Lower Decks Recap: “The Least Dangerous Game” (Season 3, Episode 2)

No words can truly describe the sound of pure joy I made when I realized our Lower Deckers were spending their free time as any respectable Ensign would – by putting on Klingon finery and playing Bat’leths and Bihnuchs while eating guac and chips and drinking bloodwine. Much like the First Contact Theme Park from last episode, I would pretty much crawl over broken glass for it to be real. One thing I truly, truly love about Lower Decks is that as much as it is a love letter to Star Trek, what it is above all things is a love letter to the FANS. The self-referential humor and the way they absolutely understand how much we would love to hang out with the iconic characters, play really cool and technologically advanced RPGs, and blast off of Earth while jamming to Steppenwolf… I feel seen, is what I’m saying.

The Lowers Deckers dressed as Klingons and playing a role playing game together.

Unsurprisingly, the goal of Bat’leths and Bihnuchs is not actually to survive, it’s to die WITH HONOR. As much as I’m sure Mariner (Tawny Newsome) would have completed this goal admirably, as the Number One’s “Number One”, she is pulled away by Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) who is basically finding new ways of trolling the shit out of her in order to push her into insubordination. She is forced to take off as she’s almost late for being early!

As for Boimler (Jack Quaid), he’s a cautious fellow, always calculating the risks and overthinking his responses to things rather than committing to decisive action. Between finding out that his old pal Ensign Vendome (Sam Richardson) has had a meteoric rise to Captain because of his propensity for taking opportunities, as well as ignominiously losing his game of B&B by becoming *gasp* a DENTIST (brutal), Tendi (Noël Wells) gently points out that maybe his personal philosophy could use some tuning up.

Turning to the away mission, Ransom explains to Mariner, Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Billups (Paul Scheer) that one of the planet’s space elevators, *ahem* my apologies, orbital lifts, is out of commission. They will need to fix it, as well as coordinate with the Delanians. Mariner, understandably is ready to hit the planet and enjoy “meeting” the very friendly locals to engage in some diplomacy while the engineers do engineer things. Ransom however, sends the our delightfully weird engineers to the planets to “liaise” and he and Mariner will fix the space elevator themselves!

Back on the Cerritos, Tendi is yet again pushing Boimler to get out of his comfort zone a bit. Considering Boimler’s comfort zone is essentially being anxious and making extremely detailed logs about sniffing the Captain’s chair, this is probably a good idea. Boimler agrees to join a swingball tournament so sweaty muscle heads can drill balls at his face, and luckily for him, one of those sweaty muscle heads is Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) who is impressed enough by Boimler’s impressive high pitched wailing to invite him to his Bajoran dirge choir. After singing the saddest dirges in the quadrant, Boimler earns a favor for Shaxs and an invite to get oiled up for Chief Lundy’s (Nolan North) figure drawing class.

Rutherford and Billups sitting poolside with leis and colorful drinks.

Things are going pretty rough for Mariner, pretty much the only thing successfully getting done is Ransom’s squats. Billups and Rutherford are LIVING on the planet though, with the leis and the brightly colored drink pool sides and plans for dancing and feasting. Unfortunately, Ransom is much better at lifting than engineering and he’s managed to really make a mess of this space elevator. You can actually see Mariner slowly losing her mind, it’s great. She signed up for Starfleet for adventure, and also obviously to be fed fruit by erotic aliens!

Back on the ship, Boimler’s new policy of saying yes to everything has been really rocking and given him a really great day. Unfortunately, Bold Boimler also decides to say yes to K’ranch, an alien who needs someone to hunt to pass the time while the space elevator is being fixed. He pretty quickly realizes this may not have been the greatest idea when K’ranch fully PULL A TOOTH FROM HIS FACE and marks Boimler as prey and gives him an hour to run. Yikes, buddy.

Back planetside, unfortunately Billups and Rutherford are quickly out of their depth as their idyllic paradise planet has turned hostile when they carelessly did not wear a crop top to the sacred hall. Big mistake. BIG mistake. HUGE. Ransom’s advice is just to remind them that they respect all cultures, including those with sacred crop tops. Mariner wants to go help them with the diplomacy so the engineers can come and do the engineering, but Ransom is firm. This is HIS command and Mariner would do well to follow his orders.

Boimler just wants to double check the fine print with K’ranch on the whole “hunting” and “prey” situation but it’s already too late in the game for that and the HUNT IS ON!!!! Boimler scurries away and shows off his famous high pitched wailing as he is hunted across the ship. He proves himself pretty slippery, but he also jumps into Cetacean Ops with his dirty shoes on, smh. Unfortunately for him, Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is totally fine with him being hunted because K’ranch charmed her over mimosas and after all, Boimler did say yes!

Boimler is hunted through the halls of Cerritos by K'Ranch.

Mariner has decided enough is enough and suits up to sky jump to the planet to save Ruthy. Unfortunately, this has all been elaborate ruse by Ransom to push her into insubordination. He’s super impressed with her ability to follow orders and decides now is the time to go rescue their hapless engineers. This results in Mariner sprinting up stairs and a climbing wall that I’m pretty sure would fully kill me.

Cornered, hiding, teeth chattering, Boimler gets a pep talk from Ferengi generated Martok and has decided he doesn’t WANT to be prey. He heads out, stands still in front of K’ranch and declares himself no longer the hunted, but the hunt- oops that’s a spear to the shoulder. As K’ranch takes selfies he gives some constructive criticism and will be giving big props to Captain Freeman on Boimler’s excellent performance in being hunted.

Mariner makes it to Ransom in time for them to do another space dive down to where Billups and Rutherford are about to be sacrificed to a sentient volcano at the behest of a telepathic baby AND an evil supercomputer. It provides a system of checks and balances! However, Ransom’s abs are here to save the day, and the moment the shine of the lava bounces off his six pack, the Delanians are fully ready to parley. Diplomacy at it’s finest.

Day saved, Ransom calls Mariner to his office and apologizes for pushing her so hard and nearly getting their engineering staff sacrificed to a volcano just to troll her. Mariner however, seems to finally see where he’s coming from and the method to the madness. I really enjoy this relationship. Ransom and Mariner are both so similar in so many ways, hot, stubborn, decisive, loves to talk their way out of madcap situations, but Ransom has figured out a way to work within the confines of Starfleet regulation which is something Mariner struggles with. Is Ransom enough of a dick that Mariner still “hates” him? Hell yeah.

Back at their wonderful game of B&B, Bold Boimler is bolstered by commendations and nerve damage and tries to BOLDLY order Bloodwine, which results in him being murdered with his own arm. Oh well, can’t win them all.

So that’s it! Loved this episode so much. It was so so so funny but also did a really good job of moving both Boimler and Mariner along their personal journey and had a really resonant theme of learning to push yourself out of your comfort zone, in moderation of course, as Tendi would remind us all. Lower Decks has really hit its stride and I can’t wait for more of Season 3!

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