Star Trek: Lower Decks is back for its second season on Paramount+ — and the animated sitcom set on the USS Cerritos is still pushing the Final Frontier of sci-fi’s flagship franchise.
“Strange Energies,” the second season premiere, picks up almost where we left off in the Season One finale, “No Small Parts.”
The California-class Cerritos is back on Second Contact duty after undergoing significant repairs following the explosive encounter with the Pakleds, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bumbling scavengers who have upgraded to pose a real threat to the Federation — a threat that continues into Season Two as the young Lower Decks cast seems to be stuck in a static loop bubble of conflicts and transitions.
The premiere hearkens back to some of the oldest classic Trek, as Lower Decks has shown it loves to do again and again, this time dusting off the “godlike being” concept and a few other Trekkie tropes when a high-ranking crew member comes into accidental contact an ancient energy source and becomes mad with absolute power, forcing his ship and crew into a dangerous situation.
Meanwhile, on the Luna-class USS Titan, Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid), transferred to Capt. William T. Riker’s command, works to fit in with his action-packed new crew, even as his Lower Decker friends back on the drama-prone Cerritos are trying to make life adjustments of their own. Obviously, it won’t be long before Boimler is reunited with his former team, but how he gets there is both a surprise and totally par for the course on this wacky but reverent Trek toon.
Back on the Cerritos, Cyborg engineer Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) has to deal with the complicated and sometimes perplexing fallout of his near-death experience in the Pakled battle, which cost the life of Bajoran security chief Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) and resulted in his own memory being wiped. Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), meanwhile, is still dealing with the crew knowing she’s their captain’s (Dawnn Lewis) daughter. Orion medical officer D’Vana Tendi (Noel Wells), who had to deal with her checkered heritage and its impact on her friendships in Season One — especially with mouthy Mariner — is still finding there are issues to work on between them and with herself, highlighting how all relationships can be ongoing journeys rather than fixed destinations.
I’m not sure where this Pakled thing is going, but slight tweaks to the show’s amusing opening credits sequence, and recently remembered connections between the Pakleds and other TNG villains, has me thinking we’re in for an interesting ride. The quirky situation comedy of life on a Starfleet ship isn’t getting in the way of telling dynamic Star Trek stories here, just because it’s a cartoon.
After screening the first five episodes of Lower Decks Season Two, the one thing we can say for certain is you should know what to expect by now — and, logically, that includes the unexpected.
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