Star Trek: Lower Decks

"Old Friends, New Planets"

2.5 stars

Air date: 11/2/2023
Written by May Darmon
Directed by Bob Suarez

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Old Friends, New Planets" seems to be an episode ripe for some sort of major character payoff, specifically around Mariner and/or Locarno. This seems especially true at the beginning of the episode when it smartly flashes back to 13 years earlier, where we see Locarno convincing his Nova Squadron team to take on the Kolvoord Starburst maneuver that would ultimately get their friend Josh killed in the accident at the center of TNG's classic "The First Duty." We see Mariner on the periphery of this group ("practically a junior member," Locarno notes), and we witness her hero worship of Sito Jaxa. Robert Duncan McNeill, Wil Wheaton, and Shannon Fill (the last of whom hasn't acted since 1995) all return to voice the cadets from that episode. The opportunity for character backstory seems endlessly promising.

But, in the ultimate irony, Lower Decks ends up succumbing to the Serial Mystery Plot nearly as much as any other serialized Star Trek show by over-promising and under-delivering. Even more ironic: It over-promises and under-delivers character while over-delivering on "action spectacle" which — let's face it — is not the reason we watch this show. The result is fine, and even kind of fun, but ultimately disappointing. Nothing new is learned here, and it seems like a missed opportunity given Mariner's very mysterious and hole-filled past. If you're going to build the season-long mystery up to the out-of-left-field idea of bringing back Nick Locarno from the long-ago past where he had a possibly mysterious connection to Mariner, that should be where the story pays itself off — on what that connection means. Even Sito seems like she should've been more central to this somehow, given the franchise's past interest — never realized — in revisiting that character.

Instead, we get a routine action/adventure. (Even the inevitable Locarno/Paris joke feels like a missed opportunity. All we get is Boimler and Rutherford commenting on their uncanny resemblance. Why not something crazier that brings Tom Paris into the plot directly, as a long-lost twin or clone or something?) In bringing back Locarno, they don't really do much except turn him into a stock megalomaniac. This could've been anyone's Evil Bond Villain Plot, which, let's be honest, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He has gathered ships and crews from various worlds into his "Nova Fleet," which he calls "a coalition of equals" ... with himself as the Alpha. He has obtained a Ferengi Genesis Device that's at his disposal as a superweapon to use to ... something unlimited-power something?

Starfleet can't attack Nova Fleet to rescue Mariner because it's composed of members of other worlds that would consider it a hostile act to open fire on their people, even though those people have effectively defected to a foreign power. Okay, fine, whatever. But Freeman and the Cerritos crew aren't going to stand by and let Mariner be captive, so they decide to Disobey Orders and take matters into their own hands ... by going to Orion (it doesn't seem like they would have time for this) to ask Tendi's sister D'Erika for a battleship they can use to get through Locarno's massive shield. But D'Erika won't make such a deal without something in return. There's a red herring Arena Fight between a giant Orion and Tendi's battle designate, the unassuming Dr. Migleemo, where she intends to use Migleemo's ruffled feathers as the secret weapon against the very allergic Orion combatant. When that succeeds but somehow also fails, Tendi agrees to return home to serve her sister in exchange for the battleship.

Meanwhile, Mariner isn't waiting around to be rescued. She breaks through the shield perimeter with a stolen ship and the Genesis Device and leads the Nova Fleet on a pursuit through a crystalline debris field and later an electrical space storm that goes out of its way to evoke the hide-and-seek in the Mutara Nebula in Star Trek II. References — LD has 'em.

There are lots of moving parts in getting ships and people from A to B, but it's mostly just (competent) action noise that has Locarno as the villain and Mariner and the Cerritos crew as the heroes, and really nothing in terms of impactful character storytelling or suspense. The Cerritos crew obtains the Orion battleship, but it's nonfunctional, pursuant to D'Erika being a Treacherous Pirate, so they use it as a decoy to crash into the perimeter shield and open a hole. This solution is reached after a callback to the Steamboat Dueling Samuel Clemenses from earlier in the season, which I'm prepared to admit is a Your Mileage May Vary type of super-random gag, but does nothing for me at all. Boimler gets a nice moment by taking command of the Cerritos bridge. Ultimately, the Genesis Device is armed and detonated, with Mariner beamed out at the last moment while Locarno gets Blowed Up Real Good™. Nothing wrong with any of this, but nothing at all special or interesting about it, either.

The big season-ending character moment here is Tendi's, as she decides to live up to her agreement with her sister and return home to serve the Orion royalty. I guess this is supposed to play like a major character shift/consequence, but like Worf in "Redemption" (or even Boimler getting promoted to the Titan at the end of season one), we all know it's something that can and will be easily reset.

I guess part of the disappointment here is my heightened expectations. After the nice run of episodes in the second half of this season, and a cliffhanger last week that really seemed like it must be hinting at something significant in Mariner's or Locarno's past, this just felt like every other by-the-numbers action climax at the end of a season. Lower Decks chose to take the conventional route rather than the subversive one, and that's not playing to this series' most important strengths at all.

Previous episode: The Inner Fight

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43 comments on this post

Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 7:28am (UTC -6)
What an amazing ending to a well-crafted season. There's a lot of "The Wrath of Khan" in the episode but the story itself is unique. Locarno has lost his marbles and somehow united all the Lower Deckers across many AQ races who sympathize with his cause. This creates a great action backdrop where Mariner gets to foil part of Locarno's plans by stealing the ace up his sleeve, giving Tendi a chance to battle her past that surprisingly doesn't go so well, Boimler gets to be a captain and does a bang-up job, and T'Lyn helps soothe tensions among engineers to fix an Orion battlecruiser using the most improbable solution ever.

What I liked is this show shifted a lot between high-stakes action and gags in classic Lower Decks style. In that way this doesn't feel like just another TNG finale, but more like its own thing. Migleemo somehow defeating an Orion with bird pollen was not just funny, but a great use of Trekkian brains over violence.

The episode ends with great triumph for The Cerritos, but it also leaves a huge plot angle open with Tendi leaving the ship to embrace her role as Mistress of the Winter Constellations. Tendi's attitude towards the new role and the ominous action music at the end suggests she might even be an antagonist for the Cerritos next season. It's a great sequence and an unpredictably interesting way to end an engaging episode.

This is a 4. Not really sure what could do better (other than make hour-long episodes ;-) )
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 7:29am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed the finale. Though I think a better title would have been The Wrath of Locarno.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 8:18am (UTC -6)
I'm going to probably buck the emerging consensus and say that although I liked the season finale - liked it a great deal - I didn't think it hit as hard as the first three season finales. Essentially, Lower Decks always closes strong, and I probably went into this episode with unreasonably high hopes.

It was a satisfying payoff to the season as a whole, which experimented even further with serialization. The ship disappearances, Mariner's malaise, Tendi's drama with her sister - even Rutherford's stupid engineering rivalry and the Mark Twain holodeck program - were paid off here. Nicholas Locarno was the perfect villain for the show, and I enjoyed the TWOK sendup. I also like that the show recognizes they're not kids...erm...ensigns...any more.

That said, I have some minor quibbles here which stops it from being a perfect episode. That the Lower Deckers (minus Mariner) just get from Ma'ah's ship to the Cerritos off camera felt wrong. I recognize that there's limited time in these bite-sized episodes, but still. Boimler having command of the Cerritos also made no logical sense. Why wouldn't Ransom be left in command? Why did all the senior officers join Freeman on the yacht? It seemed like a decision that was made solely to try and tug on our heartstrings.

Which leads me to my real issue with this episode. The feels just weren't there as much as I expected. The scene in the first act where the entire Cerritos crew decides they're going to ignore orders and rescue Mariner - that was great. I wanted more of that - more of the magic of friendship, which is the core of the show, emotionally speaking. But the remainder of the episode was given over to plot machinations and high-octane action, meaning until we got the final scene post climax. Which was...touching...but nothing we hadn't seen before. I wanted to see us go further with the characters. Mariner's arc was strangely flat here as well, since she did the right thing from the first point she had agency. I would have liked to see her vacillate just a tiny bit, to give her some internal conflict to mesh with the external conflict.

Again though, these are all minor concerns. Ultimately this was a well-crafted and entertaining season finale. It's just that it was ultimately plot-based storytelling, and I like Lower Decks much more when it's character-based.

Three stars.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 9:55am (UTC -6)
@Karl Zimmerman

"Mariner's arc was strangely flat here as well, since she did the right thing from the first point she had agency."

I don't quite see it like that, I actually think her doing the right thing from jump is the culmination of her arc over this season and beyond. She acted like any good, reliable Starfleet officer would without hesitation or detours, and that's pretty big for her. There might not have been a big arc this episode but I that's basically the peak of her character arc as a whole over 4 seasons of TV.

Unfortunately for her her arrested development has her about a decade behind schedule in her career, but at least she's finally past it lol

Anyways, strong ep. Only thing that confused me was the Stramrunner class ship Mariner took kinda coming outta nowhere, sorta seemed like a scene was missing to explain that a bit more. Oh well. Also I think setting up T'Lyn over this season makes even more sense now if theyre planning on separating Tendi from the crew for a while. She'll be a good replacement for the time being.

3.5/4 for me.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 10:17am (UTC -6)
I thought it made enough sense to leave Boimler in command of the Cerritos, since the Captain's Yacht (I can't believe we didn't get a name) was going to be the ship actually facing potential danger inside the shield with all the other ships. Naturally she'd want her best on that bridge with her.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 10:36am (UTC -6)
This was an im­pres­sive, al­most cine­ma­tic epis­ode with a lot of ac­tion, a tri­umph and a bit­ter­sweet end­ing. The epic plot does not real­ly fit into a 30 min ti­me­slot, and the­re­fore some cor­ners had to be cut short. For ex­am­ple, I still don’t un­der­stand what debris we say re­peat­ed­ly after the cap­tur­ing of the ships and even in the re­cap to this very epis­ode. Yet, this is the only sig­ni­fi­cant cri­ti­cism I have.

The humour in this epis­ode flowed like a charm. The re­fe­ren­ces to Star Wars and The Wrath of Khan, the steal­ing of a ship with sto­len com­mand codes and in par­ti­cu­lar the Fe­ren­gi pay­wall were ge­nu­ine­ly fun­ny, and the­re were many co­me­dy gold mo­ments, e.g., the clash of Vul­can and cat cultures (“Clear­ly, his emo­ti­o­nal be­havi­or con­flicts with his cul­pa­bi­li­ty.” — “Yeah, he's an ass­hole.” ), Dr. Mig­lee­mo’s al­lite­ra­ti­ve battle­cry (“Ac­cept my flap­pity fisti­cuffs, you foul fiend.”) or the clas­sic Romulan “False! He is a pawn in our game of 12-dimen­si­on­al chess!”. When the Orion bat­tle­ship first flew past the ca­me­ra, I really ex­pect­ed it to have writ­ten “We brake for no­body” at its rear end.

Yet any good comedy also needs serious elements to con­trast with the hu­mour, and this epis­ode fully de­li­ver­ed with the sym­pa­the­tic vil­lain Lo­car­no. Much of what he said could have come out of Ma­ri­ner’s mouth in one of the ear­ly sea­sons. At the same time, all his ac­cu­sa­ti­ons against Star­fleet felt in­sin­cere, be­cause we know he is a scum­bag co­ver­ing his tracks, and his an­archis­tic Ro­bin Hood style cru­sade is real­ly mo­ti­va­ted by self­ish de­si­re for re­venge. His end is well-de­serv­ed, but still elicts com­pas­sion. The se­cond se­ri­ous ele­ment in the epis­ode, of course, was Tendi’s fate, but I feel that her leav­ing the show will turn out as per­ma­nent as Boim­ler’s in S2.

The S4 finale gets 3½ stars from me — it would have been four if “Wej Duj” had never aired, but be­cau­se it has, I know that the show can still do a litt­le bit bet­ter. Since there are so many fun­ny li­nes, I de­part from stan­dard pro­ce­du­re by not choos­ing a quote of the epis­ode, but an en­ti­re sce­ne: While Locarno gives his well-craft­ed yet pom­pous speech to the world (“any­one who feels like an after­thought”, “risk­ing your life for soul­less bu­reu­cra­tic cap­tains who don’t even know your name”), he gets un­der­cut by Boimler (“the Maquis would like a word.”) and Ru­ther­ford (“He looks like Tom Pa­ris”), to which Boim­ler un­ex­pec­ted­ly dis­agrees. I found that just hi­la­ri­ous, and I com­mend “Lo­wer Decks” that they left it with this joke and did not try to ret­con a deep back­story to a le­ga­cy cha­rac­ter in the style of “Picard”.

P.S.: One nitpick I have to add: Why didn’t Mariner add­ress Sito by her per­so­nal name Jaxa?
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 10:44am (UTC -6)
I actually thought Boimler disagreeing about Locarno and Paris's resemblance was on brand . Paris is one of his heroes, of course Boimler wouldn't think this awful criminal looks anything like a hero.

And I guess Mariner called her "Sito" for the same reason Riker and Picard still called Commander Ro by her family name--it's just something a lot of humans do to Bajorans. There are probably a number of reasons for that.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 11:20am (UTC -6)
I agree it was unexpected more for us as view­ers, who know the back­stage dra­ma of these cha­rac­ters; for Boim­ler it makes more sen­se to keep his eyes clos­ed on the obvious.

The second point, I feel, is a little more complex. The com­mand crew of the En­ter­prise D had every rea­son to keep dis­tan­ce and ad­dress crew mem­bers more for­mal­ly; yet often, es­pe­ci­ally off bridge, they are on a first name base to each other (e.g., Riker ad­dres­sing Geor­di, Dean­na and Tasha by first name). For Low­er Deckers, and even more ca­dets, this should be the de­fault. Yet “Low­er Decks” avoids that com­ple­te­ly, and I do not know why. Boim­ler and Ma­ri­ner are best friends and really close to each other, yet avoid cal­ling each other by first name.

My hunch is that this is a cultural shift, but in the 21ˢᵗ rather than the 24ᵗʰ cen­tu­ry.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 11:28am (UTC -6)
The review, likely the last for 2023, has been posted. This concludes another very busy year of reviews here at the site, with 61 in total this calendar year. Dates for new episodes have not been announced (presumably, Discovery will return for its final season sometime early in 2024), but I expect things will slow down considerably next year given the overall decrease in Trek content that will be coming out of Paramount+ and the delays from the strikes. As always, I will reassess the situation next year to see where things are.

Thanks for reading and commenting, and feel free to tip your host if you're so inclined. Cheers!
Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
It was all right. Kind of a by-the-numbers ending to the setup from last week. I expected more, too.

Only really one laugh, for me, and that was the paywall on the Ferengi Genesis Device.

Makes perfect sense that Genesis Devices would be used as WMDs. Locarno's Trinar shield . . . the implications for something like that existing that a Federation citizen could get his hands on for the the Star Trek universe, I don't particularly like. I'll suppose he found it in the ruins of an ancient alien civilization somewhere. That happens a lot. And it's blowed up now. That happens a lot, too.

I would not surprised if, a few years from now, we finally do get that "Sito Jaxa is alive" episode, because of what it would mean for Mariner's character. It seems too juicy for the writers to resist. This episode was clearly not that moment, however. (Oh, and many groups of friends call each other by their last names. My childhood friends and I all do. Heck, the main LD characters all do!)

I'm fine with more plot and character development than laughs, but this one, I don't know, the script just seemed off. How was the Cerritos able to travel to Orion, negotiate for a battleship, repair it etc, return to where Nova fleet was, all while Mariner was still fleeing in that ship? I know Star Trek often plays fast and loose with distance and travel time, but rarely is it this glaring in the plots.

Here's hoping we don't have to wait too much longer for more Star Trek in 2024, even if it's Discovery.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 12:20pm (UTC -6)

Out of curiosity, did you watch the "Very Short Treks" skits? Not sure they warrant individual reviews, but you might want to do a group rundown.

They were mostly awful, IMHO, though episode 4 was quite fun, and Episode 5 was...okay.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
I watched one "Very Short Trek" sketch. I think it was the first one. It was stupid and unfunny and forgettable and I didn't understand its reason for existing. A review of it would've been even more pointless.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
A lot of great bits in this episode.

A Steamrunner class! I love the ships introduced in First Contact. And we even got to see its bridge.

The music! Straight out of Star Trek II.

And the visuals too! Especially the nebula fight, the the Genesis Device glare and the creation of the planet.

The Bomb Defusion Paywall was a nice touch too.

And Boimler did indeed make a great captain.

The ending was a bit rushed though. Neither Mariner nor Boimler had something to say to Tendi? That was a bit weird.
Setligma III
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
It feels like they wanted to set up pieces for future plots involving Tendi off the ship and a new planet and just wrote backwards, leaving the intermediary parts feeling weak overall. I enjoyed it, but not as much as any of the previous finales.
Chris W
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
LD knows how to use its easter eggs and music to pull at my emotions and heartstrings, thus reducing my ability to properly critique its story, themes, and character development! 😄

But I do sometimes find it hard to balance my expectations from the live TV shows to this animated one. I think if LD stayed an animated show with virtually all new characters simply filled with easter egg references, I wouldn't have a problem. But LD seems to blend itself well with the live shows not just in its own storytelling (e.g., meaningfully bringing on board old characters from time to time), but with that one Strange New Worlds episode. What results is a sense of shock each time I find LD swinging between relative seriousness in its storytelling and just being a cartoon.

For example, with Locarno being a top-tier student from the academy, what on earth (in the galaxy?) make him think Mariner would simply join that he was so confidence to have immediately broadcast that message out to the entire Alpha Quadrant? Sure, he had arrogance back then, but he wasn't stupid. I guess I have to accept that LD is simply a cartoon.

I'm really looking forward to what they do with Tendi next season. I feel like we're about to learn even more about Orions... They're really developing this culture like crazy. I also wonder what Jammer speculates for what LD will do for a reset, but I'm hoping that we'll see Tendi with the Orions all season long before she returns to the Cerritos (and T'Lyn returns to her ship, which I hope doesn't happen and she stays on the Cerritos as well).

PS: Looks like Mariner was a sophomore 13 years ago... so that potentially puts her at 31-33 years of age?
Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 1:48pm (UTC -6)
Locarno believed he knew Mariner, and the Mariner he knew of course would have been on board. But Mariner has changed. That was the thematic point of the episode . . . actually, of this entire season.

. . .

"Ward" Boimler joining Section 31, which was important enough to be the post-credits teaser to last season's finale, wasn't even addressed at all this season. I hope they have a story there and it wasn't just a gag . . .
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
Had a great time -- enough where I don't feel like nitpicking shit. I feel like the average personal review bar is so fucking high at this point that they can't really enjoy anything anymore.

Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
Loved it and this season. I think my favorite thing about LD is their absolute willingness to do deep cuts. Getting Shannon Fill back for a voice cameo as Sito is just one hell of a deep cut. They could cast anyone in some of these cameos but they go back and get the original actors and I kind of just love that commitment.
Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 5:56pm (UTC -6)

True. I mean, I doubt they play hardball or haggle to get these reprisals, or even really do more than track them down and ask. But still. They always care enough to ask, and it certainly takes a few extra steps to get in touch with someone like Shannon Fill and arrange for her to record her lines rather than just putting out a call for Random Voice Actor #2 and having them show up on your doorstep ready to go. A lot of productions wouldn't bother and just take the convenience.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 7:07pm (UTC -6)
Does nobody think that Locarno survives this in some form given he's at the heart of the explosion of the Genesis device and what it did to Spock?
Trek fan
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 7:27pm (UTC -6)
Three stars for me. It’s light, fluffy, and not especially deep or memorable, but it’s also a breezy and pleasant watch for Trek nostalgia. I liked the throwbacks to TNG’s “First Duty” and to Wrath of Khan, the greatest of all Treks. The cliffhanger with Tendi will get me back next season to see what happens next.
Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 8:08pm (UTC -6)
@ BZ

Nah. Spock's body landed on the planet while the genesis process was unfolding. It wasn't caught in the explosion. Surely it would have been destroyed down to the constituent atoms to be rearranged if that had been the case.
The Queen
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
BZ - I really hope you're right about Nick surviving. It felt wrong to me to have him killed. First, he was, as someone else said, a fairly sympathetic villain. Second, in the whole rest of the episode we were repeatedly reminded that people are NOT to be killed. I know the circumstances were different, but they seemed to make a special point of it this episode. Third, I felt like there was a writerly hint when the admiral said that the new planet was to be used for refugees. Fourth, Nick would be a very good troublemaker to have around, especially if Marriner continues to grow up emotionally.

This show has improved tremendously from its first season, which I pretty much loathed. It still isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I no longer watch it with dread, lol.
The Queen
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 8:23pm (UTC -6)
For those who care, my reviews of the Very Short Treks.

Worst Contact: Riker, Troi, and an unnamed redshirt welcome a new species to the Federation, then change their minds when they discover that these people value snot above all else. Comment: They're only finding this out now? Grade: Disgusting and terrible.

Skin a Cat: Kirk is unable to defend against a Klingon attack because every figure of speech he uses offends a different member of the crew, including several who have never appeared before and are extremely unlikely. Comment: The point of this would be . . . ? Grade: Stupid and terrible.

Holiday Party: The Spock of Strange New Worlds tries to entertain the crew with a blooper reel that is either disgusting or boring, but definitely not funny. Comment: Is this supposed to be a jab at SNW? Grade: Ridiculously stupid.

Holograms All the Way Down: Starting with Riker and Troi watching the holoprogram of Trip’s death, recursive scenes occur. Next is Quark explaining how the Romulans got into the Dominion war, to Tendi commenting on that, to Prodigy characters saying how bad it is, to Sulu saying it’s nonsense, to Saru ending freezing the program, to Shran appearing briefly, to Neelix pausing his holonovel, to a five-person Tuvix mix voiced by Trip, to the computer freezing its own program. Comment: This actually has a plot and isn't offensive, but I fail to see the point. Grade: Don't waste your time.

Walk, Don’t Run: This isn’t even a real story. Tendi breaks the fourth wall “celebrating” the 50th anniversary of the animated series. They do let those characters speak, but it’s just a bunch of nothing. Grade: Useless.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
Are we expecting Season 5 to be the final season of Lower Decks? Some interviews with the writers/directors seem to imply they haven't heard any renewal passed Season 5.

50 episodes as a whole would be a good run for this show, and I think the humor would run dry if it goes on longer. I hope we see Mariner and the others in live-action again though, maybe in the Star Trek Academy series given her roots.
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 11:05pm (UTC -6)
Oh, nah nah nah. Very strong finale. Really enjoyed it.
C.T. Phipps
Thu, Nov 2, 2023, 11:06pm (UTC -6)
The biggest plothole of the story is where the hell that Lorcano got a Saberrunner-class Starfleet vessel. Also, where it's crew went. Given that Lorcano claims that he is a murderer, I'm wondering if that he first tried to recruit his Lower Deckers from a Starfleet vessel and had to kill them all.

We could argue that Starfleet keeps better handles on their ship but TOS is full of missing crews.
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 12:13am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode overall, but the longer I sit with it, the more I feel that it's also a letdown. This show frequently threatens more depth, and with how padded some of these are with "boilerplate" story beats, I can't help but think they could have been more efficient in packing in some more character.

I was onboard after the opening flashback, and they did so little with it. They bring in the Orion Syndicate in what should be a major way, but it feels basically arbitrary.

How about this:

Locarno has collected defectors from all around the Alpha Quadrant, and through this has gained some key assets: a database of experimental Starfleet technology from a disgruntled engineer, a Bynar mobile industrial replicator ship from the Trynar (who will go on to grow as a movement and ultimately gain formal independence in Season 5), tens of Ferengi Genesis devices, and the black book of a Romulan captain who was deep in the Tal Shiar. His vision: the unappreciated workers, the unrecognized geniuses, the disillusioned idealists, from all over the quadrant are going to come together to create Nova Fleet, where rules, hierarchy, and money don't stand in the way of progress. By the time Mariner arrives, even though Nova fleet is at the peak of its power, the cracks are already starting to show. The Trynar and Vulcans want to use the Genesis devices to terraform a planet in the Romulan Neutral Zone to be their new home. The Romulans, Klingons, and Ferengi want to raid, barter, and recruit to continue expanding their fleet. But when Mariner flippantly points this out to him (humorous sweep pan between arguments, angry looks, etc on the bridge) Locarno pauses, smiles, and pats her on the back - "I said you could help me, and you already have". He has a new, bold vision that inspires and reunites the crew: defeat the borg / acquire Iconian technology / take the fleet to the Beta quandrant. The important part is that he proposed it with so little thought, as a means of uniting the crew while keeping himself the leader. But ideally it's something that Mariner thinks is a good idea, that intersects with the Orion Syndicate, and that's high risk / high reward. In this version, Tendi calls her sister only to discover that she's already made herself involved. She's made a deal with the Ferengi to put down what they see as an upstart pirate nation before it becomes a major threat. That's the first act.

Through a series of flashbacks, Mariner reevaluates her memories of Sito Jaxa. She relates the disregard for danger and the rules that lead Sito to be complicit with Locarno's stunt to her own recklnessness, and to Sito's willingness to risk (and ultimately lose) her own life in service in Starfleet. The emotional climax comes when Mariner, finally coming to terms with Sito's death, tells Locarno that there's a difference between risking your life for some narcissist's stunt and risking your life for something that matters. Ironically echo Sito's "the only name anyone's going to remember is Locarno" from the opening if possible.

And the B plot would be the Cerritos trying to recue Mariner from Locarno before the Orion Syndicate attacks.
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 1:36am (UTC -6)
Where can I watch thes Very Short Treks some of you have mentioned?

@Jeffrey's tube: where was this post credit scene last season where WardBoimler joins Section 31?

And my biggest questio of all: In the flashback scene at the academy, where was Cadet Hajar?
Tim C
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 2:21am (UTC -6)
Jammer's review is right on the money for me. This is episode is okay. I have little more to say, except...

"I watched one "Very Short Trek" sketch. I think it was the first one. It was stupid and unfunny"

I vehemently disagree with this opinion and hereby unsubscribe from this site forever and will be sending angry letters to my government representatives! 😡

...... nah it's okay I forgive you. Still not a worse take than your semi-positive review of The Rise Of Skywalker!
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 5:57am (UTC -6)
I just find the notion of Locanto orchestrating all these mutinies incredibly far fetched? It leans into the show's original premise of focusing on the "lower decks" but didn't really have much to say about those people.
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 8:45am (UTC -6)
@The Queen

"I really hope you're right about Nick surviving. It felt wrong to me to have him killed. First, he was, as someone else said, a fairly sympathetic villain. Second, in the whole rest of the episode we were repeatedly reminded that people are NOT to be killed."

I think this was handled pretty well when Mariner offered Locarno multiple opportunities to join her and come back to the Federation. One could imagine that the Federation would be willing to rehabilitate Locarno even at this stage. It says a lot about how forgiving the Federation is compared to most contemporary societies of our time.

Ultimately Nick was unsavable, but it's interesting in a way because it shows just how different Tom Paris is. Remember Tom Paris went from hopelessly working on a penal colony to being a venerable hero.
Chris W
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 9:01am (UTC -6)
@Jeffrey's Tube - "Locarno believed he knew Mariner, and the Mariner he knew of course would have been on board. But Mariner has changed. That was the thematic point of the episode . . . actually, of this entire season."
→ My point was really on Locarno rather than Mariner. If he was smart enough to be one of the best at the Academy, I would think he has some sense to think he should vet Mariner and ensure she's actually aligned with what he wants to do, especially if he's going to broadcast that message live across the Quadrant.

@M - "I enjoyed this episode overall, but the longer I sit with it, the more I feel that it's also a letdown."
→ Fully agree.

@The Queen
→ I felt like the entire Very Short Treks series was to bring to life the very kinds of fleeting ideas people might have in the back of their head but are just too crazy for television, all with a comedic lens. Spock's failed effort on humor and the holodeck story were both thoughts I've had before! I thought they did a great job on those two. I do agree with you on the Skin A Cat episode - I didn't like that one.

@Jammer - "I watched one "Very Short Trek" sketch. I think it was the first one. It was stupid and unfunny"
→ I think the first one was probably the worst one.

@Jess - "I just find the notion of Locarno orchestrating all these mutinies incredibly far fetched? It leans into the show's original premise of focusing on the "lower decks" but didn't really have much to say about those people."
→ Agreed! But since it's just a cartoon, I... guess... it's okay? 🤷‍♂️

• That federation bridge has seatbelts?? 😆
• After D'Erika screwed Tendi over with a shitty ship, I'm expecting Tendi to put in shitty effort in her return to her Orion family!
• "Take us to full impulse, I need everything we've got!"
• Kinda surprised beaming Mariner off the ship didn't cause Locarno's phaser beam to bounce off.
• Can't wait to see the romance that comes up with Rutherford and Tendi in future seasons
• That credits music that comes up after Tendi says "you've got this" was so badass.
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 9:15am (UTC -6)
Great finale, three stars, solid but not groundbreaking. Looking forward to the next season.

My only little gripe not mentioned above is the sudden appearance of the Captain's Yacht...that seems more like a capital ship perk. I get the Ent-D and Ent-E having one, as its the flagship ... but a lowly Cali-Class? No way.
Chris W
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 11:15am (UTC -6)
@philadlj - "...the sudden appearance of the Captain's Yacht...that seems more like a capital ship perk."
→ I thought about how they were using the yacht for a mission, but after a few seconds of seeing it, I started to think it looks like a slightly-glorified runabout 😆
Scott of Detroit
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 2:10pm (UTC -6)
I loved the Tom Paris nod, I literally laughed out loud. I'm glad they didn't make up some kind of stupid story.
C.T. Phipps
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
I like the idea that Tom Paris and Lorcano are identical thematically versus just the same actor. It's just that Tom Paris got mentored by Janeway and the Voyager crew as well as accepted the chance at redemption. Lorcano, instead, stewed for a decade or more in his own bitterness and when offered a chance of redemption by Mariner, refused it.

That's not bad writing.
P Car
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
Started brightly with Sito at the academy giving ,e some hope we’d see a ‘Sito is alive’ episode which would have been phenomenal. Instead it was zany. Mariner was strong as was Tendi, but still some was lacking. Great to hear Sito’s voice again.
P Car
Fri, Nov 3, 2023, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
Also: Jammer much respect to you for your incredible hard work on writing these reviews and turning them round so quickly and accurately. Thank you.
The Queen
Sat, Nov 4, 2023, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
P Car - "Jammer much respect to you for your incredible hard work on writing these reviews and turning them round so quickly and accurately. Thank you."

I second this emotion. Thank you Jammer!
Sun, Nov 5, 2023, 6:59am (UTC -6)
Good review, Jammer. Well articulated and spot on. Appreciate it.
Sun, Nov 5, 2023, 7:01am (UTC -6)
Im shocked they followed up on Lorcano finally. Its really a shame they couldnt use him for Voyager. It would have made that show much better.
Chuck AzEee
Sun, Nov 19, 2023, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
Count me in as one that felt that this episode was a let down from all the prior episodes of this season yet it wasn't a bad episode. Looking forward to next season.

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