Thursday, 15 October 2020

No Small Parts; Lower Decks S01 E10

This is Lower Decks' first season masterpiece.

As we've gone along each episode has upped the stakes with the final three; Veritas, Crisis Point and No Small Parts really pushing out all the stops to provide an incredible end to this new take on the franchise.

Following on from the revelation that Mariner is Freeman's daughter, Boimler accidentally announces it to the ship just as the Cerritos is called to assist the USS Solvang NCC-12101 commanded by the extremely unlucky and OCD Captain Dayton which in turn leads to a run in with some less than placid Pakleds.

Not to give too much away on this one but it’s epic from start to finish, returning us to Beta III and Landru in the pre-titles sequence before spinning us into one heck of a furiously paced 20 minutes of Trek. What No Small Parts manages to do is sum up the journey of the first season, showing the development of both the characters and the storylines to give us something not too mind-bending but thoroughly engaging which bizarrely melds more than a few pieces of Trek history and fan mythos into canon. 

Each of the four ensigns completes a journey here; Tendi welcomes a new recruit to the Cerritos in much the same manner that we met her in Second Contact although the contrast in character is an interesting one that both provides a comedy twist but perhaps a realistic view that not everyone in Starfleet is a ready made hero. The interestingly named Peanut Hamper is one of the Exocomps fans will recognise from The Next Generation’s The Quality of Life, successfully bringing perhaps one of that show's less well known episodes a little more into the limelight.

Rutherford too completes his own story and becomes something of a hero in himself thanks to his implants that are both a help and a hindrance here as we saw in Veritas. These have been played down quite a bit with only a couple of episodes really utilising the feature and in turn No Small Parts turns the dial up one more point. Of the four ensigns he’s probably the one that has had the least development through the season and in the finale his actions are the most significant. Oh - did we mention there's also an appearance from a rather popular Lower Decks creation in here that takes Rutherford back to the holodeck...should he deactivate the safeties???

Boimler, considering the emphasis placed on him in the first half of the run, seems to slip a little into the background before being picked up prominently right at the end. His journey with Mariner was a major part of the heart of the series and its absence in later episodes only gets more obvious with the comradery shown here but there is a bittersweet end to the tale that perhaps flips on the perceived bullying that was discussed by fans around earlier exploits.

Most of the humour in No Small Parts comes from the uncovering of Mariner’s relationship with Captain Freeman as suddenly ever member of the crew is talking about her, everyone is being overly OVERLY nice and looking for a favour. Check out the lieutenant who is super-keen on his conspiracy theories (Wolf 359 was an inside job! The Dominion War never happened!) as part of this as well as the hilariously tangled conversation that Ransom manages to get himself into between him, Mariner and Freeman.

Beckett Mariner though has been at the very centre of this show since the first scene of Second Contact and is the breathing life, heart and soul of Lower Decks. Intentionally lazy, incorrectly attired, stubborn bordering on rude and the life of the party, the finale gives her a chance to shine as a true Starfleet officer, leading the fight to the very end either by unveiling a s**t ton of contraband weapons or from the bridge of the Cerritos itself.

There is a sense of closure here too in Mariner's life with both mother and daughter realising that they work better as pair even if their opinions are the diametric opposite - it works to their advantage. 

Even with the humourous tint to the series and this finale in particular, it’s not all laughs to the titles so expect a few surprises along the way. Indeed (SPOILER ALERT), one that you get a hint at early on is the  potential inclusion of the USS Titan. The way in which the battle with the Pakleds is going only stresses further that you’re waiting for someone to show up and they do in style, making the Luna Class FINALLY canon after 15 years. Instantly recognisable to novel readers and collectors of the Official Starships Collection, the Titan is beautifully realised on the screen in magnificent detail both inside and out - because we’re also reintroduced to her captain and counsellor; Will Riker and Deanna Troi both voiced by their original actors, Jonathan Frakes an Marina Sirtis.

Oddly they haven’t been off our screens that long with both characters turning up in Nepenthe on Picard and Riker himself riding to the rescue in the series finally having been reactivated just to help out his old commanding officer and friend. Could we possibly just expect him to turn up and save the day in the finale of Discovery’s third year and complete the trinity???

This season finale is one of excellent standards and a full demonstration that an animated - and lighter-hearted Star Trek series is possible and does work. Lower Decks kept it fast-paced, adventurous, a little risque on occasion, certainly packed a few bleeps in and has proved to be a brilliant addition. Discovery and Picard should be genuinely concerned because the best series out there for fans right this.

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ALSO check out our full set of season one reviews HERE!

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