‘Lower Decks’ is an indictment of Abrams and Kurtzman-era Star Trek

The following contains spoilers for season 2, episode 2 of ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks.’

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for most of my life, and nevertheless I still chuckled at this
video released subsequently the first J.J. Abrams installment came out back in 2009: “Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film Every bit ‘Fun, Watchable.’” Star Trek isn’t to a lot of people’south gustatory modality, J.J. Abrams’ among them. He’south said in interviews he never really liked Trek and was trying to make it more than like Star Wars. (This was six years earlier
The Force Awakens
came out.) The reboot films were a breath of fresh air after iv years of no original Trek content, and they did become some new fans into the franchise. Some of those novices would later dip their toe into the h2o of Tv Trek and found that they did actually savour it a lot, despite its slower pace.

However, despite the franchise’s strong TV track tape with shows like
DS9, the Paramount+ era has been taking its cues from the Abrams films, which isn’t surprising with executive producer Alex Kurtzman at the helm. Alongside Roberto Orci, he’s i of the two screenwriters behind 2009
Star Trek
and 2013’s
Star Trek Into Darkness, as well equally a J.J. Abrams collaborator on
Fringe. Given the box office numbers of the Abramsverse films information technology makes sense to put him in accuse, but it however made a lot of long-time Trekkies groan every bit we had hoped for a render to the kind of shows nosotros grew up on.

After three seasons of heavy action on
and the jaded grimdark of season one of
Picard, the first flavor of
Lower Decks
injected some levity back into the franchise, with parody that went upwardly to, but non quite over the line. It couldn’t, since it was intended to be canon. It had to fit alongside
Voyager. And so it packed in plenty of references to go along the wiki addicts over at the Star Expedition-centric Memory Blastoff busy, while indulging in erstwhile tropes like boozer Klingons, arena battles and the occasional omnipotent being. Information technology also took some direct swipes at the live action Trek shows, similar how coiffure members always seem to die in the about low-tech ways similar being impaled past spears or how
of form
the holodeck is used for sex stuff.

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Just those references were ever in a more general sense, framed in a “wouldn’t Ten be ridiculous” fashion that only long-term fans with deep knowledge of the franchise would fully understand. Until this calendar week’south episode, that is, where crew members of the
USS Titan
specifically call out the Enterprise D and its galactic cruise send mentality. Shakespearean plays and cord quartets? Peace conferences? How utterly boring compared to the abiding run-and-gun that the
seems to have been stuck in since last season. They judge the value of their work based on how exciting it is, and think that William Riker must take been bored to tears being stuck on that ship for seven years.

Of course,
fans know it was annihilation simply tiresome for Riker. He’south been locked in a mental institution, trapped in an alternating hereafter and even had god-like powers for an episode. And he
performing in jazz concerts with his trombone!

Pictured: Jonathan Frakes as Captain William T. Riker of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screen Grab CBS 2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


None of this slander sits right with new crew member Brad Boimler, who transferred over from the
USS Cerritos
at the end of last season. The Titan’due south pursuit of the dangerous Pakleds has the young lieutenant junior grade in a constant state of panic as he mans the flight conn position, a big alter from quietly toiling away on the lower decks of his onetime transport. But he’due south recognized that this is where the opportunities for promotion are, and soon finds himself on an undercover mission with his fellow span crew. At to the lowest degree, it’s supposed to be hugger-mugger — the other
members quickly get them embroiled in a shootout and facing certain death.

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That’s when Boimler takes the opportunity to tell his crewmates how he actually feels. “I’d dear to exist in a string quartet. I love that when Riker was on the Enterprise he was out at that place jamming on the trombone and catching love disease and acting in plays and meeting his identical transporter clone Thomas. That stuff might non seem as cool equally what you guys exercise, simply it’southward Starfleet, all the fashion.” His confession elicits like confessions from the other team members, before they manage to notice a manner out in archetype technobabble style.


For years Star Trek has always danced around the question of whether Starfleet was a military force. It employs naval ranks and the ships are outfitted with phasers and photon torpedoes for defense. But its stated purpose was exploration and other activities that help necktie the vast Federation together. The Abrams films spent all their time reacting to ane crisis after some other — the crew didn’t start an bodily mission of exploration until the very end of
Beyond, and in that location hasn’t been another picture show since to follow up on that.

engaged in wars with the Klingon Empire. On
the coiffure ended up hunting down the Xindi with a cadre of trained soldiers on board for its third season. Even
had to deal with the constant accusations that they were a conquering forcefulness as they struggled to get dwelling house.
Lower Decks
is our first look in a while at a Starfleet defended to exploration, with the crew of the
specializing in “second contact,” that is, getting communication and trade set up with the planets that flashier ships like the Enterprise run across in their adventures.

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Lower Decks
has always been a sort of commentary on the greater Star Trek philosophy, simply it’s never been as blatant equally Brad Boimler saying, “I didn’t join Starfleet to go far phaser fights. I signed up to explore, to be out in space making new discoveries and peaceful diplomatic solutions. That’s boldly going.”


The Onion video
takes one-time schoolhouse Trek fans to job for existence gatekeepers, for wallowing and fetishizing things that other folks observe dull. The new era of Trek has stretched the definition of what Star Trek could be, expanding into new genres and injecting a fiddling action to sate the appetites of modernistic audiences. But
Lower Decks
is the first time I’ve seen pushback from within the franchise itself. The show is basically proverb, “Sure, Star Trek can be exciting, but in that location’s a reason it became popular in the outset place!” Let’southward hope that with future programs similar
Strange New Worlds, Alex Kurtzman is listening.