“I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4, Episode 2 – Debuted Thursday, September 7, 2023
Written by Aaron Burdette
Directed by Megan Lloyd
NOTE: Paramount+ released two episodes on the same day. See our earlier recap/review of episode 401.
A strong episode focusing on character comedy shows that the team are still lower decker underdogs, even with promotions.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“Our sinister plans will have to wait”
Episode 2 starts off following the mystery ship (which destroyed the Klingons at the end of the last episode). This time it’s the Romulans in the crosshairs with a crew full of schemers and backstabbers — from the lowest ranks talking about how “soon my plans will come to fruition,” to the captain reminding his crew he has been “stabbing commanders in the back since before your mother killed her first traitor.” The silvery mystery ship shows up to interrupt all the conspiring. The Romulan ship is quickly disabled and then destroyed, putting an end to countless intrigues, schemes, and plots.
“I’m gonna become an insubordination supernova”
Oblivious to the mysterious intrigue on the Romulan ship, our crew of the USS Cerritos carry on as we find Shaxs and Ransom doing some familiar stretching. Mariner shows up outside the gym and catches Ransom saying things are working out with the new lieutenants, but Mariner “won’t be my problem for long.” A pissed off Mariner finds her buddies packing. Boimler is sad to say goodbye to his old bunk (and his favorite dent his head made) while Tendi is sad Rutherord is being left behind. The always optimistic Sam has a plan to fix that, determined to get promoted that day by doing some amazing engineering. Mariner is too focused on the snippet she heard, vowing not to give Ransom the satisfaction of demoting her, she is going to go out of her way to “earn” a demotion. Her plan starts out by showing up for an away mission still wearing her workout outfit because she wants to “keep it caszh,” including making a point of calling Commander Ransom “Jack.” The mission is to take a shuttle to a space station zoo to pick up some humans that ended up on display by “accident,” as apparently “menageries are always capturing humans and then turning them back over to Starfleet.” New ensign Gary is along for the mission and is confused by what’s going on, moving to pants-spoiling terror when Mariner pulls a crash landing into the station’s shuttle bay. But nothing she does seems to be getting to the commander who even compliments her “great piloting.” Looks like getting demoted isn’t going to be as easy as she thought.
“Leave some minor improvements for the rest of us”
Ignoring Tendi’s caution over putting too much pressure on himself, Rutherford goes full steam to Commander Billups, proud of all the work he has done to reduce warp field vibrations by a whole .05. Yet his hopes are dashed by new ensign Livik who already came up with a .06 fix. As for Brad, he is struggling with his new quarters right next to one of the nacelles, which gives the room an overwhelming red glow that even his Medusan goggles can’t fix after the Livik upgrade. Brad tries another room but that ends up between two holodecks with thin walls, overwhelming him with the sounds of Shaxs and T’Ana’s roleplaying and the Captain jazz scatting. Rutherford’s next attempt is to increase power to the “Tucker Tubes” but Livik outdid him again, adding a third tube and renaming them Billups Tubes, what a suck-up. Boimler’s last refuge is to try to get some sleep in a Jeffries tube where he runs into Rutherford who is looking to figure out how to improve heat conduction, only to learn from Brad that Livik was already there doing the same. Growing desperate Sam runs to engineering with a scheme to speed up replicators by “nine whole femtoseconds” but it appears too late as Billips prepares to promote the new ensign. “Livik!”
“One of the top thousand menageries in the quadrant”
On the station, the away team is greeted by the proprietor of Narj’s Miraculous Managerarium who is a bit sad to lose his “incredibly popular” human exhibit. As a plant creature, he apologizes for accidentally scooping up the humans explaining he has a hard time telling non-botanical creatures apart. Mariner continues to crack wise including riling up Narj by asking if he is a “cruel weirdo” and calling his zoo a prison, pointing out a super cute little guy named Moopsy, who constantly (adorably) says “Moopsy.” Ransom diplomatically keeps on mission and Gary is certain he just wants to be left out of their drama. As he readies to release the humans from their tropical enclosure things start getting crazy when Moopsy gets loose. Moopsy kills and “drinks the bones” of two scary Pyrthian Swamp Gobblers, so everyone heeds Narj’s advice to “run for your lives.” Hiding in a secure room Mariner and Ransom finally have it out, with Beckett revealing that she thinks Ransom has set her up for failure, but Ransom explains that he was telling Shaxs that he is determined to be the first commander to not demote her. After burying the hatchet (and dispelling her as suspect) they turn to Narj accusing him of letting out Moopsy as a ploy to keep his moneymaking humans. That theory is blown when Moopsy gets in and sucks out his bones. They run out, trapping him in what they realize is the control room and the cute monster crawls over a panel that sets the station on course to crash into the planet. Poor terrified ensign Gary just wasn’t made for these kinds of typical Cerritos shenanigans.
“Maybe we can cool it on the reign of terror”
Mariner offers to act as bait to get Moopsy to chase her so Ransom can get into the control room to save the station at the last minute “by the skin of our teeth” but he won’t let her sacrifice himself. But that gives him an idea of asking her to punch him resulting in a loose tooth and then more vigorous punching resulting in more teeth. Following a trail of bloody Jack teeth, the “cuddly little murderer” gets locked back in its cage and the station is saved. It turns out the humans were behind the Moopsy release, they were planning to take over the station. So Ransom leaves them behind in their cage. Back on the Cerritos, Mariner is finally in uniform, and Ransom, complete with a new set of shiny chompers, assures the Lt. J.G. he won’t let her sabotage herself this time, believing she will be a great officer. Speaking of JGs a dejected Rutheford watches as Livik is about to be promoted and reveals to Tendi that he had given up on a chance for promotion all those times he saved the ship because he was afraid it would hurt his friendship. His superior officer Tendi calls him to attention and orders him to remain her friend forever. She also asks Billups if Sam can now have that promotion from before, the commander says “sure,” yanking Livik’s pip away and throwing it to Rutherford. Ha! This solves Boimler’s housing problem too as he and Sam become roomies in new quarters with Sam solving the glowing bussard light problem with his engineering. Brad even gets a new bunk and makes a brand-new dent. All is well.
Friendship is Magic
While not as strong as the season premiere, the second episode was solid and delivered plenty of laughs. Much less reliant on canon connections, episode two stands on its own while picking up on the big new thing for the season which is promotions, with each of the four lower deckers dealing with the change in rank in their own ways. However, some of the comedy relies on tropes that the show leans on too heavily, notably how characters come into conflict until a key miscommunication fact is revealed later. This was also done in the season premiere but more effectively. While the Mariner storyline could feel a bit like she was regressing (again) this was actually organic with what we know about the character and allowed for her to go full Mariner and have some fun with it as both Tawny Newsome and Jerry O’Connell show off their great chemistry (even if they don’t record together).
While it seemed like an oversight when watching episode 1, now it’s clear leaving Rutherford’s promotion to episode 2 was a smart choice, giving focus on this under-utilized character, we see his sunny demeanor tested by a new foil (Livik!) New character T’Lyn was missed, but she may have gotten in the way of classic Tendi/Rutheford moments. Sam’s quest to get a promotion was delightfully full of technobabble as he strove to impress Billups with tiny improvements when the real answer to moving up was how he already deserved a promotion for the many times he made much larger engineering contributions.
Even though the Mariner/Ransom storyline was more predictable, the visit to the menagerie was fun and who doesn’t want a Moopsy plush now? Well, poor ensign Gary doesn’t, but he didn’t really add much to the episode except as a sort of pale shadow of Boimler for Mariner to work with while the real Brad was learning how being promoted isn’t all he imagined. The episode also moved along at a good clip, jumping between the two stories, even though they were mostly unconnected except through the time-honored themes of friendship and family.
As for the mystery ship storyline, the visit with the scheming Romulans was hilarious. It’s good to see the show continue to keep this serialized season arc in the background and away from our characters for now, after two attacks it’s clear this threat is serious. Some theories are already starting to emerge, which is a fun way for the show to spark even more discussion around the season.
An enjoyable episode tops off a great season 4 double-feature premiere showing that Lower Decks has not lost a step as it builds on its core premise and allows the characters to grow in interesting ways.
- No stardate was given.
- The episode title is a riff on the Harlan Ellison short story “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream.”
- This is the first Star Trek script credit for new writer Aaron Burdette, who has a decade of experience in live-action and animated comedy writing and producing.
- This was the directorial debut for Megan Lloyd, who joined Lower Decks in season 2 as a storyboard artist.
- Ensign Gary was voiced by Abbott Elementary actor Chris Perfetti, and Narj was voiced by Hacks actor Carl Clemons-Hopkins.
- The vertically-oriented Romulan Warbird was based on an unused design for TNG by Andrew Probert.
- The blinking sci-fi tubes that have been a part of Trek since The Wrath of Khan, gets a name in this episode: “Tucker Tubes.”
- Mariner foreshadowed the Romulan story in episode 401 (released the same day), talking about how she hated Romulan “spy stuff.”
- Ransom said “I guess humans really are the most dangerous game” possibly referencing when Boimler was hunted in “The Least Dangerous Game.” And of course the phrase “the most dangerous game” is the title of the widely known and referenced 1924 short story by Richard Connell.
- Boimler’s packing box included a number of items from previous episodes including his Captain Freeman Day banner from “First First Contact” and his Klingon D&D costume from “The Least Dangerous Game.”
- Boimler’s box also included his recruitment poster with Una Chin-Rily, first seen in the recent Strange New Worlds crossover episode.
- Tendi’s box included a picture of “The Dog” she created in “Much Ado About Boimler” and the USS Cerritos model Rutherford gave her in “An Embarrassment Of Dooplers.”
- Rutherford was previously offered a promotion for saving the Cerritos from the Pakleds (“No Small Parts”) and the USS Rubidoux “from the space jellyfish” (“Much Ado About Boimler”). Tendi got Billups to promote him in this episode “for that time he removed the hull” (“First First Contact).
- Mariner listed off times Ransom wasn’t a “good boss” citing when he stabbed her in the foot with a battle blade (“Temporal Edict”), turned into a giant head and tried to eat her (“Strange Energies”), and tricked her into messing up on the space elevator/orbital lift (“The Least Dangerous Game”)
- A big clue the humans were behind letting Moopsy go was the time we see them, the woman was leaning against the poster that was clearly upside down. Escaping a cell via a wall poster could also be a reference to The Shawshank Redemption.
- Among the creatures in the zoo was a Koala, a special animal for Lower Decks. [We’ll cover more zoo creatures in our follow up easter egg article]
Easter egg analysis and more to come
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New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks premiere on Thursdays, streaming on Paramount+ in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and Europe. It will stream on Paramount+ in S. Korea later in the year. Lower Decks also airs on Thursdays in Canada on CTV Sci-Fi Channel.
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