The Cerritos assists a Federation colony on Corazonia, a massive artificial ring structure that was built by an ancient alien civilization millions of years ago and now functions much like Yorktown Station in Star Trek Beyond. Vexilon, the AI climate-control computer (which Freeman notes has "no interest in world domination"), is on the fritz and in need of a software update, which is millions of years past due. But when Freemen attempts to make the updates, the computer crashes, causing widespread climate-based havoc. (First, clouds turn into ice and fall like boulders from the sky, then come the prehistoric volcanoes.)
Meanwhile, Boimler, in his first command as a lieutenant, must have his team of ensigns remove the power cylinders from the system's power core, a job that must be completed in exacting procedural detail, otherwise the power system will EXPLODE. Boimler's problem here is his inability to allow his team to do any work, because he doesn't feel worthy in ordering them around on a dangerous mission considering he was one of them just a week ago. T'Lyn provides a steady stream of logical advice in trying to help him realize his errors.
In an unrelated ship-based plot, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are assigned by Lt. Dirk to find a faulty isolinear chip in a vast array of thousands. After they complete the first array, there's another, more difficult array of thousands behind it. Also, Lancelot the ferret is on the loose. Mariner concludes that Dirk is using this tedious and meaningless assignment to haze the newest lieutenants. As revenge, Rutherford rigs Dirk's quarters with a booby trap that will trap Dirk in a game of what is actually called Chula but we'll just call it by its more proper and known name: Allamaraine. (Who had "Move Along Home" on this week's Lower Decks Bingo card?)
All three of these plots are just kind of there, making for an overall Lower Decks Meh Stew that feels all the more disappointing after the fun in the season's first two outings. The big "twist" is that Dirk's big sob story that convinces Mariner that they actually aren't being hazed (resulting in Rutherford getting trapped in his own booby trap during his hasty effort to take it down) was all just part of Dirk's con after all. The stuff with the climate computer going haywire and all the volcanic eruptions is standard LD zany mayhem. The most character-based substance comes with Boimler's crisis of command, but even that's pretty thin; he completes all the work only to have to undo everything he just did. But the question of whether these ensigns are competent enough to successfully complete such dangerous work is actually a better question than the episode alleges — but, ah, who cares, because the danger is just a joke, right?
When Boimler evacuates everyone else and sacrifices himself in a surely deadly explosion, he is rescued by virtue of being a cartoon. (I was reminded of the rule in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where toons can't be killed except with "Dip," or in this case, because of Main Character Armor.) In the cleverest and most subtle callback of such a strange idea — which is to say there's no self-commentary on it — Boimler sees the Ascension Koala (see "Moist Vessel") in his vision of the afterlife before being resuscitated. Unfortunately, that's the closest this episode got to a laugh for me. There's nothing specifically wrong with "In the Cradle of Vexilon," aside from that it's far too mediocre to care much about at all.
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.