Lower Decks Recap: “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” (Season 2, Episode 7)

On this week’s episode of Lower Decks, Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and the crew of the USS Cerritos rescue a civilization from a century of war and oppression by unplugging the evil AI, Agimus. Agimus (Jeffery Combs) is fully-functional while unplugged however, and instantly attempts to manipulate Cmmdr. Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) as he packages the machine for shipment to the Daystrom Institute.

Returning to the bridge, Capt. Freeman receives a hail from Queen Paolana of Hysperia. Freeman remains unimpressed as the queen explains their engine trouble and requests help from the Cerritos‘ chief engineer Lt. Andarithio “Andy” Billups, her son.

Down in the lower decks, our Fave Four convene in their bunks before their duties. Boimler (Jack Quaid) is hype for his assignment to Dansk, seeing it as a chance to impress Cmmdr. Ransom by wrangling giant, deadly centipedes. As his excitement grows, his padd beeps, alerting him that he’s been reassigned to cargo escort to the Daystrom Institute with Mariner (Tawny Newsome).

The Cerritos arrives at the Monaveen‘s location to assist with their engine troubles. In engineering, Billups (Paul Scheer) prepares his team for his mother’s arrival. He explains that in joining Starfleet, he abdicated his right to the throne and all his princely duties. Billups goes on to warn his staff against his mother’s attempt to convince him to lose his virginity, as doing so will force him to resign his Starfleet commission and force him to assume the throne. Queen Paolana arrives with the captain, imploring her son to help fix their ship, not as a prince, but as a Starfleet engineer. Pleased with the respect, Billups assigns Rutherford to help him with the task.

Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) freaks out about going with Billups to fix the Monaveen, and experiences some highly aggravated impostor syndrome. Tendi (Noël Wells) calms him down for a bit, reminding him of his own greatness, before stressing him out by mentioning all the royal protocol he should familiarize himself with.

Mariner and Boimler are en route to the Daystrom Institute when they encounter a violent gravimetric anomaly that forces them to crash land on a desolate planet. The shuttle is essentially totaled, and Mariner has suffered a broken arm. Just as Boimler begins to lose his cool, Agimus starts trying to convince them to let him help. 

Billups and Rutherford board the Monaveen, and Ruthie is quickly dazzled by the opulence of Hysperian culture. Billups swiftly dismisses any potential distractions as they begin work on the engine.

At the crash site, Mariner and Boimler are wasting away on the planet, battling starvation, exposure, dehydration, and Agimus’ attempts at manipulation. Together they set out in search of food and water. Agimus incites conflict between Mariner and Boimler, showing him Mariner’s conversation with Ransom asking to have Boimler reassigned to her mission.

On the Monaveen, Billups and Rutherford make quick work of the engine trouble, much to the pleasure of Queen Paolana. Capt. Freeman calls Billups to her ready room in an attempt to grant reprieve from the queen’s overbearing nature. Just when Billups explains that the break wasn’t necessary, there’s an explosion on the Monaveen. Freeman and Billups rush to the other ship, finding that both the queen and Rutherford were killed in the explosion.

Agimus continues to instigate as tensions come to a head on the desolate planet, and Mariner and Boimler actually come to blows about it. Boimler stuns Mariner and takes Agimus to a nearby ship in hopes to establish long-range communications.

On the Cerritos, Freeman attempts to console Billups as he resigns his commission. Blaming himself for the accident, Billups hands in his badge as his lecherous royal attendants watch eagerly. Meanwhile, Tendi is distraught over the loss of her friend, but is determined to find him. She runs a scan for his implant and finds it operating at full capacity on the Monaveen.

Back on the Monaveen, Tendi discovers that Rutherford is alive and well. He reveals that the queen – who is very much alive – transported him to a royal feast to celebrate a job well done. Realizing what she’s done. Rutherford rushes back to the Cerritos to prevent Billups’ royal copulation. [TW: There’s a scene where Billups is being coerced into sex that can be upsetting to some viewers]

Mariner comes to just in time for us to see Boimler plugging Agimus into the ship. Boimler reveals that he’s plugged Agimus in so that he can use its power source to send a distress signal. Billups confronts his mother and asserts his position, declaring that he’ll remind in Starfleet despite royal familial pressures. Tendi apologizes to Rutherford for pushing him out of his comfort zone, obviously still triggered by almost losing him last season.

Mariner and Boimler are rescued from the planet, but Agimus is still at it, declaring that it’s done being manipulative and desires to join Starfleet. They drop it off at the Daystrom Institute, adding it to an alarmingly large collection of sentient, malevolent computers.

There were certainly some fun moments throughout this episode, but it also hosts several problematic themes and scenes. Seeing Boimler and Mariner actually come to fisticuffs was a bit jarring, for one thing. While hearing Jeffery Combs in yet another Trek role is definitely on-brand, Agimus lacked the endearing qualities that the actor’s physical performances embody, rendering Agimus more threatening than any Vorta or Ferengi could ever aspire to be.  For another thing, the blending of fantasy and science fiction in Hysperian culture was a refreshing glimpse into the nuances of the Trek universe, but the queen pressuring Billups to have sex is off-putting, to say the least. Rutherford remains a class-act for striving to protect his boss’ wishes without judgement. Lt. Cmmdr. Andarithio “Andy” Billups may not have taken the throne of Hysperia, but he is now and henceforth our asexual/aromantic King.

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