This week’s episode of Lower Decks features a shift in tonality that continues to solidify it’s place in the Star Trek universe. While this may seem uncharacteristic against the backdrop of comedy the show has presented thus far, the tone shift does track with the action-packed nature of the series.
Two apparent themes begin to collide at the top of the episode. Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) remains ambitious, seeking the acclaim of Starfleet command for her constant success with the Pakleds. Additionally, the Pakleds continue to attack Federation space. Freeman and Lt. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) beam down to the Pakled homeworld to negotiate a cease-fire. When a refuge named Rumdar declares asylum aboard the Cerritos, the Pakleds hold Freeman and Shaxs hostage until he’s returned.
During breakfast, our Fave Four get assigned to Anomaly Consolidation Duty aka trash day. Ensigns Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Tendi (Noël Wells) are thrilled about it while Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) remains unimpressed. Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) is downright distraught about the idea of collecting the un-recyclable trash their senior officers have collected. After a signature display of clumsiness, Boimler gets approached by Ensign Casey (Neil Casey) and the Red Shirts. This group of command ensigns (including a Kzinti officer and Jh’enyphr the Andorian) claim to support each other on a fast track to command. They essentially convince Boimler to shirk his duties with his friends to share his insight on his time on the Titan.
Elsewhere on the ship, Cmmdr. Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) and Lt. Kayshon (Carl Tart) escort Rumdar (Rich Fulcher) on a tour. After quickly realizing Rumdar is a spy, Ransom and Kayshon check in with the captain.
Tendi, Rutherford, and Mariner battle with surprisingly dangerous amount of space trash. Although handling the materials with care, the trio accidentally stumble and set off a high-stakes chain of events where each of them face imminent peril. Mariner and Rutherford tangle with anomalies most while Tendi maintains her optimism.
Meanwhile, Boimler is groomed by the Red Shirts, sporting a new hair cut and a new set of shoulder pads in his uniform. Elsewhere on the Cerritos, Ransom and Kayshon underestimate Rumdar, losing him on the ship. The Red Shirts continue to groom Boimler, encouraging him to work on his motivational captain’s speech. Boimler is reluctant at first, but delivers a surprisingly motivational speech, showing just how much he’s grown as a character.
As Mariner and Rutherford grow increasingly more agitated about their tasks, Tendi gets frustrated about their attitudes. After accidentally activating a living storybook, Tendi gets swallowed alive by a giant, screaming slug. Mariner and Rutherford scramble to find the hypospray to fix it when Tendi is abruptly, well…evacuated.
On Pakled Planet, Freeman and Shaxs slowly climb the hierarchy, meeting the Pakled queen, king, and emperor, before witnessing a revolution in real time.
Tendi accidentally activates and alien mood enhancement device and turns into an enormous, pissed off scorpion-esque beast, setting off on a rampage of fury and destruction throughout the deck. She knocks both Ransom and Kayshon unconscious along the way, and Boimler sets off to rescue her, against the Red Shirts’ wishes. Through a series of slapstick pratfalls, Boimler gets Tendi laughing enough to stabilize her mood, returning her to normal.
Ransom and Kayshon regain consciousness just in time to see Rumdar floating through space. He’s brought to sickbay and immediately wakes up, baffling Dr. T’Ana. It’s confirmed he’s a spy, and Ransom orders him off the ship.
On the Pakled homeworld, Freeman and Shaxs are in a tight spot when Rumdar is beamed to the surface. He reveals that the Pakleds have been planning to place a bomb on Earth, and the away team beams out.
On the Cerritos, Boimler finally stands up Ensign Casey and the other Red Shirts follow-suit. Ransom interrupts just in time for Casey to brown nose for the assistant captain spot, but it’s Boimler who gets praised for the display of leadership.
Just when things are looking wrapped up, Mariner reveals that she’s swiped a crystal that enables the user to broadcast their voice to another planet. The Fave Four decide to prank call Armus, the gelatinous, tar-like being who killed Tasha Yar.
All’s well that ends well, but there are some grumblings of a season-long arch-nemesis within the Pakleds. Starfleet constantly underestimates them even though they continue to be a threat. This new development of them being able to survive the vacuum of space is alarming, too. Freeman’s ambition grows, almost to the point of over-looking the glaring details about the Pakleds that could prove dangerous if their plans to invade Sector 001 are successful.