HomeStar Trek FranchiseLower DecksREVIEW - Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 Premiere Episodes

REVIEW – Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 Premiere Episodes

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Star Trek‘s back on our screens already, and it’s Lower Decks of all shows! Lower Decks Season 4 has arrived with twice the episodes than usual. It’s always a pleasure catching up with the Lower Decks characters. It’s especially cool to see them again after the crossover episode and get to see how they were affected by it. Tonight’s graced us with two new episodes to talk about and dissect, and I’m a big fan of double premieres.

I’ve got many burning questions from the end of Season 3. The biggest among them is how T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz) will fit into the cast. She’s been an interesting recurring character, but now properly on the USS Cerritos, we can get to know her better. She’s still not a regular, but she’ll definitely be around a lot more. Showrunner Mike McMahan has teased her being a major player, so I can’t wait to see how she’s going to shake up the status quo!

Of the two episodes tonight, first up, we have “Twovix,” written by Mike McMahan. It functions as the season opener and love letter to Star Trek: Voyager. Following the Cerritos crew assisting the voyage of a historically significant ship, it’s got a lot of promise of excitement and nostalgia. That sounds like a lot to handle in 25 minutes, so let’s see how well the episode does.

WARNING: From here on out, there will be spoilers from both “Twovix” and “I Have No Bones, Yet I Must Flee”. Read ahead at your own peril.

Voyager

The episode doesn’t waste any time, which is good. We get to the USS Voyager in the first few minutes, and it gets all the fanfare it deserves. From the second I heard the familiar Voyager theme play, my heart soared. It happens every time. It’s such a majestic theme. The only negative I can think of is that it’s not at or on the way from the museum around Athan Prime unless the station’s been seriously redesigned.

That’s hardly a massive complaint, but for an episode lavishing the opportunity to be full of callbacks, it was an odd choice. Also, when I say full of callbacks, I mean it. They crammed all the main Voyager references and even a few deep cuts. I personally find Voyager really quite charming as a show, so I had the time of my life watching this. It had everything, from the “Learning Curve” cheese, Chaotica, the Threshold Lizards, the Tak Tak, and even the clown from “The Thaw”!

If you’re a Star Trek fan needing a Voyager-themed nostalgia hit, this is the episode for you. It’s got everything I ever wanted from something like this, even down to the “kooky Voyager solution” to the episode. It pokes a bit of fun at the old-school show but does it with nothing but love and reverence for its legacy. McMahan absolutely knocked it out of the park. It’s obvious he loves the show, so full of callbacks that it could be its own article. I cannot overstate how well done it was.

Tuvix & T’Lyn

Tuvix is perhaps one of the most contentious episodes of Voyager. Not so much for the quality, which is probably the Emmy-winning episode “Threshold“, but because of certain moral decisions. Was Janeway right to kill Tuvix? It has been discussed in fan circles far more than I thought. This episode uses that reputation to its advantage, becoming the franchise’s first episode to grapple with the implications of killing Tuvix.

It does it in a pretty funny way, though, initially combining Dr T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) and Billups (Paul Scheer) to create T’illups. Everything involving the actual hybrids was something I found hilarious, from the way they combined names and even characters. Having T’illups learn of their fate through reading the Tuvix file, building an army, and staging a revolution is a perfect followup to the “Tuvix”‘s morality play. While the episode sidesteps actually taking a stance, it’s a fun discussion starter.

For a while, I found myself absolutely adoring the moral meditation. Tendi (Noël Wells) took the against and relative newcomer T’Lyn who’s hilariously deadpan throughout the whole thing. She’s really taken Vulcan’s being overly logical to the furthest comedic extreme, and I adore it. Avoiding answering it by putting together a giant ball of person is maybe the most Lower Decks answer of all – taking classic sci-fi problems to hilarious extremes, such good fun!

L-R Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi and Gabrielle Ruiz as T’Lyn appearing in episode 1, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Promoted

The episode ends with some promotions. It was what gave the characters an actual story throughout the episode. The focus is on Boimler (Jack Quaid), and his nerves about the whole thing feel real. With everything that’s at stake, his promotion hung in the balance! But at the end of the day, did he even want it? He was scared to leave his friends and move on from what he’d become comfortable in. What’s more relatable than that?

It runs back to what I love the most about science fiction, which is how relatable the characters can be. In an episode full of nostalgia, having a plot of not wanting to move on from the present is the perfect counterpart. There’s a lot to miss, and moving on is hard. Promotions in Trek shows are a rarity, especially on Voyager (need I mention the plight of Harry Kim?), so putting this big change for the show against that made for something really heartfelt.

Although it’s not just Boimler, by the end of the episode, everyone is promoted except Rutherford (Eugene Cordero). Even Mariner (Tawny Newsome), much to her own shock, surprise, and disgust. However, they’re now only Lieutenant Junior Grade, which still manages to keep the show grounded in them being low-ranked, but still moving them up. I hope that this scene marks a real turning point in the show, where these characters are allowed to change and grow in ways they just couldn’t before.

L-R Jack Quaid as Boimler and Jerry O’Connell as Commander Jack Ransom appearing in episode 1, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Under Attack

Hopefully, they will be doing that, changing and growing with even new rivals and challenges. After cutting away to a funny scene involving Klingon lower deckers-,, we’re introduced to the real threat of the season. We don’t know what it is exactly, but it’s got a totally alien shape and power on a scale we’ve never seen before. It de-powers and annihilates a Bird of Prey in seconds, so we’ve got every reason to be intimidated.

I thought that one of the plot lines for the season would be Rutherford’s promotion and feeling different to his friends. I genuinely had it in my notes when it happened, but more on that later. So, for now, it looks like we’ve got this ship and the likely returns of Peanut Hamper, AGIMUS, and Badgey. Is there a chance one could be behind what’s going on? Or is this some new threat altogether? We’ll just have to keep watching to find out!

Episode 1, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Twovix

What a fine opening! I love a good hit of nostalgia, and this had it in droves. It also did a great job of reintroducing us to these characters and getting us back into the Lower Decks Season 4 world. It was refreshing and fun, but perhaps most importantly, it was funny. The characters have been promoted, and the comedy is on a whole new level. This season looks bigger than any that came before, and I cannot wait to see where this goes!


Next up, as part of this double premiere, comes the second episode, “I Have No Bones, Yet I Must Flee”. If the opener was a reintroduction to the world, this is more of a traditional Lower Decks episode (if there is such a thing). The episode’s synopsis teases Mariner trying to get demoted, Rutherford getting promoted, and Boimler making a “big move”.

This one comes to us from writer Aaron Burdette. Let’s see how this one holds up compared to the first episode and stands in the series overall.

The Menagerie

The episode’s cold opening has very little to do with the episode. It’s the same thing as the end of the last one, but instead of Klingons, it’s Romulans. Sure, it helps to establish this new threat, but it could just as easily sit at the end of the episode. It felt weird after seeing what’s the same thing two minutes earlier. That being said, the scene’s actually really funny, maybe moreso than than the Klingon one.

Similar to the last episode, this one also has much to do with museums. Except instead of ships, this one’s got people in it. It’s one of those menagerie things, the same thing that the Talosians had going on in “The Cage”. Humans getting caught in these menageries is apparently pretty common and against the law. While this is a new concept, and a strange one at that, the way Mariner plays the situation so casually makes it really funny.

While there wasn’t a heap of it, they really made the most of it being an animated series. There’s no need to hold back with the alien designs, and they certainly don’t pull any punches here. The main alien here is Moopsy, the cutest Star Trek alien I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame that it would want to drink my bones, as I want to hug it. It turns out, though, that the real monster is actually humans. I’m weirdly glad to see such horrible human characters in a hopeful futuristic show like Star Trek.

L-R Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jerry O’Connell as Commander Jack Ransom appearing in episode 2, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Insubordination

Mariner spent the episode trying to get demoted. She’s only done it a dozen times before, so why stop now? The conversation she overheard with Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) and Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) was just the level of ridiculousness it needed to be. It was an obvious callback to the Crusher and Troi workouts from The Next Generation, but it caught me off guard. The comedy in this episode was just the best.

The way this plot resolves, with Ransom standing up to Mariner until she finally accepts growing up was surprisingly emotional. After three seasons of refusing promotions and general delinquency, it was nice to see some proper development. So far, This season has excelled at shifting the status quo for these characters. Of all the character arcs this season, I’m probably mostly invested in Mariner’s.

That’s to Rutherford, who could’ve had a stronger arc if his not being promoted wasn’t solved in this episode. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it. But playing with the dynamic of one of them not being the same rank could’ve created more drama over the season. That’s probably just me, but the status quo was restored too quickly. He was working for it this episode and ended up just getting it retrospectively. It feels like it could’ve been something more.

L-R Jerry O’Connell as Commander Jack Ransom and Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner appearing in episode 2, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Quest for Quarters

The start of Boimler’s quest for a room is quite emotional. A bit like last episode, he doesn’t want to move on. The final shot of them leaving the bunk they’d been sleeping in feels like the end of an era. A bit like one of those old sit-com finales where the characters would all move away. They’ve even got the lights going off, which is just the icing on the cake. For a comedic Star Trek series, I actually became a lot more emotional than I thought I would.

Something tells me that this plotline is supposed to be funny, though. Outside of the emotional setup (which I think would’ve made a better cold open, but again that’s just me), its very funny. It just throws Boimler from one comedic moment to another. He just can’t catch a break from overwhelming light from the nacelle, being sandwiched between two holodecks, and sleeping in a Jefferies tube.

As much fun as I had with these scenes, though, I saw the payoff with the dimmer switch coming from the start. It’s a little disappointing that this episode’s plot beats are so predictable, but everything in them is funny enough that I ignore that bit. What can I say? Watching him try and sleep between his senior officers fooling around on the holodeck had me laughing out loud. That’s what I loved about this, I seldom laugh out loud, but both episodes got me.

L-R Jerry O’Connell as Commander Jack Ransom and Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner appearing in episode 2, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

I Have No Bones, Yet I Must Flee

It’s a funny bit of comic relief, with all 3 of the major plotlines being hilarious. Sure, some of it’s predictable, and I’m not sure what some scenes are doing, but this was so much fun. I especially enjoyed Moopsy and all the creatures around Narj’s menagerie. The villains in this show are always so next level crazy, in a way that just couldn’t be done as effectively in live-action. If Lower Decks Season 4 is going to be this well animated and this funny, we’re in for a real treat.

L-R Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jerry O’Connell as Commander Jack Ransom appearing in episode 2, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Conclusion

I’m not sure if this was always intended as a double premiere, but the episodes complement each other really well. They do a great job of shaking up the status quo, throwing new characters in the mix and permanently shaking up the character dynamics with their new promotions. Unlike other seasons of the series, both of these episodes were genuinely hilarious. The comedy writing has only gotten stronger as the show continues, which is a bit of a rarity.

The rest of this season has a lot to live up to. I’m especially excited to see what this mysterious threat they keep hyping up is, it’s definitely the big story of the season. What the other 8 episodes hold mostly a mystery, and it’s a show I’m so glad is back on. Of all the modern-day Trek shows, Lower Decks has become my favourite over the past few years. Very excited to see where this goes.

You can find new episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 streaming on Thursdays on Paramount+. For all news, reviews, and talking about Lower Decks, follow Trek Central for more!

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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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