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Star Trek: Lower Decks S3E08 Review: “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus”

An Auteur Loses the Plot

In the holodeck, the gang enjoys a Starfleet adventure written by Boimler. Cerritos bridge officers appear as supporting simulations, while the lower-deckers play heroes on the powerful ship Wayfarer.

  • Boimler – Captain Bucephalus Dagger
  • Mariner – First Officer Rebecca Doodle
  • Rutherford – Chief Engineer Sylvo Toussant
  • Tendi – Lieutenant Commander Meena Vesper

The Melponar sisters, Romulan triplets, steal a time machine called the Chronogami. Just as the story gets started, Ransom calls Boimler away. He returns moments later with the fun sucked out of him.

The group visits the Chronogami scientists for exposition. They meet Dr. Helena Gibson, an old flame of Captain Dagger’s, but Boimler doesn’t pursue the romance subplot. Then they go to a black-market planet to pick up the Romulans’ trail, where Boimler gets distracted by an NPC prophet ranting about a god named Ki-ty-ha who can reveal universal truth. Despite Mariner’s efforts to get him back on track, he ignores the chase sequence he’d written and makes Tendi’s Lt. Cmdr. Vesper acting captain. She is thrilled.

Tendi Takes the Lead

Tendi, Rutherford, and the sims chase the bad guys on gravbikes. Tendi does a Matrix move, crashing her bike into the Romulans’ tank to disable it. They activate the Chronogami to flee, and the good guys follow.

They jump trough time to foil the Romulans’ plots, going to an aquatic research center and an aquarium in Sydney to save an octopus ambassador. Presumably they succeed.

Tendi grows increasingly irritated with Rutherford, who won’t take the movie seriously.

Boimler’s Bummer

Beckett and Bradward bicker, ostensibly about whose holodeck adventure is better. Boimler wants to follow the prophet’s tattoo map. Mariner can’t understand why he’s going down randomly generated rabbit-holes rather than playing the story he created.

She nopes out (stepping over the letterboxing bar as she leaves the holodeck) and goes to her performance evaluation. Ransom informs her that Bradward’s transporter clone William died in his sleep from a freak gas leak. So that’s why Brad has been acting so unBoimlery!

Back in the holodeck, the friends have a heart-to-heart. Boimler says the meaninglessness of William’s death hit him hard. He has been trying to find meaning in his side quest. Mariner advises Boimler to continue on the tangent to see if it might lead to some insight. After all, it worked for her in the prequel. With the help of sidekick Knicknac, they beat up the cultists and discover the trick to reading the map to Ki-ty-ha.

Vesper’s Gambit

Rutherford hasn’t been taking the game seriously, making jokes and stopping for snacks. Tendi grows increasingly irritated. They’re in San Francisco at the founding of the Federation, where the Melponar sisters have set a bomb.

Holographic Dr. T’Ana takes a disruptor shot meant for Rutherford and dies in Tendi’s arms. Rutherford cracks wise, and she goes ballistic. His antics provoke her fear that she wouldn’t be respected as a leader. As soon as Tendi declares she wants to be a captain someday, Rutherford says she’d be a great leader. He quits dicking around.

Tendi and company rewind to the start of the movie, allow the triplets to steal the Chronogami case, then reveal that they’d swapped it with the bomb the Romulans would have been going to plant in past San Francisco. (Yeah, I think that’s right.) The Melponars’ ship explodes.

“Is this the Nexus?”

Boimler and Mariner find Ki-ty-ha — a glowing stone idle that spouts platitudes. Enraged at its banality, Boims fights his way inside, where he discovers the idol is built around the remains of the Wright Flyer from Kitty Hawk, NC. “That reveal doesn’t make any sense!” He rants and sweats until he passes out.

No longer in the holodeck story, Boimler finds himself on a farm where he meets Captain Sulu, who gives Brad some much-needed perspective. A person who focuses on the possibility of a meaningless death risks missing the joyful possibilities of life. Wisdom received, Boims wakes up in sick bay. He had passed out from dehydration and was “more like clinically dead” according to Dr. T’Ana. His pals loved his holomovie.

The final scene reveals that Section 31 (Starfleet black ops) has recruited William Boimler and faked his death.

Fake Story, Real Feelings

I can’t recall any other Star Trek show doing a holodeck episode without a real-world threat — safety protocols malfunctioning, AI programs taking over, or the bridge crew being trapped in the simulation while an alien thingie attacks their ship. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) This episode has achieved the feat of holding the audience’s interest without such a device.

We’re invested in the fantasy story because Boimler and Tendi are using it to work through their feelings. Those are stakes enough. We care because they care. The “main” plot of the movie was depicted only elliptically, a wise move by Lower Decks’ writers. They followed the emotional story and told it well, generously loaded with jokes.

Gags

  • “Ooh, Cajun? Mon cheri, I ga-ron-tee I can do the — unh. Nah, I’m just gonna play it straight.”
  • “I’m here for your research, not your heart.”
  • “They’re probably trying to buy Wallerian dutronium to power the Chronogasmic matrix!” “Yeah, Doc, you really want to avoid that many made-up words in a row.”
  • Crisis Point was just a sad little tantrum so you could murder the crew. This is an important examination of the human condition.” “Yeah, i.e., bad movie.”
  • “Oi, drop the shiny gizmo, mate.” “Stepped in the wrong place!” “It’s our turf, mate.” “Look, we don’t want any… witnesses.”
  • “I’m at least getting the pants.” … “They don’t fit. We need to find bigger punks.”
  • “Don’t touch me! Your characters don’t even have names.” … “Acolyte 2, throw her into the brig.”
  • “Stay with me, Dr. T. You’re going to be okay.” “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter.” [dies]
  • “Not every holodeck movie is going to work as therapy. Why don’t we head over to Migleemo’s office? He’ll tell us some recipes.”
  • “I should have stayed a raisin farmer. I could’ve married LeAnne.”
  • “Would you get the hell out of here? Stevens leaned against the warp core. I need this bed, now!” “Aaah, not twice in one day!”
  • “Isn’t Secion 31 supposed to be like a big secret? I mean, why would we wear special comm badges that advertise who we are?”