Ten of the worst Star Trek episodes!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the episodes on this list.

Today I thought that we could have a little bit of (mostly) tongue-in-cheek fun at Star Trek’s expense! See, if a franchise has been running for more than five decades and has broadcast well over 800 episodes and 13 films… there’s bound to be a few crap ones in the mix. I’m not one of those Trekkies who says that “Star Trek is always flawless,” and if you’ve read some of my episode reviews here on the website, you’ll know that!

That being said, this list is intended to be taken in the spirit of light-hearted summertime fun. Even Star Trek at its worst is better than no Star Trek at all, and even in episodes and films that I generally didn’t enjoy, there are almost always fun and engaging elements. And it should go without saying that I’m a huge Star Trek fan – the franchise has too many enjoyable episodes and stories to count.

This is all just for fun!

A few caveats before we go any further: firstly, all of this is, of course, entirely subjective! I’m not trying to claim that these episodes should be considered awful by everyone, simply that I don’t personally enjoy them or find them particularly entertaining. Secondly, this article isn’t meant to be an attack on any actor, director, writer, or anyone else involved in the creative process. I’m an independent critic, so criticism is the name of the game – but it’s never okay to get personal! Finally, if you hate everything I have to say today – or I exclude an episode that you think seems patently obvious for a list like this – that’s totally okay! There should be enough maturity in the Star Trek fan community for a bit of polite disagreement and gentle poking of fun.

All that being said, if you don’t want to read critical (and occasionally downright scathing) opinions about Star Trek, now’s your last chance to nope out!

So without any further ado, let’s jump into the list – which is in no particular order!

Episode #1:
Shades of Gray
The Next Generation Season 2

Riker in sickbay.

A couple of years ago I jokingly said that Shades of Gray was the best, most underrated episode of The Next Generation – but that was just an April Fool’s Day gag here on the website! Star Trek’s first (and thankfully only) clip show is a bit of a mess, and a disappointing way to end The Next Generation’s otherwise strong second season. It was also the final appearance of Dr Pulaski – who didn’t get any kind of send-off before being dumped from the series.

Television production has changed a lot over the past thirty-five years, but in 1989, The Next Generation was obligated to produce 22 episodes on a fixed budget. A couple of episodes earlier in the season had been more expensive and taken longer to produce than expected – most notably Q Who, which introduced the Borg for the first time – so cuts had to be made. A clip show was a relatively inexpensive way to produce an episode, so Shades of Gray was born. It has to be one of the worst pieces of television in the entire franchise – and a comparatively weak premise/frame narrative couldn’t hold it together. Luckily, clip shows are now a thing of the past – so we’re not going to see another Star Trek episode like this!

Episode #2:
The Red Angel
Discovery Season 2

Michael Burnham.

For me, The Red Angel was a total misfire toward the end of Discovery’s second season. Season 2 had been an improvement on Season 1 – thanks in no small part to the inclusions of Captain Pike and Spock – but The Red Angel knocks it down a rung or two. In short, it suffers from two major problems: the mischaracterisation of Georgiou, who began behaving like her Prime Timeline counterpart out of the blue, and its convoluted time travel story.

Time travel is very difficult to get right in fiction, and The Red Angel presents one of the worst and most irritating time travel tropes: the paradox. It made no sense for the rest of the crew to let Burnham know what their plan was, as they were operating under the assumption that the titular Red Angel was Burnham from the future. It was just a disappointment all around – albeit one that led to better things in the remaining part of the season.

Episode #3:
These Are The Voyages…
Enterprise Season 4

Wait, I thought this was Enterprise

Enterprise’s finale, regrettably, has to be one of the weakest endings to a series in the franchise. And I think it’s this episode’s status as a finale that compounds the disappointment – though it wouldn’t have been a great offering on its own merit, admittedly. To make matters worse, These Are The Voyages was conceived as an attempt to really celebrate all things Star Trek and to bring together two different, disconnected parts of the franchise. It’s such a shame that it wasn’t a stronger story.

By 2004, Enterprise’s cancellation was clearly imminent. And to its credit, These Are The Voyages jumps forward in time to wrap up Enterprise’s story of Captain Archer and the crew and the role they played in the creation of the United Federation of Planets. But the decision to use a frame narrative set during The Next Generation, reducing all of Enterprise’s main stars to holograms, wasn’t great for a series finale. There were also issues with the visual presentation of The Next Generation sequences – issues that, for the most part, were unavoidable. Had the same concept been applied to a mid-season episode, it might’ve worked better.

Episode #4:
Lower Decks Season 1

The problematic moment.

My criticism of Envoys largely focuses on one sequence – but it’s a sequence so bad and so antithetical to everything that Star Trek stands for that I feel it warrants a place on this list. Where Lower Decks has succeeded is in finding ways to make the wacky goings-on in Starfleet comical. Where it failed, in my view, was in its early attempts to set up Ensign Mariner as Star Trek’s answer to Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez – something that’s on full display in the opening sequence of Envoys.

In this sequence, Mariner captures (or kidnaps) a sentient energy-based life form because she thinks it’ll be funny, and then forces the creature to grant her a wish. I know that this is a comedy series and the sequence is meant to be a gag – partly, at least, at Mariner’s expense. But I can’t forgive how selfish and inherently un-Starfleet she acts. Lower Decks has told some incredible stories across its first three seasons, but this sequence at the beginning of Envoys is not among them.

Episode #5:
Move Along Home
Deep Space Nine Season 1

The crew in Move Along Home.

I adore Deep Space Nine on the whole… but Move Along Home might just be its worst individual episode. The premise is utterly ridiculous, as Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Dr Bashir are transported into an alien board game. Star Trek has had lots of fun with similarly wacky story concepts over the years, but Move Along Home is poorly executed, and the rug-pull at the end – that there was never any real danger – just adds to the disappointment.

The set design used for parts of Move Along Home is pretty poor, leading to an underwhelming visual presentation. Star Trek in the ’90s often reused sets and props to save money, but in Move Along Home it just doesn’t feel as if much effort was put into the episode’s visual style. There’s a reason why the alien race featured in this episode, the Wadi, haven’t been revisited!

Episode #6:
Picard Season 2

One of the titular monsters.

We could’ve made up nine-tenths of this list with Picard Season 2 episodes, but if I had to pick one out of that thoroughly disappointing season that encapsulates its issues, it would have to be Monsters. This navel-gazing story abandoned most of the season’s semi-interesting plotlines, including Q, Picard’s ancestor Renée, and the Borg in order to stage a ridiculous coma-dream populated by the most uninspired and amateurish B-movie monsters that I’ve seen in the franchise this side of The Original Series.

Moreover, Monsters is a waste of time. It fails to move the story along at a reasonable pace, and that led to serious problems in the remaining part of the season. Despite learning a theoretically interesting fact about Jean-Luc Picard’s early life, the revelation isn’t as big as the story wishes it to be – and it does nothing to reframe Picard’s characterisation, personality, or outlook on life, nor show them in a new light.

Episode #7:
Infinite Regress
Voyager Season 5

Seven of Nine.

Seven of Nine was a fascinating addition to Voyager when she joined the crew – though I confess that I was sad at the time to lose Kes. But as I’ve said before here on the website, I never felt that the writers of Voyager did justice to Seven of Nine, and Infinite Regress is just one example among many of samey, repetitive, and just plain boring over-uses of this character.

Seven’s appearance in Infinite Regress is a riff on the same idea used in Season 4’s The Raven, to such an extent that I sometimes get the two stories muddled up. It was one of the first solid indications that Seven’s original premise was played out, and things only went downhill from here. Seven was thrust into the spotlight often across the back half of Voyager’s run – and that wasn’t always to the show’s benefit. There are some decent stories in the mix, sure, but there are also more than a few repetitive and uninspired ones. It wasn’t until Seven re-emerged in Picard that she was given the chance to develop and grow as a character – and I can’t tell you how cathartic that process has been to see!

Episode #8:
Spock’s Brain
The Original Series Season 3

Spock and Dr McCoy.

No list of bad Star Trek episodes would be complete without Spock’s Brain! Widely considered to be the worst that The Original Series has to offer, this ridiculous story was a pretty poor start to the show’s third and final season. The Original Series Season 3 was greenlit after a letter-writing campaign from fans, but television network NBC only agreed to renew the show in exchange for cuts to its budget. Episodes like Spock’s Brain were the result of trying to keep costs down.

There’s a certain charm to Spock’s Brain in some ways… but in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way rather than for anything the story does on its own merit! A combination of the utterly bonkers premise and some less-than-stellar special effects make this a no-brainer for this list – pun very much intended!

Episode #9:
Code of Honor
The Next Generation Season 1

A group of spectators on Ligon II.

Code of Honor is incredibly outdated and racist in its depiction of Africans – and it boggles my mind that it was ever made, let alone that it was made for The Next Generation as late as 1987! Surely someone must’ve realised, while the episode was in production, that a story about a black planetary leader (with a noticeable accent) kidnapping a white female crew member would be problematic.

Unlike other episodes on this list, it’s hard to find any redeeming features in Code of Honor, and it’s one that I have to say I can’t enjoy in any way. It was a mistake to make it and to bring it to screen – but it serves as a reminder that Star Trek, despite its lofty ambitions and attempts to depict a better, more enlightened future, can still get it wrong.

Episode #10:
Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1
Picard Season 1

Sutra, Soji’s “evil twin.”

After the preceding eight episodes had slowly built up an intriguing mystery, Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1 derailed Picard’s first season. The episode tried to dump whole new factions, characters, and storylines into the season but didn’t have anywhere near enough time to do justice to any of them. The truly disappointing thing isn’t that these ideas were bad, but that the poorly-paced episode and season ran out of road, making the entire season feel worse in retrospect.

Some scenes in Et in Arcadia Ego are so short that they’re barely even clips, with characters seeming to speak to no one. Special effects weren’t great, either, with a copy-and-paste Romulan fleet comprised of identical starships. And that gold makeup used for the Coppelius synths is just awful. Despite a solid performance across the rest of the season as Soji, Isa Briones was unconvincing as the rogue synth leader Sutra, too. All in all, a misfire – and one that, sadly, damages the integrity of the entire ten-episode story.

So that’s it!

The USS Discovery.

I hope your favourite episode wasn’t on the list! But if it was, please try to keep in mind that we don’t all like the same things, and even as Trekkies there are going to be disagreements about which stories work and which don’t within the Star Trek franchise. This was meant to be a bit of fun, not something to be taken too seriously or to get worked up over!

Although there are a handful of Star Trek episodes that I generally don’t enjoy, every series, and practically every season of every series, has wonderful moments of action, adventure, sci-fi, and more. I’m a huge Star Trek fan – even if I don’t enjoy everything that the franchise has put out over the last fifty-six years!

Live long and prosper!

You’ll note that Prodigy and Strange New Worlds didn’t feature on the list above – and that’s because the first seasons of both shows were pretty darn good. I couldn’t pick a single episode from either show that I could genuinely say I disliked, and I think that’s testament to the quality of modern Star Trek. Picard’s third season was good, too, and though Discovery has made mistakes, Season 4 was a vast improvement and ended in spectacular fashion. So there are plenty of reasons to be positive as we look ahead to upcoming productions!

So I hope you enjoyed this look at a few of Star Trek’s less-than-great stories. I actually had fun revisiting some of these episodes, several of which I hadn’t watched in years. Although the stories themselves aren’t great, it’s still nice to go back and watch them sometimes!

The Star Trek franchise – including all series, films, and episodes mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Lower Decks review – Season 1, Episode 2: Envoys

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks. There may also be spoilers for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

If you stopped by last week, you might’ve felt that I was a little hard on Lower Decks’ premiere. I certainly thought so on re-reading what I wrote last time, so just for the sake of clarity, although not all of the jokes landed and despite my misgivings about Ensign Mariner, I did enjoy Second Contact. This new series is all at once very different from past iterations of Star Trek, yet also familiar. That familiarity comes from the show’s creators, writers, and producers being big Trekkies who put a lot of love into what they’ve made. Discovery could feel, on occasion, that it was made by a team of people who weren’t necessarily all that familiar with Star Trek, but there’s no way the same accusation could be made against Lower Decks.

If I had been in charge of making the series and broadcasting it, one change I’d have made would’ve been to put Envoys first. The opening scene from Second Contact definitely made a good introduction, so perhaps I’d have rejigged the first two episodes so that scene was still the first scene of the series, but the episode that followed had the plot of Envoys, which is a stronger story and one which gave all four main characters more to do.

Three of the four main characters in Envoys.

I’m sure you’re getting tired of me saying this by now, but Lower Decks still has no international release planned. This continues to be a source of profound disappointment, and it’s something which will unfortunately harm the series going forward. While I think it’s fair to say that Lower Decks has hardly taken the world by storm, the moderate level of hype and buzz that it did manage to generate has been tarnished by the fact that a huge portion of its potential audience is missing out and unable to participate. Because Lower Decks is such a unique offering in the Star Trek lineup, and with the general popularity of animated comedy backing it up, it’s a show which should have the potential to bring in legions of new fans. The decision to broadcast it in North America only, with no plans for an international release, damages this. It means potential new fans miss out on the show when it’s new, killing a large portion of the hype, and it means that anyone who is very interested to watch will simply pirate the show, as doing so is incredibly easy.

Not me, though. Heavens no. As you’ll recall from last week, I’ve temporarily moved to my second home in the USA so I can watch the show. I really am enjoying my time in the beautiful state of Maine. The desert, the cacti, the dry heat… it’s perfect! And I’m only a half hour’s drive from the neighbouring state of Alabama, where I can sit on the beach and gaze out over the Pacific ocean. Bliss.

This is definitely my house. And it’s totally in the USA. Which is where I absolutely am.

So let’s jump into Envoys, shall we? By the way: how do you pronounce it? Is it “ON-voys”? Or “EN-voys”? I’ve heard it said both ways, and I don’t think either is strictly right or wrong, it’s just a matter of dialect. But we’re off topic already. The opening scene before the title sequence was the weakest in Envoys, and reinforced everything I’d been thinking about Ensign Mariner from last time. In fact, this scene was her at her arrogant and most un-Starfleet worst as she tries to kidnap a sentient energy-lifeform and forces it to grant her a wish.

There’s so much wrong here that I felt like switching off the episode and saying, “well I guess Lower Decks just isn’t my thing.” But let’s break it down – Starfleet is all about seeking out new life, learning about them, and coexisting in a peaceful, friendly manner. Mariner kidnapped a sentient lifeform for… what? Because it would be funny? And she let it go only when it could provide her a minor material benefit at great cost to itself. As I said last week, it feels like Lower Decks wants to have its own Rick Sanchez (from Rick & Morty) – an “I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-anything-except-myself” mega-genius – but that kind of character doesn’t work in a Starfleet setting, and definitely not as an ensign.

Ensign Mariner captures the energy lifeform.

After re-reading my criticisms from last time I wondered if I’d been unfair on Mariner, but this scene riled me up and convinced me that I hadn’t been. When I wrote earlier that if I’d been in charge I’d have reworked the first two episodes, I’d also have cut this scene entirely. For me, Mariner is not a good source of humour when she behaves selfishly and in an un-Starfleet manner. If the show was not set on a Federation starship, with Mariner taking on a Chris Rios-type role (the captain of La Sirena in Star Trek: Picard) maybe it would work better. While she did improve significantly as we got further into the story, she remains the show’s weak link for me, and this scene at the beginning of the story was Mariner at her absolute worst.

The title sequence was up next, and I’m really enjoying the music. Lower Decks’ theme is easily one of my favourite Star Trek themes now, and certainly the best one since the 1990s. I didn’t mention this last week, but at one point in the title sequence, the USS Ceritos stumbles on a battle between Romulan vessels and Borg cubes – given that we know the Romulans captured the Artifact (a derelict Borg cube) prior to the events of Star Trek: Picard, I wonder if this is meant to depict that event. Even if not, it was a cute little wink to fans of Picard simply by putting Borg and Romulans together.

The USS Cerritos arrives at the Borg-Romulan battle.

After the titles, Boimler is boasting to Tendi and Mariner about his new assignment – he’s to pilot a shuttle and escort a high-ranking Klingon general to peace negotiations. This scene went a long way to making up for Mariner’s earlier conduct, as we see her more relaxed while presumably off-duty. She doesn’t really do anything too offensive here, which by her standards is a win. I liked Boimler practising his Klingon pronunciation; it was suitably silly and funny!

Ensign Rutherford – who we didn’t get to spend much time with last week – crawls out of a jeffries tube where he’s been working to realign the EPS conduits. He and Tendi share a cute moment as she asks him if they can get together to watch a pulsar. The show is clearly setting the two of them up as a pair alongside Boimler and Mariner, though whether they’ll ever end up as anything more than platonic is unclear. In order to get enough time off work to watch the pulsar with Tendi, Rutherford decides to transfer out of engineering, which is the second plot of the episode along with the shuttle mission.

Ensigns Tendi and Rutherford as the latter exits the jeffries tube.

Rutherford provides an even stronger contrast to Mariner than Boimler does. Where Boimler is neurotic, anxious, and horribly concerned with making a good impression, Rutherford just gets on with his job and seems to revel in the menial tasks he undertakes as an engineer. Boimler doesn’t seem to enjoy being a Starfleet officer, despite being well-read, but Rutherford has taken to his role naturally and with a positive attitude. Of the four main characters, only Rutherford truly feels like someone who could’ve been a Starfleet officer in a past Star Trek series.

In the shuttlebay, Boimler has arrived to get ready for his mission escorting the Klingon general. And wouldn’t you know it, Mariner has managed to “pull a few strings” and get herself assigned to the mission with him. At first it seemed as though she’d used her connection to the captain (if you missed it last time, Captain Freeman is her mother), but later it’s revealed that she knew the Klingon general, so that may have been how she was able to land the role.

Boimler is angry to see Mariner messing up his shuttle.

In typical Mariner fashion, she’s messed up the shuttle. Boots on the control panel, she’s eating her lunch and has spilled it. Once again I’m getting a distinct Rick & Morty vibe – Mariner seems to treat the shuttle the way Rick Sanchez treats his flying car/spacecraft, and the comparable visuals of empty food containers and general mess wasn’t lost on me.

For once, though, we got to see a genuine moment of excitement from Mariner, who is fascinated by the shuttle’s blast shield. She even sang a little song (which was very catchy and got stuck in my head) about it, which was sweet. Perhaps there may be an appreciation for some of what Starfleet has to offer underneath the uncaring exterior after all? This moment had been briefly seen in the trailer, and I liked it there as well.

The blast shield song.

I didn’t really like that Mariner had managed to not only elbow her way onto Boimler’s mission, but that she’d been placed in charge with him relegated to the role of co-pilot. While Mariner herself may act in an un-Starfleet manner, the rest of the crew shouldn’t, and this change of role for Boimler – who didn’t even know until he reached the shuttle – seems very unprofessional.

I know that I need to try to distance myself from what I already know about Starfleet when watching Lower Decks and not take it so seriously. And I am making a genuine attempt to do so, but as I wrote last time, the franchise has fifty years of history and lore that has been built up, and speaking personally, I have over a quarter of a century as a Trekkie under my belt. Discarding parts of that is hard, and trying to see Lower Decks as an animated comedy first and a Star Trek project second isn’t always easy.

Boimler learns he’s been assigned the co-pilot’s role.

Up next, Rutherford is in main engineering and is working up the courage to follow through with what he promised Tendi and ask for reassignment. I liked this scene, as Rutherford clearly has the respect of the chief engineer and his crewmates. Though it seemed as if the chief engineer may have been angry, everyone was thrilled for Rutherford as he moved on.

It was great to see the Cerritos’ engineering deck in more detail too. The warp core strikes me as some combination of those seen in The Motion Picture, The Next Generation and Voyager, and the whole of main engineering has a distinct Star Trek aesthetic that couldn’t possibly be from any other franchise. I liked the Enterprise-D-style main engineering table; we’d often see Geordi La Forge, Data, and others standing there in The Next Generation. There’s no question that, when it comes to the design of the ship, Lower Decks is doing a great job of staying consistent with what’s come before.

Rutherford with the engineering crew in main engineering.

Up next came the shuttle mission. Mariner is reunited with her Klingon friend, someone she met on a past assignment. Boimler confirms for the audience that he and Mariner are roughly the same age, something that I wasn’t sure of given her past history of promotions, demotions, and reassignments. While Boimler pilots the shuttle, Mariner and the Klingon get drunk on bloodwine.

Compared to the Klingons seen in Discovery, whose aesthetic had been very different to what we’d seen before, the Klingon general here was a return to form. Sporting an eyepatch similar to General Chang’s from The Undiscovered Country, he looked exactly like I’d have expected an animated Klingon from The Next Generation era to. The typical Klingon forehead, the long flowing hair, the beard with the distinctive moustache-gap, and of course the armour and batleth were all present, and I liked the way this character looked.

The Klingon general.

Despite being ordered to transport the general to a Federation outpost on what seems to be a non-aligned planet, the Klingon – backed up by a drunk Mariner – insists on being taken to a Klingon district so he can get gagh. Gagh is a Klingon food well-known to Trekkies, as it’s appeared numerous times in the Star Trek franchise. Unable to resist their demands, Boimler lands the shuttle in the Klingon district.

We’ve already spent too long focusing on Mariner and her un-Starfleet conduct, so I’ll skip over that to avoid this review being too repetitive. After landing the shuttle, Mariner and Boimler disembark, and it’s promptly commandeered by the drunk Klingon, who shakily flies it away, stranding Mariner and Boimler who now need to recover the shuttle and the wayward Klingon.

The shuttle is stolen.

This sets up what would be the main focus of the episode’s story – Mariner and Boimler working together on the planet. While I like this story and I felt it finally gave Mariner a few brief moments of actually seeming like a nice character for a change, it was very similar to what we got last week. When I mentioned at the beginning that Envoys would have made a better premiere, this is what I mean. The whole concept of a by-the-book officer and a rebellious officer working together, using their differences to complete an assignment that’s gone wrong works remarkably well, and this could have been a great way to set up the series. Its thunder feels at least a little stolen by being very similar to the Mariner and Boimler story from last week, though.

The two can have a fun dynamic when they’re alone and when Mariner isn’t being too unkind. If we use our Rick & Morty comparison, Boimler is definitely the Morty to Mariner’s Rick, and the way she treats him will clearly be very funny to people who like that kind of humour. Those moments in Rick & Morty are seldom my favourite, though, and as mentioned I don’t think it translates well to Star Trek.

Rick and Morty… oops, I mean Boimler and Mariner.

While they’re left to explore the settlement, which features a variety of Klingons and other aliens, back aboard the Cerritos Rutherford has transferred to the command division. He’s been taken under the wing of the ship’s first officer, Commander Ransom, and on the holodeck Rutherford is put through his paces. This sequence left me in stitches and was perhaps the best in the episode in terms of pure comedy, as poor Rutherford simply can’t get the hang of starship command!

In the first training simulation, Rutherford gets the ship destroyed. Ransom then gives him a simpler assignment – the ship is directly in the path of a small asteroid. This should be super easy to avoid, but Rutherford again messes up and gets the ship’s school and kindergarten destroyed. If you haven’t seen it you’ll just have to watch it, because the way the scene unfolds is absolutely hilarious, and everything from the way the holo-characters deliver their lines to Rutherford and Ransom’s reactions to his mistakes were just pitch-perfect.

Rutherford gets a turn in the (simulated) captain’s chair.

On the planet’s surface, Mariner and Boimler are still on the tail of the Klingon general. While Mariner stops to go to the bathroom, Boimler gets hit on by an attractive woman. Of course it turns out to be a creepy alien who wanted to use Boimler to incubate her eggs, and Mariner is able to save the day. Were she not such an insufferable character by this point, I’d have been more impressed with her knowledge of different kinds of alien races and her “street smarts” – for want of a better term.

Rutherford’s next assignment is in sickbay, where he gets to work alongside Tendi for a brief moment. The ship’s Catian doctor, Dr T’Ana, is impressed with his anatomical work – he compares it to working on a starship. She then gives him a relatively simple task, to keep a wounded officer calm. But of course he manages to mess this up, causing the man to panic and make things worse! This was another very funny scene, and Rutherford has provided much of the episode’s comedy so far.

Dr T’Ana, Rutherford, and Tendi with a patient in sickbay.

After being kicked out of sickbay by the grouchy Dr T’Ana, Rutherford tries his hand at security. He’s thrown into a simulated battle against a number of Borg drones, and is able to defeat them all thanks to his cybernetic implant. This greatly impresses the security chief, the Bajoran Lieutenant Shaxs. This scene wasn’t as funny as the others, but Rutherford’s genial nature contrasted with Shaxs’ description of him as a natural born killer did win a chuckle.

Boimler and Mariner have reached an Andorian settlement or district back on the planet’s surface, and are getting closer to locating the Klingon and shuttle. During their time here, we get to see a slightly different side to Mariner, which I think has started to show her in a better light. It’s not that she doesn’t care about anything, just that she’s very selfish, arrogant, and puts herself first. Which is an improvement. I guess.

Boimler and Mariner in the Andorian settlement.

Tendi is the character who got the short straw this week, I think. Rutherford got his very funny B-story about trying out the various departments, and Mariner and Boimler got their mission to the planet, but Tendi really hasn’t had much to do at all, besides being excited to see the pulsar. Though after she spent last week basically just saying “wow” to everything, even that was an improvement. However, I’d like to see her have a proper story of her own – and I’m sure she will in an upcoming episode.

In the Andorian settlement, Boimler starts a bar fight by being too quick to step in with his phaser when he sees a group of Andorians hassling someone. It turns out that they were trying to stop a changeling – presumably not a Founder, as other shapeshifters exist – and upsets them. Mariner steps in and saves the day, leaving Boimler dejected at how bad his mission is going.

Boimler with his phaser.

This moment was perhaps the first time in the series that the “book smart vs. street smarts” dynamic between Boimler and Mariner genuinely seemed to work. Boilmer thought he was doing the right thing, upholding Starfleet values. But he learned a valuable lesson – that he can’t learn everything there is to know about being a good officer from textbooks. Mariner’s experience proved invaluable to completing this part of his assignment (even though her lack of care put him in the position to begin with).

We also get to see Mariner properly take on the role of mentor that she promised at the end of Second Contact, trying to provide some degree of comfort and reassurance to Boimler when he’s at his lowest ebb. And I liked that – I wish we’d seen this side of her character earlier, as she’s far nicer and more enjoyable to watch when she’s not being rude or unkind for the sake of it. Boilmer had thrown down his combadge in a threat to quit Starfleet, but Mariner definitely stepped up to help him here.

Boimler and Mariner after the bar fight.

Lieutenant Shaxs was thrilled with Rutherford’s performance as a security trainee and inaugurates him into the “bears” – the nickname for the Cerritos’ security team. However, in a cute and funny moment, Rutherford sees his beloved jeffries tube and declines the offer. The security chief, who seemed like he would’ve been angry, instead compliments Rutherford on his decision to be true to himself, and Rutherford returns to engineering.

I enjoyed Rutherford’s story this time. He’s a fun character who loves his job, but was also willing to go above and beyond for his friend just so they could spend more time hanging out. Where Tendi seems to perhaps have some kind of feelings for him, I got the sense that Rutherford’s interest in her is – at least at this stage – platonic. But I could be wrong; the show could easily make them a couple at some stage.

Rutherford’s beloved jeffries tube.

Boimler and Mariner finally have a lead on the Klingon general and the missing shuttle, and are on their way. There should be just enough time to sort everything out before the Klingon is missed at his scheduled peace conference. They’re stopped by a Ferengi en route, and he seems to be trying to mug them.

In what was a clear setup, Mariner pretends to naïvely go along with his demands, allowing Boimler to step in and “save” her from the devious Ferengi. I think – and I could be wrong – that this is the first Ferengi we’ve seen in Star Trek since their sole appearance in Enterprise in the early 2000s. There was a Ferengi emblem glimpsed briefly in Star Trek: Picard, but I think this is the first Ferengi character to make a proper appearance since then. Given that we got to know a lot about them from their appearances in Deep Space Nine in particular, it was nice to see a Ferengi back.

The Ferengi.

After “escaping” from the Ferengi, Boimler and Mariner find the Klingon general passed out in the shuttle – which had accrued several parking tickets in what felt like an homage to The Simpsons episode where Homer’s car gets lots of tickets in New York! I liked that silly little visual gag; it was very funny even if it wasn’t a reference to The Simpsons.

Boimler got a much-needed win from their encounter with the Ferengi – though he’s a very sore winner, which is not an attractive character trait – and there was just enough time to deliver the general to his peace conference and get the shuttle back to the ship. Despite the mission going off the rails, the pair managed to salvage things right at the end!

The shuttle has been ticketed!

Back aboard the Cerritos, Boimler brags about his “win” against the Ferengi at Mariner’s expense, which I didn’t really like. It was clear, of course, that she was just going along with it to boost his confidence; moments later, after leaving the bar, she speaks to the Ferengi confirming that the two of them are friends and the whole thing was a setup. What I liked about it was that it was a very “Mariner” way to help out. She stayed true to her character, but was able to use her skills to help Boimler for a change.

The episode ends with Tendi and Rutherford in the jeffries tube. Tendi got her wish of watching the pulsar with Rutherford – albeit on a padd screen – and Rutherford got his wish of being back in the engineering department, crawling through the tubes. All in all, a happy ending.

Tendi and Rutherford in the jeffries tube.

So that was Envoys. An episode which started very weakly ended up being better than last week’s offering. We got to see some heart underneath Mariner’s carefree exterior, which will be important if she’s to become a protagonist worth rooting for. I felt that her conduct in the opening scene was perhaps the low point out of her two appearances so far, but the way she helped out Boimler when they were together on the planet went a long way to making up for it.

The breakout star of Envoys for me, though, was Rutherford. He has such a positive attitude to his work and to his friends, and he just seems like an all-round nice guy. Not to mention that his story provided much of the humour in the episode – or at least, much of the humour that worked best for me. Lower Decks still has a very distinct style and sense of humour that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I’d encourage anyone disappointed or put off by last week’s offering to give it a second chance.

Mariner and her Klingon friend annoy Boimler.

I don’t think there’s much more to say. Lower Decks remains a very interesting project in the Star Trek franchise, and I’m curious to see how well it’s performing with viewers. So far I haven’t heard anything about that. I always want Star Trek projects to be successful, and of all of the projects in recent years, Lower Decks has the most potential to bring in a new and different kind of fan. Hopefully that’s starting to happen, because the greater success the franchise enjoys, the more Star Trek we’ll get to see in future.

After feeling a little trepidation in the run-up to this week’s episode after having mixed feelings last time, I can now say with confidence that I’m genuinely looking forward to next week. Roll on episode 3: Temporal Edict!

Star Trek: Lower Decks is available to stream now on CBS All Access if you’re fortunate enough to live in the United States. The Star Trek franchise – including Star Trek: Lower Decks – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.