Recap/Review: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Gets Emotional In “Empathalogical Fallacies”

“Empathalogical Fallacies”

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4, Episode 5 – Debuted Thursday, September 28, 2023
Written by Jamie Loftus
Directed by Megan Lloyd

Another fun episode with a classic setup allows for plenty of fun mixed in with a lot of heart and character growth.

Ransom is hoping they read his mind for some very NSFW thoughts

WARNING: Spoilers below!


“Everything about this ship is illogical.”

The USS Cerritos has been tasked with transporting a trio of Betazoid diplomats from Angel I to Risa, notably due to the “unprovoked attacks” which are clearly the work of the mystery ship Starfleet is still ignorant of. T’Lyn is our narrator in the form of a log she is drafting for her old Vulcan captain, and she isn’t impressed with these “glorified socialites” who seem more interested in partying and deems their “exuberance” as disruptive. Captain Freeman tries her best to be cool around the Betazeds, but is thrown by them reading her mind … and blatantly hitting on her (and Ransom). T’Lyn’s Vulcan reserve is tested to the limit as she is tasked to cater to the boisterous trio, which includes topping up their cocktail yards. The Vulcan’s message to her former captain makes it clear she does not condone all this “infectious frivolity” and promises if reinstated to the Sh’vhal, she would suppress her own “chaotic tendencies,” with the conclusion that it’s logical for her “punishment” assignment to Starfleet to end. However, T’Lyn grows frustrated when she isn’t able to send her message. Mariner clues her in that while the “’Zoids are on board,” they are in full security blackout so no outgoing coms, even though T’Lyn notes “alcohol and merrymaking are permitted.” Nobody promised the USS Cerritos was going to be logical, T’Lyn.

Intoxicating beverages measured in units of distance is not logical

“Hope you can handle slam poetry.”

Boimler is also not joining in on the party as he is stressing himself out over trying the memorize the names of every member of the Cerritos crew, insisting it’s his duty now that he is a Lt. J.G. Rutherford sees his roomie’s distress and calls Shaxs with the ominous message that he has a candidate for “the program.” Boimler is excited when the security chief takes him to an isolated part of the ship, dreaming of learning cool security secrets, only to find the security team chilling out with slam poetry and doing Starfleet security officer charades. Seeing Brad’s frustration, Shaxs tells him he has passed the “test” and now must complete a “challenge,” but Boimler’s enthusiasm wanes when given a choice between completing a puzzle or doing a tarot card reading. Shaxs tells Brad that there is more to being on the security team than “kicking ass” after Boimler expresses his disappointment that the Bajoran and his whole team seem to mostly sit around and play games. Oh, baby bear.

Kayshon, when the salsa was forgotten

“This crew is always weird and yelling.”

Growing frustrated over not being able to send her message, T’Lyn goes to the party—but only because she wants to find out when the lockdown will end. At the bar, she witnesses the crew at next-level chaos; even Mariner wonders about “everyone getting weird all of a sudden.” As things escalate (and the usually calm Dr. Migleemo phasers a replicator for getting his regurgitated soup order wrong), T’Lyn concludes there are “more emotional outbursts than I have previously observed.” Captain Freeman tries to get her crew under control, but they ignore her call to “Pull it together and stop embarrassing me in front of the Betazoids!” When Barnes tries to run off to pull the ship out of warp and keep the party going, T’Lyn takes action with a classic Vulcan neck pinch. As for the three Betazoids, they seem to be enjoying the anarchy. T’Lyn suggests that the trio may be cause of the chaos, possibly due to Betazed Zanthi fever. The Betazeds agree to go move the party to sickbay while they surreptitiously communicate telepathically about how “she’s onto us.” But when Dr. T’Ana declares them Zanthi-free, Freeman doesn’t think it’s a coincidence they showed up just when her crew “started losing their minds” and orders them confined to quarters. The Betazeds promptly drop their “cover” and jump into action, knocking out everyone with their with their lipsticks transformed into sizzling stun batons. They take the captain captive, and the frazzled Freeman is happy to have been right to suspect them, declaring “I’m good at my job!” Priorities.

It’s Romulan Ale O’Clock on the Cerritos!

“You really Vulcanned it up out there.”

In cuffs and escorted to the bridge, Freeman learns the partying trio are actually officers of the BIA (Betazed Intelligence Agency). They quickly take out most of the bridge crew using a combination of lipstick baton takedowns and distracting them by revealing their inner thoughts. They explain to Freeman that they only took action because she tried to lock them up and assert they are not the source of the emotional outbursts as they are being affected, too. Turns out they’re on a secret mission to tour the quadrant and telepathically search for clues to explain the mysterious ship attacks. Their new plan is to take the Cerritos back to Betazed and they ignore the warnings that the route will take them right through the Romulan Neutral Zone. Freeman has a cunning plan to manipulate the Betezeds by tricking one into reading her mind for intel, but instead recalls a moment from earlier when one of them called another a “sanctimonious buzzkill,” creating enough of a distraction for her to hit red alert.

In sickbay, T’Ana claws through her restraints and heads to the bridge after freeing Mariner and T’Lyn, who notices the doctor’s tricorder has indicated that T’Lynn herself is the source of the ship’s super-heightened emotional state, possibly due to early onset of Bendii syndrome. Mariner suggests maybe she is just having a quarter-life crisis, but T’Lyn rejects the idea that she is “worked up.” When they tell the crew in the bar T’Lyn is the source of the problem, the partiers turn on them, chasing the pair into a closet, where T’Lyn laments being the source of all the problems, reveals her frustration over not being able to send that message, and deems her former captain correct to have banished her. The day’s events have only proven she is “not truly Vulcan.” Illogical.

Yes Beckett you can kick above your head, how is this helping?

“Damn, Vulcan brains are scary strong, huh?”

Seeing the moping Vulcan kicks Mariner into action, who starts off with “f—k Captain Sokel” for kicking T’Lyn off his ship after she saved them all. As for what’s happening on the Cerritos, Mariner reminds T’Lyn there is nothing more Vulcan than Bendii: Spock’s dad had it and he was “Vulcan as a mother(bleep)er.” The logic of Mariner’s argument settles T’Lyn, and soon enough Beckett is starting to feel normal again as the Vulcan’s telepathic projections have dissipated. Across the ship, the crews come out of their emotional turmoil. By this time, the security team has jumped into efficient action in response to the red alert, with Boimler trailing behind as they head to the bridge to “resist occupation.” The team easily subdues the BIA trio, despite telepathic attempts to get into their heads. Just in time, the captain stops the ship from entering the Neutral Zone, much to the chagrin of some waiting Romulans, who slink off to “lurk” over in Sector 87. An impressed Boimler finds out Shaxs and Rutherford were just trying to give him a day off and learns the security team has a “holistic” view of protecting the crew. They return to the training room for some puzzle time, with Brad calling dibs on the Malcolm Reed puzzle. Nerd.

The Shax/T’Ana thing is… complciated

Things wrap up with the captain and Betazed trio apologizing to each other for how things got out of hand. The BIA team even gives Freeman some intel on the sector attacks: the first (fuzzy) look at the mystery ship. Mariner and T’Lyn wrap things up in the bar, where the Vulcan reveals she’s no longer planning to send that message to her former captain, instead deciding to stay on the Cerritos with their “chaotic ways.” She even allows Mariner a “single embrace” much to the chagrin to Tendi, who will “do anything” to bond with the Vulcan. Don’t be so thirsty, D’Vana—you are the Mistress of the Winter Constellations, after all.

T’Lyn considers getting a restraining order for Tendi


“Empathalogical Fallacies” is a delightful little bottle episode that indulges in a mix of classic Trek setups, including the crew being comprimised, and the ship being taken over. It does this overtly, referencing specific episodes from this subgenre, but all in service of giving breakout character T’Lyn a focus. Telling the story from her POV had a bit of a “Data’s Day” vibe, especially as she gets closer to members of the crew by understanding herself better. Gabrielle Ruiz was the star of the episode, evoking TOS movie-era Spock as T’Lyn learns how to embrace her new family of friends while retaining her logic. “I suppose, by the transitive property, I, too, must be Vulcan as a mother(bleep)er” will live on as an unforgettable Star Trek line, likely destined for T-shirts and other merch. While still just a guest star it’s amazing how this season has given T’Lyn such a clear and dare I say “fascinating” arc as she starts to question her goal of being reinstated to the Vulcan fleet. Even the deep-cut art in T’Lyn’s austere quarters showing the dry plains and towering statues of Vulcan (from Star Trek: The Motion Picture) play into this time of her personal struggles with Vulcan logic. It also appears that this episode introduced the idea she has an early onset of Bendii syndrome (Vulcan dementia), which is surprisingly dark. It will be interesting to see if the show picks up on this thread, assuming the Bendii diagnosis was accurate. If there is a downside to all the T’Lyn fun, it’s how (with the exception of the previous Orion visit episode), Tendi is starting to feel like a sidekick (or even a sidekick to a sidekick), and one overly desperate for T’Lyn’s affection without her own agency.

In the background of this episode was the beginning of the integration of the season plotline about the mystery ship attacks. Using a trio of Betazed intelligence officers posing as party animals touring the quadrant was inspired. What really made this story sing was the strong guest cast of Janelle James (Abbot Elementary), Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live), and Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me!), who were believable both as partiers and BIA operatives. And the emotional mayhem they were suspected of causing offered a ton of little, hilarious side gags, giving some of the other guest stars a chance to shine, from Ransom being crushed over not playing hard to get, to Miglemo’s rage at the replicator, and the running gag of T’Ana falling to her base Caitian instincts — which we learn involved eating Betazeds. “Time to shred those party girls into brisket. Mama’s eating good tonight!” is yet another one of those things you can’t believe you’re hearing on a Star Trek show, and it’s great. As for that season arc about the mystery ship, the show is doing just enough each episode to keep this going without getting in the way of the episodic fun.

Mariner takes the Befriend-A-Vulcan challenge

Once again, Brad has a nice little B-story, as he still seems to be the one struggling the most with life as a lieutenant. His journey to the secret world of the security team (based on Rutherford’s suggestion to get him into the “program”) was fun and filled with nods to some of the greats of security lore, including Worf, Odo, and Malcolm Reed. The story took a nice twist as we learned more about Shaxs and how his team had a very 24th-century viewpoint on how to keep the ship safe. “Sometimes that means grappling with enemy invaders, other times it means protecting your emotional well-being” is so very Roddenberry-esque and another example of how this show embraces the core principles of the franchise. Among all the Easter eggs, you find the heart of the show in this story. Plus we got slam poetry about Worf. And if you are wondering why the security team was not emotionally compromised, they were deep in the ship (in a part Boimler didn’t even know about), so they never were in contact with T’Lyn.

New Denty is coming along well

Final thoughts

Together both storylines in“Empathalogical Fallacies” demonstrate how the series has matured to effortlessly pull off the Anbo-jyutsu move of broad (and even raunchy) comedy, combined with fun Trek gags for the fans all woven together with the themes of the franchise and the heart of characters we care about. The fourth season has hit the halfway point. It may not be too early to say it is the best season yet, and that is saying a lot, as this show hasn’t had a bad season so far.

Yes, Deanna Troi does talk about chocolate too much


Random stuff

  • For the second time this season the episode doesn’t start with a teaser ahead of the main credits.
  • T’Lyn is 62 years old, and Mariner notes she “look great, by the way.”
  • When Boimler turned 25 he had a “quarter-life crisis” and grew a mustache, which Mariner noted was “sad and hilarious.”
  • There are now three members of the unknown blue-skinned race seen on the Cerritos, with names all variations of Merp (aka Towel Guy), including “Big Merp” and “Sleepy Merp.”
  • Haubold (who read the Worf poem) was voiced by Gideon Adlon, daughter of Pamela Adlon (credited as Pamela Segall when she appeared in the TNG episode “Who Watches The Watchers”).

Full text of Haubold’s poem…

Worf, Worf.
Torn between worlds.
A warrior.
No, a farm boy.
The son of Mogh, clang goes the bat’leth against the armor of your heart!

So ship’s counselors carry phasers with them? Good to know.

Easter eggs and more to come

This episode had a lot of nods and Easter eggs, so check back for our full egg analysis. Also, 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

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This was an ok episode it had so interesting character development for T’Lyn but most of it still gave off a filler feeling to me except for the part of the betazoid intelligence scan of the unknown ship.

To be honest is it wrong that I’m more interested in the story-line of the unknown ship then any of the other stories this season? To me S4 (and S3) so far just hasn’t been great as S1-S2 which were highly enjoyable.

Hopefully the rest of the season picks up story-wise.

A fun episode. And fun reaction from the Romulans as the Cerritos sped away.

A relatively average episode, but with a lot of fun moments.

When they Showed the Neutral zone and Romalis was there, I thought they were reconning ST09 out for a few happy seconds

That doesn’t happen until 2387, so there’s still five years to go…

I died when I heard Janelle James’ voice! It’s so recognisable. I love her on Abbott Elementary! I tried to recogise the other 2 voices while watching, but I couldn’t. Awesome trio of guest stars.

The best funny little gag was the 2 guys making out and making it in almost every shot for about that whole scene in the bar. Made me laugh out loud.

Great episode.

I recognized Wendy Malick right away, but James and Dratch soon followed. Great casting coups!

Again and again I’m impressed how animation can convey emotion in a simple cartoon face: The look of suffering on T’Lyn’s face in picture 2…

I just love Shaxs’ creative side from therapeutic pottery to poetry slam, it’s fun to see it make a reappearance.

Are the Merp’s a smurf reference?? I think they must be.

I feel so bad for T’Lyn’s possible Bendii syndrome diagnosis – out of the handful of canon Vulcans for three of them to have neurodegenerative disease, that’s pretty harsh.

I have a new favorite line from the entirety of the “Star Trek” saga:
“I suppose, by the transitive property, I, too, must be Vulcan as a mother(bleep)er”
(I literally burst out laughing when I heard that)


That was the funniest line of the season. I truly love T’Lyn.

Not sure I get the concern about Tendi being sidelined when she just had a whole episode dedicated to her and her backstory last week.

I loved this ended up being a T’Lyn episode. And she’s 62?? Wasn’t T’Pol in her 60s too on Enterprise. But it was a fun episode with the crazy Betazoids and the crew getting wiley.

And I lol when the Romulans were disappointed the Cerritos didn’t enter the neutral zone. 😂

Not as good as last week but very fun!


Next week is the week! That Jeffrey Combs will return as Brunt! (Joking but would be nice.)

I loved this episode.

I didn’t get the sense that we were supposed to think that T’Lyn has early-onset Bendii Syndrome. It seemed to me that Bendii Syndrome was mentioned as an EXAMPLE of how well Vulcan minds can do projective telepathy if they want to. T’Lyn was projecting because she was upset, not because she’s ill.

That’s what I came away with too honestly but then on the other hand if it’s Vulcan dementia, early onsets of things like that is good to actually talk about.

T’Lynn is a great addition. She’s positively wild for a Vulcan, but a true straightwoman who gets to react hilariously to everyone else (shades of Spock/Tuvok/T’Pol/Seven) while also giving sage advice, and this week finding personal growth.

Honestly the only complaint I have thus far is the sidelining of Jen. Whatever the logistic or artistic reason behind it, it’s a pretty big loose thread to leave dangling to have Mariner’s ex seen but not heard. In the season 3 finale it was obvious she was alarmed by how she had screwed up in thinking badly of Mariner, so some resolution there feels warranted.

Completely agree on both counts
T’Lyn is one of the best new Trek characters since Hemmer IMO. We keep being told by some people here we just want old characters and nothing more which is far from true. I love so many characters in LDS and it’s the ONLY NuTrek show that didn’t star or have a supporting role for a legacy character like SNW, PIC, PRO and DIS all did. And yet it’s my favorite show out of all of them. They make more great characters like T’Lyn and you will see fans excited for them. She now happily sits beside Spock/Tuvok/T’Pol as a great Vulcan character and I love all those guys. Hopefully she will appear in love action some day.

But also agree side lining Jen, another great character. It just feels wrong. I loved seeing her and Mariner go from enemies to lovers and she just been dropped this season. I think we seen her in just one episode and a non speaking role.

They should have some closure like you said. I think McMahan is brilliant but I don’t understand how the ball got dropped so hard with this storyline? 🙄

Looking back at the reviews of the season, it sounds like if she’s featured properly, it’s not until the last two episodes.

And yes, for all the Easter eggs and callbacks and guest stars the show affectionately throws in, the core of the show is its original characters and their growth and relationships, and the cast has never added a legacy character to the roster. Credit where credit is due, I think they are all very well-drawn, in every sense!

I agree. I think probably if you like a show or not depends on how well you connect to the characters. And I like every single character on the Lower Decks regular ensemble.
But I don’t happen to connect to the cast of Discovery (besides Saru and the Discovery version of Pike), Picard or SNW. It may be because the characters on Lower Decks are not too stereotypical like some other characters (like Rios) were in my opinion, and it may be because everyone connects differently.
The Lower Decks characters have an aspect of diverse mundanity in very un-ordinary circumstances that to me makes them much more interesting than some cookie-cutter dramatic backstory.

They missed a good visual gag – when the Betazoids started arguing telepathically, it would have been hilarious to see some of that from Freeman’s POV without any voiceovers.