Star Trek: Lower Decks


1.5 stars.

Air date: 9/24/2020
Written by Garrick Bernard
Directed by Kim Arndt

Review Text

"Veritas" is the obligatory trial episode, in which crew members are put on trial by an alien culture and we get a bunch of courtroom scenes. The creators go out of their way to make the courtroom look a lot like the Klingon court in Star Trek VI, with the massive, cylindrical room where the judges sit up above. The prosecutor (played by Kurtwood Smith, another good example of voice casting, but they mostly just have him yell through the entire episode) even looks like General Chang — eyepatch and all. He wants the lower deckers to testify about their commanding officers regarding a recent, mysterious mission.

After the last couple episodes showed some verve and creative lunacy, this is back to pedestrian jokes and tired riffs on the concepts of yesteryear. There's a long history of trial episodes in Trek, but this one is content to simply have the idea that there's a trial be pretty much the whole point — other than an excuse to hang a bunch of random gags on via the flashback structure that tries to explain from several perspectives how we got here. This is a nothingburger.

Of the perspectives, which I'm not going to summarize, the most (very mildly) amusing is Rutherford's, because it takes a joke — that his cybernetic implant keeps rebooting and causing him to lose consciousness, after which he wakes up in the middle of yet another, more terrifying crisis — and runs with it. It uses the old tactic that if you take a joke and keep doing it over and over again, it begins funny, becomes really dumb, and then becomes funny again. This is a very minor-league example of that tactic, but it at least employs a tactic at all. Meanwhile, the use of Q (including John de Lancie in a wasted guest voice role) lacks any semblance of a point. I guess it's supposed to be funny for merely existing, but it might as well be a lame cutaway gag on Family Guy.

The whole episode builds to a twist — that this isn't a trial at all, but a "celebration" where the crew members are actually guests of honor rather than defendants — which is really dumb and doesn't work at all. A bunch of obviously menacing things turn out to be other things that, look, aren't actually menacing after all! Um, okay? This fails because there's no trick or sleight of hand at play; it's merely deceiving the audience and then telling us what we saw wasn't what we actually saw.

The thematic gag here is that the lower deckers don't know anything of value because it's all above their pay grade. Also, the Cerritos crew is definitely not made up of the Starfleet elite. No kidding. But that's the whole point of The Orville, which is constantly aping Trek from that point of view. And now Trek is aping The Orville. We are the ouroboros, eating ourselves.

Who knows, maybe this is one of those episodes that, knowing the twist, plays differently the second time around. I somehow really doubt that. But to confirm I'd have to watch it again, and I'm certainly not doing that.

Previous episode: Much Ado About Boimler
Next episode: Crisis Point

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21 comments on this post

    Episode 8-Worst episode yet. This week we are taken into filler inception. A show that is nothing but filler gives us it’s own filler episode. I’m sure someone will try to defend this episode because “Easter eggs dude!”. Yes they mentioned Kirk and shown some Gorns oh boy. #Clever #EasterEggs #FanService

    I can't believe they've actually made a good Star Trek series in the 21st century! Lower Decks really surprised me. I was all set to hate it, but it's grown on me. The humor is cute and chuckle-worthy. Is it Rick and Morty-level good? By no means, but it's actually respectful of the Trek mythos which Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard can't begin to claim. The newest episode, "Veritas" is delightful. (With an awesome special guest star)

    Jammer, I hope you get a chance to watch this show. It's delightful.

    Really not bad. I liked the latest episode. It continues to feel very close to the next generation. It’s a little clumsy comparing this to the Orville but it’s probably the best analogy. It’s lightheaded and silly but keeps true to the concept of Trek.

    The season is nearly finished and it’s been an incredibly strong first season to a Trek series.

    The level of detail and care put into the background for a Trek sitcom is incredible. I really can’t believe how much they pack in. The humor continues to work. Would love to see Badgey, The Dog and D14 all return some day.

    It’s easily the best and most involving of the streaming era Trek shows.

    "Veritas" - S1, E8:

    I enjoyed Kurtwood Smith and John de Lancie in this one. This was fun, but I won't rate it quite as high as the last few; I guess I've become accustomed to having part of the show centered on one of our main characters. I liked the twist of this turning into a party at the end. All our leads were in character and Tendi showed once again she can fight! TONS of trek references, and I mean TONS of them! I'll go 2.5 stars for this one. Still enjoyable, just not as high as recent episodes.

    Really seems like the Family Guy of Star Trek. Just like Family Guy it's very reference heavy and polarizing, people either love or hate the humor. For me, I never cared for Family Guy and I dont care for the writing in this show either.

    Sxottlan - If they do bring Badgey back at least the show will be conforming to a Trek tradition, along with Keiko, Alexander, Wesley, by having at least one incredibly annoying character. Unfortunately Lower Decks also deviates from tradition in that most of the other characters are annoying.

    If you watched Disco or Picard and liked them, then this series is 100% your fault. Do you feel ashamed yet?

    The release of this series just seems like really bad timing for the new season of Discovery.

    At the bottom of it all, this series seems like it’s written by a bunch of people who just want to make fun of nerds. Hell, one of the latest episodes even made fun of Galaxy Quest. If it were truly serious about being a comedic take on Star Trek, I doubt they’d have pissed on one of the best comedic takes on the franchise.

    All in all, this show has no business bearing the “Star Trek” name and should just be a separate animated comedy.

    I've always found Family Guy lazy, and I tend to not like modern comedy writing, so maybe this just isn't for me. Even Rick & Morty feels like it's not as strong as it was in the first couple seasons.

    Now Galaxy Quest was probably the best comedic take on Star Trek I've seen. It used it's fictional setup to take some pretty hilarious shots at Star Trek tropes, while not feeling overly "reference-y." Maybe something like that would have been a better take than a show like Lower Decks which wants to exist within and "respect" Star Trek canon while satirizing it as well.

    @Flipsider, what really made Galaxy Quest special was that it managed to poke fun at Star Trek tropes, and yet never felt like it was making fun of Star Trek or the fans. I never liked Big Bang Theory in large part because it seemed to center around showing how weird the nerds are.

    Roga Danar? Sent me to Memory Alpha and then to rewatch The Hunted. Roga Danar did kick some ass.

    And Samuel, I did watch Disco and Picard and did not like them. But I did like this.

    Comments #2, 3 and 4 (Patrick D, Nick and Sxottlan) are so obviously part of the marketing for the show it’s actually funny.
    Having read thousands of comments on this website, these types of posts clearly stand out as disingenuous PR fabrication.

    @Jammers, I know you rarely consider deleting posts, but in this case I would not hesitate one second if I were in your shoes.

    Made me think how cool it is that you have this site with all these comments on these old shows, devoid of such corporate pollution, no likes or dislikes etc. Everyone can submit their thoughts and reactions and readers have to consider them without bias or prejudice based on ‘social’ judgements. Such luxury.

    Comments #2-4 are hilariously astroturfed.

    It has all the classic tells. Comment #2 tells Jammer to watch the a review of the episode. Also it's obviously fake because no one really talks like that. Look at the way they put the episode title in quotation marks, the way they write out the title of the shows mentioned, all in a way that feels...artificial.

    Comments #3-4 speak in all the vague generalities that you expect from an astroturf commenter; the kind of comment that could be typed up by someone who has never seen the show and is just writing based off bullet point notes they were given.

    Well, Nacho. These comments were written before Jammer posted the reviews, even before Jammer showed any intention to review the show.

    Nick, Patrick D and Sxottlan... do you have stock in Astroturf or are you in the marketing department for STLD?


    The real question is, is RonB and nacho Picard the same person? ... maybe from Midnight Edge or from any number of other "hate anything new Star Trek" YouTube sites?

    I put the episode title in quotes because this started as one continuous thread.... BEFORE Jammer decided to review STLD.

    One of the best eps of the series and hilarious throughout. Like a poor marksman, Jammer, you keep missing the target.

    Ok, so far the best thing about the show is reading Jammer's reviews.

    "But to confirm I'd have to watch it again, and I'm certainly not doing that."

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