Review: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Takes A Hero’s Journey In “Kayshon, His Eyes Open”

“Kayshon, His Eyes Open”

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 2 – Debuted Thursday, August 19, 2021
Written by Chris Kula
Directed by Kim Arndt

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

With an even stronger episode than the season opener, Lower Decks introduces an interesting new character and fully embraces the themes of Star Trek while still having fun along the way.

Carl Tart joins Lower Decks as Lieutenant Kayshon

WARNING: Spoilers below!

Beckett and Jet, as the shower screamed

Things kick off for our Cerritos ensigns with another reminder that they are still missing Boimler, driven home by coolest-guy-on-the-ship Jet joining their group and immediately locking horns with Mariner, the self-appointed Queen of the Beta Shift. Their first field of battle is the enlightened communal sonic showers where literally amping up the levels set the tone for the episode, driving everyone else away with their clash of wills. Our new Cerritos four join an away team lead by new Tamarian security officer Kayshon, delightfully played by Carl Tart with a bag full of communication struggles. The always affable Jet jumps right in with “Darmok” metaphors, and  Mariner isn’t impressed, landing a laugh out loud cheap shot with “More like suck up at Tanagra.”

Their assignment is another extension of Next Generation lore: catalogue anything dangerous in the extensive archive of a deceased collector, as apparently “The Most Toys” was only the tip of the iceberg for these obsessive pack rats. They have their own Collectors Guild and apparently—according to Captain Freeman—all took a crack at collecting Data, cuing up the always entertaining Paul F. Tompkins’ Dr. Migleemo to ask, “Why couldn’t they just leave Data alone? He just wanted to feel.” Oh yeah, that’s the Lower Decks we came for.

The beard, the stance… was this guy related to Riker?

Their guide on the late Kerner Hauze’s collection ship is Guild Chairman Siggi, voiced by Decks’ own Eugene Cordero as an alien by way of South Philly. The ship is cluttered with so much Star Trek memorabilia and references it’s like we are peering into the mind of Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan himself. Of course, Mariner starts having fun while Jet takes their assignment deadly seriously. But everyone starts paying attention when an alarm sounds and a portrait of Hauze goes all Vigo the Carpathian, threatening to add these grave robbers to his collection, which triggers an energy beam that transforms Kayshon into a cute little plush puppet… because of course it does.

The awesome private museum suddenly becomes a treacherous house of horror as automated defenses and the displays themselves all turn deadly. Jet cuts off Mariner’s badass plan speech and even worse, everyone sides with him as he cuts deep, telling the Boimler-missing Beckett, “He’s gone, get over it.” Ouch. Their private little war comes to a boil in a gallery that is as old-school as you can get, full of skeletal displays that include a giant Vulcan which ends up crushing Siggi, revealed to be the one responsible for the crisis in the first place because he stole Kahless’ fornication helmet. Seriously, you can’t go anywhere in this museum without bumping into canon. Dodging Roombas-from-hell, they are cornered in a menagerie diorama cage straight out of “The Savage Curtain” where their debate over leadership styles threatens to get them all as dead as everything around them.

We’re boned.

Clash of the Titans

While his old friends imagine he is living the dream, Bradward is barely hanging in with the crew of the Titan, living on the edge of terror as they chest-bump their way through space battles. The ongoing conflict has Captain Riker sending an undercover away team to an occupied mining planet to suss out who is pulling the strings behind the dumb-but-dangerous Pakleds. Brad goes along but is the odd one out as the Titan team can’t imagine how their badass captain managed to live on a ship as boring as the Enterprise-D with its daycare centers and string quartets.

As Brad ponders his life choices, the op on Karzill IV goes bad immediately as no one is buying his miner with a heart of gold and daddy issues routine, although that last one is probably right on the money. After being foiled by some hidden snacks, the away team finds themselves trapped in the power room, preventing a beam-out. The senior officers are resigned to go out in a blaze of glory as they await the Pakleds, who are slowly slicing open a door with a power saw used as a hammer—again, not smart… but persistent.

Okay, who smells like lavender?

We can be heroes

The preening heroics from Mariner and Jet finally end when common ground is found with some light Ransom-bashing. Bombast bubbles burst, Tendi and Rutherford are finally consulted, and they are ready to science their way out of the ship using Starfleet ingenuity with some Excalbian bones, and just like that everyone is in sickbay with Dr. T’Ana ready to de-puppet Kayshon.

Back on Karzill IV, Brad steps up with a speech about Starfleet ideals that would have Jean-Luc Picard taking notes. He reminds the team there is more to life than firing phasers, then he reminds himself of some Riker history to solve the beam-out problem, saving the entire team. Actually, he gets more than he bargained for as his solution ended up just like it did for Riker, resulting in creating a transporter clone. Let’s hear it for the Boimlers!

With Riker unable to keep two Boimlers on the Titan, one has to be sent back—as an Ensign. Really, Will? That’s cold. The remaining Boimler has a new level of confidence as he shares drinks with his captain, choosing the name William for himself. So yeah, daddy issues. Our Brad returns to the Cerritos, where he is enthusiastically welcomed by his old pals, swapping out Jet right as he was starting to fit into the gang. Mariner is ecstatic to have her little buddy back, so she immediately starts razzing him for abandoning her. Hey, she’s complicated.

This is the way.

ANALYSIS

Back to basics

With a strong season opener that spent a good amount of time resolving various threads, the second episode hit the ground running, bringing us an even funnier and tighter episode. True to the adventure-of-the-week format born from classic TNG, Lower Decks still takes the time for character with A and B stories connected thematically. Without being heavy-handed, everyone is learning lessons here, from Mariner seeing the value of listening to the captain tempering her need to micromanage. Between the sex helmet and puppet jokes, “Kayshon, His Eyes Open” is an exploration of heroism that fully embraces the ideals of Star Trek through the lens of leadership.

And it did all that while introducing a fascinating and fun new character in Kayshon that both respected and upended one of the most iconic episodes of The Next Generation. In addition, they figured out a clever way to get Brad back to the Cerritos while still making his time on the Titan a triumph.

Season two also continues to handle Lower Decks trademark references to Trek lore better. It’s true the collector’s ship was literally wall-to-wall Easter eggs, but as mostly part of the background, they create moments of delight for fans without getting in the way for casual viewers.

Begun, the clone wars have.

The puppet master

Bumping Brad Boimler back down to ensign was inexplicable, but it fit the show’s apparent need to keep lower deckers at the lowest rank, at least for now. The reset button is a time-honored Star Trek tradition, which this episode went out of its way to honor.

In fact, writer Chris Kula went meta when Brad described his time on the Titan as “a bunch of complex characters thrown into heavily serialized battles which always ended in mind-blowing twists and made me question the basic tenets of my reality.” The message is pretty clear: Lower Decks may be part of new Trek, but it is rooted in the old, and proudly so.

That all being said, “Kayshon, His Eyes Open” introduced some intriguing plot elements about the Titan and the Pakleds. It seems there is still more to them than expected, as Riker suspects there is an unknown puppet master pulling their strings, so we should expect a little bit of serialization moving forward—and more Riker (with more Jonathan Frakes) is always welcome. With William Boimler being our gateway to this dual track storytelling, we can have—if you forgive the reference—the best of both worlds.

It just looks like a ball, where is Data when I need him?

Final thoughts

Lower Decks moves from strength to strength in season two. It’s proud to be Star Trek and not afraid to have fun along the way. With near-perfect pacing, this show is finding ways to keep the action up while still finding time and humor with our characters. Carl Tart brings a new energy and spin to the Tamarians and is a welcome addition to this crew.

All is well again as the gang is back together on the good old Cerritos, and we are now ready for eight more fun adventures in season two.

Kayshon, his eyes leering

MORE BITS

Random stuff

  • Jet’s last name is Manhaver
  • Boimler took Ethics of Collecting at Starfleet Academy.
  • Terrorists tried to blow up Starbase 58.
  • Mariner’s nickname for Rutherford is “Ruthie.”
  • Titan crew use “Led” as shorthand for Pakleds.
  • Pakled snacks look like puffed cheese balls.
  • Stevens keeps a log for his mustache.

Laugh lines

  • “Let’s see how these Pakleds do with their aft hanging out”
  • “What you do, stop to debate the human rights of a robot?”
  • “This is all your fault, you pervert… no judgment.”
  • “They are going to suck us to death!”
  • “They went to different dimensions, they fought the Borg, they insurected.”
  • “Dude, you are clearly Starfleet, your hands are super soft and clean.”
  • “Thank you Riker, I mean Mr. Captain.”
  • “Ah man, a copy of me got transported out… boo.” “I’m the transporter clone? Boo.”
  • “This isn’t my first guy got turned into a doll.”

But he’s so cute

More to come

Every Friday the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe. The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsStitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network. And on Saturday we will post our weekly analysis of Easter eggs and references for this episode.


New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. It is available on Amazon Prime Video internationally on Fridays. It will debut in Latin America on Paramount+ in September.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.

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This episode was so much better than the first of season 2.

Absolutely! I didn’t hate that one (or any other episode of this show), but this is one of the best so far. Of course there are only twelve episodes of this still-new show, so that’s not necessarily saying a lot, but this episode was a shining example of why Lower Decks is my favorite Trek production since the end of DS9.

I am a little wistful about Spock Two, though.

we need a one-off comic covering the fate of Spock Two lol

Also, when and where can I get a Tamarian plush?

Ditto! We want to know what happened with Spock Two! :-)

He died

Not sure of *exactly* “when”, but “where” I bet will include https://shop.startrek.com/ before too long.

Better ep for sure! The author of this review is way too in love with the show though (mentioned last week’s was a strong opener? Really?). I know this is a Trek site, but a bit more objectivity in the reviews would we welcome.

Just because you didn’t like it? I really enjoyed episode one.

Same here. Ep. 1 was good. Like this one as well. Lower Decks is sorta growing on me. Not a big fan at first.

No. If you peruse the professional reviews on the internet, you will find a general consensus that ep 1 last week was a rather pedestrian entry in the series so far. Don’t shoot the messenger, please. :-)

I don’t “peruse” other people’s reviews, homeboy: I prefer to think for myself.

Last week’s episode WAS a strong opener.

Dude, besides looking at multiple reviews from last week which kind of form a consensus that last week’s ep was sort of pedestrian, just look at the ep by ep user ratings on IMDB. Last weeks ep was the lowest rated ep since ep 3 of last season…and this weeks was rated much higher and is comparable with the ratings of some of the better eps last year.

You are welcome to your opinion of course.

The first episode was so speedy and didn’t let you breathe. The second episode told a good story that I could sit back with my morning coffee and enjoy. The first ep just felt like they were wrapping everything up super fast so they could get to more stories in the rest of the season.

Exactly, thanks! Honestly, some people are so overly defensive on this show that it’s getting silly. Not every ep is going to be a 10. LOL

Fornication helmet? I must have missed that episode……

You never saw TOS ep, “Patterns of Fornication”

;-)

I am still astonished I like this show/it is as good as it is.

I never thought… :-)

I enjoyed this episode (Spock Two’s skeleton!!!! Bwahahaha!!!) However, I found Boimler’s injecting the history of Will/Tom Riker a bit heavy-handed considering how the episode ended. Of all the things this show introduced without setting it up, they felt they had to set THIS up? (shrug) Oh well. A small scuff on an otherwise great episode. I think I see where they’re going with Brad and Will Boimler, but I’m keeping quiet because I’m NEVER right about these things…

well the trailer Boimler on a Galaxy-class bridge may make a little more sense now

The Spock Two reference went completely over my head. And I just watched TAS for the first time a few months ago, but completely forgot about it lol.

I have to agree a bit about the heavy handedness with Riker, but Boimler is clearly a fanboy of his (but not as much as me ;)) so I can let it slide.

Theory: Thomas Riker is alive or Will Riker doesn’t have that same kind of reaction to a duplicate transporter clone!

Not confirmed dead.

He survived in the Relaunch Litverse novels to his credit.

Books aren’t cannon.

Or canon, for that matter.

You’re right. Books are not large projectile weapons.

Also, “canon” is something fans spend way too much time obsessing over.

I prefer Nikon.

The Litverse is it’s own thing, but they were able to do that because Tom Riker’s death isn’t canon.

They could finally clear up if all the presumed-dead-by-Cardassians (Sito, Eddington, etc.) are alive.

Aah, but Eddington died by Jem’Hadar hands. And we saw him breathe his last breath. I’m rather satisfied that Michael Eddington died buying time for Sisko, Rebecca, and the Maquis survivors.

Oh, yes, I’d forgotten. And I guess Sito was pretty final too, even if we never saw it. Riker, on the other hand, went to jail. And I can’t imagine he’d still be there after the war ended.

Sisko turned Thomas Riker over to Dukat, but only after negotiating his punishment down from an assured death sentence to imprisonment in a Cardassian labor camp – unpleasant in the extreme, no doubt, but survivable, and in the absence of any definitive followup to “Defiant”, I presume Riker is still around. Notably, Kira herself promised to return for him one day.

I prefer to think, in my own head canon, that Tom Riker and Nicholas Locarno are tooling around the galaxy, wreaking havoc for Will Riker and Tom Paris by pulling off meddlesome petty crimes using their likenesses.

Giving me “Live Fast and Proper” realness.

Yeah it really bugs me no one cares about what happened to Tom Riker. He was never mentioned again by anyone after he was caught. It’s odd how the DS9 writers never went back to that at all, especially once the Maquis got wiped out by the Dominion.

Sito wasn’t that final, I believe Rene Echevaria has gone on record about trying to bring the character back on DS9,

Another great episode! :)

I loved everything about it. I did not see the two Boimlers twist coming at all. But of course was a genius move to recall the two Rikers. The Star Trek universe is such a strange strange place but why most of us love it so much! I loved seeing Riker on the Titan and hope he comes back this season. I’m thinking a Titan spin off animation show with the Rikers might just work. ;)

Loved all the stuff in the collection room scenes. Just a lot of fun. And I liked the interaction with Mariner and Jet. I thought the rivalry was going to lead to a romance type thing but didn’t happen.

And communal sonic showers, you gotta love the future. ;)

The easter eggs in the collection, as usual, were a lot of fun. Were they the same collection group that took Data? I was a little confused on that and if so, it’s strange they would be involved with them again. But I guess one guy shouldn’t spoil it for everybody.

Anyway, just so happy this show is back! It really makes me smile. :)

Trek needs more Nudity.

I really liked the fact that in both stories the characters make mistakes, but in the end prove their competency. I really thought they would have Boimler screw up big time, or do something to show he wasn’t up to serving on the Titan. And I was genuinely surprised when instead he ends up saving everyone.

Also, really liked that instead of ridiculing Boimler’s belief in Starfleet boldly going, the episode seriously has all the characters embrace it. It was endearing.

Really loved this episode.

I am so glad that it wasn’t a matter of Boimler failing and being demoted the way Fletcher was.

What a great way to have our cake and eat it too as the saying goes…

However, the Boimler that stayed on Titan has a more risk taking temperament.

Did they not get a perfect replication?

Will they need to be merged!

Same here! Many predicted he would just get demoted or just decide being on a more dangerous mission like the Titan wasn’t for him (especially since all the clips they kept showing was him screaming lol). But I’m really happy they went this option and it had nothing to do with his abilities.

This is show is so clever. I’m amazed all the crazy things they come up with and that’s saying a lot considering all the crazy things that already happens on Star Trek.

Much improvement over the season premiere. Loved the sonic shower. Never seen one until now. But my favorite was Spock from the infinite Vulcan skeleton. Great episode. Kayshon will be a great fit for the Cerritos.

I believe there were some sonic shower scenes in Voyager.

Like many bother things in the early seasons, there was rationing due to prioritizing energy on propulsion.

Yeah, we saw Torres in a sonic shower once.

The Ilia probe emerged from a sonic shower in TMP.

I loved the whole sickbay scene. “Hey! Migleemo! Read the sign!”

Come to think, cats and birds probably wouldn’t get along…

The sign was hilarious. “I am not a doll. Do not play with me.”

Strong episode. Better than last week, which I thought wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been. Anyway, what I’m really curious about is who is the Big Bad behind the Pakleds. Riker hints something/someone is pulling there strings. I wonder who it could be…

Sela…. As Always ;)

I kind of liked this one. They really hit the right button when remembering why they actually joined Starfleet. That was the one scene that sort of made the difference. But there was lots of interesting stuff: Spock 2’s skeleton, Boimler transporter clone that saves the Titan issue etc… Kayshon didn’t come off too hilarious as I had been afraid of. And Riker acted a tad more in-character this time round.

I still struggle with the style and pace that just isn’t “graspable” enough… all too fluffy and breezy for my taste. I simply fail to activate my willing suspension of disbelief successfully…

But yeah, why not… If they continue like that, I may still enjoy that show overall…

The Boimler solution is brilliant!

Another great episode this week! I enjoyed last week’s too – I know some didn’t think it was as strong an opener as it could have been, but I enjoyed it.

As for this week’s big twist – does anyone else get an Arnold/Ace Rimmer vibe from Bradward/William Boimler? Like Boims 2 will be off on the Titan being all heroic and saving the day, and “our” Boimler will be envious… of himself?

LDS is great 😂

Same! Loved both last weeks and this weeks!

This show is a hardcore Trek fans dream! The only drawback is the episodes are way too short. 😕

Completely agree. If I had 2 wishes it would first be to make the episodes full length and second to make it live action 😂

I don’t wanna rag on PIC and DSC, but I just can’t get into those shows (despite having seen them all). I didn’t think I was going to like LDS, but after sticking it out following the pilot, I really warmed to it!

PIC and DSC willingly decided to embrace the style of modern TV-MA arc-based shows and that makes those shows a lot darker. Serialized storytelling is indeed darker and less optimistic because it emphazises a problem cannot be solved easily and is of a deeper, more structural nature whereas episodic Trek finds an easy way out in 44 minutes time. Add some questionable visual choices, character decisions, anachronistic vices, inconsistent storytelling and continuity breaches and you basically have to end up with something very divisive…

But at least DSC has tried hard to improve on its initial flaws. It’s still not perfect but it’s okay Trek again. I have high hopes for PIC S2 as well. But yeah, SNW and PRO are the shows I believe are going to turn the tides in favour of the franchise…

Way too short and therfore insanely fast-paced. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-missed-it sort of style that comes off far too superficial. There are some good ideas and lots of nice continuity but I simply cannot immerse in that show as I used to in traditional Trek shows… And when they tackle a more serious issue they don’t have the time or willingness to elaborate on it.

When did Jet get a demotion? Wasn’t he a lieutenant in the season one episode “Cupid’s Errant Arrow”? I seem to recall a second pip …

Must have been corn ;-)