Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Finally Improved TNG's Most Hated Captain

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 7 - "Much Ado About Boimler"

Star Trek: Lower Decks' U.S.S. Cerritos received a temporary "babysitter Captain" and she is a far cry fromStar Trek: The Next Generation's most hated commander, Captain Edward Jellico (Ronny Cox). The A-story of Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 7, "Much Ado About Boimler", was a sly parody of the TNG two-parter "Chain of Command", which introduced Jellico as the new Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. A similar event happens to the Cerritos when Captain Amila Ramsey (Toks Olagundoye) of the U.S.S. Oakland replaces Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), but things turned out much differently - and better - than it did for the Enterprise under Jellico.

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In "Chain of Command", Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) are sent on a dangerous secret mission to find a Cardassian metagenic weapon. Starfleet replaces Picard with Captain Jellico of the U.S.S. Cairo, and the Enterprise crew fears the change will be permanent, especially after Picard taken prisoner by the Cardassians. The hardnosed, irascible Jellico instantly rubbed the crew the wrong way and made enemies with Commander Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes). Thankfully, Jellico and Riker were able to put aside their animosity to rescue Picard, who was restored as Captain of the Enterprise - and absolutely no one was upset to see Jellico go. The impatient and closed-minded Jellico rankled Star Trek fans as well, and he ended up being the worst example of a "babysitter Captain" who was a temporary steward of a starship.

Star Trek: Lower Decks' "Much Ado About Boimler" placed the Cerritos in a similar position as part of their homage, and Captain Freeman, Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O'Connell), and Lt. Shax (Fred Tatasciore) even wore identical black commando gear on their secret Starfleet mission. But taking command of the Cerritos was Captain Ramsey, who was the best friend of Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawney Newsome) at Starfleet Academy. Despite her relatively young age, Ramsey was a dynamic leader who came complete with her own special team from the U.S.S. Oakland, and she proved to be the polar opposite of Jellico as a "babysitter Captain". In fact, before she learned Ramsey was her mother's replacement, Mariner mentioned Captain Jellico by name as exactly the kind of "babysitter Captain" the Cerritos didn't want or need.

In this case, however, it was the usually uber-competent Mariner who blew it in front of her new commander and best friend. Ramsey immediately made Mariner her First Officer so that her interface with the Cerritos' crew would be smooth (something Jellico never cared to do), but Beckett pretended to be a bungler because she secretly feared that Ramsey was recruiting her (which was indeed the case). Ramsey figured out what Mariner was doing, but together, the two of them successfully led a rescue operation that saved the crew of the U.S.S. Rubidoux when their starship was taken over by a new alien lifeform. In the end, Captain Freeman resumed her command but Captain Ramsey's brief tenure babysitting the Cerritos was a success.

Star Trek: Lower Decks cleverly reversed the franchise's usual nightmare scenario whenever a "babysitter Captain" replaces a starship's traditional leader. Captain Jellico remains memorable as the worst example of a Captain sitting in someone else's chair and upsetting the starship's morale. Although Jellico was trying to defeat the Cardassians to the best of his ability, he was impossible to like and Trekkers' sympathies always sided with the Enterprise's crew whose lives Jellico made difficult and who feared Picard would not return.

Another notable "babysitter Captain" (but in a wildly different scenario) was Commodore Matt Decker (William Windom), who forcibly took command of Captain James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) Enterprise in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine". Decker was driven insane after he got his crew killed fighting the planet-killer and he was going to bring the Enterprise down with him in his futile quest for revenge. Overall, in Star Trek, it's rarely a positive thing when a starship gets a "babysitter Captain" but kudos to Star Trek: Lower Decks for bucking tradition and showing that a visiting Captain can be awesome as opposed to being yet another headache for the crew to deal with.

Star Trek: Lower Decksstreams Thursdays on CBS All-Access.

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