In the sixth episode of the sophomore season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, “The Spy Humongous,” Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) goes on a special diplomatic mission to Pakled Planet… but are the Pakleds TOO STRONG to be won over? Find out in this brand-new episode, written by John Cochran (no relation to Cochrane, one assumes) and Bob Suarez.
If you’d like to catch up with previous recaps of Lower Decks, you can do so here.
S2E6 – “The Spy Humongous”
The episode opens on the Cerritos above Pakled Planet as Freeman records her Captain’s Log for Stardate 58105.1. Since the Pakleds continue to attack Federation trade routes, the Cerritos has been tasked with a diplomatic mission to their homeworld.
Freeman confides to Lieutenant Shax (Fred Tatasciore) that negotiating a ceasefire could be in the cards, and Shax says that Picard-level peace talks like this could lead to Starfleet giving her an Enterprise.
The pair beams down to Pakled Planet, where they meet a Pakled who misidentifies Freeman as “Janeway.” It’s soon established that this Pakled doesn’t have a helmet big enough to negotiate a ceasefire.
That’s when another Pakled appears and demands to know why Rumdar (Rich Fulcher) was kidnapped. Freeman contacts First Officer Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) and learns that a Pakled has indeed arrived on the Cerritos, possibly seeking asylum.
In response, the Pakleds take Freeman and Shax hostage, demanding the return of their prisoner as we head into the theme song.
Anomaly Consolidation Duty
Up on the Cerritos, the Lower Deckers are eating in the cafeteria when work assignments arrive: they’re on Anomaly Consolidation Duty. Ensign Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) are distressed.
Per her request, Ensign Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) explains to Ensign D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) that the task includes gathering accumulated research materials – or as Mariner succinctly summarizes: it’s trash day, but trash that has to be sent to a special facility.
That’s when Boimler slips and spills his remaining breakfast all over himself, causing Tendi and the rest of the Lower Decks to laugh at his misfortune.
Slightly miffed, Boimler leaves the table and is quickly hailed by Ensign Casey (Neil Casey). He explains that he and several other individuals have formed a club that focuses on getting one another ranked up: the Redshirts!
The name “Redshirts” is a reference to the fact that, in the era of Those Old Scientists (TOS), the color of a shirt designated different functions – and the redshirts were the security team, meaning they were most likely to be killed during an away mission in order to demonstrate the narrative threat to the bridge crew (see Deep Space 9 season 5 episode 6, “Tribbles and Tribble-ations,” for more on this). “Redshirt” soon became a slang term to denote a nameless character that would soon be killed off.
Other members of the Cerritos Redshirts team include Andorian Ensign Jen (Lauren Lapkus) and the Kzinti crewmember we discussed in last week’s recap. It seems as though the Redshirts were impressed by Boimler’s time serving under Captain Riker on the Titan, and they want him to join their little group – and there’s an acting captain opportunity available later on in the day.
Casey tells Boimler that if he shares Riker stuff with them, they’ll get him a shot at the “big chair” – not to mention they’ll get him out of ACD. Casey tells Boimler that he doesn’t carry himself like a leader, but that the Redshirts can help him with that.
Meanwhile, rather than be offended, Mariner begrudgingly admits that Boimler has come up with a clever way to avoid ACD…
Elsewhere on the Cerritos, Ransom and Lieutenant Kayshon (Karl Tart) are talking with Rumdar when they immediately become suspicious that he may be a spy. Fortunately, in spite of the fact that he has a spy camera, Rumdar only succeeds in photographing his own foot. Freeman instructs Ransom and Kayshon to allow him to proceed, in order to learn more about his plans…
Meanwhile, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford begin ACD with Ransom’s quarters, finding a pile of unlabeled crystals (which Mariner notes is a protocol violation, apparently an acceptable course of action for the command crew, even if it isn’t for lower decks).
But after Rutherford inhales the dust from a dropped frog skull, his body begins to undergo full molecular engorgement! Fortunately, quick thinking (and action) by Mariner and Tendi return him to his normal size (but not without some severe nausea). Meanwhile, Boimler walks by with the Redshirts, who ask how often Riker cleaned his trombone (answer: constantly).
After Ransom and Kayshon take Rumdar to the Cerritos gift shop, he demands to see the warp core.
“We’re not exactly dealing with the Tal Shiar here,” Ransom giggles to Kayshon, referring to the Romulan Security Agency. But their overconfidence costs them when they realize Rumdar has snuck away as they laughed about how stupid he is! Worse still, the computer says no Pakleds can be found on the Cerritos…
A Taste of Mushroot
After the act break, we see a montage that pits Mariner, Rutherford, and Tendi against a series of anomalies, leading to annoyances and injuries galore! Mariner in particular becomes increasingly over it.
On Pakled Planet, a Pakled offers Freeman a rotten mushroot (and is taken aback when she refuses). Then, her majesty the Queen arrives! Freeman attempts to negotiate but the Queen demands to speak with Rumdar… and when that can’t be accomplished, the Queen admits she doesn’t have a big enough helmet to negotiate a ceasefire.
“Are you sh*tting me?” groans Freeman.
Boimler is with the Redshirts, who are teaching him how to better present himself (with the Kzinti crewmember commenting on his posture by making a visual reference to the Kzinti telepath in Star Trek: The Animated Series season one episode fourteen, “The Slaver Weapon”).
Jen says that Boimler’s uniform needs to be modified and asks if Riker modified his, with Boimler admitting his pants needed to be taken out (for his legs, pervert). Soon, the combined efforts of the Redshirts have delivered a Boimler with a super-tight uniform and a carefully styled haircut (that even has some grey).
— Jack Quaid (@JackQuaid92) September 16, 2021
Boimler runs into the rest of the Lower Deckers and issues a warning about their Vitruvian flask (but a little bit too late for the warning to be effective). The Lower Deckers don’t really approve but Boimler is in too much of a hurry to care, even knocking over some of the nanobots left in an unscrewed jar by Billups.
Tendi keeps trying to look on the bright side, but Mariner’s been pushed a little too far: she snaps that not every day on a Starfleet vessel will be a pristine exploratory experience.
Meanwhile, Ransom and Kayshon frantically search for Rumdar…
In the Cerritos theater, the Redshirts work on their rousing speeches. They tell Boimler to speak about a temporal rift with a plasma grid (and the replicators are broken). His first speech doesn’t go very well, but Casey tells him to channel Riker, and on his second try, he speaks so eloquently that the bridge of the D herself seems to appear around the Redshirts!
Meanwhile, the Lower Deckers have arrived at Migleemo’s office, where Tendi volunteers to just collect the anomalies herself (an offer Rutherford and Mariner seize upon). As those two relax, Tendi tries to deal with a storybook that causes the Three Little Pigs to come to life. Then she’s swallowed and pooped out by a screaming molten lava slug.
“D’Vana?” Mariner asks uncertainly, but Tendi is traumatized. But hey: at least Mariner learned her name after their Girls Trip!
Reaching My Threshold
On Pakled Planet, Shax recommends beaming out when things go sideways. King Pakled arrives… followed by Emperor of the Pakleds. But before Freeman can begin negotiations, Pakled revolutionaries burst into the building! They kill the big helmeted Pakleds… then immediately declare themselves the big-helmeted leaders.
On the Cerritos, Boimler is beginning to see the benefits of life with the Redshirts. Casey suggests he level up his command crew, and scoffs when Boimler says the Lower Deckers are already his team. “We work in Starfleet, they work for Starfleet,” Casey declares, rubbing Bradward the wrong way.
— Star Trek on Paramount+ (@StarTrekOnPPlus) September 20, 2021
But as the Redshirts leave, the Lower Deckers have problems of their own. Tendi is holding a red cube that seems to be reacting to her souring mood. She admits that she’s the one who signed them up for ACD, thinking it would be fun, but instead, ACD (and being an Ensign) sucks!
With a bunch of crackling purple energy, Tendi transforms into a giant scorpion and, after knocking Ransom and Kayshon aside, she begins terrorizing the crewmembers in the cafeteria.
The Redshirts spot the chaos and leap into action! Jen, Casey, and the other members of the Redshirts begin inspiring the Cerritos crew with their rousing speeches. But as they begin to talk over one another, the crewmembers become increasingly confused…
But that’s when Boimler leaps into action. He runs up to Scorpion Tendi and tells her she’s going to be okay, and then learns from Mariner that a cube caused the transformation – allowing him to identify the anomaly as an Ataxian Mood Shifter. He replicates beans and dumps them over his head, then replicates a birthday cake and drops that on himself.
The slapstick has its intended effect, allowing Tendi’s emotional armor to loosen… and eventually returning her back to her normal Orion form. It was a waste of food, but it was effective… even if the Redshirts aren’t impressed.
Meanwhile, Ransom and Kayshon come to and admit that they’ve underestimated Rumdar… but that’s when a frozen Rumdar floats by outside the Cerritos. Maybe they didn’t underestimate him, after all…
Fortunately, Pakleds are resilent, and Rumdar survives the vacuum of space. Ransom and Kayshon learn that Rumdar mistook an airlock for a bathroom and launched himself out into space in a misguided attempt at flushing.
On Pakled Planet, Freeman and Shax are being menaced by Pakleds when Rumdar returns. The new Pakled leader tells Freeman they tricked her – Rumdar was a spy all along (what a shocking twist)! Rumdar gloats about tricking them without revealing information, and Freeman agrees – but says that she can’t tell how impressed she should be without knowing what information he retained.
Rumdar reveals that he kept the Pakled’s plan secret: a plot to smuggle a Vitruvian bomb onto Earth (so that’s why the Pakleds are mining Vitruvian ore – the Cerritos figured it out before the Titan)! While the peace talks have utterly failed, Freeman has nevertheless wrangled some integral information out of their opponents – and better yet, she did it her way, even allowing the Pakleds to believe they had “beaten” Captain “Janeway.”
On the Cerritos, Mariner and Rutherford make amends with Tendi, agreeing that they should feed off her enthusiasm, not attempt to tamp it down.
Meanwhile, the Redshirts run into Boimler and eject him from their clique. But Boimler isn’t the same person he used to be: he pushes back against the harsh words of the Redshirts, delivering a speech that’s pure Bradward! In fact, it even inspires several of the Redshirts members… thus fulfilling the most important part of a Captian’s speech!
Ransom arrives in the hallway and Casey asks for the acting captain position, which Ransom indifferently bestows upon him… but then he delivers a legitimate and meaningful compliment to Boimler for his leadership in the cafeteria.
Acting Captain Casey
On the bridge, Freeman takes the rest of the command crew for a celebratory drink, leaving Casey as acting captain.
He triumphantly takes the chair… only to be ejected by Shax, who has arrived for his duty shift. Shax sends Casey to clean up Airlock 17, where Rumdar made an unspeakable mess…
As the Cerritos heads away from Pakled Planet, Bradward catches up on everything he missed from ACD… and that’s when Mariner reveals she snagged a sub-manifold casting stone from Shax’s pile of anomalies, which can broadcast their voices to other planets.
Naturally, the Lower Deckers use the stone to crank call Armus. Yeah, that’s right! You deserve it, Armus! Now think about what you’ve done!
— Denise Crosby (@TheDeniseCrosby) September 17, 2021
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are available for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays.