TL;DR – A joy to watch each week and one of the strongest full seasons of Star Trek we have gotten in a while.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Review –
When Star Trek: Lower Decks was first announced, some understandable eyebrows were raised. The last animated show was quietly ditched from canon, and a new show animated in the style of Rick and Morty or Solar Opposites was an unknown quantity. Also, some sectors of the Star Trek fandom are not really known for embracing change (I mean, case and point that one shot of a Ferengi in the Star Trek Discovery trailer). But Season One showed that there was no need to be concerned, and Season Two showed that this might be some of the best Trek.
So to set the scene, at the end of Season One, the USS Cerritos found itself on the unexpected end of a Pakled attack. While the help of Rutherford’s (Eugene Cordero) computer virus and Shaxs’ (Fred Tatasciore) sacrifice, they could defeat one ship, but not the other three that warped in afterwards. Looking certain doom in the face, all was lost until the USS Titan under the command of Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) warped in. Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and her mum, Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), formed a truce in the aftermath. Tendi (Noël Wells) was sad to see that Rutherford had lost all his memories, and Boimler (Jack Quaid) took a promotion to the Titan. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
There was an impressive growth of the episodes throughout the season, with the first five being generally fine, but then the back half turned up to be some of the best Star Trek released. The first half of the season gets many interesting and fun episodes, but not a whole lot more than that. The strongest episode from this first half of the season was Kayshon, His Eyes Open, but it was nice to get a cameo from Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) to discover that Shaxs has been brought back from the dead, even those thirsty Mugatos (we will come back to that). Even the low point of the series for many, An Embarrassment of Dooplers, is still entertaining with the hijinks on Starbase 25.
If there has been one consistent element of this new era of Star Trek, it has been that they start out their seasons strong but do not quite keep that intensity all the way to the end. Indeed you see that in all three seasons of Star Trek Discovery so far. Well, this season of Lower Decks completely bucks that trend, with each episode building upon the last. The back four episodes of this season might be the strongest block of Star Trek programming since Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arcs.
We start with Where Pleasant Fountains Lie, where we get to explore the backstory of Lt. Commander Billups (Paul Scheer) and his simply bonkers family. While also giving another entry in “why are we not hiring Jeffrey Combs in everything”. Then I, Excretus, provides us with a cavalcade of easter eggs and a love letter to Star Trek. While also slipping in one of the most significant surprise cameos with Alice Krige and inadvertently creating one image so powerful that it will follow this show to the end of time. They then completely change up the formula with wej Duj and then smash it out of the park with one of the best season finales in Trek.
Of the many strengths, this season was the growth of the supporting cast. For example, Jennifer Sh’reyan (Lauren Lapkus) sort of just existed as a punchline, but we get to know more about her throughout the season. As well as this, the show is just delightfully funny. I don’t think anything has made me laugh as much as the thirsty whales of Cetacean Ops. Oh, and this is on top of the season being Incredibly Thirsty. The show also uses the animated medium to the best with moments that probably could only be captured like this. For example, the removal of the outer hull in First First Contact. Every moment is a delight to watch. Though I need to ask Mike McMahan, was there a bet on how many Easter eggs you could cram into an episode? And if there was, who won?
In the end, do we recommend Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season 2? Absolutely. Look, I am sure this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, it was a delight each and every week, and I look forward to more of it in Season 3.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek: Lower Decks
Directed by – Jason Zurek, Kim Arndt & Bob Suarez
Written by – Mike McMahan, Chris Kula, M. Willis, Ben Rodgers, Dave Ihlenfeld, David Wright, John Cochran, Garrick Bernard, Ann Kim & Kathryn Lyn
Created by – Mike McMahan
Based Upon – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Production/Distribution Companies – Secret Hideout, Titmouse, CBS Studios & Amazon Prime.
Starring – Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, Dawnn Lewis, Jerry O’Connell, Fred Tatasciore & Gillian Vigman with Jonathan Frakes, Robert Duncan McNeill, Jeffrey Combs, Alice Krige, Lycia Naff, Lauren Lapkus, Jessica McKenna, Ben Rodgers, Marcus Henderson, Carl Tart, Paul F. Tompkins, Paul Scheer, Phil LaMarr, Robin Atkin Downes, Colton Dunn, Rich Fulcher, Marc Evan Jackson, Jessica Lowe, Nolan North, Lennon Parham, June Diane Raphael, Neil Casey, Brian Posehn, Richard Kind, Jenifer Lewis, Anthony Atamanuik, Robert Gilbert, Vanessa Marshall, Ben Rodgers & Randall Park
Episodes Covered – Strange Energies, Kayshon, His Eyes Open, We’ll Always Have Tom Paris, Mugato, Gumato, An Embarrassment of Dooplers, The Spy Humongous, Where Pleasant Fountains Lie, I, Excretus, wej Duj & First First Contact