Review: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Goes On A Trip In “Room For Growth”

“Room For Growth”

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 4 – Debuted Thursday, September 15, 2022
Written by John Cochran
Directed by Jason Zurek

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

A sweet little episode where the stakes are low but the characters go high, regardless.

Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, and Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford

WARNING: Spoilers below!

RECAP

“We got an ancient masks situation over here”

The ensigns are feeling the squeeze of the cramped hallway/bunk room, making them long for their own personal quarters with longshot hopes pegged on the upcoming room lottery. Life gets even worse when the Captain floats by, transforming their hallway and the rest of the ship into a familiar ancient temple—and apparently, this isn’t the first time. This means that Billups and his team have to do overtime to de-temple the ship back to Starfleet standard, making Freeman worry that all this work is taking a toll on the engineers. With all the sacrificial altars cleared, Billups tries to convince her there is nothing to worry about, but eventually he crumbles under the stress, giving Freeman the excuse she was looking for to order the “most relaxing mandatory vacation” of their lives.

With Rutherford busy with the engineers, the other three ensigns are set to task when Tendi finds out the dreaded Delta Shifters are planning on rigging the room lottery. Naturally, Mariner decides to outcheat them, with Boimler locating an even more devious route to the server room deep in the bowels of the ship. Their first challenge is working their way through a holodeck where Shaxs and Dr. T’Ana are doing some Bonnie and Clyde “crimeplay”… No judgment. Up next is trudging though the swamp underneath hydroponics, which was merely gross until they came upon a hallucinogenic Tamarian root which gets the two humans seriously tripping… and running out of oxygen. Quick-thinking on the immune Orion’s part got Boimler and Mariner onto the next leg of their epic and increasingly dangerous journey through the ship. The next segment starts off with fun in the low gravity playground of the deflector dish room until Shaxs activates the dish, turning the chamber into a spinning carnival ride from hell.

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, and Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi

“She hasn’t been recently possessed by any ancient artifacts, has she?”

The Cerritos arrives at The Dove, a spa ship run by Toz who immediately sets herself get those engineers mellowed out. Freeman comes along to make sure the Billups gang actually relaxes—which is a good thing, since they immediately start doing minor ship maintenance out of habit. Things look up when the engineers take to the sand garden until Freeman realizes they are using it to make engine schematics for more efficiency. Nerds! Things escalate again when the engineers hack their stress meters with cucumbers, sending Carol into a rage… which turns her own stress meter to code black.

It turns out the Dove crew has been ignoring the person who needs their care the most: Captain Freeman! She’s dragged off for some emergency intensive treatment; if the Captain isn’t cured of her repressed stress quickly, they will have to send her back to Earth. But no level of puppies (or even bunnies) is calming Freeman down, so the engineers have (of course) engineered a solution by creating the ultimate relaxation pod. After ten seconds encased in the contraption, she gets cured “better than a thousand massages combined.” And the nerds are all in the green on their stress meters, as the thing that calms them the most is tinkering solutions. Toz isn’t happy they made a gizmo that could put her and The Dove out of a job, so that thing has to go.

Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman

“Even with all the peril, it was really fun just being together”

Using some smart engineering of their own, Tendi and Mariner fashion their own uniforms into a rope to drag Boimler out of deflector danger. The final stop on their way to the terminal has them waiting for a vent that opens once an hour, leaving an interval to fantasize about getting their own quarters. The fun little moment is shattered when evil Delta Shifters barge in, but with time to kill, they all finally start to bond over shared grueling journeys, loud encounters with Shaxs and T’Ana “making something,” and funny memories of that time Ransom was turned into a caveman. You know, maybe all the lower deckers should stick together? Psych! The Deltabags rush the opening to the terminal at the last moment, taunting their new “friends” as they are left behind.

Not all hope is lost. They find another possible path, so Bold Boimler jumps through to the unknown, discovering a shortcut to the terminal. Yet finally at their lottery rigging objective, it turns out there aren’t four rooms on deck one available, but just one room on deck four. The friends decide they don’t want to break up across different decks, so they choose not to cheat, believing their rivals will split up their own group. But those shifty Deltas took the single quarters and turned it into a four-bunk party room. Doh! Also, duh! Rutherford, back from his spa day, is not impressed his comrades missed this obvious solution, but the gang moves on to figuring out how they are going to crash the Delta Shift party, ending another day of hijinks on the Cerritos.

Mary Holland as Ensign Moxy, Asif Ali as Ensign Asif, Artemis Pebdani as Ensign Karavitus,Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, and Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi

ANALYSIS

Growing up

“Room for Growth” is a nice little bottle episode that allowed for some “room for growth” for the core ensigns and other characters. After indulging in a sci-fi plot last week, Lower Decks returns to its classic formula with low-stakes stories where the humor comes through some fun character comedy. The journey through the ship was a great way for the show to do some internal world-building, revealing new elements of the Cerritos and its crew. Through it all, the show excels in its own little way to explore and celebrate the core Star Trek themes of teamwork, friendship, and family.

While the opening “Masks” moment was a hilarious Star Trek lore follow-up, for the most part the humor was more subdued and even a bit sweet, such as the ensigns imagining which ways they will use to greet people when they get their own room, with some favoring Riker’s simple “come,” and not taking the obvious low-brow joke it serves up. These characters are growing up and they acknowledge that. And beyond the ensigns, the episode also took some welcome time to explore some of our bridge crew, with Dawnn Lewis getting to shine as Captain Freeman went through her own journey from alien possession to breakdown and back again. Gillian Vigman and Fred Tatasciore had a lot of fun as they showed us there is a lot more to Dr. T’Ana and Shaxs.

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler and Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford

Worried about Boimler

“Room for Growth” took stock of the main character arcs for the season and the series, with Mariner even acknowledging that they won’t be lower deckers forever. While her prediction for Tendi sees the Orion destined for the bridge, she saw herself getting kicked out by the ever-watching Ransom. But things got even darker with her prediction that Brad’s new “Bold Boimler” attitude is going to get him killed, and he actually came pretty close a few times in this episode, including just barely avoiding being shot in the holodeck after Dr. T’Ana (revealed to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie) turned off the safety protocols. There are laughs to be had along the way, but this could foreshadow some consequences later in the season for Brad.

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler

Final thoughts

Lower Decks continues to evolve with another episode that leans heavily on character comedy, which works if you are fully invested in these characters—but if you’re looking for constant Trek lore and more broad gags of previous seasons, you may feel season three is coming up short.

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler

MORE BITS

Random stuff

  • The Cerritos ensign previously known as “Towel Guy” now has a name: Federov.
  • Boimler was seen tuning the violin he used for talent night in “Temporal Edict.”
  • According to Rutherford, the Cerritos California-class wasn’t designed to accommodate its current crew complement.
  • The captain referenced a “huge project” with the USS Carlsbad coming up, perhaps a hint at an upcoming episode and return of the Carlsbad crew from last week.
  • Toz was an Edosian like the Division 14 Medical Specialist from the episode “Much Ado About Boimler.”
  • Boimler recognizes what a bank was but thinks it is pronounced like bonk.
  • Diane is either Dr. T’Ana’s first name or (speculated by Boimler) her “kinky sex name.”
  • T’Ana lost her tail while serving on the USS Algonquin.
  • There appears to be a skeleton in the swamp underneath the hydroponics bay.
  • When Ransom was transformed into a caveman he made a “wife” out of churros the crew calls “Churrolivia.”
  • Kayshon likes to garden and cut flowers.
  • Tendi has a little blob specimen/pet named “Goopy.”
  • The terminal room everyone is trying to get to looks a lot like the Enterprise-D sensor maintenance room seen only once in the first season of TNG.

Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler

Laugh lines

  • Stop touching Masks!
  • The doc just needs to stay in her lane. I don’t go down to her sickbay and tell her how to hypo her sprays.
  • Oh, I always wanted to explore an ethical grey area.
  • We off these Feds, and once our blood’s pumping, we’ll do the nasty on the counter and make the hostages watch.
  • For the more deviant among you, we also have kittens. No judgment.
  • I died and we never even talk about it.
  • What kind of weirdo signs up for outer space just to garden?
  • Oh, Gramble, his throat slit by his mistress.
  • Engineers! All of them are goddamn Geordi La Forges.
  • Increase puppy levels!
  • Computer, 35 churros in an unmarked paper bag. Hot.

Gillian Vigman as Doctor T’Ana, and Fred Tatasciore as Shaxs

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. 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.

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

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What a great episode! Very funny, very character driven and vrry wholesome!

I liked it! But I will admit, as a stranger named Dane Yoshida pointed out on Facebook (to give credit where due), titling this episode “Room for Growth” missed a golden opportunity to call it “Day at the Dove”.

Oh wow, that is a good one! It’s not too late, P+!

LOL wow, yeah very missed opportunity!

I’m going through some LDS based memory confusion at the moment.

First I was convinced that the first 3 eps were being released in a day, then I was convinced the ep I was really really looking forward to was this week’s.

Got up early and watched it before work too!

Still enjoyed it though. And then left work after 30 mins!

“…so that thing has to go.” No. No no no no no! I was just thinking: finally again a real aspirational piece of new Trek tech! Sigh. But I get it would be kind of general plot suicide to establish a universal stress reliever.

I loved the tone of voice in which Jack Quaid said, “Fortune favors the bold.” Given what a huge bundle of anxieties Boimler has been for most of the show, it was a lot of fun to hear Quaid sounding smugly confident. Wow, what a switch!

How cool, that Starfleet has an entire ship devoted to relaxation! I wonder when those came into use. I’ve long thought that there must be some absolutely stunning treatment for psychological trauma by the 23rd century, or poor Captain Kirk would have been ready for a rubber room after the first season of TOS alone. :-)

Also, I want to sign up for the Puppy Room! Pleeease!

The puppy room reminded me of Egon working in Ghostbusters II…. “Let’s see what happens when we take away the puppy.”

I’m sure there’s no small number of people wanting to sign up for the Puppy Room.

Yes, but I’ve got dibs. :-)

The entire ship for relaxation makes logistical sense in a way. If your ship happens to be traveling well within Federation space, you could just have a shore leave at Risa or Betazed or Earth or whatever. But if you’re way out there on the exploring fringe, then you have the Shore Leave come to you!

Definitely the funniest episode for me this season, especially spicy Dr. T’ana. So many hilarious one-liners in particular.

BTW, the corpse in the swamp is one of the Dooplers…man that’s dark!

This episode was great! Sooo much goodness. I loved them going through all the decks of the ship. That was fun! Everyone in engineering trying to relax on the Dove was hilarious too. That puppy, you know the one, is why dogs are just amazing lol!

I think this was the first time we’ve ever seen Rutherford angry for losing the room. Slightly agitated at times, but never angry.

But the best part was the funny, but quite disturbing holodeck fantasy of Shax and Dr. T’Ana relaxing with a bank heist and then having sex with the hostages looking on. And people say Starfleet officers got soft in the 24th century! This show just always put a smile on my face in the best way possible.

8/10

When you think about it, doing the equivalent of an ego-shooter on the holodeck as her leisure activity is the exact opposite of a hippocratic oath at work ;-)… Also, playing to kill is indeed a feline activity.

Dr. T’Ana is such a great character, always gets the biggest laugh from me. Hope there’s more of her this season!

Yeah we need a Dr. T’Ana story! People complaining Ortegas hasn’t gotten one on SNW, Dr. T’Ana easily has her beat. But we still know nothing about her beyond her job and relationship with Shax. But man she is just hilarious. I ALWAYS laugh every time she curses. She reminds me of my grandmother who cursed like a sailor and was just cranky ALL the time lol.

I wonder how Dr. T’Ana even graduated from Starfleet Academy. I just can’t see how she could tolerate all those social norms for so many years. But maybe she was just more social and less cantankerous when she was younger.

Well, about her time at the academy mean-spirited The Dodo commenters would probably write: She trained her humans well?

Tiger: Good point—I sometimes wonder if she even went to Starfleet Academy. I can totally see her education being primarily Medical and she simply enlisted when the Federation went to war. (I kinda already visualized her lack of tail and torn ears as remnants of the Dominion War, pretty much from the first time I saw her.)

That’s actually possible too, she just signed up during the war or just enlisted. It would just be nice we get something more about her.

I know the gardening joke was about Kayshon but I heard it and thought “damn, she’s coming for Keiko!”.

And Stamets!

The weakest episode to date. Lots of filler. Did Lower Decks take on one of the Picard writers? ; ) Badgey should have been in this episode.

I really loved this episode personally but watching all the Youtube reviews they all seem to agree with you. Everyone seems to generally like it but thought it was all filler which it was obviously. The boys at Trekyards seem to feel the entire season hasn’t been very strong and kind of meandering and they are its strongest supporters.

Hopefully there will be more substance in the next few episodes. I’m really enjoying the season but I can’t disagree it can be stronger.

It’s a fun little character episode that still finds some time to forward character arcs like Bold Boimler. I’m perfectly happy with sojourns like this one, we get enough serialized plot arcs on the other shows.

That is essentially the problem of making a show to please those who are hardest to please: Once they know that you are pleasing them, they raise the goalpost to get more out of you.

Some of those YouTubers might have liked Lower Decks out of spite against Disco and Picard, so now that there’s a new SNW darling walking past them on the sidewalk, they just turn around for SNW instead.

I expect those same people will start complaining about weak episodes in SNW season 3.