Star Trek: Lower Decks

“A Few Badgeys More”

3 stars.

Air date: 10/12/2023
Written by Edgar Momplaisir
Directed by Bob Suarez

Review Text

"A Few Badgeys More" is a pretty well-balanced episode of Lower Decks' different sensibilities. It manages to advance a main plot that has an adequate amount of tension while also giving us the (tempered) madcap zaniness that is incumbent upon a cartoon outing. It does this by bringing back Badgey, one of the most notable recurring villains on the series, and weaving him into a plot that deals with the Evil AIs while also advancing the Serial Mystery Box of the season — kicked off here by an attack on the Bynars.

The result is good without being great — whatever "great" might actually mean on this series. There aren't a ton of surprises here, but there is some reasonable plot advancement as well as an evolution in the crazy character of Badgey, who, we learn, was rescued by salvagers hoping to make a buck off Federation technology, but got a lot more than they bargained for when Badgey instead took over their ship.

In the B-plot, Boimler and Tendi travel to the Daystrom Institute on Earth where they pick up a couple other AI threads involving Agimus, who claims to know something about the Serial Mystery Box and the attack on the Bynars, and Peanut Hamper, who has been a model prisoner and is up for parole. Naturally, these two are in cahoots to do something sinister, and are using good behavior as their charade — including within Evil AI group therapy, which is a joke that works in animation but would be utterly ridiculous in live action, so kudos for using the medium effectively. (In an amusing detail that pokes fun at reliable cinema conventions, Agimus turns his lights from red to blue to indicate his supposed change from evil to good. "Do you see the blue light?" he asks a rather skeptical Boimler.)

Jeffrey Combs is ingratiating as usual, with Agimus sucking up to anyone where a possible advantage might be gained. But even after successfully taking over Boimler and Tendi's shuttle, he finds that he just misses his friend Peanut Hamper, who didn't show up to the rendezvous point. Even quickly seizing control of a primitive civilization on a nearby planet loses its appeal when the joys can't be shared with his partner in crime. Meanwhile, Peanut Hamper has decided that a life of world domination isn't what she actually wants. She just wants to go back to being with her exocomp family, even if that means a life of routine work.

There's a consistent seriocomic thread running through the episode, which is that these robots, who ostensibly seek galactic domination, deep down just want to be loved. Badgey goes on a rampage and attacks the Cerritos out of rage toward Rutherford, the "father" who neglected him (and ultimately snapped his neck when he turned evil). Rutherford decides to try to appeal to Badgey's good side directly, and sneaks aboard the salvage vessel with Mariner to reason with him. This results in Badgey splitting off the parts of his personality that Rutherford tries to reason with into separate entities (including a version amusingly named "Goodgey" and another one named "Logic-y"), resulting in a version of Badgey that is pure evil ambition. Ultimately, this Badgey taps into a subspace relay that he uses to evolve his AI into ultimate power — which he realizes, once he has it, isn't something he wants to use for domination, but for grander universal understanding. He evolves to a state of ascension — and gets to meet the Ascension Koala. Meanwhile, Goodgey survives, and returns to the Cerritos with his "father."

This synopsis probably sounds insane and unhinged. And sure, it is. But on the wavelength where Lower Decks operates, it makes the exact amount of sense, balancing the sci-fi concepts with the irreverently absurd. It's amusing and worth some chuckles, albeit not hilarious.

The episode also advances the Serial Mystery Box in the background through the information Agimus has regarding the attack on the Bynars. Their ship, and indeed all the ships attacked by the Mystery Vessel, weren't actually destroyed, but merely captured and replaced with debris fields. I'm not sure how Agimus knows this (it might've been explained with a throwaway line, but I missed it and don't have time to circle back) or where this is going, but it at least changes the course of this repetitive serial plot a bit while inching it forward and/or sideways. Meanwhile, any theories that had Badgey behind the Mystery Vessel can officially be declared dead.

Previous episode: Parth Ferengi's Heart Place
Next episode: Caves

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21 comments on this post

    Not sure about the rest of you, but I don't think this was a patch on the last Peanut Hamper story, which was one of the show's best episodes, combining as good a plot as you'll get in 20 mins with being genuinely hilarious.

    This on the other hand had some good gags, but just felt very "meh" overall. It doesn't help that Badgey is a very one-note antagonist, and the Agimus storyline just made Boimler look like an idiot. I was expecting a reveal that Boims and Tendi were one step ahead and actually simulating the entire thing, but then it just turned out that nope, Agimus really did manage to escape captivity.

    Watchable, occasionally amusing, but the show definitely can and has done better.

    Very entertaining romp, this show is at its best when it’s loose like this. Felt like a Futurama ep at times

    I think that story was OK, and it somewhat broke the mold of LD by being more plot-dri­ven and ac­tio­ny than funny. On the other side, I also feel “Meh” about it. Agi­mus didn’t have the charm and cha­ris­ma that he had ex­uded in “Where Plea­sant Foun­tains Lie” and Peanut Ham­per is as opa­que and er­ra­tic to me as ever (I have still no idea whe­ther to be­lie­ve her or not), so that leav­es Bad­gey as the most inter­esting of the three.

    It was some­how cle­ver to show his in­ter­nal con­flict by externali­zing it into dif­fe­rent pe­rso­nae, but then, we have seen si­mi­lar things in Trek many times, from “The Ene­my With­in” to “Fa­cets”. I loved Logic-y, which sound­ed very much like a Vul­can AI would and par­ti­al­ly made up for the lack of T’Lyn. And the re­so­lu­tion was ac­tu­al­ly good and very Treky: Know­ledge brings moral pro­gress, and that is as So­cra­tic as Star Trek has ever been.

    I think the main problem of the episo­de was pacing. There were three vil­lains vy­ing for screen­time, and this was just too much. While Bad­gey did get good de­ve­lop­ment (end­ing in him hav­ing a chat with the Koala), the others just rushed fast through the plot an didn’t do any­thing ori­gi­nal or inter­esting. Maybe this would have work­ed bet­ter as a two-parter (or two se­pa­ra­te epis­odes), which would have al­low­ed Agimus and Pea­nut Ham­per to have good scenes of their own; their scene to­ge­ther to­ma­to­ing was terribly clichéd in its on-the-nose exposition, but also funny.

    Now it seems that the ships are not destroyed but “stolen”. May­be I am dumb, but how so, and what, then, is the debris left? Just fake pieces that look like they have be­long­ed to a real ship? I don’t think so, as the Drook­mani con­sider­ed it le­gi­ti­ma­te sal­vage and Star­fleet cert­ain­ly had has a look on the re­­mains of pre­vi­ous at­tacks. Also, the revelation did come out of left field.

    So in the end, we have a god story and a wasted one, and very little humour. I can’t give more than 2½ stars, but I really do like the quote of the epis­ode: “I can feel my­self cours­ing, danc­ing across the LCARS, tick­ling the iso­line­ar chips. I am now in every ship, every com­pu­ter, every PADD, every com­badge. The power is more than I ima­gin­ed. I can de­to­nate every warp core. I can kill any­one I want! Bᴜᴛ ᴡʜʏ?”

    I thought that was an above-average episode of Lower Decks. However, it felt like it was reaching for greatness, reaching back to several ongoing elements of the show (Badgy, Peanut Hamper, Agimus, etc.), and turning up the action quotient like some of the "feature" episodes of past seasons. Yet it didn't succeed in achieving the heights it had intended.

    The ultimate issue here is pacing - something that surprised me, given the show is normally paced quite well, sometimes managing to balance three or four plots within a bite-sized time slot. But here everything feels rushed, with the main characters essentially bystanders as the plot happens. Really, there were two great plots for episodes...but it should have been two, not one. Or they should have done a double-length episode. But as it is, it's just too much packed into too little space.

    The "A" plot with Badgey and Rutherford was, I thought, less effective. I know this sounds silly to say about a cartoon character, but Badgey is too much of a cartoon character for this to work properly for me. I did like the conceit that his inner conflicts split off new versions of him as a gag, but it meant that Badgey's "core" remained monomaniacal and boring. Ultimately though, the issue with this plot is that Rutherford didn't win anything - Badgey won, but had a last-minute change of heart when he ascended and saw the koala. This makes for a funny gag, but it means that Rutherford had no real growth due to the trials of the episode - he just kinda fumbled around until events ended.

    The "B" plot with Peanut Hamper and Agimus was much, much better. Both of them are actual characters with internal conflicts, which helps (as does having Jeffery Combs back again, of course). There also was something of a "plot twist" here, which was refreshing, as initially it looked like Boimler and Tendi were actually total idiots, and not just pretending to try and get intel. Peanut Hamper deciding to leave Agimus behind and do her own thing seemed true to her character (she never cared about world domination, even if she was selfish), but the twist that she was finally ready to be a decent person (and it somehow rubbed off on Agimus as well) was a nice reinforcement of the core Trekkian ethos. And look, we finally have forward movement on the serialized plot of the season!

    The episode is downgraded for no T'Lyn for the second time in a row. Though the Badgey variant who was logical was notably talking exactly like her.

    I don't think the revelation that the mysterious ship is stealing instead of destroying came out of left field at all--I've been saying it for weeks. It's true that the way it was said was confusing, though. I think it's only the crews and maybe some key technology that are being stolen, given the debris.

    Personally, I kind of hope that the force behind this turns out to be something stupid. If it's all a gag to make fun of serialized arcs that are dragged out over an entire season, I will laugh so hard.

    Put me down as another who figured the ships weren't being destroyed, though I thought maybe it was some sort of transporter rather than a tractor beam until the debris was shown here.
    I like the concept of villains who can see the error of their ways and genuinely change, but I felt it was a little silly, even for this show, that they brought all three AI-based villains in to have them all undergo the change in various ways. Badgey simply gaining so much knowledge that he no longer sees the need for his old plans or to even hang around the mortal plane any longer was a funny enough way to send him off in my opinion (and vaguely reminded me of Justice League Unlimited's take on AMAZO.) On the other hand, PH simply having time to reflect on things off screen and Agimus doing the hackneyed old "falling in love turns you good" thing were much weaker, if not without a bit of humor. BUT that side plot gave us Tendi enjoying sand which was cute as hell so overall it was worth it.

    With Badgey and co. eliminated as suspects, my prevailing theory about the mystery ship is that it's going to turn out to be a gag, making fun of how serialized shows drag out a simple story for an entire season with a usually unsatisfying ending. The culprit's going to turn out to be somebody super weird/lame, and I will laugh very hard.

    Oddly, the most interesting element of this episode is the fact that it reverses a lot of longstanding Star Trek prejudices and treatment of AI in the setting dating back to "Measure of a Man." Basically, the Federation does not have a great history with the treatment of artificial beings as people and I'm not sure this episode really gels with the Federation that refuses to recognize the Doctor's humanity (save as an artist), the future Picard banning of all synths, and the attempted kindapping of Lal.

    However, that's probably a good thing.

    In this version of the Federation, all of the various "evil AI" of which Peanut Hamper is certainly an example are not put away in storage forever but apparently actually have parole hearings as well as reformative therapy sessions. Which also is very different as a take on "prisons in the 24th century" as while TOS had the idea the Federation had largely moved beyond prisons as punishment, other shows had Tom Paris breaking rocks during the VOY pilot and Burnham serving a lifetime punishment for mutiny (which i pointless for a rehabilitation-based restorative justice model).

    It doesn't fit with continuity that AI will be not treated as people after the Mars attack and banned but works VERY well with Star Trek's ideals as they should be practiced.

    It may be just me, but there’s a certain atmosphere of Lower Decks having to be judged at lesser standards than other Trek because of its comedic intent.

    That seems weird to me. A show is either satisfying or it’s not, isn’t it? If Lower Decks has to keep being reviewed with this back line of “It’s pretty good for what it is,” then doesn’t that just mean it’s not that good?

    Great review, Jammer!

    I was going to give this a 3 as well. Just having all these guest AI come back is a welcome treat (it's surprising how long it's been since Badgey had a fully voiced role).

    I also liked C.T. Phipps' comment about how Trek treats AI and it might be reflective of how society perceives AI now versus how it did in the 1990s. Or maybe the showrunners are sick of writing evil AI plots after ST: Picard went hog wild with them.

    Two and a half stars. Kinda amusing and entertaining, some zippy twists, but nothing very impactful or lingering here. Also, I don’t recall the Peanut Hamper and Badgey storylines very well, but why they’re in the same episode without interacting? Other than both being AI, is there is a compelling plotting reason for it?

    Overall I just found it oddly distracting that the A and B plots in this episode (Badgey and PH) ran parallel to each other without intersecting. Like I mentioned in the last episode, this feels like a sign of the lazy writing on the series. It baffles me that Jammer rates this episode and the last one as “good” when they have weak plotting like this. They are just on the high side of “average” Trek to me.

    [[It may be just me, but there’s a certain atmosphere of Lower Decks having to be judged at lesser standards than other Trek because of its comedic intent.

    That seems weird to me. A show is either satisfying or it’s not, isn’t it? If Lower Decks has to keep being reviewed with this back line of “It’s pretty good for what it is,” then doesn’t that just mean it’s not that good? ]]

    I feel like it's significantly worse to judge a cartoon for teenagers by the standards of high drama and vice versa. It shows an unwillingness to engage with media on its own terms and reeks of snobbery. I grew to hate and loathe my literature professors who called Tolkien childish.

    Peanut Hamper is a favorite of mine and I often wonder if the writers have regretted making her a villain in her first appearance. It's not hard to imagine a version of Lower Decks where she's the breakout character and the fifth member of the gang instead of T'Lynn. Not only would she be great for marketing, but she would also be a prominent alien "outsider" character who the writers could use to tell traditional Trek stories that examine what it means to be human, like Spock, like Data, like Odo, like Seven. Part of me feels like it was right there, and they dropped the ball, and they know it. So I'm wondering if the next time we see Peanut Hamper, she won't be back in a Starfleet uniform "for real this time." Having fully grown up and being ready, now.

    Jeffrey Combs just makes me smile with every line he delivers. Sorry, he's just that good. The man could be reading the phone book and I'd be loving every second.

    Favorite gag: the completely sedentary AIs on the basketball court during the Daystrom Institute's "yard time" with a ball just laying between them as if they are expected to somehow begin playing.

    . . .

    That said, Boimler allowing that planet to be conquered because "whatever, Starfleet can reverse this in an hour" just didn't feel like Trek to me. An hour or not, it's too disruptive an event for that society for a Starfleet officer doing his duty to allow. The handwaving of it for comedic purposes and treating it with zero gravity at all just doesn't fit with this universe and it isn't the kind of humor I wish they'd pursue. Someone else said above that it felt like something from Futurama and, while I don't watch that show or other animated comedies (except South Park), from the few episodes I have seen over the years, I agree. "This happened but whatever, it doesn't matter, let's all ignore it" just isn't funny to me personally, and I don't like it in a comedy that's in an otherwise "serious" shared universe.

    . . .

    The mystery ship has to have something, in some way, to do with Ward Boimler joining Section 31. That was deemed important enough to be made the "stinger" to Season 3 and so far it hasn't been followed up on at all and we're seven episodes deep of ten. Story structure practically demands they're linked somehow at this point. We'll see soon.

    Oh I also enjoyed the unusual pairings in this episode. We got Boimler-Tendi and Mariner-Rutherford. We rarely get the gang split up and paired off in that way. It's usually Boimler-Mariner and Tendi-Rutherford or Boimler-Rutherford and Tendi-Mariner. So that was a nice change.

    @Jammer: The throwaway line from Agimus on how he saw the Binar ship being abducted/stolen: "My drone recorded the entire Binar theft."

    Not that it matters, but there you go.


    Yep, you're right in your suspicion that you missed a line - Agimus mentioned he'd been able to quietly send out drones of the nature he used this episode to do some observing of planets to subjugate, and those drones caught a glimpse of the ship taking the Bynars,

    "It may be just me, but there’s a certain atmosphere of Lower Decks having to be judged at lesser standards than other Trek because of its comedic intent."

    It's like if the Milky Way had a Toontown, a la Roger Rabbit...

    @Tim C

    "... and the Agimus storyline just made Boimler look like an idiot. I was expecting a reveal that Boims and Tendi were one step ahead and actually simulating the entire thing, but then it just turned out that nope, Agimus really did manage to escape captivity."

    I didn't see it that way, Boimler was just playing along to get info on the Binar incident.

    I've never been a Peanut Hamper fan, but she has a mother?

    I really enjoyed this episode.

    Badgey ends up ascending lol

    Never ever bad to have Jeffery Combs involved.

    I'm glad the baddie isn't killing everyone. I would have missed the Klingon lower deck bunch.

    3 Stars from me.

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