“An Embarrassment of Dooplers”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 5 – Debuted Thursday, September 9, 2021
Written by Dave Ihlenfeld & David Wright
Directed by Kim Ardnt
In a delightful return to form, “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” has just the right mix of action, comedy, character, and Star Trek lore, with a perfect guest star bringing it all together.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
Looking for number one
The routine of crate stacking has Mariner and Boimler going stir crazy, especially knowing they are just outside a Starbase known for an epic party of Starfleet VIPs. Of course Beckett yearns for the epic drinking, with Brad pining for some epic butt-kissing. He is also missing his time on the cool USS Titan and displaying a bit of jealousy over his transporter clone, but William also proves the solution to their problem as Brad can sneak into the party as his Titan counterpart, who is too far away to make it. As a bonus, the Captain is a bit distracted with the title characters, leaving the ensigns an opportunity to sneak off the ship, and Boimler’s not even offering a token objection to Mariner’s transporter overriding… you’ve changed, Brad.
Starbase 25 is huge, and being animated helps the show display the grand scale of this station that is over a century old. Oh, and Mainer used to live there… of course. And she has dangerous former associates, naturally. Even worse, their old nickname for her was “Becky.” Insidious. But the ensigns are on a mission to find that cool party, so they take a side mission from Malvus the Mizarian to—ironically—move some crates, this time full of limited edition Commander Data bubble bath. (Hopefully, these become a real product too, like those Tom Paris plates.) Also, a couple bottles might be Lores. Nice. This encounter also nicely tees up a recurring issue of Mariner and Boimler accusing each the other of abandonment on various planets, but we know what’s really under the surface—* cough * Brad leaving for the Titan * cough.*
It should be no surprise that this simple task turns out to be a double-cross, as the crates are filled with contraband Klingon weapons. Thus ensues one of the funniest action sequences of the series, with Mariner channeling her inner Elwood Blues as the pair tries to elude corrupt station security. The car chase homage gave us a great tour of this vast station, with Brad frantically calling out all the highlights from fine men’s clothing to a Vulcan ship to “fish people!”
Ending in a lake—again this station is huge—winds up providing the leverage Becky needs to get that hot party location. And now that abandonment thing comes back big time as Luna-class William (Brad) is let in, but California-class Beckett is denied by the gruff alien bouncer. She lets Boimler have it as he is set to leave her in the lurch, finally admitting that she still resents him ghosting her in the season one finale when he bounced to the Titan. As they go their separate ways, it looks like this pair may have drifted too far apart.
Double with Dooplers
Don’t forget, the reason Mariner and Boimler were free to get up to their shenanigans was due to a totally crazy crisis unfolding on the Cerritos. After carefully creating a stress-free environment while escorting an alien emissary to Starbase 25, Captain Freeman inadvertently reveals her frustration within earshot of their passenger, triggering a duplicating defense mechanism for the Doopler. In short order, the ship starts filling up faster than you can say “trouble with tribbles.”
Desperate herself to get down to that party and bask in the respect she feels she deserves, Carol implores her crew to placate the distraught and constantly apologetic Dooplers, all voiced by the pitch-perfect Richard Kind. Freeman tries everything from a soothing voice to silence to affirmations like “You are all great!” Nothing works. Every move she and the crew make just adds to the mass embarrassment of the Doopler horde threatening to take over the ship… but they are terribly sorry about it.
Ghost in the machine
As for Rutherford and Tendi, they are once again lost in their own little world, paying no attention to the cool space station and little mind to the Doopler crisis. They remain phaser-focused on building a hyper-realistic model… of the ship they are on. Nerd alert! This little hobby project predates Rutherford’s reboot, so he keeps finding things to remind him about his former self, and it’s all giving him another existential crisis.
Tendi finally starts to take notice of the wall-to-wall purple alien situation, but Rutherford becomes obsessed over proving he is just as smart as his former self. Eventually, the pair finds themselves cornered by Dooplers with no way out while Rutherford clutches onto the unfinished model as if his life depended on it, haunted by the ghost of his forgotten year, decrying, “The old me was better!”
Raising the bar
All of our characters are facing some kind of crisis, and each one of them is going to have to dig deep and take a closer look at themselves to find their way out. For Boimler, after a short stint at the cool party complete with some deep cuts to excite his inner Starfleet fanboy, he still can’t really have a good time, realizing it’s just not fun without his pal Mariner. As for Beckett, she is drowning her sorrows in the one dive bar she must have missed during her earlier time on the station. It turns out to be the coolest place in the quadrant, right down to the ancient understanding bartender, walls full of even more deep cuts, and some amazing patron pedigree with Kirk and Spock’s name carved into the bar. How’s that for old-school cool? And luckily for her, Brad found his way to her for some needed bonding and expressing of emotions.
Tendi is able to exercise Rutherford’s ghost by revealing the plan was to never finish the model. Old Sam was no smarter; the whole thing was just an excuse for them to hang out together and avoid dealing with others. But the model also proved to be their salvation, thanks to ejecting the cutest little warp core to explode their way out of a room full of Dooplers. Tiny Shaxs would be so proud.
As for the Captain, she solves her problem by remembering who she is. Carol Freeman starts jumping all over those eggshells and lets the now dangerous Dooplers have it. Turns out calling them whiney little s–ts does the trick, and she tells the crew it’s time to let the Dooplers know how they really feel, with Shaxs and T’Ana being particularly good at the task. We’re not sure what T’Ana said due to the bleeping, but we get the point, and now we are back to one Doopler, leaving the bridge crew free to check out the party… only to get the same treatment by the bouncer as Mariner. Carol tries the same tactic she used on the Dooplers, still full of righteous indignation!
And so, of course, the bridge crew ends up at the dive bar. Rutherford and Tendi show up too, along with more of our Cerritos gang. This is all more their style, not dealing with all those Starfleet stuffed shirts. But the captain has the last laugh, beaming the contrite Doopler emissary straight into the party. They had endless sliders, and now an embarrassment of Dooplers too.
In this halfway point for season two, Lower Decks is again firing on all nacelles. “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” offered the perfect mix of a unique sci-fi plot, well-paced action, character emotion, and Star Trek gags. Most of the comedy came from character, even as we saw them grow. And within the different character storylines, there was a strong through line theme of a family, and that also makes Lower Decks worthy of being Star Trek.
It feels that Mike McMahan and his team have used the first five episodes of this season to lead up to a sort of catharsis for our characters. Mariner and Boimler have resolved their abandonment issues, Rutherford has finally accepted his new self, and he and Tendi have restored their trust and friendship. The captain has come to see that the respect of her crew is worth more than all the admirals in the fleet. Every one of them realizes that the grass is greenest right where they are, for who they are. Lower deckers all, no matter the rank.
The right Kind
One thing that ties the episode together is the endlessly duplicating Doopler emissary, each more humiliated than the last, and all hilariously voiced by Richard Kind. Known for his live-action roles in Spin City and Curb Your Enthusiasm and extensive voice work including a number of Pixar movies, Kind was tailor-made for the role. Kind is a perfect example of one of the strengths of this show: to bring in great guest stars to play memorable new characters like Paul F. Tompkins as Counselor Migleemo, Jack McBrayer as Badgey, and many others. McMahan and his team excel at perfect castings, as this episode relied heavily on Kind to provide many of the laughs as our characters dealt with some of their issues.
“An Embarrassment of Dooplers” also was a good example of side characters that come and go in an instant but are still well-realized and capable of delivering plenty of humor. For this episode, we had the exasperated Aurelian wife in the Aviary, delivering some great ’50s sitcom-style deadpan “Let’s move to the aviary he says” bird sarcasm to her husband, or the groundskeeper with his “Oh, still alive” lament. And again, the top-notch voice talent from the main cast and veterans like Paul Scheer and Tom Kenny help raise the show to a high level of quality and comedy.
After last week’s mixed bag, it was a delight for Lower Decks to return to form, with one of its best episodes. “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” feels like a real halfway mark for season two, now resolving— to an extent at least—many of the hanging character issues. This lets the show move into the back half of season two with what looks to be some crazy new adventures.
- Stardate 58053.9
- The episode began without a cold open/teaser.
- For the first time, we see a white dress version of Lower Decks Starfleet uniform, matching the white variant of the dress uniforms still worn by most of rest of Starfleet.
- What was thought of as the dress uniform seen in season one is revealed to be the “skant” variant.
- Starbase 25 has “a Quark’s” confirming that it is now a franchise.
- There are also Quark’s branded models, including the California Class and DS9 station.
- Mariner tried to bluff her way into the party by claiming to be a member of the crew of the Voyager-D (not necessarily confirming there actually is a Voyager-D).
- Thadiun Okona is now a DJ.
- Brad likes drinking prune juice spritz
- Captain Shelby’s first officer is a new alien species that’s modeled after the original design for Saru, a complicated multi-eyed alien design that was too much work and uncomfortable.
- Maybe we can take our skants in a bag just in case everyone is in a skant.
- Oh, they have a Quark’s now. That used to be an empty lot where teens would make mistakes.
- I like mini-Mariner bossing around tiny Boimler.
- I’m sorry I left you on Ceti Alpha, I really thought there was life there.
- I barfed up bubble bath.
- I wasn’t smarter than me!
- Your pah is weak and it disgusts me!
- My crew deals with just as much s#!t as Picard’s or any other.
- Oh, it comes with an Ezri and a Jadzia!
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. On Saturday, we’ll 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.
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