Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Crisis Point: Lower Decks S01 E09

Episode nine is here taking us deep into the convoluted world of the holodeck and through that very medium into Lower Decks’ take on the Star Trek movies. Cue catchphrase: Warp me!

Seeking a way to help him win over the Captain and secure special training, Boimler boots up one of his holodeck simulations to try and work out what he should say in his interview. In a very Reginald Barclay manner it turns out the resourceful ensign has recreated the entirety of the USS Cerritos down to the smallest detail from the personal logs of the crew.

Still steaming after a run in with her mother and commanding officer, Captain Freeman, for taking the evolutionary course of a planet into her own hands, Mariner decides that hacking Boimler’s programme might help her prove a point and suddenly the four ensigns are watching a full title sequence as Mariner has tipped them into a movie scenario where anything will happen .

Crisis Point is Lower Decks’ love letter to the movies of the Star Trek franchise, beaming in star field titles, one off made up weapons and suitably plot-defined technology alongside the story. The show even drops in a sizeable amount of lens flare and, as indicated by Mariner early on, those movie scale set pieces from a truly cheesy and familiar introduction to the Cerritos in space dock to a spectacular showstopper of a crash land and a final one on one punch up that can only be a suitable climax to any good Star Trek movie?!

At times the episode beers close to bordering on full on parody but skims it just in time to return to a more grounded reality. 

For the most part the entirety of the movie series gets overlooked in franchise history save for the token Khan references (see last week’s review) yet here, even down to The Undiscovered Country’s unique signing off sequence, there’s something in almost every holodeck scene that pulls the franchise towards the 13 move series spanning three crews since the late 1970’s. If you're not a fan of the movies, never fear because there's a rifle-totting Leonardo da Vinci there for your pleasure!

The detail on here is insane with set cues for the enemy ship coming significantly from the Klingons both inside and out, every scene played out to the most extreme level and more explosions than the whole series combined.

This feels like Lower Decks visual, glorious peak and the choice to take a spin on the movies is very, very clever and utilises the overused and over broken holodeck in a new way - what can Boimler learn and at the same time can Mariner, taking on the persona of Vindicta, strike back at Freeman in the only way that she thinks she can straight out win in gory style quoting Shakespeare as would any villain worth their salt.

Vindicta is an amalgam of all those movie villains ever who’ve decided to chew the scenery and overcook it and even in the final two-strike fight we get a mirror mirror twist with Mariner, angrily, openly realising that she’s a lot better than she acts but won’t admit it. Mariner has very easily been the focus for Lower Decks since Second Contact and the bulk of the episode here is quintessentially about her and her demons; feelings of rejection, inferiority and not living up to the expectations of her mother are all confronted providing a cold undertone to balance against the levity of other parts of Crisis Point. My only concern with her character here is how far she takes her actions leading Tendi to quit the simulation and vaporising anyone who happens to get in the way on her path to the Captain. 

There have been rumblings that some fans have viewed the Boimler/Mariner relationship as one where the latter is responsible for bullying her colleague but I would tend to disagree. Beckett Mariner isn’t evil, she’s not bent on making Boimler’s life a continuous living hell but instead is looking for ways to keep herself entertained(?) rather than do what she knows she should be doing and following instruction.

In fact her relationship with Boimler tends to try and lighten him up although it more often than not has taken a turn for the worse and required some lateral thinking to sort it all out. Crisis Point isn’t quite at the level of last week’s Veritas but it’s agenda is different and allows a Trek series to explore the facets of its big screen offshoot. Even the phasers are bigger this week with Shax’ phaser bazooka stepping up the firepower just as the rifles did for First Contact.

Also for the first time we have some form of cliffhanger and notion that this story is going to be continued in the series finale thanks to Boimler’s choice to (illegally) use the crew’s personal logs to create his holodeck programme. For one person the secret is out...

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