Lower Decks Recap: “Crisis Point” (Season 1, Episode 9)

Starfleet, while a bit imperialist at times, has always been lauded for its benevolence towards other cultures, respecting the sovereignty of other civilizations and the natural development within them. While a good statue-toppling is always an appreciated spectacle, it’s very clear early on in “Crisis Point” that Ensign Mariner has overstepped her bounds, violating the Prime Directive by interfering with and influencing the transition of power between two groups of people.

When Capt. Freeman reprimands her, Mariner says things no Black daughter has ever said to her mother without serious consequences. And indeed, the repercussions are severe. Instead of sending her daughter to the brig, Capt. Freeman orders Beckett to go to therapy, enraging the ensign before beaming her back to the ship.

After her therapist challenges her to find an outlet for the rage she’s harboring, Mariner sulks and joins her friends on the holodeck, watching while Tendi and Rutherford shoot at skeet with Leonardo daVinci. Boimler interrupts so that he can utilize the holodeck to train for a new advanced diplomacy program, uploading a complex simulation of the Cerritos and her crew.

When she realizes the level of sophistication in Boimler’s depictions of the crew, Mariner quickly hijacks the program, coding a holographic epic that manages to poke fun at several different Trek films simultaneously.

Incorporating everything from an Enterprise-esque awe-struck flyby sequence to a J.J. Abrams’ lens flare on the bridge, Mariner’s DnD-like parody is chock full of franchise references that dig deep in the crates of fandom nostalgia. She even manages to parody herself, self-dubbing her villainous character, Vindicta: Vengeance Personified, as she terrorizes the ship and the crew. She assigns characterizations to Tendi and Rutherford, offending Tendi with Orion stereotypes.

There are some great gems while Mariner – that is, Vindicta – lays siege to the Cerritos, particularly when Thunderdome-Rutherford figures out how to vent the plasma from the failing warp core by using “indicontrols and sativents”. Shaxs telling Mariner and Tendi to tell the pa’raithes he said what’s up when they get to hell while firing the largest phaser cannon on record, is another.

But the mood shifts abruptly at this point; Mariner’s response is violent and a bit alarming, indicating levels of unaddressed hostility within her that we’ve yet to see so far this season. Tendi justifiably bails on the experience when Mariner takes a little too much joy in the prospect of harming the captain.

What happens next could be jarring for folks with good relationships with their mothers, or relatable for folks dealing with mother wounds. Mariner works out the underlying issues between them, centering around the concept that Freeman really doesn’t know her daughter and how much that fact enrages her. Vindicta blows the warp core of her vessel, and the following shockwave sends the Cerritos crashing down to the surface to the nearby planet, looking a hell of a lot like the end of Enterprise-D from ‘Generations’.

After a cringe-y fight with her mother, Mariner’s Boimler-written counterpart steps in, beaming Freeman out of danger. Rutherford beams the crew to safety while Mariner fights with herself in a long, poignant battle between id and ego.

After talking (and beating) herself through her admittedly belligerent attitude, Mariner eventually realizes the error of her ways, and reflects with Rutherford over drinks. He empathizes, wishing he had the courage to tell Lt. Cmmdr. Billups how he really feels about him, indicating further evidence of his sapiosexual nature. Mariner apologizes to Tendi for stereotyping her, and gathers her friends for another adventure.

Meanwhile, Boimler remains on the holodeck to further study how to efficiently brown-nose his way through the new diplomacy program. In doing so, he discovers the truth about the relationship between the captain and Mariner, sending him into a fit of nervous energy. The new intel causes him to fail his interview miserably, leaving us with the concept that Boimler has the capacity to leak this to the whole ship.

The season approaches its end with this dramatic reveal, leaving us anxious to see it’s resolution. There are so many unanswered questions: Will Boimler be able to hold it together and keep his mouth shut? Will Mariner be forced to leave the ship once starfleet finds out about her mother’s nepotism? When will we find out about the light being that’s still inside Capt. Freeman?

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