Star Trek: Lower Decks

"Kayshon, His Eyes Open"

2.5 stars

Air date: 8/19/2021
Written by Chris Kula
Directed by Kim Arndt

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The titular character of "Kayshon, His Eyes Open" is the first Tamarian in Starfleet (see TNG's "Darmok"), who has been posted on the Cerritos as the new security chief. He doesn't always speak in metaphors; just sometimes. But Kayshon and the title are red herrings, because they have relatively little to do with the episode, especially after Kayshon is transformed into a stuffed toy as a result of an energy beam aboard the museum-like ship of a dead curator, whose collection the Cerritos is helping catalog. (Talk about your low-priority missions.)

"Kayshon" is a notable step up from the season's premiere episode, but I still found it lacking ... something. This is an action-centric episode that's light on solid jokes and heavy on attacks by armies of flying Roombas. Don't get me wrong; it's perfectly okay and I grinned a number of times — but this is not something that I feel like I should be going out of my way for.

The main plot appears to be a good-natured but shallow jab at nerds who collect a lot of toys. The alien charged with selling off this collection, for whom the Cerritos is helping salvage all this stuff, is rude and ungrateful to the point of being insufferable, such that, yes, we enjoy it when he gets buried under the rubble of his own selfish arrogance.

Meanwhile, Mariner finds herself adjusting to the new guy in the group, Ensign Manhaver (Marcus Henderson), leading to an escalating feud/frenemy competition that finally shows us what a sonic shower actually looks like. This guy is serious about his job. (But so was Boimler, so where's the clever twist?)

Speaking of Boimler, we get to see his intense adventures aboard the Titan. The Titan crew are a bunch of action-craving badasses who consider the Enterprise-D a comfy hotel. The Riker aboard this ship always has a cocky grin on his face. This plays as a satire on the idea of Riker as he has been filtered through the pop-culture lens for decades, more than on the actual Riker himself. This is an example of the sort of franchise self-awareness I can support. Jonathan Frakes is game as always.

The battles pit the Titan against the Pakleds. Are the Pakleds going to be this series' primary villain? That somehow seems appropriate, although I'm not sure what I think of it yet. In a nice absurdist touch, the Pakleds try to break down a door by ramming — not cutting — it with a saw. We are smart, indeed.

Midway through the episode Boimler makes an impassioned and deeply meta speech about an alternative Starfleet way where the crew members exist as down-to-earth human beings rather than kick-ass action heroes. It's a speech in the middle of an episode that largely demonstrates the opposite. This is Irony underlined.

The best comedy idea in the episode is when Boimler gets cloned by a transporter mishap which is a direct callback to "Second Chances." It allows Boimler to keep his Titan promotion and go back to the Cerritos. It's a clever loophole to the expectedly inevitable Reset Button. Sadly, this is a brief comic idea that barely gets the chance to launch before the show ends. For my money, it should've been the whole episode. It seems like Boimler vs. Boimler would have provided more opportunities to mine comic gold than the half-hearted action sequences we get.

It remains to be seen if Lower Decks can achieve the status of a "hangout comedy," where simply hanging out with the characters is the point. There are indications of that here, but the show isn't there yet. The plot is an exercise of not enough and too much: Not enough to care about, but too much to stay out of the way.

Meanwhile, Boimler goes deep on life aboard the Titan: "It was a bunch of complex characters thrown into heavily serialized battles, which always ended in mind-blowing twists that made me question the basic tenets of my reality." There's no shortage of meta-commentary to unpack there, but it begs the question: Where does Lower Decks truly fit into the fray? It seems this show sees itself as the torch bearer for traditional Trek amid the modern iterations. I suppose time will tell.

Previous episode: Strange Energies
Next episode: We'll Always Have Tom Paris

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27 comments on this post

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Tim C
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 7:05am (UTC -5)
A better effort than the premiere, I think. "Strange Energies" felt like it was straining to find the jokes amidst the chaos, but this one seemed far more relaxed about letting the humour just come naturally from the characters in these weird situations.

My favourite part of the episode was the solution to getting Boimler back to status quo aboard the Cerritos. Making a Tom Riker-style transporter clone of him was both downright funny *and* a clever callback, and it hits the reset button without having to write him as too incompetent or cowardly to remain onboard a high-octane ship like the Titan. Good writing all round.

And we also got maybe my favourite quote ever of this new Third Age of Star Trek:

MARINER: So, was the Titan as awesome as everybody says?

BOIMLER: Eh... it was a bunch of complex characters thrown into heavily serialised battles which always ended in mindblowing twists and made me question the basic tenets of my reality. But who cares about that? Tell me more about this puppet ray! That's the kind of stuff I live for.

You and me both, mate!
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Jeffery's Tube
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Seeing as it's 2381 now on the show, which is the year Thad Riker was born according to ST: PIC, I'm guessing the in-universe reason Troi isn't on the Titan's bridge is that she's on maternity? Obviously the real reason is they don't have the budget to get both Frakes and Sirtis on at the same time more regularly. Still don't see why they couldn't just draw her there and not have her say anything, though.
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Kim in Asia
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Enjoyed this more than the premiere, especially the opening showercscene. But Mariner is getting on my nerves, and the incessant callbacks eventually grow tiresome. Let the show grow on its own.
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Yanks
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
STLD running on all cylinders!!

I just marvel at the thought and care that goes into one of these episode. I can't wait for the "experts" to reveal all the easter eggs in this one... it's going to be a ton!!

Both A and B stories were fun to watch and funny.

"Didn't everyone try to steal Data? He just wanted to be more human (cry) ... lol

I loved how the lower decks folks could speak Kayson!! haha... it was like second nature to them!

Then they clone Boimler... haha... I didn't see that one coming but I'm glad they went that route. More Titan/Boimler fun as the season progresses I'm sure!!

I didn't comment on this last week, but the animation is sharper and the characters facial expressions have broadened. I thought it was my knew TV until I watched Wheaton's weekly "I love everything new" show on YouTube. There is nothing critically objective about his show. I do enjoy meeting the actors/writers though. The Cerritos looks better than ever!

Nothing to ding this one about... just a STLD fun romp. I liked the way they sync'd up both A & B plots toward the end of the show.

3.5 stars from me.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Much, much better than the first episode - less hectic, plenty of decent character moments (even Mariner had a few nice touches here), some interesting twists, and even more references than usual. A lot to like.

Extra marks for the inclusion of the Tamarian, the Pakleds, the scenes on the Titan, and Boimler being affectionately called 'Enterprise' for sticking up for the Starfleet explorer ethos. I also liked the camaraderie ('You're a lower decker' or 'He's a real lower decker' or somesuch - I don't recall the exact line) at the end.

More like this, please. Not perfect, but it'll definitely do.
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Chrome
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
I generally agree this was better than last week's, but it wasn't without the predictable trappings of a TV sitcom. The Titan material did have some genius-level rich satire to it, which makes this episode stand out.

The A plot aboard the collector's ship was routine and heavily borrowed from "The Most Toys" along with so much Trek trivia I suspect many will get bored of it. On the other hand, Mariner butting heads with another wrongheaded ensign made for good character development. "Just because you're cool and charismatic doesn't mean you're right" is a good message, and notably the mission itself was a failure which keeps Mariner all the more grounded. Despite what could have been a meatier A story, this got wrapped up too quickly in favor of the Brad Boimler material, so I'll get to that.

The Boimler story was engaging in that it tried to have us ask ourselves what Star Trek is about. Quite directly, The Titan appears to be engaged in adventures more similar to Star Trek Discovery while the Cerritos is doing more routine Enterprise (TOS and D) stories.

Den of Geek made an interesting observation: the writers are trying to say that both types of Trek shows can co-exist. Since the two Boimlers are identical and either can enjoy being on both the TNG-styled Cerritos or the Kurtzman serialized action-fest Titan, the average Trek fan too can fit in either genre. It's an unusually subtle message for this show which works well with the "Second Chances" material considering half the episode was about Riker's world.

Do the writers really feel like the Kurtzman Treks make us question the tenets of our reality? Does that description fit Discovery and Picard? Maybe? I don't know. But it does show the Lower Decks writers aren't above taking jabs at LD's sister shows as well as themselves.
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Chrome
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Oh just an aside: can anyone explain why the Titan gets the movie-era dark Starfleet uniforms and the Cerritos get the uniforms from ST: Picard?
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome

Good question.

According to Memory Alpha, the LD uniform is a new uniform 'used on California- and Parliament-class starships, starbases, and planetary facilities, while the previous uniform continued to be used on ships such as the USS Titan'.

Behind the scenes, Mike McMahan says it's part of a deliberate reference to the constantly changing uniforms in classic Trek. He claims in a interview with comic book.com (11 October 2020) that he'll be returning to this point later on in LD.

Personally for strict continuity reasons I would have preferred that LD had used the 'First Contact' uniforms throughout, but I understand they were trying to invoke a quasi-TNG aesthetic as in so much of LD. I realise the uniforms they settled are more colourful and in tune with a cartoon style generally, so I don't mind that much.
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Latex Zebra
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, this was great fun. They need to wind Mariner in a bit, it feels like they're trying but when Boimler came back she went straight into overdrive again. Quite possibly the best episode yet though.
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Bok R'Mor
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 3:48am (UTC -5)
@Chrome

By the way, I forgot: the LD uniforms aren't actually the same as the PIC flashback uniforms. So it's even more complicated.

But PIC only takes place in one possible (dystopian, nightmarish, wrong turn) alternate timeline of many anyway... Or may just be a bad dream.
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Booming
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 4:27am (UTC -5)
" Or may just be a bad dream."
Yeah, at the end of season 2 of ST:Picard he will wake up from a coma and find out that the Federation is still awesome. Picture it like this: Picard in his bed, a nurse comes in and he asks: "What is with the Romulans? Are they ok?" to which the nurse says:"Romulans? You mean Romufriends!" and then the "everything is awesome" song starts to play. In season 3 it will be revealed that Picard is actually a prisoner of the Romulans and it will be like Inception!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maO7h9PIKQk&ab_channel=StephanVogel
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SC
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -5)
I love Mariner! She is the life of the show.
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Jason R.
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 7:12am (UTC -5)
@Booming or maybe that lonely kid on that planet did to Picard what he did to Riker. Either way, we will discover that Abrams Trek and Kurtzman Trek, every movie, every series, were "just a dream" - not even alternate realities - just gone, expunged.
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Jeffery's Tube
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 9:20am (UTC -5)
I don't think the uniform thing has traditionally been all that complicated. It's really only in NuTrek that it's gotten complicated. It's a joke about, basically, something they invented themselves.

In the TNG era, there's the changeover from the season one-two uniforms to the collar version of season three onward. The spandex versions continue to be used on background characters for the third season, for obvious budgetary reasons, but also, in-universe it's pretty clear that senior officers and department heads are wearing the new uniforms first as a phasing-in process.

On DS9, it's made clear that starbase personnel wear the new, more informal "colored shoulders" version, and starship personnel wear the TNG uniform. We see, for example, Sisko wear the TNG uniform when he's on Earth, because that's what they wear at Starfleet Command.

In Generations, Starfleet has changed its mind about split uniforms for starship and starbase personnel and started rolling out the DS9 uniform to all ships, so some of the crew wears that. (Behind the scenes, this was a result of a mandate for new uniforms so they could be merchandised, but the new uniforms they designed were terrible and they changed their minds, so all they had available were the DS9 uniforms. There was no money to make new uniforms again, and only some of the cast wears DS9 uniforms because they're literally wearing already-made uniforms from the show's wardrobe, and there were none that fit the other cast members.)

Voyager wears the DS9 uniform because that was the standard now after being phased in to being worn on starships in Generations.

When First Contact happens, DS9 switches uniforms, just as they're supposed to now that Starfleet has decided everyone should be wearing the same thing. Voyager doesn't switch, because they're out of contact, and then when they re-establish contact, they don't switch because it would be a waste of resources. Oh, sure, they could switch slowly as uniforms are replaced, but then you have a hodgepodge of uniforms being worn amongst the crew, and the point of a uniform is to be . . . uniform. Clearly Janeway decided that, for crew unity, the whole crew switches at once, or not at all.

So that's not really all that confusing, is it?

No.

But then you get to Discovery, which has its crew not wearing TOS uniforms for some reason. Okay, fine. But then Pike shows up wearing, of course, his TOS uniform. So they make it out that the TOS uniforms are only worn aboard Constitution class vessels right now, because they're "prestige" vessels, being long-range deep space exploration ships meant to be out of contact with Starfleet for months or years at a time. And then by Kirk's time that will have changed, and the whole fleet will be wearing the Constitution uniforms. I guess it works, but this is REALLY where they made it complicated, and not before this. It honestly wasn't complicated or inconsistent until right then.

And then on Lower Decks we have the Cerritos uniform and the First Contact uniforms being worn by crews on nearly the same duties and assignments, and there really isn't any good reason for this. Most of the fleet seems to be wearing Cerritos-style uniforms, and if the Titan were a special class of ship on a special kind of "prestige" mission, well, why are they wearing the OLD version of the uniform?

So I maintain that, really, when they make jokes about uniform inconsistency, they're making jokes about something that was barely even there until they themselves MADE it be there.

Really enjoyed the joke about extra rank pips really just being pieces of corn stuck to the collar though, heh. Miles O'Brien must LOVE him some corn on the cob!
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Mal01
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 3:08am (UTC -5)
@Bok R'Mor Nope, sorry mate. Picard takes place in the prime timeline and is canonical, whether you want it to or not. No amount of videos by Midnight's Edge or one of those other pedantic, juvenile whiners will change that.

Star Trek has always been a place to tell stories. Canon matters only as far as story consistency--and even then that is flexible. Pedantic navel gazing by @Jeffrey's Tube above about uniform consistency or the takes from many on the ever-evolving design of the Klingons is not a part of canon. It doesn't matter.

Star Trek has ALWAYS had changing and inconsistent aesthetics. The changes of nearly everything from the TOS era to the 90s Trek era are no different than the changes from 90s Trek to the most recent iterations.

The only consistency is the existence of toxic fans who don't like to accept new things. The number of people when TNG was coming out who hated everything about it and said it would be a failure were legion. The people who did the same pre-Disco and even still now are exactly the same as those people.

Instead of just disliking it and choosing not to watch it, you spend hours and hours of time poring over video essay after video essay to try to find some explanation for why this new thing that you chose to dislike before it even first aired isn't canonical so you can de-legitimize it and your safe world of nostalgia won't be shattered. And you can't keep your opinions about it to yourself.

I got bored with Disco halfway through s3 and don't really have much interest in it anymore, so I stopped watching it. That's it. I don't go to forums and social media threads across the internet to let everyone know that I don't like it.

As another Star Trek adjacent person--a person who ended up becoming an internet troll just like those above--once said, "Get a life!"
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Bok R'Mor
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 3:36am (UTC -5)
@Mal01

Thanks for that intense screed, 'mate'. I have no idea who 'the whiners' you refer to are, and I haven't seen the 'hours and hours' of video essays that you clearly have (and get so worked up about). Life and all that.

I made a flippant comment here about PIC (and you're right, I don't like PIC), but since you're so invested in going to forums and social media threads across the internet to let everyone know that you don't like what you think they think, you're more than welcome to get stuff off your chest here. Work away on valiantly crushing all opposition online if it makes you feel better or gives you an ephemeral sense of purpose.

Anyway, 'mate', anyway: back to LD, which is what this thread is actually about (rather than your settling scores with people brazen enough not share your views), did you like the latest episode, hate it, or were you indifferent? The 'toxic fans' seem to quite like it, so that must be a bad thing, right?
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Book R’Mor
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
@Bok R’Mor:

@Mal01 is allowed to have an opinion that is different that yours. You are accusing @Bok R’Mor of the same petty behavior that you yourself engage in.

As a lifelong Trek fan, who tries to judge each episode by what is on the screen, I do not really feel comfortable expressing my opinions on this site, which is why I write only occasionally.

@Bok R’Mor is correct in their assertion that there are fans who choose - yes,choose - to dislike something before it ever airs. One need not watch hours of video essays to discover that. Reading the comments on this site more than suffices. Fans who comment about liking Star Trek in any of its current iterations have been called morons, marks, dupes, and Philistines. And now it looks like they are being mocked for using the word “mate,” even though the use may have been innocuous. Disagreement - which is all this is- is not a reason to cast aspersions on others’ judgment or character. Some people do get pleasure from hate-watching. I don’t know their names or screen names-I simply know the phenomenon exists. Hate watchers are not on a higher moral or artistic plane than anyone else, they have no superior insight as to the meaning of life, Star Trek, the universe, or anyone else.
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Tim C
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Booming, "Romufriends" slayed me. 😂

Jeffrey's Tube - I can't tell if you were joking or not when you wrote a (well-written!) multi-paragraph headcanon explanation for the multiple TNG-era uniform changes and then said "So that's not really all that confusing, is it?", but I laughed regardless. (Personally I haven't found the changes and inconsistencies in the new shows to be any more or less easy to handwave away than the old ones.)

FWIW I've been in the military for a decade and had three different uniforms in that time - and that's not counting the constant minor changes to things like dress uniforms, boots, headdress etc.
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Bok R'Mor
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 12:59am (UTC -5)
@Book R'Mor (I see what you did there!)

'Disagreement - which is all this is- is not a reason to cast aspersions on others’ judgment or character.'

I wouldn't have even responded to Mal01's post if it hadn't been worded as an embittered personalised attack against me excoriating me for things I haven't said or done, *very much* casting aspersions on my judgement and character. I have never seeen Mal01 before, for crying out loud. When Mal01 has an issue with video essays elsewhere, surely he should take that up with their authors at source, not take it out on me or others here? Disagreement is fine and encouraged; using others as a random punchbag is not.

'And now it looks like they are being mocked for using the word “mate,” even though the use may have been innocuous'.

Judging by the type of English he uses, I actually come from the same neck of the woods as Mal01, so I felt his usage of 'mate' here to be condescending - hardly innocuous. I probably shouldn't have bitten, you're right, but see above about the belligerent presumptions Mal01 was making, which I got in the neck for some reason. It didn't help that I read his attack first thing on a Sunday morning, I'll admit.

'As a lifelong Trek fan, who tries to judge each episode by what is on the screen, I do not really feel comfortable expressing my opinions on this site, which is why I write only occasionally.'

I understand, of course. I'm far from a regular commenter here myself. But people are free to say what they wish here, within the commenting rules. The debate here is very good.

'Hate watchers are not on a higher moral or artistic plane than anyone else, they have no superior insight as to the meaning of life, Star Trek, the universe, or anyone else.'

No one that I have seen has ever said otherwise.

Now, I have no wish to become further entangled in a interminable to-and-fro, so let's return to LD. What did you think of this episode?
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Yanks
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 7:57am (UTC -5)
One thing... I've had a hard time understanding Tendi these first 2 episodes. I don't recall having this issue last year. She's always been spazzie, but I never had any issue understanding her.

Then I watch Will Wheaton's gushfest Star Trek show and I learned they all recorded their voices at home! They did their best at constructing make-shift sound booths and did everything for season 2 from there humble abodes.

Maybe that's why Tendi's voice isn't as crisp.

Or maybe it's just me.
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Gregory Brown
Tue, Aug 24, 2021, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the giant skeleton wearing a blue Starfleet uniform. I guess you guys aren't familiar with TAS.
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jillyenator
Wed, Aug 25, 2021, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Well? Which TAS is bring referenced?

I think I'd bite the bullet and watch TAS if there was discussion here about those episodes.
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Gregory Brown
Wed, Aug 25, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -5)
It was a reference to ¨The Infinite Vulcan¨. Honestly, I'm not sure if I've seen the episode, but Ken and Ray from the Mission Log Podcast referenced it several times.
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Jammer
Wed, Aug 25, 2021, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Mal01
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 3:02am (UTC -5)
Jfc, Jammer, the ironic things that happen in the ep are deliberate choices poking fun. The show is self-aware and a meta commentary on newer iterations of Trek (commentary, not criticism—they aren’t juveniles like the “nOt My StAr TrEk” folks who frequent these forums are).

You’re not pointing out the irony. The show was aware and chose irony deliberately. You just didn’t get the joke.
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Jeffery's Tube
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 3:28am (UTC -5)
@ Tim C

My point was only that I don't really think there actually were inconsistencies until they themselves introduced them, or at least they were very minor before then, so this joke of theirs doesn't really land for me. I'm not bothered by their decision to use two uniform types concurrently with no explanation on LD, I'm just not laughing at it because of that. And admittedly, I do rather enjoy coming up with "in-universe" reasons to explain inconsistencies in Star Trek, exactly because it's a silly and frivolous exercise. I think it's great fun. Love reading other people's, too!
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Tim C
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 7:05am (UTC -5)
I get it, Jeffery's Tube - I have a lot of fun coming up with headcanon too :)

If you ever read the Trek novels, I highly recommend the Department Of Temporal Investigations series. They are basically Trek time-travel headcanon on steroids and absolute catnip for obsessives like us!

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