In the ninth episode of the sophomore season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, we get what amounts to a sequel to one of the most underrated Trek movies, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Written by Kathryn Lyn and directed by Bob Suarez, “wej duJ” takes us where no one has gone before: the Lower Decks of several non-Starfleet vessels, including Klingon and Vulcan vessels!
— Jack Quaid (@JackQuaid92) October 6, 2021
If you want to catch up with The Beat’s previous Lower Decks recaps, you can do so here.
S2E9 — “wej duJ” (Three Ships)
After the episode begins by heading directly into the theme song with no cold open, we open on the Cerritos at warp. Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis)’s Captain’s Log explains that the California-Class vessel will be at warp for twelve hours en route to a planetary survey in the Kontaran system. As such, the Captain has approved a period of R&R for the crew.
In the Cerritos cafeteria, Ensign Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) joins Ensign Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), Ensign D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells), and Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) at a table and asks how everyone will be spending their warp.
Tendi is going to be spending time on the holodeck with Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), while Rutherford will be making soup with Billups (we know he loves soup from the conclusive scenes of the first season episode “Crisis Point”) and throwing pottery with Shax (Fred Tatasciore). And Mariner has agreed to spend some time with her mother, Captain Freeman, because given the long period at warp, she simply has no excuse to use in order to put it off.
Boimler is distressed that he doesn’t have a “Bridge Buddy,” and goes on to say that it can help with promotion. Tendi suggests he use his time trying to find a bridge buddy, and Boimler laments that he doesn’t live on a ship with a built-in social structure, citing (among other species) the Klingon.
Mariner says that Boimler wouldn’t last on a Klingon vessel, and with a line that heavily evokes “22 Short Films About Springfield,” Boimler says he bets their lower decks are a lot nicer than she thinks…
Tera’ngan Soj lujab’a’ (Do they serve Earth food?)
We cut to the Klingon Bird of Prey Che’ta’, and then cut to the Ch’ta’’s lower decks. We see low ranking Klingons in net-made hammocks, with one individual walking around wearing only a towel (maybe it isn’t so different from the lower decks of the Cerritos, after all).
Ma’ah is sleeping in one of the aforementioned hammocks when he is awoken by one of his compatriots, who wants him to join him for food before the best gagh is consumed (gagh are the squirming worms consumed by Klingons).
Another one of the low-ranking Klingons rebukes him, saying that today is her day to clean the gagh barrels (with replicators on Starfleet vessels, concerns like this don’t arise). Another one of the Klingons remarks that he has combat training, but to save him a seat at lunch (so long as he survives).
That’s when Ma’ah reveals that it is a day of great honor for him. He’ll be serving on the bridge, at the helm, and he’s noticed Commander Togg has been undermining Captain Dorg. This is espeicially significant on a Klingon vessel, because the way ascend in authority is to kill your direct commanding officer (see Deep Space Nine season five episode twenty-one, “Soldiers of the Empire”).
But today, Ma’ah is hoping that Togg is killed, and with his presence on the bridge, that he’ll be the logical choice for the position of First Officer. But his choice of the word “logical” causes the Klingons to burst out laughing, and wonder aloud what it would be like to serve on a Vulcan vessel…
Live Long and Prosper
From there we cut to the Vulcan Cruiser Sh’Vhal, and then to the Sh’Vhal’s lower decks. One of the low-ranking Vulcans asks if her compatriots would like to take part in a chess game after their duty shift.
That’s when T’Lyn notes that she has detected an anomalous surge of metreon particles in System 7743.8. The system would be beyond the ship’s scanning range but T’Lyn has used personal algorithms to boost their sensors. One of her compatriots notes that she had a different task, but T’Lyn says the task was redundant.
She says that she “wanted to,” before catching herself and correcting to “it is logical to” improve scanning abilities. Another compatriot notes that the readings are within acceptable parameters, but T’Lyn notes that because such a phenomena has never been observed in the system before, it is anomalous.
T’Lyn says something “feels off,” and her compatriots again bristle. One notes that she has been warned about this behavior before, but T’Lyn argues that the phenomena is of statistical significance, and therefore worth investigating. She leaves to inform the Captain.
bortaS blr jablu’DI’ reH QaQqu’ nay’ (Revenge is a dish best served cold)
On the Che’ta’, Ma’ah arrives on the brige, where he walks into the middle of a battle between Dorg and Commander Togg. The Captian kills Togg and declares that he had forgotten what it means to be Klingon, and demands an honorable First Officer. He concludes that the job will go to the most impressive officer of the day – and then demands Togg’s body be removed.
Ma’ah eagerly jumps at the opportunity to serve… and Dorg nods his ascent before begins to Ma’ah drag Togg’s body away.
Kayshon, His Glass Raised
Meanwhile, back on the Cerritos, Boimler has resolved to find his own Bridge Buddy. In the cafeteria, he approaches Lt. Junior Grade Kayshon (Carl Tart) and offers him a drink along with some rusty Tamarian: “Kimarnt, her head cloudy.” Kayshon gladly accepts the drink.
Boimler explains that he took a little bit of Tamarian at the Academy and goes on to say, “Karno, in the forest with… Mira?” But it seems like this is a major faux pas, possibly insulting Kayshon’s weight, and the security officer leaves in a huff.
Next, we see Boimler enter the pottery room, where Rutherford and Shax are throwing some clay. Boimler says that since Rutherford has two Bridge Buddies, maybe he can share. He attempts to start a conversation with Shax by asking whether or not he learned to make pottery on Bajor…
But that is not the right thing to say. Shax swiftly becomes enraged, declaring that “fighting fascism is a full-time job” and terrifying the other Cerritos crewmembers…
Except for Rutherford, whose able to use his special connection with Shax to calm the angry Lieutenant down. As he relaxes, he notes that he’s going to be making an ashtray that looks like a puppy…
What we will do to enemy petaQs
And we cut to the targ on the bridge of the Che’ta’, chewing on a stuffed toy at the encouragement of Dorg.
Ma’ah returns to the bridge and pets the targ, comparing him to Kor’s hound at the Battle of Klach D’kel Brakt. The comparison impresses Dorg, and Ma’ah is about to capitalize on the interest further when another crewmember demands he fetch more bloodwine.
Meanwhile, on the Sh’Vhal, T’Lyn is speaking with the Vulcan Captain, who questions why she insists on going outside the purview of her duties, and T’Lyn says she “had a gut feeling.” The Captain is skeptical of her desire to readjust their course toward the anomaly she had detected.
The Captain concedes to T’Lyn’s request after she states that it would be logical to investigate, but he orders her to spend the next two days in meditation. She states that she does not have time for this, but the Captain rebuffs her, saying that she needs to work on her self-control through silent meditation.
“Beliefs, feelings, instincts,” the Captain says. “You are behaving like a child.”
Speaking of behaving like a child, that’s when we cut to the holodeck on the Cerritos, where T’Ana and Tendi are rock climbing, as Boimler approaches with rocket boots (see Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).
But T’Ana is not impressed with Boimler’s lack of preparation. That’s when his hover boots give out, and Boimler falls to a painful landing in the trees below…
Shortly afterwards, Boimler comes upon Captain Freeman. She and Mariner are battling with one another for training, and also arguing, with Freeman wearing a “RITOS” shirt that evokes the “DISCO” t-shirts on Discovery.
“If I had to dance around everything that freaks out Billups, we wouldn’t get anything done!” Freeman shouts.
Boimler panics and flees the room. He’s dejected as he gets in the turbolift, when Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) is excitedly speaking with an Ensign and a Lt. Junior Grade about Hawaii. After eavesdropping for a moment, Boimler inserts himself into the conversation… and when he learns that they have a little group based around the fact that they’re all from Hawaii, he lies and says he’s from Hawaii, too.
Soon, Boimler has arranged to meet the group on the Holodeck later on for a beach getaway…
Logic is the Beginning of Wisdom, Not the End
On the Che’ta’, Ma’ah returns with the blood wine, but the Klingon who demanded he fetch it simply collapses on top of him. Dorg tells him to walk the targ until the traitor’s leg passes. Ma’ah is powerless to resist as the targ licks his face.
On the Sh’Vhal, T’Lyn is nominally in meditation, but she’s actually still working on one of her projects. When her compatriots arrive, they question her behavior, stating that her “rebelliousness” will lead only to “punitive spiritualism.”
T’Lyn implies that her compatriot is limited by her slavish devotion to protocol, before suggesting they could be friends, even noting that in Klingon culture, those who stand together are designated cha’Dich (a line we previously saw both Mariner and Captain William Riker use, in the first and final episodes of the first season of Lower Decks).
Her compatriot states that they are not Klingon, to which T’Lyn responds that they aren’t Borg drones, either: they don’t have to blindly follow orders. Her compatriot insinuates that she’s going to inform Vulcan High Command of T’Lyn’s behavior…
On the Lower Decks Sleeping Quarters of the Cerritos, Rutherford is holding the model of Deep Space Nine he got in “An Embarrassment of Dooplers” as he and Tendi counsel Boimler to come clean about not being from Hawaii. Boimler obviously knows this is the right choice… but he shows up in the holodeck in a Hawaiian shirt anyway (leading to an hilarious reaction shot from Bradward).
Wa’ Devwl’ tu’lu (There is one leader)
On the Che’ta’, Dorg is listening to Klingon opera (for those with more traditional tastes than Klingon Acid Punk). In fact, the music can be very important to a Klingon warrior – just look at how Jadzia Dax used Worf’s Klingon opera colletion to lure him back to the station in DS9 season five episode fourteen, “In Purgatory’s Shadow.”
Ma’ah arrives in the Captain’s quarters with the targ and confirms that the leg has passed. Dorg expresses his belief that the Klingon Empire has fallen into dishonor, citing things like joining Starfleet and enrolling in Bajoran academies as proof that the Klingon’s have lost their way. Ma’ah agrees that it is trouble to see Klingon warriors lose their lurDech, again impressing Dorg, who declares him a true Klingon, saying he could one day be the captain of his own ship.
That’s when a Pakled message is broadcast into the Captain’s quarters. Dorg declares that they will discuss the transaction in person, saying he will beam over with his new Second-in-Command. Dorg explains that the Pakled’s insatiable hunger for power, which he has manipulated, giving them Klingon weapons and thereby destabilizing the Quadrant. The “hidden player” mentioned in Riker’s briefing on the Titan back in the second episode of the season is revealed!
Ma’ah says that Klingons do not allow another to fight their battles, which the Captain says is in his favor, as none suspect his involvement. As they beam over to the Pakled ship, Dorg quotes Shakespeare (which, you know, sounds great in English, except you really need to hear it in the original Klingon).
On the Cerritos, Freeman and Mariner are playing Starfleet Risk when they get a notification that some anomalous energy has been detected. While Mariner moans about having spent time with Freeman, they both admit that had a good time today.
Meanwhile, Ma’ah and Dorg beam in to the Pakled Clumpship Pakled. They’re greeted by Rebner, who introduces himself even though Dorg has met him several times. Rebner says they need another Varuvian bomb, as they used the first one they were given on an asteroid (hence the metreon particles picked up by T’Lyn’s boosted sensors… and also detected by –).
Suddenly, a “REd ALARm” klaxon sounds as the Cerritos drops out of warp! Dorg orders that the Cerritoscommunication be blocked so that they can destroy the Starfleet vessel!
However, Freeman assumes that the Pakleds are attacking the Klingons, who are meant to be their allies. She tries to hail them, but both vessels power up their weapons. Freeman puts the shields up as the Cerritos goes to Red Alert!
We see the crewmembers of the Cerritos abandon their recreation to assist in the conflict, not bothering to take the time to shed their various extracurricular outfits. A Starfleet vessel can only function at its full capacity with the combined efforts of every crewmember!
The Cerritos fires back at the enemy vessels as the Hawaiian clique is trapped in a hallway. Overwhelmed with guilt, Boimler admits he’s not from Hawaii… Leading to the other three to admit they aren’t from Hawaii, either – Ransom just lied about being Hawaiian to impress a commanding officer from Honolulu during his days as an ensign.
But that’s when the other three all discover they do still have a point of origin in common, anyway: they’re all from moons! As they bond, Boimler tries to say his city of origin (Modesto) is sort of the “moon” of San Francisco (which just offends them).
On the bridge of the Che’ta’, Dorg says that when the Pakleds take the final shot, they’ll start a war with the Federation, achieving the discord he craves. Ma’ah says that it’s dishonorable to let another fight their battles, but Dorg uses his age to establish authority. Ma’ah notes that other Klingons have tried to sabotage the peace but failed, and Dorg says he will not.
Meanwhile, on the Pakled lower decks, four low-ranking Pakleds are leaning against barrels of mushroot and talking about their personal needs, indifferent to both the REd ALARm and the conflict it indicates.
On the Cerritos, things are looking dire… but that’s when the Sh’Vhal drops out of orbit and puts itself between the Cerritos and the Pakled, accompanied by a triumphant (and familiar) music cue.
The Sh’Vhal sets its shields to full power, but the Klingon weaponry possessed by the Pakled poses a problem. T’Lyn suggests that the Captain implement her other project: an untested regenerative shield. The Captain is skeptical but T’Lyn states that it is logical to use it, because what choice do they have? The Sh’Vhal is large, but that means the Che’ta’ can use its small size to quickly maneuver around it and score hit after hit.
On the bridge of the Che’ta’, Dorg states that destroying two enemy vessels would please him. Ma’ah asks if the Klingon High Council knows of his actions and Dorg states that they lack foresight, but they’ll fall in line after his plan has come to pass.
However, the Sh’Vhal’s shields rise to more than 100% after T’Lyn’s modifications have been implemented, and the Captain orders they disable the Pakled ship. Dorg commands that the Che’ta’ target the Federation ship, but Ma’ah interjects and says it is dishonorable – and soon, the pair are fistfighting.
It looks like Dorg has incapacitated Ma’ah… but Ma’ah has earned the loyalty of the targ, who attacks Dorg at a key moment! Dorg knocks the targ aside by Ma’ah has taken advantage of the distraction: wielding a traditional Klingon blade, he impales Dorg.
Ma’ah has now ascending to the role of Captain. The bridge looks to him for command, and he instructs them to head back to the homeworld, where the Council will decide what to do with Dorg.
With the Che’ta’ retreating, the Cerritos and the Sh’Vhal both turn their weapons on the Pakled. The Pakled is forced to flee, warping away after sustaining significant damage.
The bridge of the Cerritos explodes in celebration (also Dr. T’Ana is there). Freeman hails the Sh’Vhal but the Vulcan Captain has no time for human celebration and the communication is quickly terminated. Freeman muses that they now know where the Pakleds are getting all that weaponry from, and states that she must contact Starfleet Command.
On the Sh’Vhal, the Captain notes that they likely only survived thanks to T’Lyn’s “instinct.” However, the Captain says that her perceived victory will only fuel her impulsivity. T’Lyn says she will prepare to return to Vulcan but the Captain has another assignment in mind: he’s sending her to enlist in Starfleet, where he says her “hotheaded ways” may make her fit in better.
T’Lyn is unhappy with the decision but the Captain is indifferent. As she leaves, T’Lyn delivers a sarcastic Vulcan salute (which looks very cool – season season one’s “Moist Vessel”).
In the Cerritos cafeteria, Boimler sees the Moon Buddies bonding and laments his lack of inclusion. Mariner cheers him up by telling him that during their next long-haul warp, the Lower Deckers will do something with each other, comforting Boimler.
He approaches the bar to get another drink and a young crewmember approaches him, wearing an outfit that heavily evokes the one worn by Wesley Crusher on The Next Generation.
While Boimler has been looking for someone to look up to, it seems Ransom saw something else in Boimler: the potential to be looked up to. The young crewmember needs help with his duty schedule, and Ransom sent him to Boimler for advice on organization. It’s a really nice moment that speaks to the depth of the relationships between the Cerritos crew members.
“The bridge crew is maybe the ones you hear about,” Boimler tells the cadet. “But trust me, the real action begins on the Lower Decks.”
After an episode like “wej duJ,” who could argue with him?
As usual, we close on the Cerritos jumping to warp.
Borg Cube 90182
But we aren’t done. We cut to Borg Cube 90182, and then we cut to the 90182’s lower decks.
Four Borg drones stand in their charging stations. They do not move throughout the closing credits. They are the ultimate exploited underlings.
Is this a throwaway gag? I don’t think so. Just last week we say what amounts to an imperative in Boimler’s holodrill: rescue the Borg drones. And in the far-future scene we saw at the conclusion of season one’s “Temporal Edict,” it’s implied that eventually, at least some Borg will join the Federation.
…and if that’s the case, it seems like the movement will inevitably be beginning on the lower decks.
Where can this season of Lower Decks possibly go from here? Come back next week for the season finale. You do not want to miss it!
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are made available for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays.