“A Mathematically Perfect Redemption”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 7 – Debuted Thursday, October 6, 2022
Written by Ann Kim
Directed by Jason Zurek
A very different—yet still hilarious—episode of Lower Decks explores a classic setup with some major twists, led by a surprising returning character.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“What about the needs of the me?”
Things pick up in this very different kind of episode following the battle with the Pakleds from way back at the end of season 1, showing us events from the perspective of Peanut Hamper. The wayward exocomp ensign has no regrets over not sacrificing herself, although she feels left out when the USS Titan shows up to save the day and warps off with the Cerritos in tow. Adrift in the battle debris field, Hamper deals with loneliness by building a (non-operational) exocomp “friend for life” named Sophia along with an escape ship out of random parts. When Drookmani scavengers disrupt things, Sophia is instantly sacrificed to give Peanut time to fire up the surprisingly (but briefly) operational Junkerprise to warp away to anywhere and crash-land on an unknown alien planet. She’s awakened in a primitive treehouse by a friendly bird person named Kaltorus of the Areore, who sees Hamper’s arrival as a predestined gift from his ancestors.
The AWOL robot isn’t happy to find herself in a world of straw-based technology but knows a distress call would lead to a Federation penal colony, so she begrudgingly gets introduced to this strange new world where everything flies. As leader, Kaltlorus makes some headway fighting the local’s prejudices against the metal space box, who impresses the adorable little bird kids with replicated candy, but through it all Hamper maintains her hardened shell, complete with caustic sarcasm for this “backwater planet with no culture” that has never been “first contacted.” Then, she meets her match with the handsome young Rawda, who questions whether a machine can even be alive… some deep thoughts for a bird guy. As the dutiful son of Kaltorus, the young man reluctantly takes on the role of Hamper’s guide to the ways of Areolus (yes, that is what the planet is called).
“But our pieces are so different”
Rawda shows her the simple life of the Areore, from milking flying goats to avoiding the dangers of sky snakes. When Kaltorus is struck down by one of those snakes, Peanut Hamper wows the birds with a bit of Starfleet tech, administering antivenom to save his life. Telling them they can move beyond “straw and parasite water,” Hamper finds herself as the sort of local healer (complete with a cute little medical bag) and a bit of celebrity status. Rowda remains skeptical, but when she uses her magic light to successfully hatch all the eggs in the incubation hut, his shell begins to crack too. Together, the pair flies around Areolus and she starts to see the beauty of this sky paradise. This growing closeness even brings Rawda to song… well it’s more of a screeching, but it’s the thought that counts. Unexpected romance blossoms as the beings from two very different worlds bond over of daddy issues and Peanut Hamper starts to see the possibility of a life with Rawda.
Things get weird(er) as the pair explores the logistics of getting their very different and complicated pieces to fit together. Falling in love with this “beautiful, glorious machine,” Rawda feels betrayed by the teachings of his people and reveals this planet has a big secret: Below the tree village is a fleet of hidden starships left behind by the ancestors who eschewed their technology to return to a low-tech paradise after “endless wars with alien species.” Hamper is shocked at the discovery, and also sorts out that she actually hasn’t violated the Prime Directive. Showing a surprising level of self-awareness and even remorse, Hamper admits to past selfishness and transgressions, indicating Rawda has given her a whole new appreciation for organic life. Maybe Starfleet can’t forgive, but she can forgive herself. The seasons pass and Hamper acclimates to this wooden life, along with a new beak attachment just in time for her wedding to Rawda. OMG. The glorious day is disrupted by those Drookmani scavengers showing up and threatening to destroy the village in order to salvage the hidden technology of their ancestors that lies beneath. But the wayward exocomp has a plan.
“They are my flock, I must return to them”
The Cerritos finally comes into the picture as a distress call from Peanut Hamper surprises the bridge crew and they set a course to Areolus, arriving to find the Drookmani slicing up the village. Peanut Hamper jumps into action, reactualizing as a Starfleet ensign complete with a shiny new badge and espousing the “needs of the many, baby.” The Cerritos gang sees her heroically commandeer a Drookmani shuttle, dramatically ram and board the main Drookmani ship, overload its engines, and miraculously escape from the resulting explosion… humblebragging “Pretty good for a space box.” Captain Freeman leads an away team to do a proper first contact with the Areore and Rawda steps up to defend his new bride against arrest, but that’s already a non-issue as Freeman is impressed by this “brave robot” and has no plans to lock her up. Peanut is moved and ready to return to her Starfleet flock, but as she and her bird mate argue over if he should fly away with her, the Drookmani return in one of the ancient Areore ships, firing on the village and the Cerritos. The alien scavengers are pissed over running into all this resistance after being invited to do an easy salvage. Wait, what was that about being invited?
The Drookmani had gotten a message from a certain “prissy little robot” and brought the receipts with a recording of Hamper telling them not to worry about resistance because “Everyone here is a tree-kissing farmer.” The façade drops and Hamper reveals it was all part of her plan to get back into Starfleet by looking like a hero, telling her stricken new groom she was never going to live the rest of her long robot life on “a frickin’ bird planet.” But wait, Tendi sees that Hamper has yet another chance to redeem herself by sneaking onto the Drookmanied Areore ship! But of course, the exocomp bails as that conflicts with her whole not caring about organic life thing. It looks dire as the village and the Cerritos get pounded by the ancient but powerful ship… but wait, an even bigger Areore ship rises to join the fight—it’s Rawda “for the flock!” This bad boy bird takes down the Drookmani and saves the day, proving his worthiness to lead his people into a new era of balance with technology. Peanut returns to try to weasel back into his good graces but he kicks her off the planet, and when Freeman wants nothing to do with her either, the exocomp goes full evil and tries to contact a new ally, claiming “The Borg would love me.” Yeah, everyone has had enough of this little robot, so with her transmitter easily disabled, she soon finds herself in a new home: Starfleet’s Self-Aware Megalomaniacal Computer Storage. Finally at home with non-organics, she is happy to meet a fellow (familiar) evil computer who is impressed with her mathematically perfect name… cue the maniacal laughter.
“A Mathematically Perfect Redemption” was touted as “bananas” and it certainly went to some weird places and experimented with the core structure of what makes a Lower Decks episode. In that way, this week’s outing is akin to last season’s “wej Duj,” which ended up being our favorite Star Trek episode of 2021, also garnering a rare Hugo nomination. This episode might not meet those same heights, but it was still finely crafted, and it’s good to see the Lower Decks team continue to try something different and break out of their own patterns. Giving the focus to a one-off guest character who is designed to be a bit annoying was risky and in the end resulted in an episode that is less balanced as “wej Duj.” What makes the episode really work is that it’s simply very funny, with crisp writing delivered perfectly by the returning Kether Donohue as Peanut Hamper, who carries it with a strong assist from Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) as her straight man… or straight bird, if you will. While the humor got a bit raunchy at times, it never stepped over the line like “Mugato, Gumato.”
While the episode is unusual for Lower Decks due to the main characters being mostly absent, the core story is familiar, centered around a civilized person getting taken in by primitives. In addition to hearkening back to episodes like the original Star Trek’s “The Paradise Syndrome” (the word “paradise” is mentioned three times), it is a classic story of “going native” seen in films ranging from Dune to Dances With Wolves to Avatar. Instead of a redemption story, with a nice Star Trek message of learning through diversity for Peanut Hamper, Lower Decks subverts expectations by committing to the bit that she is a cold, calculating (and delightfully wisecracking), narcissist. And that may be for the best, since it avoids falling into the civilized savior trope, instead allowing Rawda to be the real hero. And him stopping the Drookmani from strip-mining his paradise did have a good on-brand Trek environmental theme, although it would have been fun to see how this bird guy fit into Starfleet life if Hamper’s turnaround had been genuine. There was also a missed opportunity to have some fun with the conflict between Peanut Hamper and Rawda’s girlfriend, which was dropped shortly after being set up.
This wasn’t Peanut Hamper’s redemption story, it was her origin story as a new Star Trek villain. By design, this episode breaks the mold and so there is little (actually zero) character development for our lower deckers, which has been the hallmark of season 3. With only ten episodes each season, doing one of these kinds of episodes comes at the high cost of following up on “Bold” Boimler, Mariner’s Starfleet issues, and the like. However, this allowed the episode to properly explore a new alien culture with the Areore, something rare not only for this series but for all new Star Trek.
Even though the Cerritos crew showed up in the third act, the main action was still left to the guest stars, with some great additional efforts from J.G. Hertzler as the Drookmani Captain and of course Jeffrey Combs as AGIMUS. And after last week’s indulgence in DS9 references and legacy cameos, having legacy Star Trek guest stars return in roles originated on Lower Decks shows how this episode drew mostly on the show’s own canon, with very few of the usual Trek lore callbacks… and without any loss in the level of humor. In fact, this episode was funnier, showing how Lower Decks doesn’t need the Easter eggs to make their comedy omelets.
Lower Decks goes from strength to strength with the second half of this improving season — mixing it up in terms of tone, style and format. That trend promises to continue next week with a sequel to “Crisis Point.”
- Those bipedal bastards would just lock me up for going AWOL. They’re so uptight about being betrayed.
- Call it android intuition but I am getting the sense that everyone here hates me.
- I say we cut her open and release the tiny witch that runs it.
- If everything here flies then why call it a sky snake? Wouldn’t that just be a snake?
- Oh yes, my fecal matter is back to being oily and white.
- Oh, I long for the touch of your nozzle.
- Areo… Areol… It’s a pre-warp civilization.
- Smell you later. Oh, yeah, and I mean that literally, ’cause y’all s–t everywhere.
- You are like the poor man’s Aurelians.
- I am AGIMUS, and I think you and I could do awful things together.
- The episode title refers to how Peanut Hamper originally chose her own name because it was the “mathematically perfect name.”
- This is the first Lower Decks episode to use a “previously on…” intro (from the season 1 finale “No Small Parts”).
- This is also the first Lower Decks episode to change the intro title sequence and theme music.
- Amongst the floating debris from the battle with the Pakleds was Rutherford’s old eyepiece.
- J.G. Hertzler returns to his LDS role as the Drookmani captain, introduced in “Terminal Provocations.”
- Jeffrey Combs returns to voice AGIMUS, introduced in “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” and last seen being stored in the Self Aware Megalomaniacal Computer Storage at the Daystrom Institute.
- The Areore were reminiscent of the Bird People from Rick and Morty, Mike McMahan’s previous series.
- Peanut Hamper says she has “android intuition,” but androids are robots with a human appearance, so maybe she has human envy?
- Peanut Hamper’s original plan to get away from her father was to go to Freecloud and become a Dabo girl.
- Peanut Hamper’s “friend” Sophia was a nod to Wilson from Cast Away.
- Peanut Hamper estimated her junk ship could achieve Warp Factor .02 or .03, which would not be nearly fast enough to get to another star system.
- While Dr. Migleemo appears in the episode, he has no dialogue.
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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