In the seventh episode of the sophomore season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the Lower Deckers face off against Agimus, an archetypical computer villain voiced by outstanding legacy character actor Jeffrey Combs! PLUS: we found out more about the backstory of ace engineer Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups! All this and more in “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie,” written by Garrick Bernard, directed by Jason Zurek, and released for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021!
If you want to catch up with The Beat’s previous Lower Decks recaps, they’re available right here.
S2E7 — “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie”
We open with a very cool shot that pulls past the Cerritos as she is docked above a devastated planet. On the planet’s surface, Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is discussing the situation with one of the locals: it seems that a computer tricked their species into a one-hundred year war.
That’s when Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) rolls up with Agimus, the malignant computer responsible for all this destruction – and the character voiced by Combs!
It doesn't get any better than a great @jeffreycombs episode of @StarTrek. We're watching this classic from #StarTrekENT this weekend featuring his character Shran. What Jeffrey Combs episodes would you recommend? pic.twitter.com/Of2UJ7GTsJ
— Star Trek on Paramount+ (@StarTrekOnPPlus) September 24, 2021
Combs has appeared as many characters in many episodes of Deep Space 9, an episode of VOY, and in a significant recurring role on Enterprise: Thy’lek Shran, an Andorian who becomes an unlikely and hard-won ally of the first Starfleet crew over the course of the underrated series.
Now, Combs can add another Trek series to his resume thanks to “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie.”
And as for evil computers? Star Trek has had a few. Maybe the most well-known came from the episode of TOS (Those Old Scientists) that introduced the Prime Directive: season one episode twenty-one, “The Return of the Archons.” We saw this episode directly referenced in the first season finale of Lower Decks, “No Small Parts,” in which we saw the Cerritos make second contact with the Landru-wrecked civilization on Beta III.
While Agimus begs for mercy, Freeman is indifferent, telling him to save it for the robotics specialists at the Daystrom Institute, an organization located in Okinawa, Japan which studies artificial life (the Institute has been referenced in many episodes of Trek, from TNG to DS9 to VOY to Discovery, and the building itself was first seen in “Remembrance,” the first episode of the first season of Star Trek: Picard).
Agimus tries to convince Ransom to toss him into a control console, but Ransom resists temptation, and the Cerritos bridge crew goes for some alien street food.
Queen Paolana Arrives
Back on the Cerritos, Freeman is lamenting that street food when they’re hailed by Queen Paolana (June Diane Raphael). Freeman asks what brings her to their corner of space (again), and Paolana says they are having engine trouble… and they need the assistance of Lt. Commander Andy Billups (Paul Scheer).
Freeman expresses no surprise at the request, and as Billups arrives on the bridge, we soon learn why: Paolana is his mother! The startling revelation brings us to the theme song.
When we return, the Lower Deckers are in their bunks, and Ensign Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) is polishing a phaser rifle. He and Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) exchange barbs over their assignments: Mariner is tasks with delivering Agimus to the Daystrom Institute, while Boimler is scheduled to wrangle giant centipedes on Dansk.
Boimler is excited that his experience on the Titan is finally being recognized in the duty assignments… but that’s when he’s notified that he isn’t going to Dansk, he’s taking Agimus to Earth with Mariner.
Then, in a scene that heavily recalls the opening of the penultimate episode of Disco’s second season, “Such Sweet Sorrow,” in which the Discovery and the Enterprise dock with one another in space, the Cerritos approaches the Hysperian ship Monaveen and docks with it.
Meanwhile, in Engineering, Billups coaches his team on what they can expect from his wily mother. It seems that according to tradition on Hysperia, Billups is the next in line for the throne, and although he’s abdicated his right to the throne, his mother refuses to accept his decision. Plus, because Renn Faire types colonized the planet, everything about their culture has a medieval fantasy flair.
It seems that by Hysperian law, if Billups loses his virginity, he’ll become king… and as such, Queen Paolana is always trying to trick Billups into intercourse (in spite of his complete lack of interest – pretty sure Billups is ace)!
However, Paolana insists that she isn’t here to ask Billups for his help as a royal stud… She’s here to seek his assistance as an engineer (shudder). Billups accepts and selects Ensign Samathan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) to assist him.
Soon after, in the Lower Decks, Rutherford laments the assignment to Ensign D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells). Rutherford is intimidated by the stuffy monarchs who will be present on the Monaveen… but the temptation of working on a whole new engine!
The Yosemite Stranded
Elsewhere, Mariner and Boimler are traveling in the Yosemite shuttle towards Earth. Boimler is disappointed he isn’t on Dansk, but Mariner is fine with it, calling it a blessing in disguise and suggesting he might not have survived the centipedes.
But that’s when they hit a gravimetric shear and begin tumbling into a gravity well… and the Yosemite soon crashes.
The two Lower Decks come to in the debris and Mariner pushes her fractured arm back into place (much to Bradward’s dismay). There’s evidence that other ships hit the anomaly as well… but not much evidence of rescue.
Bradward freaks out about how long it might take for rescue, but Mariner is relieved that the replicator is still intact… but when she asks it for a cold glass of iced tea, it only dispenses black licorice.
Then they discover that Agimus has broken free of his crate! They’re not supposed to interact with it, but now that’s unavoidable…
Meanwhile, Billups and Rutherford arrive on the Monaveen, where Billups is obviously discomforted by the “distracting” Hyperian culture.
The pair of Starfleet officers arrives in the Monaveen’s engine room (accompanied by lute music), and Paolana explains that the situation has baffled their lead blacksmith. In fact, the Hysperians renamed everything to sound like magic. Billups instructs Rutherford to ignore the blatant sexual advances of his mothers’ guards and to just get to work…
Agimus All Along
Back on the gravity well planet, Agimus is trying to trick Boimler into plugging him in when they’re menaced by some of the local animal life. They’re able to safely hide inside the downed shuttlecraft, but the animal gets their food supply. Inside the Yosemite, however, Agimus manages to get one of his wires into Mariner’s PADD…
The next morning, the replicator is still only delivering black licorice. They need food badly, and they’re going to have to go search for it. Mariner recommends just burying Agimus, comparing it to Data’s head in The Next Generation season five ending/season six opening two-parter, “Time’s Arrow.”
But Boimler corrects Mariner, saying Data’s head was left in a cave, not buried, and that they have a duty to respect sentient life. The trio head out into the spooky ruins of the planet…
And they eventually arrive at a tree with edible fruit. Mariner and Boimler argue over who is better equipped to climb the tree, with Boimler citing his experience on the Titan again (which Mariner responds to by telling him to stop bringing up his study abroad).
Boimler does fall before he gets the fruit… but when he kicks the tree afterwards, his goal is accomplished. The only problem? The random liquid inside the fruit tastes like black licorice.
Agimus points out that he could have fixed the replicators for them, but Mariner and Boimler respond by burying him. “I have rights,” Agimus protests.
Later that night, Agimus is attacked by crabs, but Boimler rescues it. In response, Agimus informs Bradward that Mariner is not what she seems (to which Boimler responds that he’s heard the rumors).
But Agimus isn’t talking about Mariner being a Black Ops spy: rather, it’s referring to Mariner having Ransom reassign Bradward to the Earth mission, rather than the mission to Dansk, even though Ransom thought he was ready for the centipedes.
Boimler turns on Mariner, who admits that she doesn’t think he’s ready for the big time yet. Mariner picks up Agimus and starts to walk away… telling Boimler he’s in time out as she does so.
On the Monaveen, Billups and Rutherford seem to have identified the source of the issues: faulty resonators. Paolana declares the royal navy saved and tells Billups she’s impressed by his work, and even understands his dedication to Starfleet!
Freeman calls Billups over the comm and he leaves Rutherford to complete the job.
Back on the Cerritos, Freeman admits that she was just giving Billups an “out,” in case his mother was up to her “usual antics.” However, Billups believes he may have finally earned her respect… but that’s when an explosion rocks the Monaveen!
Back over on the Monaveen, to his horror, Billups is informed of his mother’s death…
And in the Cerritos medical bay, Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) informs a mortified Tendi of Rutherford’s falling in the line of duty.
On the deserted planet, Mariner and Boimler are arguing over whether or not to plug Agimus into a ship that still has intact engines. Soon, the two Lower Deckers are arguing with one another, much to the delight of Agimus.
Boimler ends the fight by stunning Mariner, then picks up Agimus and heads to the ship.
On the Cerritos, Freeman offers her condolences to Billups, who promptly resigns from Starfleet. His explains that he must perform the royal copulation and become the King of Hyperia… much to the delight of the royal guards.
Elsewhere, Tendi can’t accept that Rutherford is gone, and instructs the Cerritos computer to locate him. It states that his implant is still broadcasting from the Monaveen, making Tendi realize some part of him must still be alive. She resolves to retrieve his remains.
Meanwhile, Mariner wakes up from being stunned and realizes she’s been Boim’d. As for Bradward himself, he’s entered the crashed ship with the assistance of Agimus. The unlikely duo heads to the bridge, where Agimus insists he just needs access to use the ship to rescue them. Boimler tells Agimus he’ll plug him into the navigational controls, but he needs an auxiliary power source to access the panel… Naturally, Agimus quickly complies.
As the ship’s bridge glows with light, Agimus extends his little waving wires…
A Feast Fit for an Engineer
Tendi arrives on the Monaveen and comes upon a feast… a feast attended by the “late” Rutherford and the “late” Queen! It seems that Paolana staged the explosion (and apparent deaths) in order to trick Billups into having sex and thereby ascending to the throne!
But Rutherford asserts that Billups loves his virginity. He tries to warn the chief engineer but the lute player is blocking comms! Worse still, Paolana’s royal guards are trained to skip foreplay…
Rutherford flees through the halls of the Monaveen as Billups undresses in front of the two royal guards…
But when Rutherford arrives in Billups’ quarters, he finds that the engineer is dealing with erective dysfunction (but hey, at least he looks good in his official Starfleet beach towel). But Rutherford soon confirms that Billups has not had intercourse with the two royal guards, thereby ensuring that his virginity remains intact (and he does not have to ascend to the Hyperian throne).
Back on the deserted planet, Mariner arrives in the bridge and fears that Boimler has given Agimus the access it needed… But Boimler soon reveals that he simply used Agimus: the power cell was utilized in order to send a distress signal, and Bradward simply plugged Agimus into the dimmer switch rather than the navigational console.
Mariner and Boimler make up, with Bradward revealing that his subterfuge was to trick Agimus. In a final act of desperation, Agimus tries to blind the Lower Deckers, but to no avail.
Agimus in Self-Aware Megalomaniacal Computer Storage
Back on the Cerritos, Billups chastises his mother before enjoying some virginity cake with the rest of his engineering team, affirming that he will remain a virgin for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Tendi and Rutherford agree that serving in Starfleet just means it will sometimes seem like they’ve died, which Tendi is totally cool with.
Then we cut to a shuttlecraft flying away from the deserted planet. Judging by the crew uniforms, Mariner and Boimler have been rescued by a flagship crew. Agimus tries to convince them that he’s learned his lesson, but they aren’t having it.
In the final scene, we see Bradward and Beckett deliver Agimus to the Daystrom Institute, where he quickly relegated to “Self-Aware Megalomaniacal Computer Storage.” In a scene that evokes the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc, Agimus sh*t-talks the other evil computers around him…
You know, he’s probably got a lot of that coming up in his not-too-distant future.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are released for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays.