Warp Factor Trek

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As the fourth season of Lower Decks had a double-bill opener, the second episode was also released on 7th September. So, what of the questions left hanging from “Twovix”?


We open with a Romulan ship full of plotters against each other, which runs into the unknown ship from the end of the previous episode, with the same result: all systems shut down, and the Romulan ship is reduced to tiny pieces…

Mariner overhears a discussion between Ransom and Shaxs

After the opening credits, Mariner overhears Ransom say — during an exercise session with Shaxs — that she won’t be his problem for long. Believing that he’s planning to mess with her head and then demote her, she decides to go out in a blaze of insubordination. Mariner, Boimler, and Tendi are packing up their stuff to move to new quarters, while Rutherford determines to get himself a promotion that day so he can join them.

Mariner meets with Ransom and new guy Gary to take a shuttlecraft to a “menage” – short for “menagerie” – to recover two humans who have become exhibits there. She stays in her gym gear and refers to Ransom as “Jack”.

Ransom, Gary, and Mariner prepare for the mission to the menagerie station

Boimler meanwhile is shocked to discover that his new room is filled with blinding red light. It’s from a nearby Bussard collector.

Mariner deliberately crash-lands the shuttlecraft into the menagerie’s docking bay. There, they meet Narj, a tree-based lifeform who has a habit of referring to himself in the third person and is the owner of the zoo. Watch out for some familiar creatures, including ones from The Animated Series and the three-snake creature Q briefly becomes in “Hide And Q”. Most important, however, is cute and rounded kittenish moopsy — which Mariner seems immediately drawn to.

Mariner stands next to the moopsy exhibit, annoyed with Ransom

On the Cerritos, Rutherford suggests a way to marginally improve warp efficiency. However, he’s already beaten to it by Ensign Livik, a new engineer.

On the menagerie station, the moopsy gets loose almost immediately. A bone-eater, it attacks another creature, draining it to a shrivelled husk. The Starfleet trio and Narj fearfully flee.

Rutherford trying to impress Chief Engineer Billups with a mechanism that, in this episode, receives the name “Tucker Tubes”, referencing Trip Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise

On the Cerritos, Rutherford’s obsession with doing a promotion-worthy bit of engineering continues, repeatedly defeated by Livik.

Boimler tries changing quarters to a room between two holodecks. Frustratingly, the room has such thin walls that he can clearly hear Shaxs and T’Ana’s Robin Hood sadistic fantasies on one side and Captain Freeman giving imaginary Starfleet Presidential speeches on the other.

Boimler even tries moving his bed to deal with the noise, but to no avail

The moopsy, meanwhile, pursues Narj, Mariner, Ransom, and Gary into a dark room on the station, where Ransom accuses Mariner of letting the creature loose as part of her insubordination, which she denies. He then explains that his conversation with Shaxs was about being determined to not let her attempts at insubordination get into his head and make him fall for her ploys to get demoted, like her other commanders have.

The moopsy then gets in and dissolves the ossified wood — bones — of Narj. The Starfleeters escape the room, locking it in, but the area turns out to be the station’s main control room. Taking command of the station’s thrusters, the moopsy sends the facility plummeting towards a nearby planet.

While Boimler has set up home in a crawlspace aboard the Cerritos, Mariner plans to lead the moopsy away so the others can escape. Ransom realises they can lure it with teeth, if she punches his out…

Mariner hits Ransom so hard, his teeth fall out

Still obsessing over his engineering, Rutherford’s latest innovation attempt is improving replicator speed by nine femtoseconds (that’s a quadrillionth of a second, in case you’re wondering). He finds Billups about to promote Livik and wails to Tendi that he has failed her, but she gives him her first order as a superior: to be himself. He admits he turned promotions down before because he didn’t want to leave her and his friends, so she asks Billups if he can still have one of those — which he can, much to Livik’s frustration!

Using Ransom’s teeth, Mariner lures the moopsy back into its exhibit while Ransom and Gary manage to restabilise the station. It turns out the humans in the zoo released the moopsy to kill Narj so they could take over the station. T’Ana gives Ransom some new teeth, of course.

Finally, Rutherford and Boimler become room-mates. Rutherford knows how to darken the viewports to keep the Bussard light out. Boimler is relieved, and not bothered by Rutherford tinkering with electronics all night…

Boimler and Rutherford become room-mates


The second half of Premiere Night’s double bill isn’t quite the nostalgia hit that “Twovix” was, but it still has plenty of good Mariner madness and amusing easter eggs. The easter eggs are not just limited to Star Trek franchise ones, as Rutherford’s tool in the final scene makes the distinctive sonic screwdriver warble from the post-2005 version of Doctor Who.

More viewers will notice and be amused by Shaxs and Ransom doing their exercises in the same lycra as Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher in the TNG episode “The Price”. The same scene also includes some amusing T’Ana-related cat gags. The menagerie itself feels slightly more Orville-ish, with Narj feeling like a Futurama character, but the moopsy is the most amazing mix of cute and terrifying seen in years. There will surely be fan-made toys of the little critter by the weekend…

The moopsy… and Narj

Again, we have a little bit of a mixed bag with some of the guest characters. Narj is kind of unremarkable — neither good nor bad, just generic. The rivalry between Rutherford and Livik, with the name-said-through-gritted-teeth trope, is kind of tired Family Guy stuff. On the other hand, we also get a real sense of connection between Tendi and Rutherford, which is pretty much love, and a great reversal of Mariner and Ransom’s expectations of each other. Really, we can add, “When did Ransom stop being a complete douche?” to the list of questions the season is posing…

Rating: 3/5

Overall, this is a perfectly fine regular episode. While not as good as the Season 4 premiere, it still carries enough laughs and weight to make it a good watch.

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