Star Trek Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 2 Recap and Review

Pictured (L-R): Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screen Grab CBS 2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Pictured (L-R): Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screen Grab CBS 2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Star Trek Lower Decks proves its smart-alecky smittenness for the franchise.

The second episode in the second season of Lower Decks gives Star Trek fans only our second on-screen helping of the Tamarians. These aliens who speak only in metaphors and allusions first appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok.” Now, we’re finally seeing some of that encounter’s aftermath.

Lieutenant Kayshon (voiced by Carl Tart) is the first Tamarian in Starfleet and the U.S.S. Cerritos’ new security officer. He’s struggling to learn Federation Standard, and resorts to his race’s rich and evocative but frustratingly oblique figures of speech the way you or I would say “um” when trying to remember a word in a foreign language. (This gag’s a great way to poke gentle fun at the logical inconsistency on which “Darmok” depended, dismissed in that episode with Counselor Troi’s unanswered wondering about why the universal translator wasn’t any help.)

Kayshon leads an away team consisting of Mariner, Tendi, Rutherford, and hunky crewmate Jet Manhaver (Marcus Henderson, reprising the role from season one) aboard a Collector’s Guild ship, where they are to assist Guild chairman Siggi (Eugene Cordero, pulling double voice duty this week) in cataloguing a dead collector’s artifacts—a callback to the TNG episode “The Most Toys.”

Unfortunately, when Siggi tries to steal Kahless’ “fornication helmet” (a nod to TNG’s teasing glimpses into Klingon sex life), the ship’s automated defense systems kick in, endangering our heroes—and transforming Kayshon into a hand puppet. (Hey, stranger things have happened in Star Trek. At least he didn’t devolve into an alien salamander!)

Meanwhile, aboard the U.S.S. Titan, Boimler is still struggling to cope with a life of non-stop, fast-paced peril. An undercover op in a Pakled mining camp goes sour, leaving Boimler trapped in the Pakleds’ surprisingly dangerous hands. Last-minute transporter heroics save him, as they are wont to do, but create a duplicate of him, a la Thomas Riker in TNG’s “Second Chances.”

New Boimler stays aboard the Titan, but Captain Riker sends the original back to the Cerritos, where his friends welcome him back—somewhat, it seems, to Manhaver’s dissatisfaction—and Kayshon, who is now a real live Tamarian boy again, fruitlessly uses his metaphors as pick-up lines.

Star Trek fans have infinitely diverse treasures to cherish

Since its very first episode, Lower Decks has been an absolute delight for Easter egg hunters. This episode, being set aboard a collector’s ship, gives the animators abundant opportunities to stuff frame after frame full of visual callbacks to previous Star Trek productions.

Beyond the Excalbian bones that figure prominently in the episode’s resoltuion, I also spotted a crate of wine from Chateau Picard, a headset from TNG’s “The Game,” a Vulcan lirpa, the broken Starfleet delta medallion from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and a woman’s red duty uniform from TOS. And that was just my first viewing! I’m certain more Trek treasures await me on future viewings.

I’m also suspicious, though it’s not explicitly stated, the gigantic skeleton in a blue TOS tunic that crashes down on Siggi belonged to gigantic Spock from “The Infinite Vulcan,” the episode Walter Koenig wrote for Star Trek’s first animated series.

Gang, Lower Decks isn’t playing around with its knowledge of and love for the franchise’s lore!

And this smart-aleck but sincerely awestruck affection for Star Trek shines through in the episode’s conclusion, too. When Boimler returns to the Cerritos, Mariner asks him what serving on the Titan was like. Boimler tells her:

"Eh, it was a bunch of complex characters thrown into heavily serialized battles which always ended in mind-blowing twists and made me question the basic tenets of my reality. But who cares about that? Tell me about this puppet ray! That’s the kind of stuff I live for!"

Boimler is doubtlessly speaking for Star Trek fans who don’t care as much for Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery, or perhaps even the latter seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as they do for the franchise’s more episodic “planet of the week” series.

And that’s all right! Boimler doesn’t trash the Titan. We don’t see him sniping about it in a personal log or posting nasty comments about the ship and its crew across the Federation’s news nets. He simply says it’s not for him.

With this week’s episode, Lower Decks once again proves diversity (dare we say “infinite diversity?”) is one of Star Trek’s greatest strengths. Not every fan has to like all of it, and each fan isn’t obligated to like only one aspect of it.

Not unlike the Collectors’ Guild—though hopefully without its penchant for putting others at risk by putting themselves at the center of everything!—we’re free to pick and choose the Trek treasures we like and build a “menagerie” of characters, vessels, and adventures that brings us joy.

I know “Kayshon, His Eyes Open” will fill a well-earned niche in my personal collection of Star Trek favorites for a long time to come!

dark. Next. “Strange Energies” kick off Lower Decks season 2