Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 Takes on Road Trips & Job Swaps

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, "Envoys," now streaming on CBS All Access.

After a densely-packed premiere, Star Trek: Lower Decks followed up with a more concentrated episode comparatively. But that doesn't mean the show abandoned its now-trademark zaniness, as "Envoys" takes the audience around the universe and the Cerritos.

Lower Decks continues to separate itself from other Trek shows through its structure, particularly the use of a cold open. It's something familiar to fans of Rick & Morty, which showrunner Mike McMahan worked on before joining the series. Here, we see the Cerritos get infiltrated by a transdimensional energy creature, not unlike the one that impregnated counselor Troi in The Next Generation. The beast meets its match in Mariner (Tawny Newsome), who tries to stuff it in a tube before coaxing out of it a fancy new tricorder. Winnowed down to a speck, the creature still tries to loom large but accidentally gets squashed on the uniform of Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis).

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After the credits, we see Boimler (Jack Quaid) boast to Mariner and Tendi (Noel Wells) about his new assignment. He's playing escort to decorated Klingon general Ko'rin, transporting him to accords on Talgana IV. As Boimler brushes up on his Klingon greetings, Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) pops out of a duct. Blistered yet ecstatic, he recounts spending a week inside the Cerritos doing engineering work. But his occupational life butts up against his social life, as he has to choose between follow-up work and his promise that he'd watch a pulsar with Tendi. Deciding not to go back on his word, Rutherford now faces the "simple" task of finding a less time-intensive division on the ship in less than 24 hours.

Boimler is about to get his own dose of stress as he starts on his mission. Decked out in his finest dress uniform and throwing finger guns at engineers, his confidence falls when he sees Mariner will now be accompanying him. It doesn't help that she shows her dedication to the mission by concentrating on slurping down ramen and playing with the new blast shields. Over in engineering, Rutherford anxiously requests a transfer from his superior. Despite his initial intensity, Chief engineer Billups (Paul Scheer) is joyous to see his prodigy exploring another path, with the rest of engineering surprisingly cheering his name in celebration of their departing comrade.

While Boimler initially thinks Mariner came onto the mission to annoy him, the truth comes out when Ko'rin actually comes on board. The two previously worked in "off-the-books gray ops stuff," and they have a warm reunion after engaging in a friendly fight. As Boimler tries to maintain the sanctity of Starfleet, he becomes increasingly annoyed by the general and the ensign, who soon find themselves drunk on bloodwine, throwing out knives and stories of sexual conquest.

Another story is soon to happen, though, when the runabout arrives planetside. Ko'rin demands they land in the Klingon district to find fresh gagh. When they do, the two ensigns get out of the ship and argue about Mariner's familiar tone with the general. But her informality in the least of their problems when Ko'rin wakes from his drunken stupor to steal the runabout. What's more, the ion field surrounding the planet means they can't beam back to the Cerritos. So now the escort mission has turned into a rescue mission, as Mariner and Boimler must find and fly the runabout back to the ship, lest they face being court-martialed.

A hearty speedwalk (from Boimler, at least) takes them into the Klingon district, where they try to find the location of Ko'rin. Boimler literally runs into trouble when he collides with a giant Taxor alien. He only worsens the situation when his attempts at communicating turn scatological, prompting Mariner to distract the Taxor and get out of dodge.

Back on the Cerritos, Rutherford tries his first possible new career in Command. Ransom (Jerry O'Connell) puts him through a holodeck simulation of several scenarios, and the results go as well as expected for the ensign. Whether it's somehow causing 105 percent casualties, or accidentally eliminating the toddler population of the ship, it's clear the red uniform is not the path for him. Elsewhere, Boimler takes a breather in front of a giant horga’hn fountain. Appropriately, he gets propositioned by a woman, who reads his mind to know his preference for the mysterious jamaharon. Mariner swoops in just in time to save him from the woman, who turns out to be a reptilian creature who was seducing him to lay eggs in his throat.

Rutherford now takes a stab at being a medical officer, helping Tendi and T'Ana (Gillian Vighman) tend to a Bajoran in sickbay. Unfortunately, while his tactical skills are second-to-none, Rutherford struggles with bedside manner, pulling a C-3PO in telling the patient the odds he has of living. T'Ana dismisses him to be a part of the brutish security, and Shaxs (Fred Tatsciore) welcomes him with open -- and very large -- arms. He puts Rutherford in a fighting scenario against several Borg. But Rutherford's Vulcan implant is able to plan out the perfect combat strategy, showing resistance is far from futile in this case. Finally, Rutherford has found his place as a born warrior.

Making their next stop at an Andorian bar, Boimler sees another opportunity to do good. Seeing what looks like an elder being accosted, he breaks up the action, only for the elder to become a thieving shapeshifter. In the wrong once more, Boimler gets saved from a bar brawl thanks to Mariner, who buys booze for everyone using money she stole from the Taxor. Frustrated, he storms out of the building to sulk in the alley, realizing that the copious book smarts he's built over his years of studying amounted to squat in the real world. His mood quickly turns to despondent as he throws his combadge away, deciding he'll leave Starfleet behind to join a research asteroid and consign himself to a mysterious death.

Rutherford gets welcomed into the "bear pack" of security to an excited group of officers. But his eyes (both cybernetic and human) drift over to a Jefferies tube, as it sparkles alluringly. Realizing his heart is truly in engineering, he tends his resignation immediately and is surprisingly met with the same level of enthusiasm. While Rutherford finds his true home, Mariner and Boimler are still runabout-less when they have a run-in with a seedy Ferengi. Mariner shows a surprisingly naive willingness to go down a dark path with him to his ship, while Boimler is much more suspicious of his body language. He's able to expose the Ferengi as being malicious and pulls Mariner away to find the ship, parked in front of the embassy. The two quickly dump an unconscious Ko'rin at the embassy's steps, brush aside the parking tickets, and take off without looking back.

With the day's adventure behind them, the Ferengi situation boosted Boimler's confidence, as he eagerly grabs his combadge back. Mariner asks for discretion on her mistake, but even Boimler won't take advantage of the opportunity to dunk on her back at the ship's bar. Rutherford takes time away from the mocking to apologize to Tendi for having to miss the pulsar. But, just wanting the company, she decides to watch it with him on a PADD, rendering his day of job hunting completely useless. That night, Mariner chats with the now-dapper Ferengi who tried to rob them earlier, revealing she set the whole thing up to give Boimler a win. And in the ducts, Tendi and Rutherford gaze with awe upon the pulsar and a warmly glowing panel, respectively.

In "Envoys," Lower Decks has the surprising warmth of that panel, as it deepens some of the characters introduced in the pilot. Mariner shows herself to be surprisingly competent in her experience and street smarts, as well as caring when she embarrasses herself to help Boimler out of a funk. Rutherford also shows his unabashed love for engineering, a devotee to the ducts. With a healthy dose of heart added to the colorful comedy, Lower Decks is proving itself to be as hearty as a swig of bloodwine.

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. The show premiered on CBS All Access on Aug. 6.


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