“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- “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.”
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 Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher 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.