It may seem like the crew of the USS Cerritos has been traipsing about the quadrant, but the relationships that have been developing are not to be overlooked when we consider the significance of this ship.
On a diplomatic mission, Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and her senior staff host a Doopler emissary (Richard Kind) en route to Starbase 25 for a Starfleet Command conference complete with a swanky VIP after-party to follow. Sensitive in nature, a Doopler can essentially duplicate at rates that would put a tribble to shame. Capt. Freeman ensures the emissary’s comfort, hoping to be able to rub elbows with Starfleet elite in light to the Cerritos‘ performance in the battle against the Pak’leds.
Down in the, well… lower decks, Ensigns Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Boimler (Jack Quaid) lament about their grunt work getting in the way of the party. Mariner is clearly still holding some resentment towards Boimler for joining the Titan, and Boimler laments that his transporter clone is most likely on the invite list. Mariner formulates a plan to get into the party, involving Boimler posing as his clone with her as his +1.
Meanwhile, Ensigns Tendi (Noël Wells) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) build a model of the Ceritos after their shifts. Rutherford reflects on the missing bits of his memory as they work, but remains mostly optimistic about completing it despite his newfound disability.
Things seem to be going smoothly as the Cerritos approaches Starbase 25, until the Doopler emissary overhears Capt. Freeman’s complaints about his visit. Mortified, he duplicates at an alarming rate, causing the ship to lose access to the station until the emissary has collected himself. In their bunks, Mariner and Boimler consider which uniforms to wear to the party, when the Captain makes a ship-wide announcement about the Doopler. Distraught, the emissary continues to multiply, and Mariner decides to make a break for it.
On the station, Mariner and Boimler seek out an old cohort for intel regarding the location of the party. There’s more discourse surrounding bruised feelings between the two before Mariner asks the shop owner where the party is. In exchange for the info, the ensigns are charged with delivering an admittedly shady shipment of Lt. Cmmdr. Data bubble bath to a storage locker.
Back on the Cerritos, Rutherford and Tendi are still struggling with the construction of the model. As Rutherford grows increasingly frustrated with the work, Lt. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) clears out the bar, arms full of Doopler, claiming the space for them to duplicate safely. Capt. Freeman tries to contain the outbreak on the bridge, and Tendi and Rutherford struggle with the model as the Dooplers continue to spread.
On the station, Mariner and Boimler drive to the rendezvous point to drop off their cargo. Mariner is visibly aggravated by Boimler’s attempt to bond with the shop owner. As they begin to talk it out, they find that they’ve been had, and are carrying illegal Klingon disruptors with the bubble bath. Mariner then leads a harrowing car (ATV?) chase around the station as she tries to shake station security.
In the cargo bay, Rutherford tries desperately to fix the model Cerritos amidst a growing sea of Dooplers. Tendi attempts to calm him down, but he finally releases the pent-up frustration surrounding his memory loss. The Dooplers continue to grow in number, and the ensigns climb atop a derelict shuttlecraft for safety.
Back on the station, Mariner and Boimler duck into the Aviary, enabling us to see Avians for the first time since The Animated Series. Swerving to avoid a custodian (to his chagrin), the ensigns crash into a pond. Mariner demands her contact tell her the location of the party, threatening to snitch on his firearm smuggling operation. Together, they queue up for access to the party, complete with filthy, soaking wet dress white uniforms. Boimler is allowed in under the pretense of being his clone, while Mariner is denied. They bicker about it, revealing their true feelings about Boimler’s reassignment to the Titan. Mariner goes off to find a bar to sulk in, while Boimler enters a party that rivals anything seen on Star Trek: Online. Thrilled to be there but obviously missing his friend, Boimler realizes what’s actually important.
The Dooplers continue to duplicate on the Cerritos, and Tendi explains to Rutherford that his notes on the model were placed specifically to delay its completion, so that they would have more time together as friends. Encouraged, they eject the tiny warp core to blow the overhead maintenance hatch, and climb to safety together.
On the station, Mariner has found a bar and is one drink into a night of (more) bad decisions. Boimler enters and admits that the party was no fun without her. They finally come to terms about the condition of their friendship, and the bartender reveals that they remind her of another inseparable Starfleet duo. They discover that Kirk and Spock had carved their names into the bar, and suddenly feel much better about not being at that party.
Back aboard the Cerritos, the Dooplers have reached critical mass. Capt. Freeman, having enough, berates them for their emotional insecurity. Affronted by the insult, the emissary slowly begins to collect himself. Determined to get to that party, Capt. Freeman orders the crew to follow suit, effectively culling the number of emissaries back to one. With her senior staff, Freeman makes a break for the station. They too are denied access due to the status of the Cerritos, and Freeman launches into a heartfelt declaration of how much her ship and the rest of the fleet deserve as much celebration as capital ships. As much of a rallying cry for class equality as it was, Capt. Freeman and the senior staff ultimately find themselves drinking with Mariner and Boimler. Tend and Rutherford have joined them, and before he can get too sad about losing the model, Tendi presents him with a model of Deep Space Nine (featuring both Jadiza and Ezri Dax).
This episode manages to explore some of the nuanced themes of the interpersonal relationships between the characters without taking it’s foot off of the comedic pedal. There are still loads of references to occurrences and individuals across the Trek universe, and our Fave Four are learning more about themselves and each other right before our eyes. It’s additionally interesting to see Capt. Freeman’s quest for respect from the ‘fleet gain a bit of traction, particularly as it raises questions surrounding classism within Starfleet. It’s pretty clear the showrunners are building this arc towards something huge, and it’s exciting to see where they’ll take the Cali Ship That Could next.