Lower Decks Recap: “Mugato, Gumato” (Season 2, Episode 4)

In this week’s episode, “Mugato, Gumato”, we start off in the gym of the Cerritos. Ensigns Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) prepare for a bout of anbo-jyitsu. Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) asks to join them, and they accept, confident in the results of their late night practice sessions. Once inside the ring, they team up and land critical blows against her, drawing first blood. Suddenly concerned for her safety, the two try to end the match, but Mariner goes off. Thrilled to no longer have to hold back, Mariner unleashes her skills, beating them to a pulp.

On Frylon VI, a pair of scientists encounter a Mugato (Magutu? Gumato?). As the species isn’t naturally found in this part of space, the Cerritos is tasked with animal control. (Fans of The Original Series will remember the horned apes from episode “A Private Little War”. )

Meanwhile, Ensigns Boimler and Rutherford play Diplomat in the bar, still nursing their wounds from their earlier match with Mariner. Otis the bartender lets slip that Mariner is actually an undercover black ops agent, planted on the Cerritos as cover. The pair don’t believe it at first, but slowly begin to fill in some blanks about Mariner’s uncanny ability to kick such high levels of ass…

In sick bay, Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells) works on being assertive. Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) tasks her with completing errant staff physical scans, sending her on a mission around the ship to collect the missing data.

Rutherford and Boimler spiral down the rabbit hole of the black ops Mariner conspiracy theory. Together, the three of them join Lt. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) on the away mission to help the Mugato. Once on the planet, they find a Ferengi poaching camp beginning to harvest Mugato parts for profit. Shaxs confronts the criminal behavior, setting into motion a string of events that results in a Mugato stampede, the team getting captured, and Boimler and Rutherford witnessing Mariner stab Shaxs before seeming to eat his flesh right before their eyes. Panicked, the two escape to the woods. In the melee, one of the poachers leaves the planet. Understandably suspicious, Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) has the Cerritos beam him aboard, accidentally destroying his ship in the process.

Boimler and Rutherford narrowly escape death by Mugato several hilarious times while Tendi tracks down crew members to collect their data.

Mariner gets caught in a trap and comes clean to Boimler and Rutherford about the rumor she spread. She attempts to explain her record and her loner tendencies, but gets captured by the Ferengi. She encourages her friends to come up with a rescue plan of their own, passing the badass torch for an episode.

Back on the Cerritos, Tendi completes the entire list except for one mysterious crew member. Dr. T’Ana insists that she leave it alone, but Tendi quickly figures out the final missing crew member is T’Ana herself. T’Ana leads Tendi on a harrowing chase that most cat owners can empathize with, before ducking into a Jeffries tube.

Despite the shuttle Capt. Freeman generously donates to the poacher, he manages to con her out of the collectibles in her ready room. Back on Frylon VI, Boimler and Rutherford steel their nerves and come up with a plan.

In the tubes, Tendi falls in pursuit of T’Ana and breaks her arm. Dubious of the severity of Tendi’s injury, T’Ana doubts her at first. But when she realizes her ensign was telling the truth, T’Ana rushes to her aid, leaving Tendi to quickly scan T’Ana before passing out.

On the planet, Boimler and Rutherford convinces the Ferengi to preserve the Mugato instead of harvesting them, turning the camp into a theme park to charge admission and concessions. Back on the Cerritos, T’Ana comes to respect Tendi’s newfound tenacity. After receiving a tip from Admiral Freeman and Starfleet Command Freeman catches the poacher and puts him to work in the reserve.

Mariner, Boimler, and Rutherford ultimately bury the hatchet, forming a tighter bond to their already unconventional working relationship around a game of Diplomat. Pausing to get another round for the group, plants another rumor for Otis to spread, this time centering the newly dubbed “Mugato Twins” and their harrowing deeds.

There’s a great deal of personal growth beings shown among our Fave Four. Tendi’s professional development is occurring alongside her personal development, and Boimler isn’t nearly as skittish on dangerous away missions as he used to be. Rutherford is seeing some action outside of the guts of the ship, and Mariner seems to be eating her humble pie with more grace and dignity than expected. Capt. Freeman’s frustration with receiving low-priority missions seems to be an underlying theme this season, setting up space for the captain to wrestle with being professionally respected amongst commanding officers and peers alike.

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