Red Alarm – Cetacean, Licorice Humor Trek for the Ages!
When I recently invited my eleven-year-old son to rewatch Season 2 of Lower Decks with me because I intended to review it, I received the enthusiastic “Yes!” that I expected. That kicked off a three-evening binge where we re-watched all ten episodes.
Lower Decks is the only Star Trek series he’ll voluntarily watch with me. And even though, yes, some of the humor is a little mature for what is probably appropriate for an eleven-year-old, I know my kid and it’s fine. I’m more excited at the prospect that Lower Decks might be his gateway to Trek Fandom. I’m actually excited that Lower Decks might be the gateway for a whole new generation of Trekkies. (Disco, too, is the other hopeful gateway Trek series – I’m working on my husband with that one.)
While we watched the entire season for a second time, I kept needling my son about watching any of the older series, particularly when there was a reference that only someone who has seen the other series would get.
Every single episode of Season 2 is jammed packed with references, particularly to TOS and TNG, with a healthy dose of DS9 and VOY. I found myself having to pause every other minute to explain something. Eventually, I was like, “Kiddo, can’t we just watch the ST:TNG episode ‘Best of Both Worlds’? All this Borg stuff will make so much more sense!” But no, none of the old Trek is exciting enough, he says.
Lower Decks has the excitement and humor that this generation craves. Maybe it’s because of the animated format. I assume they can make as many weird, crazy explosions and do all sorts of wild things without dealing with an associated production cost. They can get on the hull of the ship easily (which they do multiple times). They can have characters turn into weird mutant creatures, over and over, or have them lose their heads. All that happened, too. It’s all the same production cost with animation, isn’t it? So, Lower Decks has the freedom to deliver loads of alien creatures, fantastic explosions, and all the good stuff that live-action series struggle with. (“How much is it gonna cost to create a six-legged, multi-headed, fire-skinned creature? Oh… that much? Ok, let’s go with another humanoid…”)
This freedom of creativity bodes well for all fans of Trek. Apparently, not getting the references doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it (which is good, since I’m aware of fans who are DS9 fans but can’t stand TNG, or VOY fans who can’t stand either DS9 or TNG, or TOS fans who like no other Trek — unlike me, who loves ALL of Trek-dom). You can still greatly enjoy Lower Decks, if my kiddo’s laughter is any indication.
And it’s not just him laughing; I am, too, because it’s fun and funny. That’s what makes LD so endearing to old-school fans like me. Yeah, we like our serious, canonical… but sometimes we need go laugh at Trek and ourselves and let our eleven-year-olds laugh with us.
It’s very hard to talk about other details without spoiling all the good stuff, and there’s so much good stuff. From finally seeing Cetacean Ops – oh, I have so many questions about that – to Borg babies, ridiculously cute Borg babies – S2 is full of amazing tidbits.
The Pakleds are regulars this season and, as a result, are my kiddo’s newest favorite alien species. I even managed to get him to watch the first half of the TNG episode “Samaritan Snare”. That was all he could take. (He abandoned me to go play with his friends, while I watched the remainder of the episode.) The kiddo now walks around the house declaring, “Red Alarm!” in a humorous and deadpan way, bringing me to stitches every time he does so.
There is character development, even if it is over the top and brought on by ridiculous situations, often ones that are a copy of what happened in TNG. Mariner, of course, is the character who desperately needs to grow. She makes progress getting to know Tendi a little better (as do we, and I really hope we learn more about Orion culture in future seasons, having an Orion principal cast member), and in lowering her guard with new people. She still needs to treat Boimler a little better. There’s obviously more in her past that’s contributing to her various periods of anti-social behavior – deep, dark, interesting stuff that compels us to like her because she’s imperfect, not quite but almost an anti-hero.
Lower Decks has also bravely introduced some unexpected species as regular members of the crew, like Kayshon, a Tamarian. And those cetaceans… I need to know more!
So, there’s more than enough to keep both this lifelong, old-school Trekkie and her eleven-year-old kiddo interested, and the last couple of episodes planted some seeds that will hopefully bear fruit in Season 3. Personally, both me and my kiddo are convinced that there will be an addition of a Vulcan “rebel” to the Cerritos lower decks crew. All in all, waiting for Season 3 is going to be painful!
Looking back, I think Season 2 was an improvement on the show’s first season, by being more confident. Even though I also liked Season 1 a lot, the second season just did more, and every episode of Season 2 is glorious.
I just can’t believe that some writer thinks that black licorice is the least nutritious food that tastes the most like poison. That cuts this licorice lover deep. But I’ll get over it; Lower Decks is that good.
Inspired by Trek growing up and daily enabled by strong cups of coffee, Adeena Mignogna is a software and systems engineer working in the aerospace industry. She is also the author of Crazy Foolish Robots, a humorous science-fiction novel. Visit her website at adeenamignogna.com.