Season 4 of Star Trek: Lower Decks has so far been all about growth for the Lower Decks crew. First, almost everyone got promoted in “Twovix.” By Episode 2, “I have No Bones, Yet I Must Flee,” Rutherford got his hard-earned promotion as well. Even beyond the pomp and circumstance, Rutherford learns to advocate for himself (“You can just ask for things you deserve?!”) while Mariner moved beyond her self-sabotage and avoided a well-deserved demotion.
In Episode 3, “In the Cradle of Vexilon,” Boimler is taking on his first mission command on the Federation World of Corisonia, a cool sci-fi ring structure run by a not-evil computer. His team is in charge of retrofitting a power relay left over from the First Contact mission. Boims at first seems unwilling to let his crew of ensigns do anything at all. Instead he insists on demonstrating the process of changing out the power cylinders five or six times all by himself. He tries to convince us that it’s a “learning experience,” but deep down we see that he either doesn’t trust the junior officers to do the job or he’s afraid of being responsible for the inevitable red-shirt away mission death.
Meanwhile, Vexilon (the not-evil computer, we promise this time) is in dire need of a software update. Captain Freeman displays a rare bit of hot-headedness and declares that since she took a minor in Archaic Technology at the Academy she’ll have no trouble with a thousand-year-old bespoke planetary OS. Of course, things go sideways when the update is interrupted and the planet (sorry, ring structure) goes into full Genesis Project terraforming reboot mode.
As volcanoes start to appear and rain fire down from the skies, Boimler discovers the true meaning of leadership: let the ensigns help so everybody doesn’t die. He also finds the strength to overcome his impostor syndrome and to trust his crew to get the job done and save the planet. In the end, some red shirt did die, but it was only Bradward and he’s fine now.
Star Trek: Lower Decks review, Episode 403, “In the Cradle of Vexilon”
Back on the Cerritos, Mariner, Tendi and Rutherford are prepared for a bit of downtime. To celebrate, they explore the Anomaly Storage Room before they get called away for a very important task. Tendi suggests that the “find the one malfunctioning chip out of thousands” task reminds her of Orion hazing. Does it qualify as growth that Tendi has finally dropped the doe-eyed innocence that’s plagued her since season 1?
Once the trio get fed up hunting for a needle in a needle stack, they set up a counter prank involving a talkative Betazoid gift box, a Wadi holo-game (Deep Space Nine, Episode 110, “Move Along Home”) and officer Dirk’s quarters.
When Dirk reveals his childhood trauma at the hands of a Wadi game, the trap must be undone. Rutherford runs to disassemble the trap (and speed runs the game) while Tendi tackles the isolinear chip task. Mariner runs interference with the officer, willfully suffering through hours of discussion about Tellarite Slop-Jazz. Another point in Mariner’s growth column: she allowed herself to be bored to death rather than get her friends in trouble.