Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 10 Review: First First Contact

Wow, do I ever hate season finale cliffhangers. Burns-with-the-heat-of-a-thousand-suns hate.

That being said, until that irksome misstep in the final frame, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 10 was doing a solid job.

It wasn’t the mind-blowing amazingness of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 9 or the call-back extravaganza of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8, but it was throwing some decent curves with Freeman’s promotion and the strip-the-Cerritos space adventure.

As far as cameos go, Gomez’s return felt a little random. She certainly isn’t any Riker and Troi.

Considering the character has attained captain rank in the novels, it would be expected that she had acquired some composure and mentor-like qualities, but, perhaps to draw a contrast to the bumbling yet brilliant ensign she was on the Enterprise-D, she comes across, instead, as flat and plodding.

Kudos to her assurances to the bumbling bridge ensign, but there should’ve been a spilled drink in there somewhere if they were looking for top marks.

I know Cali class isn’t afraid of getting its nacelles dirty. We just don’t want multiple ships approaching at once, or the Laaperians might mistake first contact for a first invasion.

Captain Gomez

Does anyone else find it odd that Freeman and Admiral Mariner are on the same vessel at the same time for the first time in who knows how long, and yet, Freeman leaves the meeting with Gomez? Becket’s parents have a weird marital set-up, that’s for sure.

I was really hoping for some insights into the Admiral and how he fits in with Freeman and Ensign Mariner. 

Well, we always have next season. With Freeman in custody, perhaps we will get to see Mariner seeking advice and guidance from her father.

To address the surprise arrest, I have two theories.

The first is that there’s another puppeteer who was pulling the Che’Ta’s captain’s strings while he was pulling the Pakleds’.

With the objective being to trigger a war between the Federation and the Pakleds, this silent partner planted the trail of evidence pointing to Freeman’s involvement with the destruction of Pakled Planet.

My second theory may simply be a variation on the first in that the puppeteer is actually embedded in the Starfleet higher ranks and is deflecting attention now to avoid being caught.

Even with all the time she spent trying to negotiate peace with the Pakleds on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 6, creating a credible body of evidence to prove Freeman conspired with them will require a high level of fabrication.

So you ARE leaving? Why didn’t you tell us? You’re lucky I’m so spiritually-centered, or I’d snap!

Shaxs

We’re talking Tal Shiar, or Section 31-level, at least OR someone high enough up who can make the accusation look credible even without the evidence to support it.

It’s a thinker.

Looking at the build-up to the arrest, the idea that Freeman would (or could) decide to decline a promotion doesn’t seem like something that is actually done.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that, typically, captains are moved where they are needed, opening up spaces on lesser vessels for new captains to train up on.

I’m also of the mind that Ransom deserves a kick at the captain’s chair if only to prove that he might not be ready. But who knows, maybe he is?

Ransom: Uh, this booth’s full ensign.
Mariner: I get it. Yeah, I know, and you want to maintain the illusion of command.
Ransom: It’s not an illusion. I’m your commander.

Bringing in a new captain from outside is a low blow to ship morale and, as Mariner points out, will probably spell doom for some of the Lower Decks “house rules” protocols, as well as ALL of her shenanigans, obviously.

Freeman: You can’t just bully your way into whatever you want. Why do you act like this?
Mariner: Because I’m a Kirk-style free spirit who kicks butt and super-intimidates people. You know that. That’s why you’ve always protected me from being court-martialed
Freeman: You’re not a Kirk. Kirk was confident.
Mariner: So am I!
Freeman: You used to be. But now the only thing you’re confident of is that everything has to be a fight. You have to drop your defences and make some allies!

This brings us to Mariner’s “growth,” which, if memory serves, was the final internal arc of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Mariner. I love the alt-savant Starfleet superstar that she is. I enjoy her take on the hierarchical structure of the Federation. And I appreciate that she’s a flawed and insecure individual.

But her more juvenile penchants grate like a dull bat’leth. She’s been harping on Jennifer since Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 1 for no apparent reason.

It was enough that she recognized she was wrong and was able to apologize to Freeman. It was pretty impressive that she could trust her team enough not to be the hero in the cetacean tank.

It was even a little chilling that when she drew a blank on how to save the Archimedes, she could admit it.

To have the running bitchiness turn into her lesson in making allies feels like more preachiness than the situation called for.

If there’s a central theme to this finale, it’s the idea that playing it safe isn’t always going to work.

Rutherford’s attempt to protect his memories of Tendi by saving three backups for every memory they make together causes his system to glitch.

Mariner’s defenses push her allies away. Boimler’s fears hold him back.

The Cerritos’ outer hull will cause their destruction in the debris field.

So they all gotta go for everyone to move forward.

Rutherford’s glimpse into a buried memory is a tantalizing lure for a future cyborg implant twist.

For the record, that is the kind of on-ramp finales should provide.

(And, as an aside, wouldn’t Cyborg Implant Twist be a great Klingon Acid Punk band name?)

Regarding the stripping of the hull, is someone going to be sent back to pick up all those pieces later? It seems like a lot of expensive tech and material to just let float off into space.

We can safely assume we’ll see a lot of Starfleet and its bureaucracy when Freeman faces trial.

In the probably-but-not-guaranteed column, there’s T’Lyn joining the Cerritos, Klingon Boimler liaising in some capacity, and Tendi’s move to the bridge being key to proving Freeman innocent of war crimes.

I’m still hoping for a peek at Tendi’s Orion origins and maybe Rutherford’s family putting in an appearance.

The trial will most likely take place on Earth in San Fran. That puts Boimler’s Modesto-based family in the realm of possibility too.

Say, has anyone told them about William yet?

What did you think, Trekkers? Will the finale sustain you until Season 3 launches?

What are your predictions for the adventures to come?

Did you note the differences between the Obena-class Archimedes and the better-known Excelsior-class starships? Seriously. They christened a whole new class. Lower Decks is breaking through all over the place.

What were your best and boos of the season? Hit our comments with your rants and raves!

Until next time, LLAP always.

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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