Monday, 4 October 2021

The Spy Humongous: Lower Decks S02 E06

If episode six tells us anything about Lower Decks it's that the last couple of weeks actually haven't been as brilliant as they should have been.

The Spy Humongous brings us once again back to the events of season one and the Pakleds and shows us some of the less fun activities waiting for junior officers.

Following a now typical three thread story, episode six has us watching a hostage negotiation for the release of Captain Freeman and Lt Shaxs while the Cerritos hosts a Pakled "terrorist". Then there's Boimler taking lessons from the pretentious Redshirts on how to step up and become an acting captain. Third there's Mariner, Tendi and Rutherford assigned to Anomaly Consolidation  Duty (ACD). It's trash day as Mariner points out as this is the activity to go round the ship and clean up all the materials collected on away missions. As you would expect from Lower Decks it's less than plain sailing.

The Spy Humongous succeeds in every way with all three lines of narrative proving to be great attention grabbers. While Freeman and Shaxs are under guard on Pakled Planet seeking the highest ranking leader (the one with the biggest hat), Ransom and Kayshon have to deal with the universe's most inept Pakled spy. Like ACD he thoroughly lives up to expectations and the play on the Pakleds simple nature and self-belief of brilliance is both clever and fun to watch. Feeding him with merchandise and a pointless tour of the ship, the seemingly stupid Pakled loses his hosts (rather, it would seem than managing to evade them). That in turn causes some issues when the Pakleds on the surface want to talk to their absconding associate.

Boimler's journey with the Redshirts is so quintessential command it could be direct from TNG. The posturing, the speeches and the air of superiority seethes from each of the quartet as they seek promotion. The inclusion of a Kzinti nods nicely to a reference in Picard's Nepenthe and also more significantly back to TAS where the pink-clothed cat-like creatures originated. This group of ensigns see everything menial as below their status on the Cerritos which is, ironically, itself pretty far down the pecking list when it comes to starships!

While this does dovetail into the story arc with Mariner, Tendi and Rutherford, it stands alone pretty firmly as every command cliche is pumped in although there's a decent moral twist at the end of the line.

The best bit of The Spy Humongous and the element that downright had me laughing out loud this week was ACD. Haphazard crystals, dangerous skulls and rogue cubes of energy can clearly be a plague for any ship but then not every ship will have a clean up crew like this one. Each of the event does verge on slapstick but there's a lovable quality to each that you can't avoid.

Separating Boimler here does allow the other three main characters time to gel more although it all looks, initially, as though Mariner is getting the worst end of the deal while Tendi's intentions all the way through have been only to bring the team closer together. In fact she's responsible for the grouping in the first place.

As an exploration of friendship versus duty, The Spy Humongous is a great attempt and actually thrives on the fact that it's not background overloaded with references to other series. As usual there are some but it feels toned down with the story and its repercussions front and centre all the way through. Lighthearted, suspenseful and with the most impressive speed-listing of food items ever, episode six of the run is a tour de force for Lower Decks. This is now a show that really understands both its characters and its audience, delivering fun with a slightly deeper theme each week and something that requires two or even three watches to get to the core of the narrative. 

Oh - one more thing - the last minute of the show this time; GENIUS. Pure and simple brilliance and an inspired way to round off the episode. It's about as near perfect a moment as Lower Decks has ever scripted.

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

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