Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 7 Shows the Freaky Side of Starfleet

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 7, "Much Ado About Boimler," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Despite its extraterrestrial day-to-day, Starfleet is just like any company. There's a hierarchy, protocol and a shared goal to work towards. But in its latest episode, Lower Decks takes a look at two topics inherent to any workplace: promotions and on-the-site accidents.

The episode starts with a rare cold open that ties into the main plot. As Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Boimler (Jack Quaid), and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) head to bed after an exhausting day of repairing the station grid, they're greeted by a surprising furry face. Tendi (Noel Wells) has used her spare time to create a dog out of inert carbon, wanting to get a piece of Earth culture she never experienced. However, the result of her work is far from normal, as the creature contorts its body and starts crawling on the ceiling.

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After the credits, there's a sequence of Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Ransom (Jerry O'Connell) and Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) sporting some sleek black suits. The three have been recruited to germinate seeds in an agricultural colony within disputed territory, leaving the Cerritos without its lead officers. As a result, the ship will receive a substitute captain, which Mariner bemoans. While she's concerned about dealing with a "babysitter captain" who doesn't know the ship, Boimler is gleeful at the opportunity to brownnose with another red shirt.

As Boimler frets overlooking perfect for the new crew, he decides to assist Rutherford in testing his efforts to make the transporter go faster. While the guys have fun with the new speeds, things go very wrong when Boimler gets stuck in phased mode. On the bridge, Mariner is surprised when she's greeted by her old friend and new captain: Amina Ramsey (Toks Olagundoye). While Ramsey warmly greets the ensign, her crew isn't too impressed with her rank.

Their reunion is interrupted by Boimler, who's still trying to impress despite his blue glow and obtrusive whining sound. Despite his protestations, Ramsey sends him to sickbay. The problem is far from solved though, as T'Ana (Gillian Vigman) can't find a cure and Rutherford can only get rid of the annoying noise. The doctor decides to contact Division 14, which solves unsolvable space mysteries on a reclusive medical sanctuary known as "The Farm." Boimler will not be going there alone, as he's joined by Tendi and the Dog.

In the captain's quarters, Ramsey and Mariner goof around and chat Cerritos gossip. Ramsey asks her friend to become her first officer on their mission to replace a water filtration system, wanting to use her knowledge of the ship. Though Mariner accepts, her concerned face says otherwise. Meanwhile, Boimler, Tendi and the Dog board the Division 14 ship. It immediately creates a sense of dread, between the stormy clouds that shroud its entrance, its multi-armed cackling captain, and the promise of seeing "dark abnormalities and the criminally obscene."

Though receiving a temporary promotion, Mariner is no better at impressing herself to Ramsey's crew than before. In fact, she comes across as crass, gloating over pranks she's pulled, and inept, going in the wrong direction when they get planetside. It seems like all goes well with the mission to repair the water filter on the bog planet, leaving the axolotl-like citizens grateful. But when things spring a leak, Mariner reveals she forgot the tricorders, failing to help the solution. Her position is the crew is now at red alert (something she accidentally puts the ship in once they're back at the bridge).

The show then travels to the belly of the Division 14 ship, and the promises of dark abnormalities are quickly met. The denizens of the craft range from the more typical, like a Pike-like hit of delta radiation and two officers fused together by a transporter accident, to the more extreme, like a man with a whistle head and a human-sized amphibious creature simply known as "Anthony." Their spokesperson is a man whose body is half aging and de-aging simultaneously. And whether he's talking like an old codger or young ragamuffin, he believes Starfleet is hiding them to not reveal the dark side of working for them. They've been in the purgatory of the ship for months, believing that there is no Farm, just a dumping ground for "freaks."

Successful in its mission -- thanks in no part to Mariner -- the Cerritos rendezvous with the Rubidoux. They find it at a complete standstill, with all systems offline. The crew beams on the ship to boot up the power, as Ramsey frustratingly tells her friend to "step it up." The two find the crew huddled frightened in the shuttle bay. They revealed they shut off the power because "it" feeds on electricity. And when the power gets rebooted, it's revealed that "it" is a creature made of bioluminescent aqua tendrils, which begins to prey upon the ship.

Aboard another dark ship, the freaks plan to mutiny and take the ship for themselves to a planet that will accept them. While Boimler seems enthused for the cause, he immediately rats them out to the captain, hopeful he can get everyone in the same room to resolve this. Unfortunately, all it does is make the captain go aggro, as he reprimands the mutiny plans. He also makes sure to out Boimler as the tattler, which earns fair rebuke from the rest.

Back on the Rubidoux, Mariner and Ramsey jump into action mode as they escort the crew back to the bridge. Ramsey takes the opportunity to confront Mariner about her performance, realizing she's purposely taken a dive to avoid getting a job offer from her. Mariner fesses up to doing so, and then fans get a look into who she was at the Academy. Surprisingly, she was a go-getter in her younger days, the best in her class and keeping everyone on track. But nowadays, Mariner is fine being a great ensign instead of a captain, despite her potential.

It seems to be the end for Boimler, as the freaks launch him out of the airlock (and only moments after he finally stops phasing). However, instead of cold space, he is greeted by warm grass and a golden palace in the background. The Farm is real, and it's spectacular. The captain apologizes for his overreaction to the mutiny, admitting that his choice in aesthetic and laugh may have given them the wrong idea. As the freaks finally get to luxuriate, Tendi bids farewell to the Dog. Her canine companion thanks her for her loyalty, stands up and flies away. And it takes that goodbye for Tendi to finally realize she did not create a normal dog. Boimler is ready to join the Farm and its attractive employees, at least until it's pointed out he's back to normal. Despondent, he gets forced on a shuttle and taken away from the haven.

With both crews on the Rubidoux bridge and the creature encroaching, Mariner has Rutherford try his risky beaming to get everyone out of harm's way. It saves all their lives, even if they end up getting "Boimed" in the process. Once the cosmetic phasing wears off, they all celebrate in the bar, where Boimler enters and frantically begs Rutherford to "make him weird" again to earn another trip to the Farm. As they discuss ancient plasmas, Ramsey approaches Mariner and still goes through with her offer. Mariner turns it down, admitting she still has some soul searching to do in Lower Decks, though that doesn't shy her away from making fun of Ransom after he unsuccessfully hits on Ramsey.

In one episode, Lower Decks is able to show how simultaneously grounded and surreal it can be. While Mariner's plot brings to light more of her past and her desires for the present, Boimler's plot shows the length of the weirdness that the Trek franchise can go. And the product of both qualities is as beautiful as the space creature that ultimately makes its home out of the Rubidoux.

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.