Recap/Review: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Lives The Pirate Life In “Something Borrowed, Something Green”

Star Trek: Lower Decks "Something Borrowed, Something Green" review - Mariner, Tendi, T'Lyn

“Something Borrowed, Something Green”

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4, Episode 4 – Debuted Thursday, September 21, 2023
Written by Grace Parra Janney
Directed by Bob Suarez

A visit home for Tendi offers up a great opportunity for more lore, laughs, and love.

Brad worries he is the only one who just doesn’t get the show everyone else is loving

WARNING: Spoilers below!


“This will be a quick pillage.”

Things kick off with a teaser set on an Orion ship, where we meet some lower deckers hoping to rise up the ranks in the syndicate even though their supply ship is only “pirate-adjacent.” An alert takes us to the bridge: The Orions are in pursuit of the mystery ship seen in the first two episodes. Ignorant of the danger, the captain issues some casual threats, so the mystery craft turns and does what it does, disabling all power before obliterating the Orion ship with its bright white beam. Arr, no plunder for ye, me hearties. …Okay, I promise no more talking like a pirate.

Collectors on Earth will pay big if these phasers were seen on screen.

“Triple-threat girls trip!”

On the Cerritos, Tendi is excited to finally have some free time, but just as she starts planning some fun, Captain Freeman shows up to tell the new lieutenant she has been granted leave to go home to Orion for her sister’s wedding. After spending so much time away from her family (and all that Orion pirate drama), Tendi is reluctant, but the captain insists she go to help foster good relations with Starfleet. Mariner is ecstatic to join in—with hopes for lots of Tendi backstory—and T’Lyn invites herself along to gather data on Orion rituals for the Vulcan High Council.

On Orion, they land at the spacious Tendi estate with Mariner loving how they are literally getting the royal treatment, sedan chair and all. “I am from a post-scarcity world and this is still impressive.” The power dynamics of this matriarchal society are evident as they are introduced to D’Vana’s mom (Warrior Queen Shona) and her dad (simply, B’Rt). It’s revealed that sister D’Erika has been the victim of a traditional Orion pre-wedding kidnapping, but Mom is concerned because usually “brides are only abducted after save-the-dates and before the invitations.” Tendi turns cynical seeing that she has been called home just to fulfill her duties as “Prime Daughter,” but after some passive-aggressive pressure from Mom, she relents. “Who is ready for a very standard, borderline boring Orion rescue mission?” D’Vana may be jaded, but I concur with Mariner and T’Lyn, this is all “cool as hell.”

Mariner was born to be carried around on a sedan chair by hunks.

“Nothing can stop Brotherford!”

One of the reasons Mariner wanted to go to Orion was to get away from Boimler and Rutherford, who have overly bonded as roomies. Their mutual admiration runs into a snag when they fight over who gets to water their bonsai tree, which they have named “Lil Boney.” They use their holodeck time to take a break, but when they both show up to the old riverboat program as Mark Twain, their fight reignites—albeit with words like “tarnation” and “ignominious.” However, this Samuel Clemens-off becomes a delightful game as they trade home-spun witticisms over drinks and Foghorn Leghorn-level drawls, marveling over how it helped them find common ground to come to a bonsai misting schedule compromise. Their fun is interrupted when they’re called to the bridge to find Captain Freeman dealing with the very scary (deep-cut alien) Captain Coqqor, arguing over who gets to scan a particularly interesting nebula before it phase shifts away. After lamenting she needs a way to find common ground, Brutherford chimes in that they may have the solution. Next thing you know, the fighting captains are on the riverboat, both made up as Twain, with the Chalnoth not loving the “itchy hair hat.” Freeman still gives it a try, drawl and all, but Coqqor isn’t playing along and goes on a roaring rampage that includes tossing Shaxs aside with ease. Carol is not happy with her two new Lt. JGs. “What the hell made you two think this would work?” Good question, captain.

You said I was Mark Twain, but I am also Samuel Clemens, this enrages me!

“Look out for the hunks!”

The first stop for the Orion trio is club Slit Throat where the “Mistress of the Winter Constellations” turns hulking bouncers into whimpering toadies. Mariner (and even T’Lyn) marvel at how the locals treat their shipmate. Beckett is also loving the club vibe and shrugs off being hit by a thrown knife as “part of the ambiance.” The thrower (Madame G) has Mean Girls high school history with Tendi and won’t divulge any clues about her sister’s abduction unless D’Vana plays what Mariner calls the “murder bug drinking game.” Tendi masters it, and is rewarded with the clue that her sister’s ex, Nya’al, is still in love with her, so this kidnapping may actually not be all for show. The next stop takes them deep into Orion’s underbelly to what Mariner aptly dubs a “hump dungeon,” an apparently common location where (some) Orion women use their pheromones to enthrall men. They find Nya’al, and Tendi quickly takes him down, demanding answers. “What’s gonna spill first… your mouth or your guts?” Woah. He denies any kidnapping, saying he’s too busy “hopped up on the stink.” Gross. The sex dungeon Mistress arrives (giving off some real Ursula vibes) and confronts the Starfleet gang with another knife throw that also ends up in Mariner’s shoulder. Tendi uses her power of science to fend off some hunky ‘mone slaves with a chemical cocktail that counteracts the hold the Mistress has over them. Threatened with the loss of her thralls, the Mistress orders Nya’al to reveal that he has been doing some light stalking of D’Erika, and saw her last at an old ship graveyard. Man, these Orions are intense.

Taste the organic chemistry, bro!

“We know you are a big nerd and not some hot assassin.”

Searching through the ship graveyard, Tendi reveals it was a childhood playground for her and D’Erika and shows off a favorite old Starfleet ship where she would dream of exploring space and “doing anything other than pirating.” Mariner and T’Lyn are not remotely surprised when D’Vana reveals she was trained from childhood to be a syndicate assassin, which explains her concern about coming home and exposing her “real” self. They assure her the real Tendi is the person she has become, someone who geeks out over science on the Cerritos. D’Erika appears to break up the sweet bonding and admits she kidnapped herself to lure her sister home. The confrontation begins, naturally, with a knife throw, which—of course—ricochets right into that same spot on Mariner’s shoulder. D’Vana is pissed. “Don’t stab my friends!” The sisters square off in an epic sword fight where they work out their family issues, especially Erika’s feeling of abandonment when Tendi left her to take on the mantle as Prime Daughter. D’Vana apologizes for leaving but assures D’Erika that she has grown to be the better Prime. “You absolutely belong on the crime throne.” With the hatchet (actually, the “Moonlit Blade”) buried, they realize they are late for the wedding. Tendi merges her Starfleet and Orion ways to hotwire the old ship and head home. After “all the stabbing,” Tendi is a bit worried about T’Lyn’s report, but the Vulcan surprises her by throwing her PADD out a gaping hole in the ship, prioritizing Tendi’s concerns over the High Council’s interest. They crash-land just in time, and Queen Shona is in tears seeing her daughters working together to steal a ship. “Oh, my special girls. Accomplices.” So sweet, in a piratey way.

This is just how they do things on Orion.

“Yes, yes, you are very intimidating”

The Cerritos drama wraps quickly once Chalnoth is both calmed and intrigued by the mention of the bonsai tree, which he finds “beautiful”… before swallowing it in one bite and washing it down with the misting bottle that started the whole saga. With him sated, the Cerritos is allowed to scan the nebula while Brutherford mourn the loss of Lil Boney. When their friends return with tales of adventures (and pictures), Boimler is predictably jealous he missed out on the “awesome pirate wedding on a planet nobody ever gets to see.” The ladies aren’t impressed with how the guys have chosen to resolve their differences on the holodeck instead of just talking honestly, but Brutherford are content. With Freeman banning any more Twain programs, they recall how they worked out their latest dispute as a pair of Mozarts, and they play us off (poorly) tickling the ivories of dueling harpsichords.

I can’t help but be intimidating, just look at me


This dive into Tendi’s backstory delivers on many levels, with deep character development (and not just for D’Vana), lots and lots of Orion lore, and most importantly, plenty of hilarious moments. Tendi’s complicated past (and struggles with Orion stereotypes) has been a slow burn through the series, and gets moved to the front burner turned all the way up thanks to crisp, detailed writing, taut pacing, and a nuanced performance by Noël Wells. Her story (and the story of Orion) got a big helping hand from guest stars Kimiko Glenn (Orange is the New Black) as Madame G and Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as sister D’Erika. And even if they are recording on their own, the performances and editing shone to give us great chemistry with Tawny Newsome’s Mariner and Gabrielle Ruiz’s T’Lyn (who is becoming the breakout character of the season) as she, too, demonstrates some key character growth to show loyalty, friendship, and an ability to admire a nice eight-pack on an Orion priest, all while staying so very Vulcan. It’s good to see the show mix up the character pairings (or in this case trios) with Mariner stepping in for Boimler to ably handle the physical comedy with the recurring stabbed-in-the-shoulder gag. (BTW, if you listen closely, Mariner revealed there was a fourth shoulder stab during the daddy-daughter dance.)

The other story this week was very much a B-story, escalating from low to high stakes and de-escalating just as quickly in ludicrous (but very funny) fashion. Dueling Mark Twains was not expected, but Jack Quaid and Eugene Cordero nailed it, and Dawnn Lewis gave a surprisingly good show at it, too. Things got a bit meta with the captains fighting over who gets to scan a nebula; the way Starfleet is always scanning things also came up in the Orion storyline, but in both cases, the show defends the Star Trek theme of the embracing science and exploration while having some fun with it along the way. The Boimler/Rutherford (sorry, Brutherford) story also picked up the theme of friendship seen on Orion, although each grouping had their own solutions, with the ladies choosing to honestly reveal their feelings and the guys finding understanding when they become the same person—in this case, a historical character with a funny accent. Together they are all actually saying the same thing, which is you are your best self when you speak and accept your own truth. These heartfelt themes and messages are welcome, especially because they are always woven into the comedy.

Now Tendi sort of misses leaving behind the Moonlit Blade.

The strong core of this episode was the visit to Orion, which the episode noted (multiple times) was a surprising first for the franchise. Like TNG did with the Klingons and DS9 did with Trill and Ferengi, Lower Decks has really fleshed out the Orions. In this episode, there was a lot of fun to be had playing up the pirate tropes, but the show took its time to show how Orion society (and the homeworld) is diverse and nuanced. They even embrace the multiple shades of green used for Orion makeup used by various Trek shows over the decades. Just after this single episode, some of the contradictions or confusions about Orions, such an iconic Star Trek race, make more sense, like the whole thing about pheromones introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise. While Enterprise tried to take on the outdated “slave girl” trope, Lower Decks has done a much better job building the canon around this society led by strong women.

After taking a week off, we also got another bit of the season arc around the mystery ship. It’s fun how so far each visit to this storyline starts with another “wej Duj”-style check-in with some alien lower deckers, in this case Orions slogging it out as plunder sorters dreaming of being big-time pirates. This whole mystery ship storyline is being handled smartly; each entry adds little amounts to the season arc without getting in the way of the episodic focus of the series. This week we got our first connection to the Cerritos, with Captain Freeman mentioning how the Orions had lost a ship, but there was no indication yet of any awareness of the link to the attacks on the Klingons and Romulans or the larger mystery, leaving that for fans to have ponder and theorize, and for the show to explore later in the season.

Rideable space rhinos!

Final thoughts

“Something Borrowed, Something Green” may be the best yet of this fourth season, which continues to deliver on the promise of character growth, exploring new worlds, and having a hell of a lot of fun along the way.

Yeah, this whole thing does make you want to escape to a whole other planet.


Random stuff

  • The Orion ship attacked by the mystery ship had a similar design to the 22nd-century Orion Interceptor from Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • The plunder on the ship included a classic TOS phaser, TNG phasers, a Vulcan lirpa and lyre, and a Klingon bat’leth. The century-old TOS phaser was thrown into the trash barrel.
  • Mariner references the Enterprise episode “Bound” when describing how “a captain would get taken out by some Orion showgirls.”
  • This episode featured multiple examples ofthe Orion written language, first introduced on Enterprise.
  • Tendi’s family is “barely” the fifth richest syndicate on Orion.
  • One of the gender role reversals in Orion society is how the bride carries the groom across the threshold or carries him as they swing through on a rope.
  • The ship Tendi hotwired was a Raven-type class, like the one used by Seven’s parents in Star Trek: Voyager.

T’Lyn struggles to hold back an undignified fist pump.

More to come

Every Friday, the All Access Star Trek Podcast reviews the latest episode and 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.

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.

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

LD and SNW’s have hit their stride. Hopefully the WGA talks produce an agreement today so we can get SNW’s back in the production saddle.

Yeah I hope the same Phil with SNW. But completely agree that LD gets better and better. Maybe we will get seven seasons AND A MOVIE after all! ;D

I have to admit i didn’t enjoy this episode as it felt more like a filler episode. The story just didn’t feel interesting to me and i didn’t find any scenes even funny.

I’m more interested in the story line with who/what is the unknown ship that has been attacking the Klingons/Romulans/Orions.

Hopefully they start focusing on that story-line sooner rather then later.

Can’t speak to the humor as that’s one of the most subjective things in entertainment, but I rarely find stories that flesh out character backstory and relationships to be filler. Especially on a series that’s largely grounded in standalone storytelling.

Regardless of what we see, it’s all canon and it all “happens” in Star Trek’s future history.

I loved this episode but I am getting invested in the unknown ship story line too. We haven’t learned a single thing about it in three episodes but now that it’s on Starfleet’s radar after the Orion attack, it will probably get developed a little more when it shows up again.

For me I like episodes that really explore characters like this show does. It wasn’t filler at all because we got to to see Orion and its bizarre culture. And we now understand why Tendi joined Starfleet. Being an assassin is probably like being a doctor on Orion that makes parents proud, but it’s not for everybody I guess.

But if it didn’t do it for you, I understand. That’s how I feel every time I attempt to watch The Fight and Chakotay boxing with some alien in a dream. Like do we really need this??? Really? Sorry, I rant.

I love how wholesome this one is.

Are you referring to their field trip to the Orion sex club?

Since they all weren’t naked or no orgies taking place is probably what makes it wholesome and kid friendly for Orion.

I saw two Orions on top of each other.

Agonizer ship …….count down to Mirror episode

Boimler and Rutherford becoming JD and Turk was not something I knew I needed until it happened.

After 57 years, we finally made it to Orion lol. And I loved it, probably the best episode for me this season although the Voyager episode was still great. But I loved how it really fleshed Tendi out and gave us some great character moments with her and her family. T’Lyn was also a delight and proves why she was such a fan favorite out of the gate. I laughed so hard at so many moments but especially every time Mariner got stabbed lol.

I didn’t love the B story as much with Rutherford and Boimler but still fun. The dueling Mark Twains were pure joy but really didn’t like it when they had Freeman and the Chalnoth (which I thought was a Naussican until I saw reviews for it) do it. That was too much of a stretch.

But overall I loved it. I think this season is starting off really strong and stronger than season 3 which is my weakest so far (but still loved it, so DON’T YELL AT ME). This show just always leaves a smile on my face after every episode. In fact for the last two seasons it’s been tied with SNW for me, but I have to say, I think LDS is now better, especially since I didn’t love season 2 of SNW as much as season 1 (but ironically TOS is now one of my all time classic episodes).

LDS just gets more things right than wrong IMO. The show is hitting its strive and it’s great to see fans have really embraced it at this point.

Very Short Treks writers, take note: ^^^^THIS is how to write a Star Trek cartoon. Notice that it’s actually funny, rather than pretending to be. Notice that it doesn’t rely on bodily function humor, which is the kind of puerile trash people with single-digit ages think is funny. Notice that it doesn’t condescend to Star Trek for the sake of a cheap gag, while simultaneously claiming to be a celebration of it. Notice that it’s competently written, acted, and animated. Lower Decks is worth watching. Very Short Treks was worth only one thing: canceling before it ever aired.

The discussion board would make great fodder for a Very Short Trek

The little shorts really hurt people. LOL.

No one is hurt. This is a cartoon. Everyone is complaining because they suck.

Yes, you seem fine.

I am fine, yes. Thank you for noticing. So is everyone else who is complaining.

Oh please dude, turn it down.

“prime daughter” my brain on transformers:

Honestly though. This means that D’Vana Tendi and Andy Billups have the same basic backstory of being important in their home cultures and leaving it to join Starfleet. And I love it. I love it so much. Join Starfleet so you don’t have to uh sleep with anyone or be an assassin for the Orion syndicate. Although in my mind she would probably rather turn into a truck

I’m not a fan of the B plot though. It was only tolerable to me because of Quaid and Cordero. I hope they don’t stretch the holodeck joke out too much.

Also! I got my AGIMUS pin today!

Totally agree about Tendi and Billups being part of these powerful families (but in very different ways lol) but chooses Starfleet. I understand why Tendi would choose it but Billups can be King but rather be a lonely engineer. That says a lot.

I thought the B story was fun but I get why others didn’t love it.

Lower Decks is just a great show and makes me realize why I love Trek so much!

Very strong episode, completely satisfying in every way.
The way the various spacecraft were animated against the backgrounds seemed somehow different looking than on previous episodes; I can’t quite put my finger on it…

Absolutely loved this episode! 😎

Lower Decks keep knocking it out of the park and anytime it’s about my girl Tendi or Mistress of the Winter Constellations is automatically a winner for me. To learn about her criminal Mob family ties AND she was trained to be an assassin is the kind of thing you expect from Orions. 😂

And T’Lyn has been absolutely awesome. She’s already up there with all the other great Vulcans like Spock, Tuvok and T’Pol. Her lines are hysterical and she’s never trying to be funny. Just brilliant all around.

They made Orion look just like Earth. It’s animation, where they don’t have to use Earth locations, and yet it still didn’t look at all alien. WTF? Why did they make THAT decision?

Still pretty in keeping with Star Trek as a whole. Even the new shows don’t go too bizarre, I think that red planet in Into Darkness remains one of the most alien to date. They’re humanoids who would have needed similar conditions as some part of Earth to evolve to look like that. I agree they could have put some stranger colors and wildlife into the mix though.

This was my favorite episode of the season so far, which isn’t surprising given the focus on Tendi and the Orions. The interactions between the girls was great to see. I’ve really liked T’Lyn’s character so far this season, and her growing relationship with Tendi (here and in “Twovix”) has given us some of her better moments IMO.

It think my comment did not appear after “waiting to be approved”. But I don’t know why. It did not include something like swearing. I did not get a notification either.