Warp Factor Trek

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With Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 approaching, let’s reflect on the show so far. The series is a credit to the imagination of show creator Mike McMahan. Which episodes are the most popular? To answer that, here are IMDb’s top five episodes.

Number 5: “The Stars at Night”

Let’s start where we left off. At fifth place is the tenth and final episode of Season 3. In the aftermath of a Breen attack on the USS Cerritos, Starfleet’s California-class ships are at risk of replacement by a fleet of automated Texas-class ships, supervised by Admiral Buenamigo. Meanwhile, Mariner enjoys Indiana Jones-style intergalactic adventures.

Carrying a Klingon trophy, Mariner is chased by Ferengi

This season finale delivers big stakes and action. Boimler’s amusing crew impressions and subsequent mix-ups with Shaxs stand out. Captain Freeman’s “second-contact race” prompts funny crew reactions. Mentions of Data and Picard are very cool, and the show skillfully expands some internal continuity.

The episode ultimately champions Shaxs and the Cali-class, personal favourites of mine. T’Lyn joining the Cerritos and Badgey‘s post-credits tractor beam scene nicely set the stage for Season 4.

Badgey in a post-credits scene

What if you don’t like this episode? I will burn your heart in a fire. Sorry — that was the AI responding!

Number 4: “First First Contact”

Lower Decks’ Season 2 finale reintroduces Sonya Gomez, portrayed by Lycia Naff. A clumsy ensign in TNG’s “Q Who” and “Samaritan Snare”, she’s now captain of the USS Archimedes. Possibilities of Captain Freeman and Tendi departing are central to the story.

Captain Gomez in command of the Archimedes

This well-written tale showcases the distinct pleasure of watching Sonya Gomez in command, worlds apart from her earlier portrayal. Her ship, the first Obena-class in Trek, looks great. There are also cool references to Kirk, Jadzia Dax, and Spock.

I love how Boimler’s “Captain Freeman Day” sign nods to the “Captain Picard Day” sign from TNG’s “The Pegasus”. The story also excels at developing the Captain Freeman character and it’s great to see her crew at their regular activities, stripping the ship’s outer hull, and making up with each other. The episode interestingly reveals more of the ship — both externally (hull stripped) and internally (Cetacean Ops debut). Freeman’s commitment to her ship and crew inspires audience confidence in her command, only for it to be snatched away by a shocking Starfleet Security cliffhanger.

Captain Freeman faces arrest

Number 3: “Hear All, Trust Nothing”

In third position, this precursor to “The Stars at Night”, written by Grace Parra Janney, involves Admiral Buenamigo dispatching the Cerritos on a Deep Space 9 diplomatic mission — it’s the Deep Space Nine crossover episode.

The Cerritos at DS9

Hearing the DS9 theme and seeing familiar elements like the Bajoran wormhole, the station, Kira, Quark, and Morn is a treat. References to DS9 tropes, the Enterprise, and Kobayashi Maru are great too. Interaction between Orions is another highlight. Fred Tatasciore excellently voices both Shaxs and Karemma leader Korzak. Seeing the evolution of the relationship between Mariner and the Andorian Jennifer is also brilliant.

Number 2: “Crisis Point”

The only Season 1 installment to make the top five, this is an early highlight, written by Ben Rodgers. After Captain Freeman sends her to therapy, Mariner co-opts a Boimler-produced holographic simulation of the Cerritos bridge to instead create an interactive movie.

The movie’s title screen

I enjoy seeing the Leonardo Hologram from Voyager, a cinematic flyby of the Cerritos in spacedock, and the amusing use of a random Borg head as an explosive. There are fun references to the Enterprise, Toby Targ, Xon from the unproduced TV series Star Trek: Phase II, and Deep Space Nine’s Pah-wraiths. Grand cinematic music complements the scenes.

The Cerritos‘ warp jump echoes the Kelvinverse Enterprise in Star Trek Into Darkness, one of my favorite Trek movies moments. The Cerritos crash-landing on an icy planet references Generations, Beyond, Voyager‘s “Timeless”, and Lower Decks‘ opening credits.

Vindicta’s ship

Vindicta‘s starship looks incredible, and Mariner’s overacting as Vindicta is fun. This episode foreshadows Picard Season 3, anticipating Vadic‘s caricatured nature.

Beyond movie and Trek references, I adore Rutherford’s appreciation for Billups’ engineering and Mariner’s revelation that the holoprogram has been therapeutic after all. The final scene — with “dead” Vindicta rising, Spock-like, from a torpedo tube but getting shot by Holo Leonardo — is hilarious.

Leonardo shooting Vindicta

Number 1: “wej Duj”

My favourite episode from the first three seasons, “wej Duj” explores lower decks on different cultures’ ships, including a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Vulcan cruiser, and Pakled ship. This award-nominated outing, written by Kathryn Lyn, was a turning point for my enjoyment of the show.

I love the Klingonese title (meaning “Three Ships”). The episode portrays the various cultures stereotypically for amusement but reveals great insights into their lower decks. The Klingon ship hosts an intriguing battle for dominance, and T’Lyn is introduced, preceding her appearances in “The Stars at Night” and Season 4.

This episode’s on-screen title, written in Klingon… and T’Lyn aboard her Vulcan ship

Like “Crisis Point”, there’s great holodeck action, including a Star Trek V nod with Boimler’s hover boots malfunctioning during an El Capitan climb. A Klingon-Pakled ship alliance against the Cerritos is interesting and unexpected. Boimler’s risk of rejection for not being from Hawaii leads to a couple of comedic plot twists. The show humorously derides Pakleds, consistent with their portrayal in TNG’s “Samaritan Snare”. The episode’s conclusion brilliantly emphasises the importance of teamwork, from the lower decks up.

The various lower decks in this episode

In Conclusion

So, there we have it: the five most popular episodes of Lower Decks up to now, according to IMDb. Because the ratings aren’t clear, we have made the editorial choice of 1-5. Aside from the first season’s thrilling “Crisis Point”, it’s great that a diverse mix of episodes from the second and third seasons make up the rest of the top five slots.

I’d like to give a special mention to the Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks crossover episode “Those Old Scientists”. It’s proven to be the most popular episode of SNW’s just-concluded second season.

Filming “Those Old Scientists”

How will the episodes of Lower Decks’ fourth season measure up to all these highlights? On 7 September, we’ll find out, when the first two installments of the fourth season will be released.

What have been your favourite episodes of Lower Decks so far? Do you agree with this list, or do you prefer other episodes? Let us know in the comments section below.

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