the uniform costumes used on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which had (occasionally visible) shoulder pads.
- During "Captain" Boimler's "rousing speech" to "his crew", he imagined himself on the bridge of a Galaxy-class starship, which resembled that of the pre-Star Trek Generations USS Enterprise-D.
- Mariner uses Tendi's given name for the first time after learning it (and the fact that she had one) in "We'll Always Have Tom Paris", this despite having previously included it in the credits for her holo-film Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta.
- This episode featured, for the second week in a row, the return of another "legacy" character from Star Trek: The Next Generation; in this case, Armus from "Skin of Evil".
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
- Gillian Vigman as
- Neil Casey as Casey
- Rich Fulcher as
- Phil LaMarr
- Lauren Lapkus as Jennifer Sh'reyan
- Brian Posehn as
- Gabrielle Ruiz as Castro
- Carl Tart as Kayshon
2380; acting captain; acting captain's duty; adventure; air lock (Air Lock 17); alien creature; ambassador; Andorian; Antaran; anomaly; anomaly consolidation duty (aka ACD, anomaly consolidation, anomaly consolidation day, anomaly duty); asylum; Ataxian mood shifter; attacks; Bajoran; baseball cap; bathroom; Bazminti; beaming; beans; "beyond belief"; Billups, Andy; Bingston, Winger, Jr.; biomatrix; bird feeder; birthday cake; blowing; "blowing up"; body; book; boss; brass; breakfast; bridge; bridge crew; brown; brownnoser; bug; Caitian; calculating; candles (birthday candle); captain (rank); captain (title); captain's chair (aka "the big chair"); captain's log; cease-fire; cereal; Cerritos, USS; chair (folding chair); chicken nugget; chief; chili; chocolate sundae; cloak; codes; combadge; commander; comms; copying; corn; "crap"; crew; crimson force field; crispy; crystal; cube; "damn it"; danger; defensive schematics; definition; digested; doctor; dusty; earpiece; Earth; eating; emperor; energy field book; engineering; ensign; "Ensign Genius"; Enterprise, USS; Enterprise-D, USS; "excelsior"; eyes; fingerprints; fighter; flush button; foot; form; french fries; friend; froggy (frog-like creature); "from the heart"; full molecular engorgement; Galaxy-class; gelatinous spray; "getting tired of"; gift shop; God; goggles thing; "going sideways"; gravy; guy; hair; hatch; hate; "have a shot at"; heart; helmet; highness; "holy *bleep*"; homeworld; honey; honor; hot dog; hypospray; Janeway, Kathryn; jar; juice bar; Jupiter's moons; king; Kzinti; Lab 4005; Lab 4005 plants; Lab 4006; Lab 4006 devices; Lab 4007; laughing; leader; leg; lemon rock candy; lid; lieutenant; lieutenant junior grade; life; lover; lower decks; "made a fool of yourself"; makeover; matter recombinator; mess; mess hall; Migleemo; missions; mister; mom; murder; "mushesty"; mushfroot; mutiny; mysterious orb; nanobot; one-man show; occipital bone; Orion (planet); Orion (species); P'jok; Pakled; Pakled battle harpy (unnamed); Pakled capital city; Pakled Clumpship (unnamed); Pakled government building; Pakled halberd; Pakled Planet; Pakled Planet's moon; Pakled pole arm; Pakled shuttle (unnamed); Pakled staff; Pakled wrist camera; peace-brokering; peons; persona; photo; Picard, Jean-Luc; pig; plasma grid; pooped; Popsicle; posture; prank call; prisoner; promotion; "pulled back"; queen; rabbit; rank; reassembled proteins; rebellion (rebelution); record; recycling; red; red alert; Redshirts; refugee; religious persecution; remembering; replicator; Retroovian flask; Riker, William T.; robots; rotten; scorpion; seconds; sex stuff; Shaka; shield (object); shields (ship system); ship; shirt; *bleep*ting; shoulder; shrimp; sir; skin of evil; skull; slime; slug (slug-like creature); smear; smell; smuggle; soda; space; speech; spine; spy; stardate; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starfleet insignia; Starfleet manual; Starfleet uniform (2370s-early 2380s); Starfleet uniform (early 2380s); steak; storybook; stuff; stuffed animal; submanifold casting stone; "sucks"; sword (Pakled broadsword); t-shirt; taffy; Tal Shiar; Tamarian; Tamarian language; temperatures; temporal rift; tentacle; thing; Three Little Pigs; Titan, USS; top secret; transporter; transporter room; trash; trash day; Trill; trombone; "turned down"; type 2 phaser; uniform; "up for grabs"; vacuum; Varuvian bomb; Vagra II; veil; Ventura, USS; vial; warp core; warp variance; whining; year; Zinda
- "The Spy Humongous" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Lower Decks: "A Spy Humongous"" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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"Where Pleasant Fountains Lie"