Star Trek: Lower Decks

“I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee”

3 stars.

Air date: 9/7/2023
Written by Aaron Burdette
Directed by Megan Lloyd

Review Text

In the episode's opening scene, a Romulan ship — upon which every speaking role is depicted as a self-parody of Duplicitous Romulan Treachery — is destroyed by the same mysterious vessel that appeared in the final scene of "Twovix" and attacked the Klingons. Nothing more is done with this story thread outside of this single scene. I'm detecting a pattern.

Meanwhile in "I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee," newly promoted Lt. Mariner goes on an away mission with Commander Ransom (who sponsored Mariner's promotion) and the New Guy, Ensign Gary, where they must secure the release of two humans who had the misfortune of ending up imprisoned in the menagerie of Narj, an amiable fellow who looks like an ear of corn and refers to himself in the third person.

Mariner, still wearing her workout clothes and not her uniform, and blatantly and purposely being insubordinate to Ransom, is trying her best to self-immolate and get proactively demoted, because she believes Ransom has it in for her and is planning to demote her anyway. (She believes this because — in predictable sitcom fashion — she partially overheard something that wasn't actually what she thought she heard.) This is a pretty stupid and juvenile starting point, but it almost doesn't matter, because the rest of the episode does a good enough job of doing all the Lower Decks things mostly right. For example, I like how, through Mariner, this series points out morally questionable alien practices (in this case, the menagerie) which other Trek shows, by virtue of the Prime Directive, are too polite to question.

This isn't as good as "Twovix," but it's close. It also has what's easily the biggest laugh of both of the first two episodes, when Boimler enters his new lieutenant's quarters only to be immediately blinded by a flood of red light because of the window's proximity to the warp nacelle. It's so Boimler. This is a clear homage to the Seinfeld gag — Kramer's apartment's proximity to the Kenny Rogers Roasters sign — and proves almost as funny. It's the kind of amusing sitcom detail that works as a perfect joke in Lower Decks precisely because it makes complete logical sense (someone would have to have a window facing the nacelle) even though it would be outside the scope of what traditional Star Trek would care about in a million years. (Rutherford's eventual solution to this non-problem is also funny, because of course that would be the solution, and Boimler just didn't know about it.)

After the red-light room, Boimler requests a transfer, but then ends up between two holodecks with apparently thin walls where he can hear all the unwelcome private hijinks happening around him. Then he transfers to a Jeffries Tube. Ultimately he gets to be bunk mates in shared quarters with Rutherford, in a change that provides just enough comfort of the familiar.

Aboard the menagerie, things go sideways when a Moopsy, a deadly bone-drinking creature that looks harmless based on its tiny size and child-like voice. (It says only one word: "Moopsy." Which is amusing in its innocent-seeming cuteness that stands in stark contrast to its lethality.) This, of course, leads to the requisite comic-action mayhem, in which Ransom's teeth — punched out by Mariner — are used as a breadcrumb trail to lure the Moopsy back into its cage. I'll allow it.

This week's character core focuses on Rutherford, who wasn't promoted alongside all his friends and feels left out, especially when it comes to his bestie Tendi. It turns out Rutherford turned down previous promotions specifically so he wouldn't get his own room away from Tendi. Now he does his best to get noticed by Billups so he can get his well-deserved promotion, which is proving difficult with the newest guy in engineering, Ensign Livik, coming in to solve every problem and getting his own immediate promotion as a reward. Rutherford discovers, however, he can get his way just by asking for it. There's a child-like innocence to all this (not to mention the usual cartoon logic) that's almost too unbelievable even for these characters, but there's something to be said for this show's unwavering focus on the devotion this core group of friends has to one another. I'm finding that when this show can strike the right balance between its sincerity and its lunacy, it works out.

Previous episode: Twovix
Next episode: In the Cradle of Vexilon

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Comment Section

16 comments on this post

    Really enjoyed the scene with the Romulan lower decks, but again, the Romulans should be preoccupied with the upcoming supernova right now. I guess nothing in the scene precludes that, to be fair. I just hope the show remembers it going forward.

    Favorite gag: Ransom and Shax are wearing Troi and Crusher's gymsuits in the gymnastics scene. (Why do I recognize that? Shut up.)

    The gags about Boimler's quarters were also funny. I'd have like to see his famous JOIN STARFLEET poster from SNW amongst his personal possessions, but maybe this script was written before the script for that episode was finalized. It doesn't seem to be the kind of opportunity for a reference this show would overlook.

    The mission of having to pick up humans from an alien menagerie because "humans are always ending up in alien menageries" I thought was really clever and exactly the kind of mission I imagine California-class starships are sent on all the time in the world of the show. Just a really solid example of one.

    . . .

    It's not quite clear yet how T'Lynn will fit into the ensemble, but give it time. I believe in the character a lot.

    @Jeffrey's Tube - the poster was there! In his box of stuff, and pinned up in the Jeffries tube.

    Not quite as good as the premiere, but a pleasant outing all the same. My pick for the best running gag was either the series of progressively-worse quarters or Rutherford's constant frustrated "Livik!"

    Mariner really has come a ways, hasn't she? This episode seemed like a definite commitment to finally maturing her a little.

    I liked this even better than the previous, although it started really bad with Ma­ri­ner re­laps­ing into her worst self. How­ever, the episode really made some­thing out of it, and I just hope it was really the very Last Time™. I also like that the show finally ack­now­ledg­ed the couple-like dyna­mics be­tween Ma­ri­ner and Ran­som — back to “No Small Parts” (6:51), I al­ways felt a lot of erotic ten­sion be­tween the two.

    The Alien Zoo was quite beautifully animated and had some visual call­backs to earlier epis­odes, start­ing at the very be­gin­ning with “The Cage” and “The Eye of the Beholder”. The red-skin­ned alien at the end re­mind­ed me of the zoo in the Or­ville epis­ode “Com­mand Per­for­man­ce”. I won­der whether we will see En­sign Gary again, pre­ferab­ly in newly re­pli­cat­ed pants. Ran­som was hilarious as usual.

    The plot at the Cerritos was also fun, although a little by the num­bers; Lower Deckers moving through many stations on the ship to improve or solve something has happened far too often. Ruther­ford’s promotion was well-earned, although I found the way to get there rather weird. Will Ensign Livik be a future ant­ago­nist? He didn’t seem sympathetic. I loved the small hints of something in the background, like Freeman’s ambition to be­co­me president (which was also hinted at in the pre­vious epis­ode).

    The “Join Starfeet” poster was visible two times (12:36, 16:07), and also the poster from Cap­tain Free­man Day. Also, Boim­ler had action figured of Kirk and Spock (what a nerd!), and Tendi men­tion­ed a body swap with Ruther­ford; both were new to me, did I miss something?

    I can’t even guess how often we saw “Tucker Tubes” before in Star Trek, and now they finally got a name. Awe­some. In a few days, Me­mo­ry α will pro­bab­ly have an arti­cle listing every oc­cur­ren­ce of this gadget across all shows.

    However. I am not sure whether I welcome the more callous at­ti­tu­de to­wards cha­rac­ter deaths in this sea­son. The mys­te­ry ship mas­­sa­crat­ing Ro­mu­lans was not fun­ny (and since when do Ro­mu­lans rise up by as­sas­si­na­tion?). The death of Narj also felt very un­de­serv­ed. Why so blood­thirsty, Lower Decks?

    Another solid 3 stars from me, and the favourite quote is “She says I’m too clingy and she won't come out from under the bed”. As a cat per­son, I am very fam­i­li­ar with the latter.

    I liked this one marginally better than the season opener. The humor wasn't as reliant on callbacks to earlier Trek series. It was also genuinely funnier, with a few laugh-out-loud moments for me.

    At the same time, the character focus here was also strong, with Mariner given a mini-arc resolving tension she had over her promotion (a hanging thread from last episode) and Rutherford's amusing attempts to also become a Lt. Junior Grade.

    I did have a few quibbles here and there. I felt like Boimler's travails looking for a new room were kind of a waste. Also, while I had no issue with the introduction of a character-less "nemesis" for Rutherford, the ensign who accompanied Ransom and Mariner was...pointless. Like he had no point other than to say he crapped his pants twice. I was waiting for the twist that he was the saboteur, which of course never came.

    Still, a great, genuinely funny episode.

    Three stars.

    According to the Stardate at the beginning of "Twovix" (I can't remember if there was one in this episode), it's still only 2381, so there are still several years before the supernova. Besides, given the Romulan penchant for secrecy I doubt the pending supernova was common knowledge at all.

    @Karl Zimmerman I think both of those ensigns are going to be recurring characters to give our newly-promoted core some people to boss around.

    I ADORED the Romulan lower decks scene and the snappy patter of the characters (which is ST:LD's specialty). I'm a sucker for Romulans and I'm always glad when they get some love!

    Also there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance of an Aldebaran serpent (from "Hide and Q") in the alien zoo.

    This show has such a wonderful Futurama-like vibe to it with a slight Rick and Morty edge yet still manages to be its own thing. There's also such a palpable love for the franchise in the way it pokes fun at the franchise's foibles and still main respectful to the source material. It's the first new Trek show in decades that has made me smile and look forward to the next episode!

    Ahh Mariner went back to old Mariner which was a bit of a shame but kind of resolved itself in the end.
    On par with the first episode and think a decent 3 no worries.
    LD seems to have found a groove and is just knocking out good episodes on the trot.
    Very interested to see what this new threat is. Guessing Badgey may be involved.

    @ Tim C

    "the poster was there! In his box of stuff, and pinned up in the Jeffries tube."

    I missed that?! Damn, I must have been really tired. I'm glad it's there!

    @ Galadriel

    "Tendi men­tion­ed a body swap with Ruther­ford; both were new to me, did I miss something?"

    I don't think so. I think it was just a throwaway gag. It would be fun if they did a "flashback" to it at some point in the future, though.

    @ Karl Zimmerman

    "the ensign who accompanied Ransom and Mariner was...pointless. Like he had no point other than to say he crapped his pants twice. I was waiting for the twist that he was the saboteur, which of course never came."

    The purpose of the character was to show how far Mariner (and Boimler, etc.) had come from being that ensign themselves. And to show how Mariner, preoccupied with her own priorities and insecurities, is herself acting like the senior officers she criticizes towards the lower decks on this mission.

    @ Chase

    "According to the Stardate at the beginning of "Twovix" (I can't remember if there was one in this episode), it's still only 2381, so there are still several years before the supernova. Besides, given the Romulan penchant for secrecy I doubt the pending supernova was common knowledge at all."

    Really?! That's an awful lot of stuff to be happening in one year. Well, I'm glad they're paying attention to the timeline of events, at least.

    By the time Picard starts assembling the relief fleet, it would be impossible to keep the supernova a secret. It would be the biggest endeavor in the quadrant at that point. My impression has always been that the scale of it was like a WWII era effort. All the industry and resources of the Federation went towards it, until the Federation apparently said "enough, we've done enough, we cannot keep doing this."


    The Romulans were a bit too stereotypical. But it gives me hope they'll address the supernova in Lower Decks.

    @Jeffrey's Tube, read the PIC prequel novel "The Last Best Hope" for all your Romulan supernova background info. I have my doubts that LD (or any future show) is ever going to be venturing into that storyline again, so it'll be the closest we get to a canon accounting of events.

    Although politics were getting very heated within the federation about the resources being diverted to the Romulan evacuation, it was the synth attack on Utopia Planitia that really made the government say "enough". Prior to that Picard had La Forge driving a synth labor force to construct hundreds of thousands of purpose-built transport vessels to evacuate the millions who required it. Afterwards with that fleet, the shipyards and the labor force in ruins, the only choice was to completely devote almost the entirety of Starfleet to the job instead - at the expense of all the usual peacekeeping and exploratory business - for years. Hence the decision to stop, and Picard's resignation in disgust.

    @ Tim C

    Thanks for the info. Novels are never canon in Star Trek (even when they say they are at the time of publication--it's never honored later), but that makes a lot of sense and clarifies what the writers of Picard were thinking the background was when they wrote the episodes.

    I agree Star Trek will probably never really revisit the storyline, and that's perfectly okay. But it can't just forget it's happening/happened, either. A Romulan Star Empire that hasn't collapsed cannot be a thing in stories set past that timeframe.

    @ Jammer

    Per your last point about the cartoon-like logic of Rutherford getting his promotion because he asks for it, I don't know that I agree. When he says "You mean I can just get things I deserve because I ask for them?" (paraphrased lightly by me as it's from memory, I'm sure) and BIllups responds with "I guess so!" I was expecting him to instead respond with "Sure, it's Starfleet!" Because why shouldn't Starfleet work that way? It's part of its utopian society and overall ethos, no? And the key word here is "deserve," and also that it's not just Rutherford's own determination personally that he deserves it--Starfleet had already determined he deserved it many times over. He had passed. And it isn't a different assignment or position or anything like that which might have been filled once he passed. It's a grade bump with a few extra privileges like more private quarters, which the ship has available. I really see no reason why in an organization like Starfleet he shouldn't be able to request his earned rank promotion now that he wants it and be instantly given it.

    I agree that it feels like the show has really found its tone and is hitting its stride now. Partly I think it's because we've spent enough time with the characters that they're sufficiently well developed, too, and that can start being mined for material. If the entire season ends up being as strong as these two episodes, I'll be very happy.

    The biggest laugh I’ve had in the show all four seasons was Boimler’s room’s window being next to the war nacelle. Holy cow what a great gag.

    I wonder how many other species of lower deckers we'll get to see snuffed out before that actually goes somewhere. Also I love how they did a subtle Hawkeye Initiative via the goofy leotards. I guess automation does most of the job anyway but it was kinda weird how at the end the only real staff member and sole beneficiary of the apparently for-profit menagerie is dead yet people are still patronizing it, and that Ransom just kinda assumes there's no chance of the killers escaping on their own before the next Starfleet vessel comes by, given how they've already figured out how to tap into at least one of the station's systems.

    Moopsy callback: Pokemon all cry their name only
    Livik! Is that a Newman! Callback from Seinfeld?

    Overall, I'm enjoying LD as a fan service machine with lots of laughs. I just don't take it too seriously.


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