'Star Trek: Lower Decks' Episode 10 Review: Thrilling blockbuster season finale pulls out all the stops
Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Lower Decks' Season 1 Episode 10 'No Small Parts'
Last week, 'Lower Decks' stepped up from it's more regular sitcom stylings to present its own vision of a big blockbuster style of storytelling — mixing humor, character development and thrilling action scenes with high stakes narration (as opposed to actual high stakes...they were on a holodeck, after all) as it parodied the franchise's biggest movies.
All of that was apparently a practice run, however, for this week's spectacular finale, which delivers even bigger stories (this time including actual high stakes) and even a big star crossover from 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'.
On the season finale of 'Lower Decks', a gossiping Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) accidentally reveals to the USS Cerritos that Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) is the daughter of Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and Starfleet admiral — making Mariner, essentially, Starfleet royalty. With her secret out, everyone on the ship finds an excuse to suck up to Mariner, which brings her no end of frustration.
All that is thrown aside, however, as a false distress signal from the Pakleds traps the Cerritos in their snares, and to get out, Mariner does what she does best — lead a half-baked plan that flouts all regulations but ultimately saves the day.
The choice of the Pakleds as the enemy for the season finale is an inspired choice — the Pakleds entire deal is that they're a joke that's not meant to be taken seriously, but who have hidden depths you should watch out for. The same could be said of 'Lower Decks' itself — while the show's been presented as a straightforward comedy, over the course of its first season it's become so much more than just that, and it deserves to be taken seriously.
The stakes for this episode could not have been higher, as the Pakleds threaten to tear the Cerritos apart, and as much of a joke as they are, they still feel like a legitimate threat. Like last episode, 'Lower Decks' manages to serve up a thrilling experience that allows room for humor without undercutting its own drama, and they've hit it out of the park two episodes in a row.
One of the best parts of the episode was undoubtedly the 'Star Trek: Titan' crossover, brining back 'The Next Generation' stars Johnathan Frakes as Captain Will Riker and Marina Sirtis as Commander Deanna Troi.
While 'Lower Decks' has namedropped its sister shows throughout the season, an actual crossover with the show brings a sense of legitimacy to 'Lower Decks' that his equal parts hilarious and inspiring to fans of the show. As 'Star Trek: Picard' proves, you can never go wrong with a little nostalgia, and you can tell that Frakes and Sirtis are having a ball reprising their characters for the show.
While D'Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) and Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) are still somewhat underserved in terms of development, the show moves forward in significant and satisfying ways when it comes to Boimler, Mariner and Freeman, changing the status quo for Season 2 in ways that feel earned.
More importantly, as Boimler takes up residence and promotion on the Titan, and Mariner and Freeman agree to start working together instead of against each other, the change they've undergone doesn't feel like something that's meant to be overturned. This episode gives us our first glimpse of Mariner in the Captain's chair, and Boimler on the bridge - and getting the characters to that point has been the show's stated purpose, all along — one that it has, thankfully, not lost sight of.
All episodes of 'Star Trek: Lower Decks' Season 1 are available to stream on CBS All Access.