“You were kind of a Xon, to be honest.”
This show is just bananacakes awesome. Sure, every show eventually has an episode where the main character wrestles with some self-perceived flaw and either overcomes or understands it, incorporating it into her character going forward. But leave it to Lower Decks to have Mariner do her soul-searching in the form that we all do, if we’re honest with ourselves: in the form of a Star Trek movie.
You’ve seen the episode, of course, Mariner is forced to see the ship’s counsellor, a bird-like dude from the TAS episode “The Jihad,” loses her patience and repurposes Boimler’s 1:1 recreation of the ship and the crew into a LD version of a theatrical film. Before the ethical and moral implications of that really take hold in the audience’s brain, dead-accurate credits fly towards the screen, knocking characters in the head, Xon from Star Trek Phase II is made officially canon, some serious villain foreplay happens, and there’re lens flares everywhere.
Those hundred, over-long beauty shots of the Cerritos. Billups wiping away a manly tear at the perfection of it all, like you know Scotty was doing in TMP. The shipwreck, like in every movie! But bonus Prometheus roll! Random Shakespeare quote! Which they repeat, just in case you didn’t get the joke the first time. And, because I have this obsessive need to analyze everything to assuage my soul that majoring in English as an undergrad actually means anything, here’s the whole thing:
All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
Then all afire with me: the King’s son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring… then like reeds, not hair…
Was the first man leap’d; cried, “Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.”
…which, honestly is kind of amazing, what with Ariel here telling his enemies jumped into the sea by quoting the Prince of Naples, which helps Prospero understand the nature of the men traveling with him. And, come on, the quote starts off with “Mariner.” It makes me feel like McMahan of one of his writers was just having fun with the references and Easter eggs but had to justify their inherent English Majorness, too.
So, yeah, the lens flares, and the catwalk fight, and the obligatory evil-twin fight, and the body in the photon torpedo casing, and the Anticans and Selay from TNG’s “Lonely Among Us” which didn’t serve any obvious lot function there and continued to not matter here either (which is its own meta-commentary)… lots of stuff to enjoy.
But my favorite conceit of all is they out the film grain and “scratches” and the black bars of widescreen during the holodeck’s fun cascade through all the movie’s visual indulgences. These scenes are “lit” differently, are more brassy on the music swells than usual, and they even call out the wider scop of nonsense yo can get away in films. The fight where they use a severed Borg’s head for it forcefield is just genius.
And what a masterstroke to make Mariner the heart of the show. Everybody hated her at first and thought it was Boimler.
Now look what they did