“Room For Growth”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 4 – Debuted Thursday, September 15, 2022
Written by John Cochran
Directed by Jason Zurek
A sweet little episode where the stakes are low but the characters go high, regardless.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.