Can Star Trek Lower Decks “dooperlicate” the appeal of tribbles?
This week, Star Trek Lower Decks ditches the teaser scene before the opening credits. It’s an implicit promise Season 2, Episode 5, “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” is going to pack as much pandemonium into its 24 minutes as possible. The episode doesn’t disappoint!
The Cerritos is ferrying a Doopler ambassador to Starbase 25. Dooplers duplicate—or “dooplercate”—themselves when feeling anxious. The Cerritos crew has been “walking on eggshells” all week to keep the ambassador from exponentially multiplying, but when he overhears Captain Freeman complaining about “Doopler duty,” he’s soon quite literally beside himself. Before long, Dooplers are overrunning the ship so fast they put tribbles to shame.
Meanwhile, Mariner and Boimler are scheming to crash Starbase 25’s legendary command party. While looking for it, they’re accosted by a Mizarian smuggler named Malvus, who claims Mariner long ago abandoned him on Ceti Alpha Four—”which is much worse than Ceti Alpha Five!” Malvus agrees to tell Boimler and Mariner where the party is if they’ll help him move his merchandise (a stash of “limited edition Commander Data bubble bath” bottles, though “some might be Lores”).
After a wild ground vehicle chase through the starbase, Mariner and Boimler end up soiled, soaking wet, and sans Malvus’s merch. When they find the party (it was in Ballroom Alpha all along), Boimler poses as his transporter duplicate (still serving aboard the prestigous Titan) to get in, but the alien bouncer keeps Mariner out. Angrily telling Boimler to go without her because he “loves abandoning” her, Boimler realizes she’s still angry about how he left for the Titan at season one’s close. Offended, Boimler does go to the party. But all alone, he finds it not as fun as he’d hoped, nonstop sliders notwithstanding.
He leaves the party and finds Mariner drinking alone in the starbase bar. They reconcile and shortly discover that, for generations, Starfleet officers bounced from the party have gone to the bar. Even Kirk and Spock carved their names in its countertop.
Aboard the Cerritos, Freeman discovers berating the overly socially sensitive Dooplers causes them to consolidate. She and her crew try to go to the party. Denied entrance, Freeman makes a passionate defense of her ship and her people. They meet up with Mariner and Boimler at the bar—after beaming the Doopler ambassador into Ballroom Alpha, where he immediately starts dooperlicating again.
“An Embarrassment of Dooplers” is a celebration of friendship
As a none-too-subtle tribute to the tribbles, the Dooplers are a wonderful invention. I especially liked the scene in the first act when, the ambassador having dropped his dinner fork on the floor, Ransom immediately drops his own to spare the ambassador shame. It’s a small touch, and overshadowed by the ultimate need to “give the Dooplers a piece of your mind,” but it’s so Starfleet.
The madcap, Mario Kart-worthy chase through Starbase 25 is the sequence that steals the show, though. The Star Trek Lower Decks creative team is at it again, dropping Easter eggs big and small, enough to entertain fans for multiple viewings. My personal favorite, hands down, comes when Boimler and Mariner blow past a gentleman making his way in an old-school Captain Pike motorized chair. I immediately thought of Richard Koerner, the fan who drives his own homemade chair in Trekkies (1997).
But ultimately “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” is a celebration of friendship. Mariner and Boimler argue about who is who’s “Number One,” but viewers see the truth: Each is the other’s. As in true hospitality, when the host can’t be distinguished from the guest, in true friendship, ranks and hierarchies fall away, and each person values and accepts the other for who they are.
While Boimler and Mariner are the exemplars of such friendship in this episode, we also see it in the Rutherford and Tendi C-plot as they build a Cerritos scale model together. Rutherford’s flustered he can’t remember how to finish the project, and Tendi must tell him they intentionally never finished because building models was their quality time together. Similarly, Freeman’s impassioned speech to the party bouncer makes it clear the Cerritos crew, whatever else it may be, is at its core a community of friends.
“An Embarrassment of Dooplers” proves, yet again, that Star Trek Lower Decks has just as much heart as any of its live-action counterparts.