Star Trek: Lower Decks

"Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus"

3 stars

Air date: 10/13/2022
Written by Ben Rodgers
Directed by Michael Mullen

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

I didn't expect "Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus" to be the equal of "Crisis Point," and let me be perfectly clear in saying, no, this is not in the same ballpark. But it's an enjoyable romp through the holodeck with enough character beats to feel worthwhile as an episode of Lower Decks.

"Crisis Point" still remains the best episode of the series, mainly because it fully confronted its character core (Mariner's issues with her mother) and the underlying darkness of that particular fantasy thread, alongside its parody/homage of elevated Trek-movie conventions. "Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus" doesn't have a thread nearly as worthwhile or as earned, but it does put forth at least something of an effort on the character front while dropping us into the most tried-and-true of all Trek movie plots — the time-travel adventure.

This time around, the jokes and the references to Trekkian movie tropes are expected. Sure, we have a hot love interest for Boimler (aka "Captain Dagger"), although he immediately walks away from her rather than engaging in a romance. Sure, we have elaborate "locations" to expand the canvas. And, sure, we have big action sequences, as when Tendi does a Trinity-like backflip off a speeding hovercraft over a pursuing Romulan vehicle as it explodes during a Mad Max-like chase through the desert. And we have Mariner, complaining to Boimler that his more cerebral subplot that hopes to track down "the meaning of life" is ruining her simpleminded "Vindictaverse" franchise.

If you care about plot, you will likely be disappointed. There's a bunch of time-travel, but merely for show. There's no "there" there. The MacGuffin is the cleverly-named "chronogami," which some villainous Romulan triplets have stolen and will use to destroy the Federation in the past. This takes us to various points including the moment of the founding of the Federation (what, no Jonathan Archer cameo?) and "Sydney, 1982." The rationale for all this is basically nonexistent. And, admittedly, rationale is not necessary.

The substance of the character story is the reported death of Boimler's transporter-cloned doppelganger, William, who died in a meaningless freak accident. This sends Boimler into a tailspin where he must get answers about the meaning of life from his holodeck program, which is represented in the story's mystery of the legendary Ki-Ty-Ha. Unlike the Mariner character core of the original "Crisis Point," this is simply a one-off invented issue of the week. It's serviceable and allows Boimler to dig deep into a personal obsession to solve the mystery, although the deeper he digs, the more nonsense he finds that's been conjured by the holodeck computer, creating and solving goofy mystery boxes on the fly. Ultimately, Ki-Ty-Ha is revealed to be Kitty Hawk, site of the Wright Brothers' famous flight. "That reveal doesn't make any sense!" Boimler furiously notes.

Consider me somewhat nonplussed on the dream sequence where George Takei makes a guest-voice appearance as Captain Sulu and gives Boimler advice from the site of Captain Kirk's Idaho ranch. Words of wisdom from a TOS cast member are certainly always welcome, but this was a bit random and strange.

Considerably less significant are the 60 seconds spent on the Tendi/Rutherford character bit, where Rutherford doesn't care in the slightest what happens with this holodeck game, while Tendi takes it deadly seriously, because she sees it as an opportunity to practice her command chops for her previously unspoken desire to one day be a captain. Sure, fine, whatever.

"Sorry my movie was a letdown," Boimler notes of his sequel. It's a telling quote, although I wouldn't call this episode a letdown so much as simply a foregone conclusion. Of course the sequel wasn't going to live up to the original, so you might as well admit it up front. The writers prudently trash everything about sequels right in the dialogue, because they know full well that they're open targets. It's kind of the whole point.

Three stars, I guess — probably just barely. This is breezy and fun and self-aware enough to squeak through. And I did enjoy the tag where William Boimler wakes up on a cloaked Defiant-class starship, having not actually died but been secretly recruited into Section 31. Maybe he can be the new anchor for the long-rumored, never-greenlit Section 31 series, since by this point everyone else has probably forgotten about it.

Previous episode: A Mathematically Perfect Redemption
Next episode: Trusted Sources

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24 comments on this post

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Galadriel
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 6:00am (UTC -6)
That was a great mixture of fan service and character de­ve­lop­ment plus a to­tal­ly un­ex­pec­ted guest star. I thoroughly liked it. And the­re was so much me­ta­com­­men­tary on the dif­fe­rent style of the va­ri­ous Star Trek mo­vies (and Ter­mi­na­tor) — the epis­ode feels like spend­ing an evening in a pub with a group of sea­son­ed trek­kies and copious sup­ply of Ro­mu­lan Ale.

While the episode derives humour from references and mem­ber­ber­ries, but there was enough cha­rac­ter inter­action and development to keep me hooked. Tendi aspiring to captaincy is a new idea, and I am not so sure about it — she would make a fine First Officer, but she lacks the com­mand pre­sen­ce re­quir­ed for the job. On the other side, Free­man made it, so why not Tendi?

Unfortunately, Rutherford’s story does not progress, and we have opened a new can of worms with W. Boim­ler. T’Lyn is still absent. This makes three ele­ments to be jugg­led by the next two epis­­odes. The cliff­han­ger gives hope for a great sea­son finale.

I offer 3½ stars.
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Ashton Withers
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 8:17am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this one a lot more than last week. Super surprised to see Takei back. I wish they would do this more with the TOS actors now that we have so few left. I would love to see a Crisis Point 3 sometime in the future. :)
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 9:29am (UTC -6)
I liked this a lot. I'm not sure if I'd say it's the highlight of the season (liked last week more) but this is still Lower Decks firing on (almost) all cylinders. I cannot say it's quite perfect because it's not as good as Crisis Point, but as the show itself notes, sequels almost never top the original.

Unlike (unfortunately) most of the season, this was genuinely a highly funny episode. It seems like the writers decided to have Rutherford be the comic relief this time around, and just about every single interjection he had was amazing. Though the humor didn't end there...there were tons of references to the different Trek movies, references which largely worked because they relied upon visual references rather than just saying "hey, remember this thing from this episode?"

The other aspect of the episode were the character arcs. Just as the first Crisis Point was Mariner's episode, this is meant to be Rutherford's episode. His dead transporter twin causing an existential crisis literally came out of nowhere, but it allowed us to see a side of the character we had henceforth not really been exposed to. It was also good because it allowed us to see Mariner play a supportive role, something which has been rare given how bossy she is. That said, I didn't really feel any empathy for Boimler here...it just came across as kinda pathetic.

I was really hoping when Tendi and Rutherford traveled back to the founding of the Federation that we were going to get a Jonathan Archer cameo, but seeing Sulu in what's more or less the Nexus was almost as good.

I would say it's a three star episode. Good, much better than most of the season, but not fantastic. Nice, disposable fun, but it didn't quite meet the pathos quotient they were looking for.
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Jammer
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
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Chrome
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
It’s an exciting follow up to “Crisis Point” for sure. Many of the jokes worked well, particularly the one Mariner makes about the “alternate younger cinematic timeline” which is of course a poke at Star Trek 2009, but it can apply to just about any reboot.

This episode was hyped at Comic-Con as Boimler’s version of a Star Trek thrill movie, but the surprising part is that it tries to tackle the heavy topic of death as well. This works for the most part, with a great payoff for Boimler meeting the one and only Sulu (nevermind *why* it's Sulu.) Despite being a Boimler episode, I felt Mariner’s character too was served well as she played along with the movie and came to aid her lost friend and crewmate later.

I agree with Jammer that this didn’t have quite the impact of the first installment. It would have made more sense if this episode tied into the season-wide thread of bold Boimler since his clone got “killed” in one of the premiere Starfleet ships. Still, there was so much going on with all the characters it’s hard to fault it too much.

And in another corner of the deck, Tendi and Rutherford find their own revelation about Tendi’s career path and Tendi gets to solve Boimler’s movie in a creative and very Trek-movie way. (This part makes me wonder how the holodeck can possibly fit the staging of two vastly different scenes at once, but I know, holodeck explanations are always funky.)

I’ll go with a high 3, it’s nearly 3.5 for me because it’s so rewatchable.
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Gorn with the Wind
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
Once again, a Lower Decks season starts weak and picks up steam in the back half.

Three stars from me as well.
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HaveGun_WillRiker
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
"This takes us to various points including the moment of the founding of the Federation (what, no Jonathan Archer cameo?) "

It's a couple layers deep in irony but I think bringing us to that moment and refusing to elaborate on it at all was an intentional Enterprise reference/dig haha
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C.T Phipps
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
I give this episode tremendous credit for the fact that it pretty much does the OTHER type of Star Trek movie. The Wrath of Khan/Star Trek/Star Trek II/Star Trek: Beyond/Star Trek:Nemesis are all based around creating a Wraith of Khan vengeance style nemesis. While this is Star Trek: The Final Frontier, Star Trek, and the Search for Spock in the big uplifting spiritual themes type of Star Trek. Plus IV for Time Travel.

Oddly, I will say I’m noticing the show is a bit more willing to actually take pot shots at its source material versus its previously worshipful take: we’ve got pot shots at the V’Ger reveal, the Black Badges of Section 31, and a pretty mean spirited take on the reboot from Tendi. I wonder if it’s a sign of their growing confidence in Lower Decks as part of the canon but, really, I’m not entirely there for it.

I will say two more things:

1. Sulu IS better.

2. I actually feel bad for the Carol Marcus-esque hologram that Boimler gave the brushoff.
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Austin
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
A solid 3 star outing for me. George Takai is their biggest get so far, and it’s awesome. Honestly the only thing bigger would be Bill Shatner himself. The jokes didn’t always hit, but having Romulan Triplets as opposed to the Duras Sisters, and referencing the Abrams movies landed for me. The only problem is that given the movie within a show trope, they could have leaned even MORE into it. No depressed Boimler side plot, no Tindi side plot, just a good bit of fun. Alas, they bit off more than they could chew, but it could have been 4 stars for me if they would have picked a lane.
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Galadriel
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 6:37pm (UTC -6)
@Austin

I think a Holodeck episode is shallow unless it reveals or de­ve­lops the cha­rac­ters of some real people (“Our Man Ba­shir” is my prime ex­am­ple for a good Holo­deck epis­ode). So I am happy that we did get cha­rac­ter stuff here.
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Philadlj
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 10:11pm (UTC -6)
Mariner stepping over the cinematic letterboxing on her way out of the holodeck was *chefs kiss*.
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Jon1701
Sat, Oct 15, 2022, 1:57am (UTC -6)
A solid episode.

I have liked this season, I haven’t loved it. S2 was much better. A lot of the episodes are perfectly fine but somehow by now I thought it would really kick on.

Does the premise of the show preclude growth? Feels like we need some but the Cali ships are not supposed to be at the forefront of the fleet.

I dunno, it all just feels very light and occasionally unremarkable.
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Trek fan
Sat, Oct 15, 2022, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
Two and a half stars. Some fairly entertaining fan moments but the plot meandered in stale holodeck hijinks for too long before getting real.
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Latex Zebra
Sat, Oct 15, 2022, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, pure fan service this one... But I am a fan. I like to be serviced.

Good fun, moved quickly. Was worried they'd hold off on the William reveal till much later so that was cool.
Nik Nak... Is my G. Awesome character and constantly made me chuckle.

Nothing really meaty in terms if moving the guys along but this flew by and I really enjoyed. Easy 3... Possibly 3.5 for me.
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Tim C
Sun, Oct 16, 2022, 5:13am (UTC -6)
An enjoyable romp, and as others have noted, funnier than most of the other entries this season. Not up to the standard of the OG Crisis Point - as Jammer notes, that episode had a very strong character thread in Mariner's angst which elevated the movie parody bits - but still pretty good!
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Jess
Sun, Oct 16, 2022, 5:39am (UTC -6)
Honestly loved it. Yeah the "Boimler has a spiritual crisis" plot was shoehorned in but it was still kind of effective, and the is another angle on the horror of transporter clones (the clones always end up rebelling it seems).

I know Shatner has been quite rude about new Trek and made some "interesting" political takes on twitter, but I hope this wasn't an intentional snub. Takei has quite a lot of voice acting experience at this point to be fair.

I also kind of trust the Lower Decks writers to do a better job with Section 31 than the other series? Their use in Discovery annoyed me a little so I enjoyed the jab about the silly badges.
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Ruth
Sun, Oct 16, 2022, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
Low-key fun with some gorgeous visuals (this whole season has been really beautiful!) I particularly liked the simple acknowledgment that Section 31 are ridiculous OTT villains and not super cool antiheroes or whatever.

I loved the Romulan Duras sisters too!
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Elliott
Tue, Oct 18, 2022, 10:45pm (UTC -6)
Hello everyone

I have not forgotten this wonderful community. Some day, I would like to get back to my little reviews, but for the time being, I want to 1. Thank Jammer for keeping this forum alive and 2. invite anyone--assuming a post like this isn't a community violation--to check out a new Trek-themed video podcast I am co-hosting. Our first episode premiered today, where we take a look at A.I. sapience, from TOS' "The Ultimate Computer," to TNG's "Measure of a Man," to Voyager's "Latent Image" and Discovery's "...But to Connect." I have no doubt there are folks here who would enjoy the show.

"Treknobbale Psychobabble" https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsOnnog_JkTNCjhzccusFFA
https://treknopsychopod.captivate.fm/episodes

Peace and long life to all.
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William B
Wed, Oct 19, 2022, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
Glad to hear about it (and to see you around) Elliott. I'll definitely check it out soon.
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B-Boy
Thu, Oct 20, 2022, 12:36am (UTC -6)
@Elliot, I consider you to be among the most valuable contributors on this site and am very keen to check out your show. Thank you for sharing and hope to see you around!
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Daya
Tue, Oct 25, 2022, 3:00am (UTC -6)
Philadlj: Great comment about Mariner stepping over the letterboxing. As she stepped over the letterboxing threshold, her holodeck robe should have disappeared, and two pips. Strange omission.

Is Ki Ty Ha a poke at Sha Ka Ree? Sha Ka Ree being inspired by "Sean Connery" makes about as much in-world sense as Ki Ty Ha being inspired by "Kitty Hawk".
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Garbage Day
Wed, Nov 2, 2022, 8:18am (UTC -6)
I like how the physical letterboxing is foreshadowed earlier, too: you see Boimler make an awkward looking step through the arch near the beginning (and even a grunt) but since you can't see why it's happening one is likely to ignore it outright on a first viewing.
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Gorn with the Wind
Thu, Nov 3, 2022, 8:40pm (UTC -6)
3.5 stars. Once again, Lower Decks picks up steam in the latter half.

With all story pieces being placed on the board, you have to think that season 4 is going to play out like a DS9-esque multi-part serial. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of the classic characters and locations, too.
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S. in Pa.
Fri, Dec 2, 2022, 10:58pm (UTC -6)
I knew this was going to be a good one when Kayshon fired his phaser and yelled, "Temba!"

Now *that's* an obscure joke that only dedicated Trek linguistics nerds will appreciate! Kayshon used a Tamarian word/phrase that we've all heard in a totally different context -- but it's totally plausible that a Tamarian could use it to mean "Take that!"

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