Star Trek: Lower Decks

“Something Borrowed, Something Green”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 9/21/2023
Written by Grace Parra Janney
Directed by Bob Suarez

Review Text

"Something Borrowed, Something Green" opens with an Orion support ship being destroyed by the powerful Mystery Vessel that attacked the Klingons and Romulans in the season's first two episodes. It's a scene that's exactly as the other two were — completely divorced from the rest of the episode and advancing this supposedly "serial" plot in no real way because it provides no additional information, but merely more of what we already know. If this is supposed to be some sort of poker-faced parody/commentary on bad serialization, then mission accomplished, but that doesn't seem like the intent.

This scrap of plot does, I suppose, ever so loosely tie into the main plot, as it provides Freeman with slightly more reason to insist Tendi return home for her sister D'Erika's wedding, which she's reluctant to do because she wants to keep her Orion past buried rather than in full view of her friends. ("D'Erika" — I love how we're now just adding consonants and apostrophes to the beginnings of regular names to make them "alien.")

So, return home Tendi does, where we learn that her family is loaded, and that Tendi was the "prime" daughter who was supposed to carry the mantle in following the Orion-ist of the Orion-isms before she decided to run away and follow her own path in joining Starfleet. To provide this story with meat, we learn that D'Erika may have been kidnapped before her imminent wedding — which is in accordance with Orion custom — but her return is overdue, making it suspicious. So we embark on a journey through Tendi's abandoned past life in her search for her sister.

This leads us to a couple of nightclub encounters, including one with a drinking game that includes a poisonous scorpion-like creature, and a venture into a "hump dungeon" where female pheromones rule the day (in a commented-upon callback to "Bound," one of Enterprise's worst episodes). The episode is at its best and most relaxed when it's just hanging out with the girls and doing a bachelorette party comedy (minus the bachelorette), featuring hijinks and knife-throwing. The best gag, albeit not hilarious, is probably Mariner getting repeatedly stabbed by daggers thrown in her general direction — as well as those not thrown at her at all.

Eventually, we learn D'Erika kidnapped herself (as the Dude would say), and is lying low in an old childhood hiding spot, where she and her sister resolve their family differences over a swordfight. The Tendi/Orion backstory (Tendi was a fully trained assassin, but ran away from her life because she never wanted it, resulting in D'Erika having the role thrust upon her instead) is layered into the hangout premise and makes for some breezy, inconsequential LD fun.

On the other hand, the whole business aboard the Cerritos, where Boimler and Rutherford calm their roommate tensions with a holodeck scenario where they both play the role of Mark Twain (reference: TNG's "Time's Arrow") is one of those things that seems like it wants points purely for oddness, rather than actually clever or effective humor. Extending this idea to the Hard-Headed Alien of the Week is a predictable turn. What's not predictable, because it's so pointlessly random, is the alien's decision to eat Boimleford's bonsai tree. Funny? I can't say so. It's a joke with no setup or punchline. Or in other words, not a joke.

Bottom line: This outing is a middle-of-the-road affair that's passable, but pretty far from inspired.

Previous episode: In the Cradle of Vexilon
Next episode: Empathological Fallacies

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23 comments on this post

    As Trek's first visit to Orion, this managed to pack a fair bit into its short runtime. I think the episode would've been better off discarding the Boimler/Rutherford sitcom shenanigans altogether in favour of giving the Orion material more time to breathe - they were kinda amusing but mostly fell flat for me.

    Tendi is a more interesting character with a bit more of her backstory spooled out, but now that they've gone there I hope to see these contradictions built into her character a bit more. The writers should let her embrace it! At least a little. Seems like the obvious direction to go for character growth.

    My big laughs for the episode were Mariner copping the unexpected second knife and failing to dodge the expected third knife šŸ˜‚

    This was a nice and mostly funny though not exceptional outing. The Orions have been visitĀ­ed before, in ā€œWeā€™ll AlĀ­ways Have Tom Parisā€, and this times the wriĀ­ters did a betĀ­ter job in makĀ­ing fun of Orions withĀ­out reĀ­ducĀ­ing them to cariĀ­caĀ­tuĀ­res. We do see some parts of Orion soĀ­cieĀ­Ā­ty, mostĀ­ly the seedy ones (like the hiĀ­laĀ­riĀ­ous ā€œmurĀ­der-ā€‹bug drinkĀ­ing gaĀ­meā€), but the chaĀ­racĀ­ters did have some sort of digĀ­niĀ­ty, like the guys in the pheroĀ­mone dungeon that seemĀ­ed just happy to be freed of the cheĀ­miĀ­cal mind control by InĀ­greeĀ­ta. I loved the reĀ­feĀ­renĀ­ce to Archer (ā€œI mean, they had to exĀ­plain why a capĀ­tain would get taken out by some Orion showĀ­girlsā€) ā€” yeah, that had been embarrassing.

    I can much relate to Tendiā€™s anxiousness about her Orion backĀ­ground, as I have seen similar attiĀ­tuĀ­des with imĀ­miĀ­grants from Third-World counĀ­tries. Itā€™s frusĀ­tratĀ­ing to either have to deĀ­nounĀ­ce or deĀ­fend oneā€™s home culture on a reĀ­guĀ­lar scheĀ­dule (currently, RusĀ­sians are most afĀ­fectĀ­ed). This segĀ­ment was much imĀ­provĀ­ed by Tā€™Lyn, whose obĀ­serĀ­vaĀ­tions were always corĀ­rect but didnā€™t help at all (which is so true to life). Also, the conflict between the two sisters, short as is was on screen, felt very real ā€” proĀ­gress vs. traĀ­diĀ­tion is an issue that has split many faĀ­Ā­miĀ­Ā­lies beĀ­foĀ­re, and itā€™s nice to see both sides treatĀ­ed fairly.

    For the second time in a row, the subplot on the ship left me cold. By this point we have seen so much of the daily chaos on the CerĀ­riĀ­tos that it has ceasĀ­ed to be funĀ­ny. For the record, I had to look up the bonĀ­sai-ā€‹eatĀ­ing ChalĀ­Ā­noth species, I abĀ­soĀ­luĀ­teĀ­ly didnā€™t reĀ­memĀ­ber them (for those with an equally bad meĀ­mory, I drop the hint ā€œAllegianceā€).

    It is now acknowledged that StarĀ­fleet is aware of ships getting lost, so I hope the plot around the mysĀ­teĀ­ry ship is ready for the forĀ­ward.

    I award 2Ā½ stars to this episode. And the most funny quote: ā€œSo whatā€™s gonna spill first ā€” your mouth or your guts? (pause) Um, I heard that in a holo-movieā€. Thus spake Tendi, prime daughĀ­ter, trained asĀ­sasĀ­sin and StarĀ­fleet science geek girl.

    i, for one, loved the double Mark Twains. Also loved that Tendi Trekked the tech and neutralized the pheromones using skills she presumably learned in Starfleet.

    Also noted the continuing tradition of giving human names to non-humans (e.g., Jennifer the Andorian) D'Erika and B'Rt. I suppose it's to be expected, since the Ferrengi named one of theirs after the human name for a type of subatomic particle.

    the show continues its hot streak, though this may be the weakest of the season yet by a hair

    I was grateful to finally get a proper peek into Orion cultural, and the way they managed to blend what was essentially a sex comedy with the anthropological and respectful elements of Star Trek was impressive. T'Lyn continues to be an invaluable straight man to the cast and pairs especially well with the more dynamic women of the cast.

    What I love so far this season is that the show is letting the characters properly mature and grow closer, and as a young person making his way through a frankly bonkers time in the film industry it's nice to see the characters age with me and struggle with ridiculous situations. What worries me is that as the show and characters have gotten olden, they also seem to be losing a lot of the internal conflict that characterized the best episodes of the early seasons. I really hope the external conflicts they're setting up can match those emotional stakes, but the fact that we're arriving at another TNG-type "let's all never argue and only set up fake conflicts" crew is frustrating.

    For example, T'Lyn's "A report without the subject's consent would be unethical" is a good line and a great truth, but it kinda undercuts the conflict of her doing it in the first place entirely--Tendi was never particularly comfortable about it, and T'Lyn only cared at the end of the episode. Inefficient use of energy if you ask me.

    @Tim C I assume that at some point they're going to follow up on Tendi's stated desire to one day become a captain, which I really think would require her to embrace her Orion background. Tendi's such a great character.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this episode... well, the A-story that is! Kudos to the showrunners for taking us to Orion, something no other Star Trek series has ever done. Tendi has been somewhat underutilized, so it was great to see some significant character development for her. Mariner continues to crack me up, and T'Lyn is starting to grow on me. I agree with an earlier comment about the Boimler/Rutherford B-story; I could have done without that, as it just wasted time. No reason why this entire story couldn't have focused solely on the ladies and their Orion trip.

    I would rate this as 3.5 stars, 4 stars for the A-story and 2 stars for the unnecessary B-story (heavier weighting for the A-story).

    I imagine the Orion are just deeply invested in their pirating subculture, which is something I understand having once lived in Florida. So, theyā€™re not all pirates but pirate families are revered and romanticized in a way that makes other species uncomfortable. Amusingly, I thought this might have been how you could reconcile the Ferengi fo DS9 and the Ferengi of TNG. The Damons are basically where the non-conformist, warrior Ferengi go sort of like how atavisms on Earth seek out Starfleet.

    An enjoyable, if insubstantial, outing of Lower Decks, which manages to be funny, and not merely fun.

    Regarding the A-plot with Tendi, there was a lot to like here. T'Lyn has immediately fallen into a great dynamic with the Lower Deckers, and works great here as a straight man of sorts, whose deadpan wryness works with the much zanier, over-acted level of Mariner and Tendi. If I had any criticism of this section, it's that the character beats for Tendi seemed very "by the numbers." It's not as if a 25-minute episode can have any huge plot twists, but nothing here surprised me, from start to finish, which meant the episode didn't really have a chance at greatness.

    The "B-plot" with Boimler and Rutherford was just filler. The whole dueling Mark Twains thing was actually pretty damn funny (particularly once the Chalnoth was also involved), however in that it was such a random aside. Still, I can't help but feel that the episode could have been better if they were entirely absent, and it used that runtime to deepen the exploration of Tendi's character.

    Yeah, good stuff, not a poor episode this season so far IMO.
    Had a good chuckle a couple of times and enjoyed both the stories. The Orion trip was much more fun. I really like the addition of T'Lyn as well. I like that she has embraced the friendship of the Lower Deckers while at the same time looking thoroughly bemused, if a Vulcan can be bemused. Again. I am happy to give this a 3.

    I agree with Jammer, these last two episodes have been very ā€œmeh.ā€ Pretty average and forgettable fare in the two star range.

    @Trek fan

    "I agree with Jammer, these last two episodes have been very ā€œmeh.ā€ Pretty average and forgettable fare in the two star range."

    I don't know about forgettable, but it seems we've found a grounding for LD.

    For awhile there everything they put out was a smash.

    I guess it had to slow down a bit.

    I'm still not sorry I watched it. 2.5 stars is about right.

    We got some neat backstory for Tendi and I enjoyed Mariner and our new Vulcan tagging along.

    2 knives to the shoulder! HAHA.

    The Rutherford/Boimler story could have been left out though.

    I eagerly look forward to my Lower Decks experience every week.

    As to aliens with human names, I have to think some of it due to the 2 centuries of cultural integration. Maybe Jennifer is named after her mother's human roommate

    It was a fun episode, but I think at this point they need to spend more time developing Orions so they aren't all the stereotypical bloodthirsty pirates we expect them to be. Wasn't that the point of the SNW crossover episode?

    A show like Deep Space Nine (or even the later seasons of TNG) would have added some more layers to Orion society.

    But I got some laughs and admittedly and this show isn't usually meant to be taken seriously. The Chalnoth in the B story was a welcome callback as well.

    2.0 - 2.5 seems right.

    Whether you consider this fortuitously coincidental or clever forethought on the part of the writers and the show's creator is subjective but I'd argue the latter. Part of growing up is learning to compromise and avoid conflict. The "internal conflict that characterized the best episodes of the early seasons" is exactly what one would expect of a maturing cast of characters. And whether that benefits the show or not is subjective as well. Personally I have had fewer qualms with the show as it has progressed.

    Fun and funny. I am consistently impressed with how the show is written. A whole galaxy provides plenty of conflict for narrative, and comedy.

    Oh and I love Tendi. My gnome druid in BG3 is named Tendi in her honor šŸ˜Š

    I hate to make a third post in a row but I just remembered: this depiction of a matriarchal society was far more believable than Angel-One. I realize it's a low bar, but it was refreshing to see a depiction that didn't immediately make my eyes roll out of their sockets.

    I for one thought the "Brutherford" interactions were hysterical. Is it filler? Yes. Advanacing the plot, telling a meaningful story? No. Funny as hell? Yes.

    Their callback to ENT: Bound was funny too, Archer had a lot of explaining to do after that I'm sure.

    And they are trying to develop Orion society and culture in meaningful ways which is appreciated, moving beyond the one note "animal women" (from the Cage) and pirates; the Ferengi got that treatment in DS9, Orion was overdue. Apropos of that, Tendi's reference to "photos of all of us in our belly dancer outfits" was laugh out loud funny.

    On another note, lots of folks here have said this is Star Trek's first trip to the Orion homeworld, but wasn't there a DS9 episode where O'Brien went udercover on Orion? Sort of a Donnie Brasco-esque episode where O'Brien actually made friends with a member of the Orion Syndicate? But that Orion was human. I suppose other species can work for Orions. I guess the Orion Syndicate pirates are a criminal organization, not representing all Orions, like saying all Italians and Italian Americans are in the Mafia.

    I think this ep would have benefited from just exploring the A plot more, the Cerritos plot was kind of just dead weight that felt like it was taking away from an interesting exploration of Orion which we really haven't seen before

    Liked it, especially for the A plot, as noted by others. The B plot was worth it for me for the Mark Twain Chalnoth... "that was my southern accent!"

    I wasn't expecting the Mark Twain thing to crack me up -- "oh, yet another forced reference" -- but it was so fucking absurd that I loved it. Not that it was a bad episode, but THAT'S probably what I'll remember from this episode, in the long run. ;)

    That starship from the junkyard was the same vessel class as the Raven, the Hansen's ill-fated science vessel they went to the delta quadrant with and subsequently got assimilated.

    [Mild spoilers for this episode, I guess]

    I struggled to reconcile the Tendi we know and like - wide-eyed, earnest, enthusiastic - with the bombastic Orion past they've created for her, where she's a feared master assassin, scion of a super-rich family and bristling with awe-inspiring skills. I found it quite disappointing, because it's nice to have a relatable character like Tendi, who's sweet-natured and a bit unsure of herself. But now they've turned her into yet another hyper-bad-ass, as if we needed more of those.

    Being good at science, and believably human, is enough.

    It reminded me of Rey from Star Wars, and Wednesday from the recent TV show. Both brilliant at everything to the point that it spoils the characters.

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