This review contains spoilers.
“Star Trek: Lower Decks” has dredged up a lot of mixed reactions from Trekkies, starting from the premiere of the first episode in a 10-episode season on Aug. 6 on CBS. As the final episode came out on Thursday, Oct. 8, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’ll be back to watch the next season of this show.
“Lower Decks” is a cartoon-animated Star Trek series that depicts the lives of everyone in lower positions in the Star Trek universe — characters that would normally have no screen time in any other Star Trek series. We see the trivial lives of ensigns trying (or not trying) to get promoted to better positions.
As a cartoon suited for adults, many fans are disappointed by the lack of seriousness in the episodes, as well as the heavy comedic attitude that consistently clears the air. However, this is also one of the main reasons many, including myself, love it so much.
Star Trek series more often than not follow serious plotlines with heavy emotional journeys that can be exhausting to watch all the time. “Lower Decks” battles this by providing a positive, funny show that could be relaxing to watch at any time. This series is unlike any other Star Trek series that has ever come out.
This is all coming from someone who usually can’t stand adult cartoons, from Rick and Morty to Bojack Horseman. However, “Lower Decks” may have just changed my stance on adult cartoons entirely.
Admittedly, the first episodes are rough to watch, but the same goes for any Star Trek series. It’s always a bumpy start when you have no connection to the characters, but for a show with only 10 episodes that are each just 25 minutes long, the cast does a surprisingly good job of making sure you have a bond with the characters by the final episode.
D'Vana Tendi, voiced by Noël Wells, is without a doubt one of the easiest to love characters in this series, with a bubbly personality and a go-getter attitude. Her ditzy self is memorable, especially when she tried creating a dog and instead created a talking, flying mutation of a dog that she loved nonetheless (because she had never seen a dog before).
A plotline seems to be missing from the show at first, going from one random episode to the next, but we start to see the intensity of Beckett Mariner, voiced by Tawny Newsome, being the daughter of the captain on the ship and the problems that may arise if anyone were to discover that fact.
The secret is revealed shockingly fast in the season finale, and Mariner — along with her best friend Brad Boimler, voiced by Jack Quaid — work to get the single promotion available to a new starship, the USS Titan. The Titan ends up coming to the rescue after a big fight scene with the Pakleds, along with surprise cameos by Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi). These familiar faces secured my love for the new series, and I desperately hope that they’ll be a part of the next season.
It’s also important to note the courage of Sam Rutherford, voiced by Eugene Cordero, a cybernetically-enhanced human. Known as one of the nicest characters throughout the series, he loses his memory in an attempt to save all of his crewmates after his evil training device, Badgey, explodes an entire ship.
While the four main characters, Mariner, Boimler, Tendi and Rutherford, consistently grow stronger with every episode, the secondary characters that play the bridge officers are sadly unrelatable. Even tactical officer Shaxs’ death in the final episode doesn’t pull any heartstrings because the characters are so unknown to the audience. I can only hope that we see some stronger character development in season two.
This show also consistently references all of the other Star Trek series, from making fun of an excessively long first-look at a ship to mocking Riker’s flirtatious personality. My personal favorite reference was Q’s appearance to screw things up and Mariner waving him away by saying, “We’re not dealing with any of your Q bullshit.”
If you’re a Trekkie that just waved off the show because it’s a cartoon, it’s time to rethink that decision. Don’t judge a book by its cover, especially not when it comes to Star Trek.
Megan Gleason is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716