Not long after Rutherford has a nightmare about an explosion that happened in his pre-implant days, his implant goes on the fritz and an alternate personality with a bad attitude emerges (let's call him Dark Rutherford). Imprisoned within his own mind is the OkeeDokee Rutherford we all know and love, who manifests to his dark alter-ego as a reflection in glass surfaces and tries to battle back control of his consciousness.
Dark Rutherford tries to thwart security and escape the ship, but is phasered by Shaxs, which overloads Rutherford's implant and puts him in a coma. Inside his mind, OkeeDokee Rutherford and Dark Rutherford compete for mental dominion by agreeing to a race — the winner gets to stay and the loser gets erased. There can be only one victor, because the implant does not have room for both personalities and sets of memories.
"Reflections" is a much more involving and entertaining episode than some of the ultra-low-stakes episodes we've had recently. The writers finally confront the question teased in last season's finale of why Rutherford actually got his implant, which was revealed to be for reasons beyond his knowledge or control. Dark Rutherford actually turns out to be Rutherford's personality from 10 years ago. He wasn't always the happy-go-lucky guy he is now, and was considerably edgier and more reckless (as evidenced by the leather jacket and bad-boy attitude).
The two take their unique approaches to the race and each builds his own customized racer. The ship designs are telling: OkeeDokee Rutherford builds a Delta Flyer, while Dark Rutherford builds something that looks more like it belongs in Star Wars. The buried implication here: Star Wars is for the cool rebel kids and Star Trek is for boring, straight-arrow nerds.
The race culminates in a sequence reminiscent of Voyager's "Drive," and it turns out OkeeDokee Rutherford's secret weapon isn't a piece of technology but his other Lower Decker friends. It's a sweet sentiment, and one in keeping with the overarching thematic statement that friendship is this series' backbone. The race results in Dark Rutherford being gravely injured, which shouldn't really matter since this is all imaginary, but because this works like The Matrix, he fades away and dies, but not before giving Rutherford a missing piece of information about his past and the implant — which was installed to cover up the injury caused by an explosion during an experimental project by an unknown silhouette of a Starfleet officer. More on this presumably to come.
There's also a B-story here, which is in the vein of Zero-Stakes Lower Decks, in which Mariner and Boimler are assigned to run the Starfleet recruitment booth at a career fair on this week's planet surface. This is basically one joke, which is that no one wants to sign up for Starfleet because of the danger and unpleasantness involved in all the interstellar conflicts. Mariner is drawn into a feud with a former Starfleet officer named Petra Aberdeen (Georgia King), who is in a neighboring booth for the Independent Archeologists Guild and sabotages the Starfleet booth at every opportunity.
But it's Boimler, not Mariner, who finally loses his cool and snaps for being so disrespected, and goes on a rampage at the career fair that turns a bunch of heads and gets everyone interested in Starfleet because of the amazing "confidence" it apparently builds. It's classic cartoon logic and a bit too typical of this series. You can file this squarely into "sure/fine/why not."
Still, though, there's some unexpected character value here, as Aberdeen reaches out to Mariner after the career fair. (I love how Mariner answers the call, sees who it is, and dryly states, "Wow, no thank you." Perfect line delivery and timing.) Aberdeen attempts to recruit Mariner into the archeologists guild, which Mariner doesn't dismiss out of hand, seemingly setting up the idea that maybe Mariner isn't getting what she wants out of Starfleet and might consider an exit strategy.
"Reflections" is more on the right track for this show, where it keeps things light enough without being a complete featherweight. There's some good substance here and the episode benefits from trying to move some character beats forward.
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.