Sunday, 20 September 2020

Much Ado About Boimler: Lower Decks S01 E07

Impressively episode seven ties all the plot points together in just 25 minutes.

With Freeman, Ransom and Shax on a secret away mission, the Cerritos receives a stand-in captain, Ramsey, who turns out to be Mariner's best mate from the academy. While that's all developing, Rutherford uses Boimler as his guinea-pig for a transporter upgrade but ultimately renders him slightly out of phase and continuously sounding (loudly) like he's mid-materialisation.

Add another element into the mix - Ensign Tendi's genetically engineered dog called, erm, The Dog and you'll be wondering how all of this can be packed into such a short amount of time when live action Star Trek can barely contain itself within an hour (or 42 minutes as it got to with Voyager!!!).

I thought last week's was a turn of comedic genius with the introduction of the legend that is Badgie yet Much Ado About Boimler feels like it dials that up at least another notch.

Noticeably separating the Mariner/Boimler partnership, leaving Rutherford to his own intents and purposes and teaming Tendi up with Bradward adds a little spice to the Lower Decks mix after seven weeks. Predictably, fills out the background of Beckett Mariner even further.

In Much Ado..., both lines of the story actually carry a decent amount of weight and we see that Mariner actually is a decent officer but would rather work out all her kinks, stay relaxed and work it all out below decks rather than on the bridge where she would probably be incredibly effective as we see here and have seen in previous red alert situations. Mariner's ineptitude throughout is, apparently, a front to keep her from receiving a second, third and fourth pip - she was the top of the class at the academy but we've still to uncover just what moment turned her away from a career to the top.

Ramsey also brings her own crew including a Vulcan and a Trill...and, I might be wrong but is the third member of her team the same race as Jaylah from Beyond? For the last couple of days I've been trying to work out if they're the same race. If you have an answer to that, let me know.

For Lower Decks this seemed a much more somber tale and character piece while Boimler's takes us into a spin on Section 31.

Assigned to The Farm to recover, Brad encounters other Starfleet officers who've been on the bad end of intergalactic science as he's taken aboard the very un-Starfleet looking USS Osler NX-75300. There's a delta radiation case (spot the Pike wheelchair), two crew merged together and...Anthony! Round of applause for the show this week by somehow managing to pull in Threshold and give it comedic dues after a good 20 plus years of bashing from fans. 

The variety of characters on the ship s incredible, led by one officer who is both undergoing accelerated growth and reverse aging at the same time - is Division 14 exactly what it seems, controlled by a dour Triexian (that's the same race as Arex from The Animated Series so be VERY excited!!!) - or is there something else going on? 

Hammed up to the max, the patients are sufficiently over the top and desperate to get away from the USS Osler which, shock horror - is The Farm (or is it...?) and everything  looks to be all doom and gloom. 

Tendi's engineered dog is both cute and also pant-wettingly terrifying in a B-movie horror sort of way with some very out of character traits that you wouldn't find in your average Earth-bound canine. Suitably this is played more into the background of the episode and gives Tendi a reason to be on the Osler with Boimler. The Orion seems to be the voice of reason here but doesn't have quite the same calming effect that Mariner would displaying her naivety (also explains why she'd create The Dog in the first place!)

Rutherford cleverly ties this arc in with the Boimler thread. Responsible for the ensign's initial medical issue, he's also key to help wrap this one up. Close your ears for this bit if you haven't seen it but...doesn't that alien at the end look incredibly like the ones that unfolded themselves at the end of Encounter at Farpoint. This may well have been intentional as a nod to long term fans and if so it's a huge piece of continuity to play out 33 years later. 

Much Ado About Boimler is an episode stuffed full with hat tip references (babysitter Jellico-type...), action, fun, bizarre characters and decent exploration and use of all of the main foursome. If I recommended last week then this one has the full package from start to finish and doesn't underuse a single second - bravo to the writers here because there are a few tips they should hand over to the guys on Picard and Discovery...

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