Lower Decks Recap: “First First Contact” (Season 2, Episode 10)

No punches were pulled in the crafting of this season’s finale of Lower Decks. The character growth that we’ve seen all season culminates in a flurry of emotions, and the action?? Well. Let’s just jump into it, shall we?

The Cerritos preps to help the Archimedes with their first contact mission with the Laaperians, reuniting Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) with Capt. Sonya Gomez (Lycia Naff!!). Following the meeting, Admiral Freeman (Phil LaMarr) offers her a mysterious set of congratulations. Smuggling contraband, Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) collides with Ensign Jh’enyphr Sh’reyan (Lauren Lapkus) in the hallway. As Mariner scrambles to collect the sprawled bottles of what looks like Romulan ale, she overhears Capt. Gomez advising Freeman about the tearful goodbyes she’ll have to make once she announces her promotion.

Told you no punches were pulled.

On the Cerritos, three of our Fave Four are in their favorite cargo bay, working on various tasks. Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) experiences issues with his implant while Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid) works on his Capt. Freeman Day banner. Mariner bursts in and breaks the news of her mom’s promotion, but her friends are surprisingly supportive. Mariner chooses violence and rushes off to tell the senior staff. Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells) learns that Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) wants to remove her from sick bay, and confesses her concerns to Rutherford. Mariner rushes to the bar, and joins Cmdr. Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), Lt. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore), and Lt. Billups (Paul Scheer) to break the news.

On the bridge, Freeman prepares the ship to depart the station, and her senior staff lashes out in a wave of passive aggression so severe that she calls a meeting in her ready room. Meanwhile, Tendi heads to sickbay for her appointment and overhears T’Ana tell another officer that Tendi wasn’t meant to work in sickbay. Visibly upset, Tendi runs off.

The Cerritos hangs back while Capt. Gomez and the Archimedes goes on to meet the Laaprians. The senior staff is livid that Freeman hasn’t told them. As they bicker, Mariner revels in the chaos.

Tendi cries to Rutherford about being transferred off the ship. Rutherford comforts her by taking her on a farewell tour of the ‘Ritos, avoiding T’Ana along the way. In their favorite Jeffries tube, Rutherford and Tendi confess their love…for the ship. He suggests going somewhere off-limits in a rare display of mischievousness. Together, they sneak onto the Captain’s Yacht.

Freeman chastises Mariner for spilling the beans when a solar flare destroys a planetoid in the Laap system. The debris-filled, hyper-ionized shockwave is heading directly towards the Archimedes and the populated planet. Slammed by the shockwave, the Archimedes has complete system failure and starts hurdling towards the planet’s surface. The crew of the Cerritos scramble to figure out a plan to rescue the Archimedes. Frustrated with the severity of the situation and the lack of options, Freeman elects to branch off on her own to save the Archimedes. Mariner follows her mother to the Captain’s Yacht, and attempts to convince her not to take the small ship. Overhearing the squabble, Tendi and Rutherford interrupt and offer a solution.

Together, the crew decides to strip the ship’s outer hull to avoid magnetic interference, requiring all hands to suit up and manually remove the hull plating, including the view screen. Mariner and Freeman continue to bicker, causing Beckett to say some hurtful things to her mother. As he works, Rutherford’s implant acts up again, the error message obscuring his vision. Billups suggests that Rutherford purges the redundant files, but he laments about losing his memories of Tendi. Billups reminds him that he’ll never be able to make new memories if he doesn’t make room for them.

Combining their efforts, the crew of the Cerritos strip the hull to the bone, save for one tricky panel. Ransom tries to press on, but our Fave Four insist that they can release the clamp in time. They hurry to the fabled Cetacean ops, soliciting the help of two Beluga whale officers named Matt and Kimolu, who alert them that the valve to release the hull clamp is too small for the whales to get to. Before diving in, Boimler confronts Mariner about her relationship with her mother. Mariner runs to the bridge to apologize, and alerts the crew to Boimler’s efforts. As Boimler releases the valve, ruptures his suit, and nearly drowns, Mariner gets flung into space. Just when things are looking grim, Jh’enyphr rescues her, bringing her back to safety.

With the ship stripped nearly bare, the Cerritos gets to the Archimedes just in time to spare the Laaprians from certain doom. After a successful First Contact, the crew celebrates in the bar. As Tendi tends to a patient, T’Ana calls her into her office. T’Ana reveals that she’d been watching Tendi’s uncanny ability to overcome whatever she put her mind to, and enrolled her in the science officer position.

In the bar, an uncharacteristically tipsy Capt. Freeman convenes with her senior staff. Mariner thanks Jh’enyphr for saving her, and apologizes for being such a jerk. Freeman gets called to the conference room, presumably to receive notification of her promotion. Instead, she’s apprehended and arrested by Starfleet security officers under the charge of conspiring to destroy the Pakled homeworld. As her mother get taken away in irons, Mariner joins the rest of the crew – and us – in watching their captain get apprehended for something she didn’t do.

This season is a clear indicator that this show’s writers have their collective finger on the pulse. From addressing the frequent pairings of Our Fave Four to digging in the crates of obscure items from previous series, this show has turned into the Rosetta Stone of Trek. Bringing back beloved characters like Tom Paris and Sonya Gomez were the flex we didn’t know we needed, and addressing details like Rutherford remembering the forgotten bits of his surgery, are all franchise flexes that this show is in a unique position to take advantage of, and honestly? We’re here for it.

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