The running joke on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 4 gets tired pretty quickly, but, thankfully, it’s not expected to carry the show.
In brief, the horned apes of the planet Neural appeared on Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2 Episode 16, but the scriptwriters changed the name multiple times, and then the cast couldn’t pronounce it correctly or consistently.
For canon-lovers, it’s probably a belly laugh and a half, but for the rest of us (who aren’t Rutherford), it goes in the meh column.
Mariner kicking butt in the anbo-jyutsu arena wasn’t unexpected, although Boimer and Rutherford sporting their wounds in the crew mess later was strange.
Maybe they didn’t want to go to sickbay for a recreational injury. Maybe they didn’t want it on record how badly Mariner had beaten them?
One purpose the butt-kicking serves is to demonstrate why Otis’s comment about her hanging with the “softest” guys on the ship might seem to ring true.
They are really soft fellas, which balances out Mariner’s aggressive nature. This is also why Jet was never going to last on Delta Team.
And to follow the butt-kicking with a rousing board game of Diplomats just cements the lovable geekiness of this duo (in addition to foreshadowing their solution to the Ferengi situations) which contrasts Mariner’s recreational inclinations.
Reminiscent of Strategema from Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Episode 21, where Data learned that, in order to win, he had to strive to play to a draw, Boimer and Rutherford’s game ends when compromise is reached.
Mariner: Let’s hit the phaser range. I need moving targets.
Boimler: This isn’t work. We’re playing Diplomats!
Rutherford: And we’re at a crucial point in the negotiations. We’re both about to lose!
Mariner: Why is that good?
Boimler: If both sides are equally unsatisfied with the negotiation, you can close the deal.
The joy of cooperative board games is beautifully encapsulated in their celebration of mutual dissatisfaction.
Of course, the idea of Mariner being anything but what she is wouldn’t have crossed their minds without the meddling of Otis the Bartender, who suddenly appears here in all his folksy, gossipy glory.
A bit of poison in the ear can go a long way to destroy relationships, and, unfortunately, Rutherford is fertile soil for that suspicion.
Our resident cyborg has become a magnet for misinterpreted friendship overtures, secret Bajoran resurrection rites, and, now, black ops rumors.
Boimler: So I was reading up on the Mugato. Did you know they have alternative pronunciations? Mugatu, Mugutu, and Gumato? Isn’t that neat and inconsistent?
Boimler: Dude, I’m talking alien pronunciations here. That’s, like, your favorite thing. What’s up?
Scientific curiosity is one thing, but Rutherford is becoming almost compulsive about jumping down rabbit-holes of conspiracies.
One would think that the cyborg influence would imbue a penchant for logic. Apparently, not.
Now, if I’m reading this right, this is the third time this season (out of only four episodes so far) that Mariner’s been pushed to be honest with someone.
On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 1, Ransom’s apotheosis forced her to come clean with Freeman about her feelings on the mommy-captain situation.
On Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3, she and Tendi have their girl time and clear up some misunderstandings about each other.
Now, she has to disclose to Boimler and Rutherford the weird defense mechanisms she sets in place on every ship she serves on to keep people at a distance.
Oh wait, she and Jet had to ‘fess up to their respective blindspots when it comes to pecking order on the team on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 2.
Yeah, there’s no getting around this. It’s been The Beckett Mariner Show since the premiere dropped.
Which wouldn’t be an issue except that I liked that Season 1 sold us on the ensemble thing.
Shaxs: Mariner, what’s happening?
Mariner: Those two beautiful nerdy men are negotiating us to safety using the power of Math!
Kudos that she doesn’t have to be the hero in every adventure. Now, if she could knock a few missions out as the supportive grunt/muscle and not the catalyst or solution… it might be refreshing.
Tendi’s whole backstory as the “Mistress of the Winter Constellations” still fascinates me. I’m holding out hope that, as her confidence builds, she’ll be willing to tap back into the Orion badass she says she left behind.
Her second mission in as many episodes for T’Ana has her sniping crew members who are avoiding their annual physical.
All in all, a fun little B plotline as she figures out assertively (and effectively) how to sneak up on people or work around their resistance, culminating with the tooth and claw battle with T’Ana herself.
T’Ana: When I picked you for this job, I was counting on you to give up.
Tendi: Well, maybe the old Tendi was a pushover, but a lot’s changed since slightly earlier today.
Maybe it’s the animated nature of the show, but sometimes the action sequences feel like they’d translate well to a video game.
Couldn’t you see Tendi’s whole task list as a mini-quest where the player has to utilize multiple strategies to acquire the various scans of the personnel on the hit list?
Now, down on the planet, that’s less of a video game and more of a free-for-all.
Again, noting that Kayshon was clearly sparring with Jet when Tendi scanned him, I’m going to assume that he’s still on security detail, although Shaxs is back as Chief.
The pivot from mugato horn poaching/smuggling to exploiting the environmental tourism industry is such a 2021 solution.
It’s never explained how so many mugato became established on Frylon IV. Did the Ferengi import them? Did the mugato teleport? Is this their actual homeworld, and Neural was a colony?
On average, I’m finding there is one scene per offering this season that I just don’t need to comment on. Mugato sex plus voyeurism definitely wins that honor this time around.
To be fair, baby mugatos have to come from somewhere.
You all got the briefing. No weapons. These Mugutus are endangered, and their genitals are sensitive to phaser fire.
And to speak to Shaxs’s instructions to the away team, wouldn’t the genitalia of any species be sensitive to phaser fire? Hmm?
So, how much did you appreciate their “back to nature” take on a canon creature?
Do you think Tendi’s burgeoning self-esteem will stick the landing and carry forward?
How far will Mariner’s new rumor about Boimler and Rutherford go via Otis-gram?
Beam down to the comments, and let us know what got your salute and what you’d send to the brig!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.