On this week’s episode of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks, titled “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid) is stuck in a very bad situation. Trapped by some bad guys attacking his action-obsessed crew-mates from the Titan, his team decides to go out in the biggest, fieriest fashion possible. That’s when Boimler finally stops pretending he loves being in an action movie, and admits what he likes is the slower pace of ships like his former assignment, the Cerritos.
“I’m sorry, I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t join Starfleet to get in phaser fights,” Boimler says. “I signed up to explore, to be out in space making new discoveries, and peaceful, diplomatic solutions. That’s boldly going. And you know what? I’d love to be in a string quartet. I loved that when Riker was on the Enterprise he was out there jamming on the trombone, and catching love disease, and acting in plays, and meeting his identical transporter clone Thomas. That stuff may not seem as cool as what you guys do, but it’s Starfleet. All the way.”
It’s hard not to read this as not just a commentary on the expectations for what Star Trek has become — meaning big budget action spectaculars — but also a mission statement for Lower Decks, as well, as show that is purposefully built on showing the dichotomy between the intensity of the bridge crew’s situations, and the monotony of the lower decks.
But as showrunner Mike McMahan told Decider, it goes beyond that, even.
“This is a show that’s saying: we love Star Trek and if there is a Star Trek you aren’t into, tough beans, we love that Star Trek,” McMahan said. “There’s no bad series, there’s no bad movie, because at the end of the day it’s Star Trek. Specifically, I think the series is a mix of and a celebration of the goofier parts of Star Trek and the serious parts of Star Trek.”
For Boimler’s big speech, McMahan noted that it’s “really cool” because, “it takes being in the cool part of Star Trek, or the cinematic Star Trek: Nemesis sort of Star Trek to be like, wait, maybe I like the string quartets. Maybe Starfleet for me, personally, I don’t want to be in the movies, I don’t want to be jetting around the planet in the ATV. I want to be doing the week to week thing where it’s like, Leslie’s nanobots are getting around, I guess we all have to have chocolate sundaes. That’s my kind of Star Trek. And it makes me love Boimler even more that he got the kind of Star Trek he thought he wanted and then has grown enough to be like, well, wait, maybe all Star Trek is good and you just have to find the one that’s for you.”
Given Boimler’s effective argument, chances are at least some viewers might agree that Lower Decks is, indeed, the Star Trek for them.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks stream Thursdays on Paramount+.
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