Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Gives Its Lead a Secret Mission

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, "Second Contact," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is one episode in and has wasted no time in established interpersonal drama among the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos, one of the least important starships in Starfleet's entire armada. However, while the ship traverses the cosmos to carry out the more mundane, bureaucratic functions of the United Federation of Planets, the animated series' protagonist, Ensign Brad Boimier, receives his own secret mission straight from the starship's commanding officer Captain Carol Freeman to spy on Ensign Beckett Mariner.

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Boimier has always dreamed of rising through the ranks of Starfleet to one day become the captain of his own starship, going as far as to privately record his own faux captain's logs as part of his professional daydream. In complete contrast is Mariner, who frequently shirks Starfleet regulations though she has revealed herself to be quite knowledgeable in them. Comments made by Mariner suggest she once held a higher rank before circumstances led her to be busted back down to ensign, resulting in her flagrant disrespect for authority stemming from this disillusionment.

Recognizing Boimier's ambitious-minded outlook, dedication to Starfleet's ideals and his proximity to Mariner, Captain Freeman summons Boimier for a private meeting. Freeman tasks Boimier with providing a full report of all illicit activities conducted by Mariner due to ongoing suspicions regarding her conduct as a Starfleet officer in exchange for a potential recommendation to be fast-tracked for promotion. While initially hesitant, Boimier accepts, especially recalling and witnessing infractions and questionable behavior committed by Mariner throughout the ship.

While on a diplomatic planetary mission, Boimier believes he has caught Mariner selling Starfleet weaponry to the locals in a clear violation of its protocols. Confronting her and attempting to take her into custody at phaserpoint, Boimier instead reveals she was breaking policy to give the locals farming equipment to stave off planet-wide starvation, with the populace going hungry while Starfleet wades through bureaucratic red tape. Realizing that Mariner's heart is in the right place, even if her methods are unorthodox, Boimier files a report to Freeman without any negative things about Mariner. After the ensign leaves her office, Freeman quietly reveals that Mariner is her daughter, and she intends to drum her out of Starfleet as she feels it's not the right career path for her.

Barely into its mission and family drama is already affecting the U.S.S. Cerritos and its crew. Squabbles between Captain Freeman and her daughter Ensign Mariner have quietly formed, with Freeman potentially divided crew loyalties as she seeks to drive her daughter from Starfleet after Mariner's checkered past. And while Ensign Boimier may have decided to side with his friend instead of his commanding officer, the assignment establishes a tension that will inform the animated series moving forward as it boldly goes where, well, several starships have gone before.

Star Trek: Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman, Jerry O'Connell as Commander Jack Ransom, Gillian Vigman as Doctor T'Ana and Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs. New episodes premiere Thursdays on CBS All Access.