Lower Decks‘ “The Least Dangerous Game” in Review
It’s a nice touch to jump straight to a scene with J.G. Hertzler returning to voice General Martok, even if he is only the host of the video sections of the regular foursome’s tabletop RPG game, Bat’leths & Bihnuchs (or something like that – it flashed past so quick!). Boimler is not having much luck at the game, but the session is soon broken up anyway, by the call to action.
Passengers aboard a broken-down orbital elevator – er, lift – like in the Voyager episode “Rise” are being hosted aboard the Cerritos. Meanwhile, Ransom takes Mariner and Rutherford, with Chief Engineer Billups, down in a shuttle to repair the elevator. Trying to provoke Mariner, Ransom sends engineers Billups and Rutherford to “do the diplomatic thing” and enjoy the natives’ licentious culture rather than actually fix the problem. He’s managing to make things worse by not knowing anything about engineering and concentrating on looking good while trying to provoke Mariner.
Meanwhile, Boimler – inspired by Martok in the game and Tendi’s urging – decides to say yes to everything. He even agrees to being hunted by a large alien creature, which the alien wants to do since his culture requires its people to hunt prey.
Down on the planet, Billups and Rutherford have been enjoying themselves so much that they inevitably commit a (fashion) faux pas. As a result, the inhabitants of the planet are intent on punishing them.
Boimler’s time as prey ends with the alien (after spearing him through the shoulder) whipping out a selfie stick – the ultimate aim of the hunt. This hunt-to-take-a-picture twist dates back at least to the “Everest Was Also Conquered” episode of The Professionals back in 1978.
Mariner has just taken a skydiving suit to go rescue Rutherford and Billups when Ransom decides to do exactly that, forcing her to climb all the way back up the broken elevator to pretend to be following his orders by getting into a skydiving suit…
Rutherford and Billups end up being taken to be sacrificed to the planetary trifecta of telepathic baby, volcano god, and computer. The latter is represented by an idol whose face looks awfully like Marvin the Paranoid Android from the TV version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the end, Ransom does the Starfleet diplomatic thing, and all is well.
This episode – whose title is based on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” – is fun, but somewhat predictable, and has the feel of a Futurama episode more than anything else. Overall, the characters do progress somewhat with their new situations, though it remains to be seen whether this will still be the case next week. The alien hunt is a nice riff on Predator and its ilk (surprisingly no mention of the Hirogen), and in particular involves a gorgeous pastiche of musical themes from the Predator movies from composer Chris Westlake, who really excels in this episode. Martok’s Dungeon Master role is great, and the music is very nicely handled, to the point of being the other main highlight. Hurrah for Hertzler and Westlake!
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.