“The Spy Humungous”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 6 – Debuted Thursday, September 16, 2021
Written by John Cochran
Directed by Bob Suarez
After tying up loose ends in the first half of the season, Lower Decks finds a smart way to get back to basics and move forward with a funny story that reveals just how far the characters and this show have come.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
With the senior officers dealing with important Pakled diplomacy stuff, our favorite ensigns again find themselves literally doing the dirty work. Always-enthusiastic Tendi is excited over the “anomaly consolidation” assignment, but Mariner (and even the usually optimistic Rutherford) see it for what it is: take out the trash day. It’s crazy dangerous space science trash, but still trash, and classic Lower Decks. Boimler is excited too, but his lingering ambition leads him away with some new “friends”—but we’ll catch up with Brad later.
The trio sets off to collect all the junk the senior officers have accumulated that can’t be easily disposed of. Room by room, Tendi gets excited… and a bit clumsy, and Mariner and Rutherford pay the price with hilarious sight gags that include Sam experiencing “full molecular engorgement” (aka getting supersized by a broken frog bone) and Beckett getting stung, zapped, burned, and slimed by various alien thingamajigs. After Mariner admonishes her with “Stop trying to make this fun!” Tendi’s unbridled enthusiasm finally gets bridled when she ends up on the short end of the weird science stick, getting pooped out by a screaming blob creature. Oh, and then she gets turned into a giant rage scorpion that starts rampaging through the ship. So, yeah, Maybe Mariner is rubbing off on her a bit. Girls trip!
Licensed to imbecile
Captain Freeman finally gets that respect she desperately seeks with a diplomatic mission to negotiate a cease-fire with the dimwitted yet dangerous Pakleds. But her mission on the surprisingly nice if not a bit garish (and unsurprisingly simply-named) Pakled Planet runs afoul quickly—and not just because they keep calling her Captain Janeway. Not only does she struggle to find a Pakled with a big enough helmet to actually talk cease-fire, but she loses all trust when a defector named Rumdar is found on the Cerritos.
As Ransom and Kayshon escort Rumdar around the ship, he is quickly sussed out to be a spy—but not exactly 007, unless you are counting IQ. But even this Dr. D’oh tires of being shown things like the “top secret Starfleet gift shop” and gets lost aboard the Cerritos. Freeman ignores Shaxs’ suggestion to just beam back to the ship, seeing this as an opportunity to run through even more cheap but fun dumb Pakled gags and learn what these idiots are up to. Things get tense when “Her Mushesty” the Queen demands to speak to Rumdar, and the brown really hits the fan as they escalate layers of Pakled royalty until the Emperor is overthrown in a revolution. These guys really do respect the “strong,” and the new leader really likes that big giant helmet.
The ensigns continue on their own adventures, oblivious to the galactic intrigue. Brad splits off, lured over to a different group of power-thirsty ensigns who have dubiously named themselves “red shirts.” The informal group works together to help each other “rank up,” and they see Brad as a prime candidate due to his time on the Titan, since they’re obsessed with Riker, as are we all.
Step one for Brad is to get a makeover, led by Jennifer the Andorian—yes that Jennifer—to make him look like a leader, complete with a new hairdo and some kind of uniform buff that takes him from zero to hero. The next step to the captain’s chair is speechifying practice, and after a stumble, Brad envisions himself on the old Enterprise-D and delivers an inspiring, rallying call that would give William T. a run for his no money in the future. Brad is really feeling it and Ensign Casey—now revealed to be a full-on ‘80s teen movie bad guy—swoops in for the kill, suggesting now is the time for Boimler to join the popular kids and stop being friends with those other losers who are always “elbow deep in some kind of slime.”
What brown can do for you
The two ensign cliques converge with Scorpion Tendi’s rampage. The Red Shirts seize the moment, each ready to step in and inspire the crew! Brad sees these stuffed shirts for what they are—all talk, while he is all action, using his true superpower: pratfalls. By IDing the mood cube that scorpioned D’Vana, Brad orders up more and more replicator items to slime himself with. The glorious finishing move was “taffy, honey, shrimp, soda, corn, steak, chicken nugget, crispy lemon rock candy, chili, gravy, chocolate sundae. Hot!” Tendi quickly laughs back down to Orion-sized. Even the Redshirts (sans Casey) are seeing that Brad has the right stuff… in fact, he is covered in it. Ransom notices too, complimenting his leadership. Take that, Casey.
As for Rumdar, he was found floating outside the ship after accidentally using an airlock for the bathroom… good thing Pakleds are simply too dumb to die in the vacuum of space. The glorious spy is triumphantly returned to Pakled Planet just in time to stop the “Janeway die!” angry mob, but Captain Freeman has one more trick left, getting Rumdar to reveal the Pakleds’ true plan to attack Earth. But as the Pakleds saw it, they “just beat Captain Janeway!” How has Starfleet not wiped out this lamebrain menace yet?
All is well again back on the ship, with our core four ensigns reunited in friendship and Casey relegated to cleaning up “something unspeakable” Rumdar did in airlock 17. And in a bit of a coda that will probably be the thing that most fans talk about and remember most from this episode, they use a “submanifold casting stone” to make a crank call to Armus. Tasha Yar avenged!
With all those hanging season one finale issues resolved over the first half of season two, “The Spy Humungous” was able to both return to the series’ roots and work off all the character growth the series has established. Stories like our favorite ensigns dealing with leftover crazy science anomalies—like the ship’s second contact core mandate—is where Lower Decks shines by having fun exploring the consequences of all those big Star Trek “A” stories.
And with all the bonding done through the first half of the season, our characters can now fully trust each other. In a smart bit of writing, Mariner complimenting Boimler for peeling off to have his own story with the other ensigns was earned through previous character development, ensuring the audience didn’t see it as a return to their previous abandonment issues. Tendi and Mariner’s recent bonding also pays off here with some additional growth as each realizes they balance each other out.
Our little Brad is growing up a bit too. He can be open to his ambition for the big chair, but his inner fanboy doesn’t stop him from understanding that leadership isn’t about pretending to be someone else, but finding your own path. Even though he can pull off the inspiring Starfleet speech, sometimes it’s just about doing the work, a good theme for the show itself. This was something we saw the Captain and Ransom doing as well as they smartly tied up the Varuvian bomb plot introduced in episode 202. In fact, the smartest thing about this episode is how none of our characters had to do anything dumb in order to move the plot forward. Sure, mistakes were made, but for the most part, all of our main characters were on top of their game, and we still had a lot of laughs with them along the way.
This may be reading into things, but dueling storylines for the ensigns feels like it could also be a comment on fandom itself. Instead of different factions clashing, maybe they can learn from each other. To have Mariner tell Tendi she and Rutherford were being “punks,” and they “should have fed off your enthusiasm, not tamp it down” sounds like a good message to anyone trying to rain on anyone else’s enjoyment of something. There may also be a similar lesson taught by Boimler to those who focus so much on surface issues and idealize things instead of appreciating the effort and the work.
Season two continues to impress with another solid outing. It’s nice to see the storylines and characters start leaping forward. While “The Spy Humungous” was long on sight gags and jokes related to slime and even poop, it never felt crass, although the “dumb Pakled” thing may be wearing thin, especially if we are to consider them a genuine threat with real stakes. That being said there were a lot of laughs with the big brown guys and guest stars like Brian Posehn and Rich Fulcher were born to play Pakleds, continuing the show’s tradition of strong guest star comedians.
The show is also settling into the right balance of Trek gags and references, with deep cuts like the stooping Kzinti to satisfy the superfans and using knockout punches like the Armus gag in just the right way. Lower Decks is getting smarter, funnier, and more heartwarming as it heads into the final episodes of its sophomore season, with no slump in sight.
- Stardate 58105.1
- The episode title may be a play on the online game Among Us about uncovering imposters aboard a ship.
- Collected anomalies that can’t be disposed off are all packed up and sent to a special Starfleet facility.
- Even though it focuses on second contacts, the California-class USS Cerritos has a number of specialized science labs.
- According to Boimler, Captain Riker “constantly” cleans his trombone, and it’s “kind of disruptive.”
- Does the Cerritos actually have a gift shop and juice bar, or were those just ruses for the Pakled spy?
- Lt. Winger Bingston has a new one-man show where he plays all the moons of Jupiter.
- The Kzinti ensign seen in recent episodes speaks for the first time.
- If you keep doing Picard-level peace-brokering like this, they might give you an Enterprise.
- So what has you seeking asylum? Religious persecution, leading a rebellion, some sort of sex stuff?
- I guess they had to put extra room in his pants. For his legs!
- Where could he be? He is giant and brown.
- We work in Starfleet, slime is a given.
- I am now Pakled leader. Behold my giant helmet.
- Hang in there Tendi, don’t get digested.
- Who among us has not been pooped out by an alien creature?
- Hey Armus, you look like a big bag of crap.
More to come
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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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