Monday, 4 October 2021

Where Pleasant Fountains Lie: Lower Decks S02 E07

Tables are turned a little for Where Pleasant Fountains Lie with a focus on Chief Engineer Billups.

Hailed by a troubled starship, it turns out that it's from Billups' own culture (the planet Hyspiria) which is based around medieval fantasy. Billups himself is the heir to the throne although he has renounced his heritage. Problem is, his mother hasn't and has committed her efforts to trick him into having intercourse. Usually this wouldn't be an issue but if he does then Billups will become king; something he is actively trying to avoid.

You sort of know where it's going from the beginning here and even the episode's event signposts the direction of the story. Yes, it's a little obvious where it's heading but this storyline is fairly entertaining and certainly geeky enough with the fantasy beliefs of Billups' own people. How space travel and castles collide is a headache but it's just ridiculous enough that it works even if you do question it. It also means some nice uses of LCARS on screen through the episode in relation to the Queen's starship. Rutherford is assigned to hep with repairs and things seem to go from bad to worse but there's a nod to The Most Toys here (maybe) with Tendi not believing it's all as bleak as events go.

Flipping the channel over, Boimler and Mariner are tasked with transporting an evil computer to a safe archive. Plus points in the episode since the computer is voiced by the man of a thousand Star Trek faces, Jeffery Combs and is vainly hoping that someone will plug it back into a terminal and continue its plan for universal domination and worship as a god.

Taking in every good Star Trek clich√©, the shuttle on which the pair are transporting their evil cargo crash-lands and it becomes all about survival. The sarcasm, chastising and dry wit of Combs computer is great fun and it's just as interesting to watch the sparring between Mariner and Boimler. The latter's brief visit to the USS Titan is really playing hell with Mariner particularly with its frequent mentions and comparisons, driving a wedge between them. 

The paranoia and desperation kicks in but is everything what it seems especially when you
have an evil computer in tow? 

Combs return to the Trek fold is more than welcome and maybe even a little late. The marooning due to a shuttle crash is a oft-used (and wisely used here) situation allowing for some good soul searching and a few fisticuffs as well. We know that the pair will work things out but the gem here is working out precisely why Boimler has gone space-happy and if there's a cunning plan buried in there. 

The writing on this arc of the episode is fantastically written, again proving that Lower Decks is currently the best series in Trek at the moment. The combination of humour and lateral thinking really pulls together and actually parallels the obvious Billups challenge with his over-enthusiastic and duplicitous mother.

Where Pleasant Fountains Lie is a charming little episode that fits snuggly into the season. Memorable for the cameo from Combs it's still not one of the season's best but the challenge with Lower Decks is that it is now setting its own standards as it goes meaning each new episode has a huge hill to climb.

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