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Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 2 recap: Envoys

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 is a laugh riot.

I’ll admit my response to the series premiere of the latest Star Trek show may have been tepid. However, Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 more than makes up for it. This episode is hilarious, full of heart, and a rollicking Star Trek adventure.

‘Envoys’ firmly places the show as an ensemble – we follow Ensign Rutherford’s journey to accepting what he loves while seeing the growth of Boimler and the pure goodness of Mariner. These characters are perfect fits for the franchise.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 appears to establish the comedic structure of the show. The opening scene involves Mariner and Tendi being confronted by an alien entity. Mariner assumes it’s evil (because in every show, sentient energy turns out to be evil). She tries to trap it while Tendi questions her about protocol.

The alien then convinces Mariner that he can make her wishes come true and creates a fancy tricorder for her. The scene plays out like kids asking for the coolest new phone in town and then complaining that it doesn’t come with batteries. Talk about keeping it real.

The energy it takes to make Mariner’s tricorder diminishes the size of the alien, to the point that he disappears into Captain Freeman’s tunic without her even realizing it. Are these opening scenes connected in any way? Or are we getting glimpses into Mariner’s winning personality?

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 – Rutherford’s Job

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2: Envoys, starring Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford and Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2: Envoys, starring Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford and Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi

The Engineers we’ve met on previous Star Trek shows have usually been Chief of Staff. Scotty, Geordi La Forge, B’Elanna Torres, O’ Brien, Stamets and Trip were all leaders of the pack. Rutherford is our Engineering protagonist on this show and he’s… really into the Jefferies tube.

Rutherford takes pride in his work cleaning and fixing conduits. He’s doing important work, but in the real world, we’d classify that as manual labour and scoff at his love for the job. But, as we saw in the pilot episode, keeping the nuts and bolts in order so that the Cerritos is in shape, is important to the character.

Despite that, Rutherford decides to change divisions because his work is going to keep him away from spending time with Tendi. The two had befriended each other in the premiere, and now Tendi’s disheartened that she’ll have to watch a pulsar on her own since she hasn’t made any other friends yet.

Not wanting to let her down, Rutherford asks for a transfer. The build-up to his request is well played – he’s nervous about his supervisor’s and his colleagues’ reactions. He needn’t have worried, they all cheer for him to find his own way.

It’s hilarious watching Rutherford try and fail at Command and in Medical. Commander Ransom personally sees to his training and Rutherford is shockingly awful at it. He kills 105% of his crew in the first simulation. How? Who knows.

And then he insists on employing the ‘Janeway Protocol’, which leads to everyone being killed, including a deck full of kids. Okay. We get it, he can’t command. But the real question is, what is the Janeway Protocol? We need to know.

Captain Janeway was probably already in command of a science vessel at this point, so what incredible manoeuvre did she pull? That’s assuming she’s the only Janeway in Starfleet.

I love that Ransom, despite being a tough guy, is supportive of Rutherford. Unlike T’Ana, who’s harsh. She kicks Rutherford out of SickBay because he pretty much tells a patient that he’s going to die. Wow, and I thought the Doctor on Voyager had a terrible bedside manner.

Rutherford finally finds his groove with the Security team. Lieutenant Shaxs sends him into an intense Borg-infested simulation. It’s supposed to train cadets in defence, but Rutherford’s cyborg implants slay all the drones. Shaxs is so impressed he immediately takes Rutherford on board.

Ah, but true love is hard to forget. Rutherford spots a colleague crawling out of the tubes and he knows that’s where his heart belongs. Shaxs and the ‘bears’ encourage Rutherford to be his real self. As Rutherford looks on at his precious work on some EPS relays, Tendi watches the pulsar on a padd, next to him in the Jeffries tubes.

I’m not surprised that the senior staff not only encouraged Rutherford to try new departments but were equally encouraging of him going back to square one. We have seen how characters have grown in previous Trek shows, and it’s refreshing to see one who wants to stay in place.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 – Mariner’s a Badass

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2: Envoys, starring Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2: Envoys, starring Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler

We’ve established that Mariner is a rule-breaker. She also has a lot of experience under her belt, not least because she was stationed on an elite vessel up until recently, and also because it’s likely that Mariner travelled with her parents on their commands.

Experience is a great teacher, as we see in this episode. Boimler bags a mission to escort a Klingon envoy, K’orin, for peace talks. He’s going by the book and has studied hard to show the Klingon respect. Mariner turns up and makes Boimler her co-pilot.

Instead of a standard greeting, Mariner spars with K’orin – these two know each other and drink themselves silly on the way to the outpost. Worse, K’orin insists on being dropped in the Klingon section of Tulgana IV, even though the talks are elsewhere.

As soon as Boimler and Mariner have stepped out of shuttle Yosemite, K’orin takes off. Now, these two must locate their errant envoy before the talks begin.

This outpost has myriad aliens living in it and Mariner recognizes all of them. She even saves naïve Boimler who believes he’s being seduced by an attractive human woman, when in fact, she’s an alien about to implant eggs in him.

Mariner also has to save Boimler from being torn to pieces by a beast of an alien. She pretends to throw the alien’s wallet, distracting him long enough for the two of them to run away. The wallet will come in handy later.

If you thought Boimler was done, then you’re wrong! He chances upon some Andorians attacking an old man and fires at them before Mariner can stop him. Little does he know that the old man is a shapeshifter. When the Andorians turn on him, Mariner offers to pay for the round of drinks and gets Boimler out of there.

Boimler is devastated. He’s always believed that studying would lead to a position in command, but Mariner has never studied, yet she knows all about different aliens and even heals Boimler’s stab wound with a random plant. Boimler’s faith in himself is shaken to the extent that he decides Starfleet isn’t for him.

I have to say, the vivid description he lays out of his life as a researcher who will eventually be eaten by whatever he’s examining, only to be discovered years later through a belated distress call and a shaky video message is so meta. This happens in Trek all the time!

Time for one last encounter. Boimler and Mariner are confronted by a Ferengi who tries to coax them into a tunnel. Mariner seems to believe him, but Boimler knows Ferengi aren’t to be trusted. Suddenly Mariner is flummoxed. She’s not sure it is a Ferengi, it could be a Bolian.

Realizing it’s a trap, Boimler shoots the Ferengi and he runs away. Boimler is smarter than he looks, and he’s saved the day. Looks like he won’t be resigning his Starfleet commission yet. Mariner is embarrassed by her faux-pas and asks Boimler to keep it quiet. So, he tells everyone in the mess hall. But, of course.

If you’re thinking that this intelligent know-it-all couldn’t possibly mistake a Ferengi for any other species, then you’d be right. Mariner asked a friend to pose as a thief and went along with it to give Boimler some of his confidence back. Now that’s what you call a good friend.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 2 – Final Thoughts

This episode was surprisingly touching. It showcased a crew that had each other’s backs, irrespective of rank. Star Trek friendships have always been at the core of its success, and I’m glad that Lower Decks is following suit.

I’m still curious to see if the showrunners will be able to refrain from adding romance to these dynamics. We don’t need it – we really don’t. But do they know that?

Hopefully, Mariner’s entire arc won’t be to prop up Boimler. That works for an episode or two, but she needs to be her own person. It’s still rare to come across a female character with a devil-may-care attitude, and the confidence to know she’s incredible. Let’s allow Mariner to be that.

This show feels quite bold in taking on this parody approach, and at the same time, it feels like it knows Trek in its heart. ‘Envoys’ has really got my hopes up for the rest of the season. I hope it meets them.

Did you enjoy Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 2? Let us know in the comments below.

New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are available every Thursday on CBS All Access.