“The Least Dangerous Game”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 2 – Debuted Thursday, September 1, 2022
Written by Garrick Bernard
Directed by Michael Mullen
Lower Decks remains strong with another funny episode that focuses on characters trying out new things for season 3.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“Today I am a new Boimler, a bold Boimler”
Our four lower deckers are back together on board the USS Cerritos, taking some time out to play “Bat’leths & BIHnuchs” with a virtual Martok as dungeon master. They are all having fun role-playing as Klingon warriors with the exception of Mariner, who grouses over her new minder Ransom just waiting to bust her out of Starfleet for breaking protocol again. Boimler’s mood is also soured upon learning that a former fellow Cerritos ensign got a field promotion to captain of the USS Inglewood. Tendi points out that (now captain) Vendome’s “meteoric rise” resulted from his risk-taking. This is opposed to Boimler’s instinctive caution, demonstrated by his avoiding getting “cave-killed” in the Klingon game, which results in a big-time loss of honor, of course.
After Tendi suggests Brad try a new approach, he begins to Vendome his life by taking up all opportunities, starting with a very physical game of Springball with some bros. He, of course, ends up on the floor but his “sustained screaming” did impress Shaxs—so the next stop on Brad’s tour was the security chief’s Bajoran dirge choir followed by standing in as a “skeletal boy” for Chief Lundy’s figure drawing class. And Boimler actually likes all of it, especially getting in good with Shaxs and no longer being creeped out by creepy Lundy. He proudly declares to everyone in the Cerritos bar he will now say yes to everything, which is overheard by a terrifying alien named K’ranch. K’ranch gets Brad to agree (against Tendi’s advice) to become prey, satisfying K’ranch’s racial instinct to hunt. After learning this “hunt” is no metaphor, the ensign sets off running for his life and screaming in terror, which is back on brand for Brad.
“Starfleet isn’t all about being fed fruit by erotic aliens with slightly different nose ridges”
The ship’s actual mission of the week is to help the Dulainians, wellness-crazed aliens who need a fix for their stuck orbital lifts (don’t call them space elevators, but they are space elevators). Mariner is teamed up with Ransom and is shocked to find out they will be doing elevator maintenance while Billups and Rutherford handle the liaising with the locals down below. The engineers are shocked by this too, but definitely happy to interface (and inter-tongue) with the scantily clad locals in the tropical paradise. Meanwhile, Mariner is arms-deep in sparking conduits, raising the tension level even higher with Ransom, who seems more interested in getting in his workout reps than helping with repairs. Beckett thinks she is vindicated when Billups reports it’s getting tense down on the planet after some “Justice“-like diplomatic snafus, but Jack defiantly sticks with his plan, suggesting the engineers just riff “about the Prime Directive, and all that stuff,” and admonishing Mariner to trust her superiors.
After things continue to deteriorate on the surface, with Billups up for sacrifice (due to his bellybutton being an outie), Mariner returns to form and takes matters into her own hands. In mid-attempt, Ransom calls to say she was right: He was just pushing her to prove she would defy his orders. Impressed she didn’t go rogue, he agrees it’s time for them to go save the engineers. Unfortunately, the call came after she had already gone rogue by skydiving off the platform, so she deploys her chute and runs up a lot of stairs (and even a climbing wall—it’s a wellness planet, remember?) to rendezvous with Jack, who has a crazy plan to skydive off the platform. They arrive just in time to find Billups and Rutherford about to be dropped into the mouth of a broiling volcano.
“Thanks again for the mimosas”
Back on the Cerritos, K’ranch’s hunt has Boimler dodging a variety of sharp weapons throughout the ship and even into the Cetacean Ops pool, which the Belugas aren’t happy about. Regretting his decision to become prey, Boimler thinks he’s found salvation when he runs into Captain Freeman. Unfortunately, Carol was previously charmed at brunch by K’ranch (complete with mimosas), and she’s glad the alien found someone to help with his need to hunt, lecturing Boimler to respect K’ranch’s culture. Eventually, Brad ends up at the gang’s favorite hangout where he gets some advice from “Martok” to never let your foe define you. Filled with a warrior’s heart, Brad suits up to turn the tables, declaring to K’ranch that now the hunted has become the hunter.” Well, actually he wasn’t able to get all that out due to getting speared in the shoulder by K’ranch. But Brad’s worse fears of getting killed are abated when K’ranch just gets some cool selfies for the Kromsapiod ‘gram with his “catch and release” prey.
As for the elevator mission, Ransom was able to quickly diffuse the situation by ripping off his shirt to reveal the kind of sculpted abs that say “let’s parlay” in any language. Later, he and Mariner start to bury the hatchet: She admits she really does want to stay in Starfleet, and he apologizes. These two still have their issues so she is not out of her probation problem yet. As for Brad, in the end he earned K’ranch’s respect and some high praise delivered to the captain, making passing out from blood loss totally worth it. Things wrap up nicely, bookended by another round of “Bat’leths & BIHnuchs.” And even after his new risk-taking plan gets his character beaten to death by his own ripped-off arm, Brad is ready to stick with being “Bold Boimler.”
A new game
“The Least Dangerous Game” is another funny Lower Decks episode, but also shows how season 3 is changing things up a bit with more character-based gags. The laughs come from character development; both Boimler and Mariner are trying to change, with each running into a few snags as a result of their evolution. Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome are up to the task of finding different nuances to their characters while still keeping true to what has made them work for two seasons, with Quaid finding new ways to deliver Boimler’s signature scream. Even sticking with the core mission-of-the-week structure, we are still starting to see some good arcs for our characters for the season, as set up in the premiere.
The episode was jam-packed with an impressive mix of action, humor, and heart without the pacing ever feeling too frenetic. Things were shaken up a bit with Rutherford and Billups taking the diplomatic mission, creating more hijinks, and giving the under-utilized comedic talents of Paul Scheer a chance to shine. While one might want to learn more about the navel-obsessed Dulainians and the “checks and balances” of the strange leadership structure, the periodic odd tidbits were part of the fun and helped build the tension for the away team.
While there are abundant references and nods to classic Star Trek, including a nice little legacy cameo, there continues to be a bit of a dial-back on this element of the series. Instead, the series is moving to find humor and moments by calling back to its own canon, like Vendome the Boilian, creepy Lundy, another visit to Cetacean Ops, and the like. Lower Decks has built its own world, and instead of relying on past Trek, can now use it strategically for even more impact. But don’t worry, the nods and deep cuts are still there, so keep an eye out for our follow-up Easter egg analysis.
Lower Decks continues to impress with this more mature but still hilarious third season episode.
- J.G. Hertzler returns to voice Martok, credited as “Martok” (with the quote marks) because he was a virtual Ferengi knock-off.
- Vendome was a Bolian ensign seen in six previous episodes of Lower Decks, including the season 2 finale.
- Boimler said Vendome was “a guy who gets hit with a spear on away missions,” describing the events of episode 103, “Temporal Edict.”
- Vendome’s ship, the USS Inglewood, is presumably another California class and named for Inglewood, California.
- K’ranch (Nolan North) was inspired by Tosk from the Deep Space Nine episode “Captive Pursuit,” although he definitely has a few Hirogen traits.
- K’ranch’s helmet gave him targeting info, akin to The Predator.
- Boimler’s storyline is reminiscent of George Costanza in the Seinfeld episode “The Opposite,” as noted in an interview by Mike McMahan and Jack Quaid.
- Boimler weighs 61.2 kilos (135 pounds), as guessed by Lars Lundy.
- Ransom says to be careful not to “accidentally become a king” a common trope and especially ironic for Billups, who has avoided ascending to the throne of Hysperia.
- Matt and Kimolu, the Belugas, return after their first appearance of Cetacean Ops in the season 2 finale.
- Oh, I would love to be a number one’s number one. – Boimler.
- You beg for your life like a blHnuch and live out the rest of your days not as a warrior, but as a dentist! – “Martok”
- You are going to have a blast. We have the saddest dirges in the quadrant. – Shaxs
- Wow, that guy is such a drama magnet. – Kimolu
- These guys are one of those cultures that run everywhere and kiss hello, right? – Mariner
- Starfleet isn’t all about being fed fruit by erotic aliens with slightly different nose ridges. – Ransom
- Oh, he’s good. You better run. – Captain Freeman
- When you decide to switch it up and become the hunter you can’t just announce it and stand there. – K’ranch
- Sorry I’m late, had to make a quick trip to the little commander’s room. – Ransom
- Wow, psychic baby, evil computer, and a volcano? You guys ever hear of overkill? – Mariner
- Old Boimler was into moderation; bold Boimler is into boldness.” – Boimler
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 debuted in Latin America on Paramount+ in September.
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