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Star Trek: Lower Decks S3E05 Review: “Reflections”

Rutherford & Pretherford

Poor Samanthan has been having a recurring nightmare. Tendi says he has “some long-term memory stuck in the buffer” of his cybernetic implant. Trying to help, she clears the cache, which allows an alternate personality to take over his body. Eugene Cordero has a lot of fun with the performance. This is how Pillboi from The Good Place would act if he were a hotshot engineer.

Rutherford picks a fight with the invading alter ego while he’s talking to Tendi. She knows something is wrong when the alt knocks her over, and she calls a security team. The alter ego tries to escape, but Rutherford stalls him long enough to get stunned by Shaxs. Dr. T’Ana discovers that an erased version of Rutherford from ten years ago is vying for control.

Rutherford and his alt find themselves in their subconscious. They agree to an engineering contest — a race through the Neutral Zone with custom-built ships — to determine which personality will emerge and survive, and which will disappear. Alt Rutherford builds the hot-rod Sampaguita, while Regular Rutherford recreates the Delta Flyer from Voyager.

The alter ego reckons he has the edge, but when they run into Romulans on the course, Rutherford’s pals save the day. He imagineered them along with the Flyer! The gang saves Alt Rutherford as his hot-rod is destroyed. He concedes. Just before he fades away, he shares the memory of Rutherford’s injury and surgery, where a shadowy Starfleet officer ordered the erasure of his former personality as a cover-up!

“Starfleet! Get Your Starfleet!”

Boimler and Mariner are assigned to represent Starfleet at a job fair hosted by the Federation Embassy on Tulgana IV. Ransom is still watching Mariner like a hawk. He threatens to send her to Starbase 80 — gasp! — if she doesn’t behave impeccably. She does pretty well dealing with candidates’ naïve questions, but not with the woman in the next booth.

This is Petra Aberdeen, a former member of Starfleet who quit to be her own boss and join the Independent Archaeologists Guild. Petra persistently needles Mariner, who manages to keep her cool with Boimler’s help. Then the other exhibitors join in, and the ensigns have to contend with the Collectors Guild, conspiracy nuts, snickering Ferengi, and smug outpost scientists. Finally it’s Boimler who snaps, delivering this exquisite tirade:

That was my rank pip!

Without Starfleet, none of you would exist! We don’t want to protect you from the Klingons and the Borg, we just want to study fucking quasars! But you know what? It’s the right thing to do!

Stupid fucking truthers, you hate the truth! You’re just a bunch of pathetic, gossipy weirdos!

Collecting is stupid! It doesn’t make you happy. Your ships smell like ass!

You’re always getting people trapped inside of games. Stop trapping people inside of games!

The Doctor didn’t spend seven years in the Delta Quadrant for you fucks to question his agency! He’s got rights!

Don’t doubt me! I failed the Kobayashi Maru seventeen times, motherfucker!

Bold Boimler’s rampage impresses the job-fair crowd. Mariner signs up a whole slew of eager candidates. Back on the Cerritos, Ransom throws Boims in the brig overnight for his unseemly behavior, but admits to being impressed by the impassioned defense of Starfleet. Mariner gets a call from Petra, who confesses that she was fucking with Beckett on purpose in order to create a distraction and liberate the scepter of the Ferengi Grand Nagus from the museum that had stolen it. Petra tempts Mariner with an opportunity if she ever feels stifled enough to quit.

Role Reversals

Rutherford’s reversal is literal, of course, from his normal friendly and cheerful nature to the younger self’s impatience and anger. Mariner has always chafed at Starfleet’s hierarchy, rules, and routine work. Petra puts her in the position of defending what she usually attacks. Boimler, usually the peacemaker, erupts with righteous fury after a whole day of bullying and slander of his beloved Starfleet. Tendi, ever good-intentioned and helpful, was aghast that she might have accidentally erased her best friend (I might be reaching on this one).

For Rutherford and Mariner, the crux is the trade-off of joining Starfleet: losing individual freedom but gaining knowledge and friendship. Rutherford, who has always been all-in and gung-ho, discovers that wasn’t always the case. (And there’s a conspiracy to unravel!) Mariner has recently been realizing how enriching it is to be part of a team, now that she’s had three stout pals for a while, but she’s always been a maverick at heart. Independence still calls to her.

Gags

  • “I know it’s not exciting, but it’s our assignment. What’re ya gonna do?” “Complain the whole time and make it twice as miserable?” “Ah, that is your specialty.”
  • “I keep having the same nightmare.” “Ooh, the one where you’re in a new timeline with Kirk and Spock where they have cinematic chemistry?!”
  • The photo standee of Kirk and Spock with face cutouts is in the style of The Animated Series.
  • “Trill, huh? Those spots go all the way down?”
  • “You tried to erase all the memories that made us cool, but it didn’t work. The brain is more complicated than that, and it kept my cool ass stored away. So, blaow, here I am, baby.”
  • “… and you never have to go back in time to save Earth!” “That only happened, like, four times. Five, tops.”
  • “Not the ‘Gazer!” (Boimler’s model ship is the Stargazer, Picard’s first command.)
  • “Dude, it’s a shuttle with a paintjob!” [smashes bottle on Delta Flyer]
  • Kayshon’s comment on Starbase 80: “Koltar, when he drowned in the swamp.”