Lower Decks’ “Something Borrowed, Something Green” in Review
The course of true love meets a hitch when Tendi’s sister vanishes on the day before her wedding, and Tendi must find her…
An Orion supply ship runs into the mystery vessel from the first couple of episodes and faces a similar fate — all systems failing, then being blazed into nothingness. Meanwhile, on the Cerritos, Tendi has finished all the day’s work and is given leave from Captain Freeman to attend her sister’s wedding. Tendi is keen to not attend, because she hates the traditions and the requirements for family photos in belly-dancer outfits. T’Lyn and Mariner want to go with her, to learn about Orion culture (for the Vulcan High Command in T’Lyn’s case, and avoiding future foot-in-mouth errors in Mariner’s).
Rutherford and Boimler are roomies to the extent of accepting sleep-engineering and finishing each others’ sentences… until they fall out over whose turn it is to water their bonsai tree. Tendi’s family live in a castle, with many slaves to carry the girls on a sedan couch, and are the fifth richest family in the Syndicate. It turns out Tendi’s sister, D’Erika, has been kidnapped — a normal Orion tradition — but not at the right time. Tendi must launch a rescue mission as Prime Daughter, while she continues trying to downplay any non-Starfleet-type behaviour.
Rutherford and Boimler’s relationship deteriorates further when they both choose to play Mark Twain on the holodeck. Tendi, meanwhile, leads the girls to a nightclub, Madame G’s. Inside, the proprietor of the venue, Madame G, hits Mariner with the first of several thrown blades in this episode. Opposing her, Tendi engages in a murder-bug drinking game from which she eventually ends up saving Madame G. Boimler and Rutherford find that both of them discoursing as Mark Twain actually improves their relationship.
Tendi and company track D’Erika’s ex to a pheromone/fetish dungeon, where the dominatrix there hits Mariner with another knife. The ex says D’Erika was last seen around the starship graveyards.
Boimler and Rutherford are called up to help Freeman negotiate with a Chalnoth (from TNG’s “Allegiance”) captain who wants to scan a nebula that will soon disappear, which Freeman also wants to scan. Boimler and Rutherford make a suggestion… and next thing you know, both the Chalnoth and Captain Freeman are visiting the holodeck as Mark Twain, for a discourse. This goes badly, until the alien wants to know what a bonsai is.
Tendi brings Mariner and T’Lyn to a ship resembling the USS Raven and admits that, when all she wanted to do was explore space, she was trained as a teenage assassin. D’Erika then appears, having kidnapped herself to lure Tendi into a trap. Oh, and, yes, Mariner catches another blade in the same shoulder as the previous two.
The Chalnoth is shown the bonsai… and suddenly eats it as an offering. He then allows the Cerritos to observe the nebula. Mid-sword-fight, D’Erika admits she had to kidnap herself to be sure Tendi would come home, because she left to pursue science. Both girls praise the other’s skills and then fly the ship they’re on to the wedding. T’Lyn discards her report to the High Command, as sending it without the subject’s consent would be unethical.
Back on the Cerritos, the two groups of lower deckers swap reports. Boimler and Rutherford, disappointed to have missed the pirate wedding, decide to simply talk over their feelings in future disputes. This actually means a piano-off, with them both dressed as Mozart…
To some degree, this is a two-strand episode, split between the girls on Orion and the boys on the Cerritos. In practical terms, these, while both satisfying, are by no means equal in focus or interest. They are very much a main story and a subplot, but thankfully episode writer Grace Parra Janey have got these two the correct way round by focusing on the Orion story. This is both more exciting and funny. It also fits well with the in-universe lack of knowledge that Starfleet characters have about Orion culture and the perceived — both in-universe and among the viewing audience — all-pirate vibe about Orions.
The Orions here fit with the pirate theme, Lower Decks’ own “not all Orions are pirates” theme, and the general look of their costumes from Enterprise and Discovery, which helps maintain a sense of progression through time. Of course, there are plenty of piratey and slave-girl tropes, from sword-fights to references to fetish dungeons and belly-dancer outfits. While the pheromone control thing references the Enterprise episode “Bound”, this episode constitutes Star Trek‘s first official visit to the planet Orion.
It’s nice to have more of Tendi’s backstory as a pirate/assassin-type who ran away to Starfleet to scan things. Hopefully, we won’t need to deny it with increasing unbelievability any more, as this seems to have wrapped up that angle. There’s a lot of amusement to be had from Mariner being on the receiving end of so many flying blades rather than causing the trouble. There’s also plenty of touching character moments, especially between Tendi and T’Lyn, whose promotion to a regular character is ever-more welcome. It’s also nice to see the Voyager love in the show referenced again, with the design and sounds of the Raven-type scout ship.
With Boimler and Rutherford’s relationship troubles, there’s also amusement and easter eggs to be had, what with Mark Twain’s costume from TNG’s “Time’s Arrow”, astronomical bodies that phase out of existence, and references to oil paintings of the Enterprise-D. Characterisation is good here, as in the Orion segments. Even the Chalnoth captain — though a general gruff-dialogue antagonist — gets some good twists in his negotiations.
In total then, we have a good solid Trek episode with an A- and B-story. It’s exciting, funny and continues the lovely character developments the show has given us.
David A McIntee is a writer and historian who has written for properties such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, Final Destination, and Stargate, as well as having written several adventures in the Star Trek franchise for Pocket Books. He has contributed many pieces to the magazines Star Trek Explorer (née Star Trek Magazine) and Star Trek Communicator, as well as having written nonfiction books about Star Trek: Voyager.