Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 1 Twist Ending Explained

What does Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 1's twist ending mean for Mariner and her status on the Cerritos? The Star Trek franchise is undergoing rapid expansion, and the latest endeavor to hit CBS All Access is Star Trek: Lower Decks, an animated, comedic take on Starfleet life centered around a group of lowly crew mates serving in the bowls of the Cerritos. The main duo are Beckett Mariner (voiced by Tawny Newsome) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), who couldn't be more different in terms of their outlook and philosophy. While Boimler idolizes Starfleet's finest and aspires to climb the ranks, Mariner is far more laid back, taking a jaded view of her superiors and performing duties with her own personal spin.

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In Star Trek: Lower Decks' debut episode, "Second Contact," the Cerritos' Captain Freeman asks Boimler to keep an eye out for Mariner's insubordination. Mariner herself reveals that she was removed from her last Starfleet post for being troublesome and holds little respect for those frequenting the ship's bridge, remaining content to break the rules and do things her own way. The twist comes during the episode's closing moments, as Captain Freeman is discussing Mariner with a Starfleet admiral via video link. Neither want to take responsibility for her, and it transpires that Freeman is actually Mariner's mother, while the admiral (presumably Admiral Mariner) is her father.

Star Trek: Lower Decks' marketing had already revealed Mariner's less-than-positive views on the Starfleet hierarchy and her lack of desire to ascend the promotional ladder, but hadn't elaborated on why she felt that way. Nor was there any confirmation that members of the main cast would be directly related to each other. Nevertheless, hindsight reveals that clues regarding Mariner and Freeman's relationship were hidden in plain sight, going largely unnoticed by fans. One of the top promo images released prior to Star Trek: Lower Decks' premiere shows Mariner and Freeman pointing their phasers in the exact same pose. Initially, this might've looked like a trait of Lower Decks' animation style - the artists' trademark "fighting stance" perhaps. Now, however, it's clear that Freeman and Mariner are cut from the same cloth, and more alike than either would care to admit, as evidenced by their similar phasering technique.

The twist at the end of "Second Contact" puts Mariner's opinions on Starfleet into a more personal context. What might've first looked like wanting a quiet, stress-free life now appears to be an act of rebellion. Mariner clearly has zero respect for her parents' positions and no desire to follow in their footsteps. Stronger than that, she believes that her mother and father are more interested in personal glory and recognition than actually helping people and achieving the core values Starfleet should represent, hinting at a major familial divide. As far as Mariner's parents are concerned, it seems both might prioritize their careers over their daughter. Freeman evidently wants Mariner off her ship as quickly as possible, and was willing to use Boimler as a spy to make that happen. Mariner's father, on the other hand, has no interest in taking responsibility for his daughter either. This dubious approach to parenting has almost certainly contributed to Mariner's sour attitude towards Starfleet's superiors.

With episode 1's Mariner revelation, Star Trek: Lower Decks brings the issue of nepotism to the fore. Mariner wants to be part of Starfleet so she can help those in need, like the Galardonian farmers, but her defiant antics are already known to her employers. Despite having a storied reputation for going against orders and breaking the rules, Mariner has only been demoted, rather than sacked, and it's suggested that she can only be stationed under parental supervision. Would Mariner have been fired from Starfleet if she didn't have parents in high places? Nepotism might also be the reason behind Mariner's lack of career motivation. Despite being a fine officer, Mariner might fear that any significant promotion could lead to accusations of inheriting her position rather than earning it. Maybe Mariner values the respect of her fellow Lower Decks colleagues over the prestige of a promotion, regardless of whether she deserves it.

Star Trek: Lower Decks continues August 13th on CBS All Access.