“Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 8 – Debuted Thursday, October 13, 2022
Written by Ben Rodgers
Directed by Michael Mullen
Lower Decks once again goes big with a fun and funny cinematic homage with a twist of some deep character development.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“We have a movie to do, man. We don’t have time to chat up the extras”
Things kick off in the heat of the battle with the USS Cerritos being boarded by Romulans! Ransom’s security team is too late to stop the bad guys from stealing a device, and things look dire as Freeman preps to abandon ship. But hope arrives with the powerful USS Wayfarer under the command of the heroic Captain Bucephalus Dagger… who looks a lot like Boimler (and his bridge crew looks a lot like Tendi, Rutherford, and Mariner). They quickly chase away the Warbird and the Starfleet ship captains exchange some fun banter with Freeman revealing the Romulans stole an obviously-named time travel device called a Chronogami. Hmm, looks like our pals are doing another movie thing as if the cinematic aspect ratio wasn’t already a clue. A call from the (real) Commander Ransom forces a pause to the holodeck program giving Mariner time to grouse about the title “Crisis Point II”—she’s concerned it will mess with her “Vindictaverse.” Boimler heads out to check in with Ransom as the gang is left to watch the cool credits and get into character: Rutherford as chief engineer Sylvo Toussant (he smartly gives up on trying a Cajun accent), Tendi as science officer Meena Vesper, and Mariner as first officer Rebecca Doodle… and she might have a point when she calls the whole thing “fan fiction.”
Brad returns to pick up the action at a Starfleet Temporal Laboratory and we meet the sexy Dr. Helena Gibson, who has some history with Bucephalus. The scientist fills us in using a familiar-looking briefing on the Chronogami, complete with epic technobabble like “Chronogasmic.” She gives the team a (“very convenient and not at all dumb” according to Beckett) watch that can track the Chronogami, but when the romance subplot starts to kick in, Brad (sorry Bucephalus) is all business, leaving Dr. Gibson confused and Mariner wondering why he designed her to be so hot. The team heads to Tatasciore IX to stop the Romulans from getting the fuel they need to go back in time to destroy the Federation. A perfect moment for some set piece action finally gets Mariner interested, but Brad/Dagger is more interested in random background mystics, focusing on one cultist preaching “Ki-ty-ha” as the source of all truth. Tendi/Vesper spots the Romulans escaping and uses a nice line-up of action-scene-ready Gravcycle bikes to give chase and is thrilled when Brad puts her in command as acting captain so he can find “the meaning of life.” Boimler dismisses Mariner’s complaints of a bad sequel, pointing out “Rise of Vindicta” was just an excuse to violently work out her anger issues, while he has gone full auteur to examine the human condition. As the holodeck stalls for time to give Brad’s extras a backstory, Mariner bails, dismayed that the path to Ki-ty-ha is literally a map written on the cultist’s flabby-skinned back. She leaves Bucephalus Dagger alone with this “Illustor,” and the lazily named alien follower Knicknac.
“Smells like fried Romulan in here”
Even though Boimler downplayed the chase sequence, Tendi and Rutherford are having a blast Gravcycling after the Rommies, with D’Vana doing her own stunts, taking down the bad guy vehicle, and performing an amazing vault over the resulting explosion “for Starfleet!” But the Romulans escape via a time portal, so Acting Captain Vesper orders the crew to follow. They find themselves in 2341 during the “Great Soolian Algae Crisis”—you know the one, right? They witness the historic moment when the giant cephalopod Ambassador Koro communicated with the Algaeic Slime Mind to prevent the destruction of the Federation. Tendi is way into every little detail and pissed at Sam’s casualness, which included him popping out for a sandwich and not focusing on their new mission to protect Koro from the Romulans.
The next stop on the time-travel tour takes the Starfleet crew to 1980s Earth and the Sydney Aquarium, where they dispatch some unruly Australian punks, naturally. Tendi continues to be frustrated by Rutherford, who is just having fun stealing the bandits’ cool old-timey punk outfits and not focusing on the plan to “kidnap that octopus and take it to a safe house,” as one does. We next catch up with the gang at the founding of the Federation as they foil the Romulans’ plot to blow up the ceremony, with hologram Dr. T’Ana bravely sacrificing herself. Tendi is feeling that emotional beat and finally loses it when Sam casually sings his way through diffusing the bomb. He thinks this is all fun and games, but playing acting captain has ignited something in her. She’s realized she really wants to be a captain one day, but if she can’t get her best friend to take her seriously, what hope does she have with the rest of Starfleet?
“F—k yeah, we’re Starfleet”
Back in the real world, when Mariner attends her weekly evaluation with Ransom (which goes surprisingly well), she learns that when Brad slipped out earlier, he was informed his transporter clone William Boimler had died in an accident on the Titan, which explains his dramatic change in mood. Concerned, she returns to the holodeck where her character is immediately thrown in the brig of the Cultist ship and finds a dejected Boimler also there, feeling sorry for himself because his followers mutinied when he couldn’t find Ki-ty-ha. He is ready to end the movie, but she convinces him that even though it’s “an uneven slog that totally ignores the successes of the original,” it is worth doing because it’s a Starfleet movie. And right on time, a wall explodes for a brig breakout… it’s Knicknac! The weird little alien is in love with “Purplehead,” so there’s your romance subplot too. The trio storms the bridge to take on the fleshy Illustor. Expecting Boimler to speechify his way through this, Beckett is surprised to see Brad do the “Kirk thing” and punch his way to victory, with an assist from a totally ripped badass “third act Knicknac reveal.” Now, this is a movie. With the Cultist leader down, Brad pushes his back-skin folds together (yuck) to find the true path to Ki-ty-ha.
Back to the original movie plot: Rutherford tells a relieved Tendi he thinks she would be a great captain and he’s ready for orders. She rewinds the clock to the beginning of the movie, with everything mostly playing out the same way. However, the Wayfarer’s new Captain Vesper has a surprise for the Romulan Melponar triplets, who find she’s swapped out their own bomb for the stolen Chronogami. BOOM! Brad’s personal discovery movie continues as he and Mariner travel to the Ki-ty-ha’s hidden moon. Sadly the rock creature turns out to be nothing more than an inspirational quote generator with clunkers like “Life is like a cup of tea.” But Brad isn’t giving up on his search and literally digs into Ki-ty-ha only to find the Wright Flyer and its smudged “KItTY HAwk” plaque. Incensed with the meaninglessness of this reveal he collapses, awakening at a familiar ranch with a mailbox that says “Kirk.” OMG! He looks for for Captain Kirk, but finds Captain Sulu… even better! The wise old Starfleet hero helps Brad find some peace, teaching the lesson that if he continues to worry about the meaningless death, he will never find joy in life. Before Boimler can fanboy out, he awakens again in sickbay, informed by Dr’ T’Ana he was briefly clinically dead due to dehydration. Together again, all four ensigns recount their great adventures in Boimler’s successful sequel and agree that it ended well… and without any dumb cliffhanger.
In the dumb cliffhanger, we find William Boimler being awakened in his Starfleet torpedo coffin by a mysterious figure. He is offered a familiar black badge, welcomed back, and informed Starfleet considers him dead, revealing his collusion with “It worked!” After debating the merits of having a badge for a secret organization, William delights to be joining Section 31, complete with maniacal laughter.
It’s always a challenge for sequels to live up to the original, and season one’s “Crisis Point” was a great episode. Yet Lower Decks succeeded in doing just that and much more, as this follow-up had all the meta-movie hilarity but went even further in taking the opportunity to do some major character development. Noël Wells and Jack Quaid are outstanding, showing great range as they take on both their fictional movie personas deep emotional arcs for each of their characters, with satisfying payoffs for each. Tawny Newsome is right behind them as she carries much of the humor of the episode, wisecracking her way along Brad’s journey of discovery but showing true compassion when she finds out what’s troubling him. This all ties in beautifully with the arcs and development and character-based humor that has been the hallmark of this different third season (not counting last week’s little excursion to the bird planet).
It’s not just the actors; everyone involved in this production is working at the top of their game, from sharp-witted yet heartfelt writing to the perfect pacing to the amazing music that built on the show’s own soundtrack with classic movie cues. Visually the show has never looked better, genuinely creating a cinematic experience for Boimler’s sequel. And what’s a great movie without a surprise cameo? George Takei is an excellent, huge surprise after the (OMG, did they actually pay for Shatner?) fake-out. The original Sulu hasn’t lost a step, returning to the role with a beautiful mix of wit and wisdom.
Let’s go to the movies!
“Crisis Point II” was another chance to get a bit meta, even cozying up to the fourth wall as Lower Decks takes a loving but honest look at some of the tropes of the Star Trek movie franchise and tentpole movies in general. Between the fun homages to classic movie moments like the Star Trek II Genesis Device animation and even the less-than-classic Nemesis dune buggy chase, the show comments on oversimplified plots and exposition of the feature films that often shortchanges character development. The different visions of Boimler and Mariner were proxies for the debate over feature films, dumbing down some of the franchise’s philosophical themes in pursuit of action, random romances, and even the glorification of violence.
And of course, the debates over maintaining the integrity of the “Vindictaverse” are a fun poke at the fandom itself, and our obsession over canon and connections. (Oh, and make sure to check back later for our weekly Easter eggs/references article!) But mostly, “Crisis Point II” was another love letter to the Star Trek movies at their best and even at their worst—because as Mariner pointed out, any movie that is a “Starfleet movie” is worth it as there is always something to love.
As for what to make of the cliffhanger with William Boimler, it turned out to be kind of fun. While another dip into Section 31 is risky, Lower Decks has earned enough goodwill to make us look forward to where they’re going with it. There is also a good chance this storyline could be connected to the conspiracy behind Rutherford’s implant. The show is best when it is episodic, so let’s hope they don’t drag these mysteries out too much.
Lower Decks bounces back in a huge way after the mixed results from last week’s experimental episode. We are back on track with this more character-focused season and it’s hard to believe that are only two episodes left, which promise to be “big.” Can’t wait.
- Ransom just probably wants me to spot him. He just learned Tellarite deadlifts.
- Don’t tell me we’re going to have to go back and assassinate Kennedy because that is not happening. (A reference to an oddball unused Trek film script Gene Rodenberry wrote in 1980).
- What, does it make an alternate cinematic timeline that runs concurrent to our own, but with, like, different people playing younger versions of us?
- What in the alien-of-the-week bulls—t?
- Can we get back to the real movie? Tendi and Rutherford could be in ancient Egypt riding crocodiles without us.
- Quickly, read my saggy skin.
- Wait, how does this play into the octopus stuff?
- Don’t touch me! Your characters don’t even have names./ You know nothing of our ways. Acolyte 2, throw her into the brig!
- There’s always a catch with these “god” stories.
- I took this place off Kirk’s hands. He had to go time travel or who knows what. The man could never relax.
- Is this heaven? The afterlife? The Nexus? / It’s Idaho.
- Dagger here fought off a mutiny and then beat the s—t out of a god.
- Mariner quips that Boimler has been taking acting classes from Winger Bingston, the ship’s “triple threat” performer.
- When Mariner had to exit the holodeck movie, she had to step over the letterbox.
- The plant Tatasciore IX was obviously named for Fred Tatasciore, voice of Shaxs.
- One of the mystics on Tatasciore IX preached “The Koala smiles on us all,” referring to the show’s own mystical Koala.
- Another mystic says, “We’re all holograms in a simulation,” a meta reference or a possible indication the hologram is becoming self-aware.
- The Illustor’s saggy-skin map includes Karzil, Earth, Betazed, Kelva, Mercury, Earth, Alpha VIII, and Itamashi.
- Rutherford was singing the Chu Chu dance song from the Zebulon Sisters, who were recently banned from performing by Admiral Jellico.
- Ransom reveals his “besties” on the ship are Honus the bartender, Nurse Westlake (presumedly named after show composer Chris Westlake), and Matt the whale, which would devastate Stevens… And to make matters worse, Stevens was admitted into sickbay for burning himself on the warp core for the second time that day.
- The USS Wayfarer (registry NCC-80035) was a Sovereign-class ship like the USS Enterprise-E, but it’s likely the ship was made up for Boimler’s holo movie.
- The Melponar triplets’ ship was a Valdore-type Romulan Warbird, first seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.
NOTE: We will have more about the many Easter eggs and references in a follow-up article.
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.