Star Trek: Lower Decks
"Mining the Mind's Mines"
Air date: 9/8/2022
Written by Brian D. Bradley
Directed by Fill Marc Sagadraca
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
When a scientist at a research station on an alien world inhabited by stone-like people (the "Scrubble") is tempted by his greatest fantasy (his hot seventh-grade teacher) and turned into stone by a magical telepathic artifact, the Cerritos crew comes in to clean up the artifacts before they can do any more accidental harm.
The Lower Deckers are on the case, and while they do the cleanup, they have to deal with hallucinations created by the artifacts which reveal their deepest fantasies. They must avoid temptation lest they be turned into stone — while also competing against the USS Carlsbad's Lower Deckers, whom they are assigned to work with, and whom they assume regard them as a bunch of screw-ups.
The biggest problem with "Mining the Mind's Mines" is its utter lack of imagination. A story that uses the Trekkian staple of the fantasy world showing the crew false images could've been used to reveal interesting things about the characters, or at least use the fantasies to drive some clever comedy. Instead, we get a bunch of surprisingly obvious jokes and "zany" cartoon action.
Rutherford's fantasy is Leah Brahms, which is a yawn-worthy obligatory TNG reference. Boimler's fantasy is being the safe passenger-seat-riding sidekick to an awesome leader (what happened to Bold Boimler?), which is far too obvious. Mariner's fantasy is revealed to be her Andorian sorta-girlfriend Jennifer ("We're just hanging out!"), which I guess is the most interesting of the three because it's actually a specific thing about one of the characters, but still just a shrug. This all eventually devolves into a jumble of manic action (a giant Jennifer monster, clowns with bat'leths for arms, etc.) which is definitely a thing that Lower Decks does, but is among the things about this series that does the least for me.
Meanwhile, aboard the Cerritos, Tendi is assigned to be mentored by professorial birdman Dr. Migleemo (Paul F. Thompkins) for senior science officer training, but finds that the pragmatic Dr. T'Ana does a far better job without even trying. There's also a brewing feud between young hotshot Captain Maier versus "experienced" (i.e., old) Captain Freeman. This eventually becomes a big shouting match in the conference room as various plot things are uncovered. Loud, yes. Funny or inspired, no.
It turns out the Carlsbad Lower Deckers don't actually think the Cerritos Lower Deckers are a bunch of laughingstocks, but rather "the coolest." And it turns out the alien mind-reading artifacts are actually part of a big phishing scheme (a clever usage of a Trekkian staple in service of referencing a 21st-century issue) done in collusion with the Federation researchers. The plot here ties together surprisingly neatly, but on the whole this is pretty weak sauce that wastes a promising premise, and the least of the entries in the season so far.
Previous episode: The Least Dangerous Game
Next episode: Room for Growth
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24 comments on this post
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 3:37am (UTC -5)
Anyway, I was engaged off the bat by the structure of the episode which set up a cool main plot on the planet in conjunction with a diplomatic mission on the ship. In a twist, the crew of The Cerritos, known for being slackers, are being portrayed as formidable rivals for the visiting "Cali-class" ship and its own Lower Deckers.
Most of the action takes place on the planet, where the psychic mines created an illusion of the original Booby Trap, Leah Brahms (Does Rutherford have the same fantasies as Geordi? Or is Brahms just a big deal). It also made an illusion for Boimler that predictably created command career-forward Starfleet role. Perhaps most intriguing, it brought Mariner's frenemy Jennifer back from last season's finale, but this time as a romantic fantasy. We already know Mariner is omnisexual, so I guess she has a thing for Andorian females (and some wolflike ex-girlfriend?)
Turns out the psychic mines were a byproduct of a high-class phishing scheme devised by the aliens who offered friendship to the Federation as a cover. I thought the reveal was handled well - allowing every member of the Lower Deckers to figure out a piece of the puzzle. And the rival Cali-class ship got learned to cooperate with offbeat ways of the Cerritos.
Very good. This is a 3.5 for me. Gene would be pleased.
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 8:09am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 9:52am (UTC -5)
I guess - since Boimler was the only member of the away mission not to fantasize about a hot woman - we're retconning away his first-season characterization, and he's asexual now?
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
I took that as him fantasizes about his career more than anything, not necessarily a statement about his sexuality. I think that's pretty true to character.
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
And that may be what Lower Decks does best, is give us 45 minutes worth of story in half that time. No time for “First Duty” speeches here, but I will say that LD uses its time better than Orville: New Horizons.
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 5:43am (UTC -5)
It was still fun and all, but I think this is the "blah"ist episode of the series to date.
Nice to know that the LD folks are the cool cats on the bottom tear block though.
2 stars from me.
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
Back in the Tom Paris episode -
TENDI: You have a thing for bad boys?
MARINER: Oh, I'm always dating bad boys, bad girls, bad gender nonbinary babes, ruthless alien masterminds, bad Bynars.
TENDI: Huh. I don't know if I've ever seen you date anyone. You usually seem to be with Boimler.
MARINER: What? Ew, no! What?
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 10, 2022, 7:35am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 10, 2022, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Leah Brahms was kind of unnecessary though, and to be honest I’m kind of a little surprised the actual actress reprised the role. Let me explain: While I personally enjoy those Brahms / Geordi episodes (especially the one where she “finds out” in the holodeck haha) it seems like Geordi’s behavior for the whole thing has been seen in a very negative light in the many years since that episode aired. He’s kind of a creep to be honest. I figure the actress - sorry I don’t know her name offhand - might have also changed her tune / her endorsement of the whole thing and not wanted to come back to Trek because of it.
People with much more insight and intellect have gone into it a lot further - Steve Shines is a good example. Just surprising, is all.
Sat, Sep 10, 2022, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 11, 2022, 11:36am (UTC -5)
I'm doing a big franchise rewatch and relatively recently finished TOS and TAS. I think many of theTAS episodes are more memorable than TOS's third season, which takes a lot of getting through! Jammer reviewing TAS at some point would be cool.
Sun, Sep 11, 2022, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
How about following up on the implant storyline?
Sun, Sep 11, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
It’s likely a reference to Roddenberry’s explanation for Starfleet not needing cloaking devices because “Starfleet doesn’t sneak around!"
Mon, Sep 12, 2022, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
* After being chased into the cave by a hideous manifestation of Mariner's psych issues, Boimler's line "Mariner, maybe you need to go back to therapy" really got me. The timing and Jack Quaid's terrified-but-matter-of-fact delivery were just *chef's kiss*.
* The cutaway from Dr T'ana screeching and wielding a chainsaw. I don't know why the "crazy, bitter cat doctor" jokes are so funny to me but they get me every time
Tue, Sep 13, 2022, 3:26am (UTC -5)
High-concept Nu Trek in the vein of Children of The Comet and the last 2 episodes of Discovery this season.
I half-wondered if the other crew themselves would be revealed to be another fantasy or nightmare.
Wed, Sep 14, 2022, 7:33am (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 21, 2022, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Not that is excusable.
I like to think they get together eventually. If you look at it 'charitably', Leah doesn't seem that bothered and seems to realise it is because he is inept and that she isn't perfect either (as she admits at creepy and uncomfortable fungilli dinner). No doubt she knows many inept with women engineers...
Anyway, always a huge fan of Leah. Named my daughter after her.
Mon, Sep 26, 2022, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 2, 2022, 5:44am (UTC -5)
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