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Star Trek: Lower Decks’ serendipitous absurdity (season 4 trailer).

Ever gazed in wonder at the complex and polished architecture of Star Trek’s galaxy-spanning odyssey, only to find yourself tripping over the janitor’s mop? Welcome to Star Trek: Lower Decks. Mike McMahan’s masterstroke of an animated series, which draws you in with its exciting mishmash of classic Trekkian grandeur and the wry, quirky chaos of the Cerritos’ lower-deckers.

It’s a hilarious shift of perspective, like seeing the grandeur of Mount Rushmore through the lens of the guy who operates the gift shop. But don’t be fooled – within this seemingly ludicrous setup thrives a reverent and whimsical exploration of the Star Trek Universe, albeit viewed from a less-than-glamorous, duct-tape-filled corner.

A spiritual successor to the 1970s Star Trek: The Animated Series, Lower Decks catapults us into a world where the holodeck malfunctions are someone’s actual problem and warp core maintenance is met with eye-rolls rather than awe-inspiring music. As we stumble into the day-to-day lives of the “lower deckers,” we encounter characters that are distinctly and delightfully unconventional for a Star Trek series.

Take Ensign Beckett Mariner, for instance. A character so irreverently adept at Starfleet operations that her constant demotions seem a paradox. And then there’s the endearing disaster that is Ensign Brad Boimler, who embodies every “model employee” ever stuck in the purgatory of middle management. If Starfleet competency were a highway, Brad’s got the written rules of the road memorized but swerves off the road every time he actually gets behind the wheel.

We also meet the utterly fanatical Ensign D’Vana Tendi, who could probably assemble a warp coil blindfolded, and Ensign Sam Rutherford, who is to tech what a Trekkie is to a trivia quiz. Together, they illuminate the Star Trek universe with an entirely different kind of starlight – one that flickers with practical jokes, snide remarks, and the occasional existential crisis.

However, this starlight doesn’t outshine the grand scheme of the Star Trek Universe. Lower Decks cleverly weaves in various references to previous Star Trek series, tickling the nostalgic bone of hardcore fans while offering newcomers an unorthodox introduction to the franchise. Whether it’s the return of fan-favorite species or the resurrection of long-dead characters, a la the tenacious Shaxs, there’s a delightful sense of familiarity within the absurdity.

Much like its name, the show’s reception has had its highs and lows. Its unique blend of space-age slapstick and dry wit has found a somewhat polarized audience. Critics have compared it to a tribble: You either love its endearing quirkiness or it multiplies too fast and before you know it, you’re knee-deep in existential dread wondering how Star Trek ended up here.

But let’s face it. In a universe as expansive as Star Trek, there’s room for a few rogue tribbles. Star Trek: Lower Decks may not carry the ceremonious weight of its predecessors, but it does bring the franchise’s comedic potential to light-speed. As it gears up for its fourth season, fans and critics alike have to wonder: where will the chaotic genius of Lower Decks take us next?


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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