‘Lower Decks’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is an intriguing, insightful ‘Star Trek: TNG’ episode that focuses on the development of four friends aboard the Enterprise. These are four junior officers that seek promotion during this episode.

What’s interesting about this episode is that it and a ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ episode became an inspiration for Russell T. Davies to write one of the ‘Doctor Who’ episodes in the new series. Random!

Believe it or not, This ‘Star Trek’ episode helped to be the inspiration for the ‘Doctor Who’ episode, ‘Love and Monsters’. Considering how fans reacted to that episode, that does feel pretty ironic here.

Although to be fair, there is some merit in the approaches to these two distinctive episodes from two sci-fi franchises. For one thing, the two episodes focus on the guest characters than the regulars.

Both feature a group of friends seeking positive ideals before it ends in tragedy. The difference is that ‘Love and Monsters’ took on a more lighthearted approach that wasn’t so well-received by fans.

‘Lower Decks’ however takes on a more serious approach and you do feel for the four main supporting characters featured in this. Had ‘Love and Monsters’ gone in this direction, it’d be better.

The four Enterprise junior officers are as follows. There’s Dan Gauthier as Sam Lavelle; Shannon Fill as Sito Jaxa the Bajaron, Alexander Enberg as Taurik the Vulcan and Patti Yasutake as Alyssa Ogawa.

Alyssa Ogawa has been a recurring guest character in ‘Star Trek’ already, so it was nice to see more of what her friends are like aboard the Enterprise. How long she’s known them is not elaborated on.

Sam Lavelle is a young, ambitious ensign seeking promotion to be a lieutenant. You could say he’s almost like a younger Riker, though Riker wouldn’t concur. He’s eager to please to get his promotion.

Sito Jaxa is also an ensign who works alongside Worf in security. She’s been in ‘Star Trek’ before. If you don’t recognise her, she was in the ‘TNG’ episode, ‘The First Duty’. We’ll get back to this bit later.

Taurik is a logical Vulcan who works in engineering with Geordi La Forge. As a matter of fact, Alexander Enberg would go on to play another Vulcan character in the ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ TV series.

Alyssa Ogawa is already Beverly Crusher’s right-hand nurse in sick bay. Beverly is praiseworthy of Alyssa’s work in sick bay and reveals to her that she is considering promoting her to be a lieutenant.

As the episode progresses, it gets revealed that Sam Lavelle and Sito Jaxa are being considered for the same job by Riker and Deanna during their personnel evaluations. This has these two concerned.

What I like though is that it doesn’t end up in a bitter rivalry between Lavelle and Jaxa. They’re not shown as being competitive as the two remain constant friends. This is something I really appreciate.

The four friends also have another friend in Bruce Beatty as Ben, who works as a waiter in Ten Forward. Ben more or less plays the Guinan role in this story. Actually this is something I’ve noticed.

Guinan doesn’t appear in Season 7 of ‘TNG’ at all. He would return in ‘Star Trek: Generations’, but where was she in Season 7 of ‘TNG’. Did Whoopi Goldberg go to make one of the ‘Sister Act’ movies?

Very soon, the Enterprise comes across an escape pod within Cardassian space. In their own ways, the four junior officers become involved in this important secret mission the Enterprise undertakes.

Going back to Sito Jaxa, she was involved in the experiment that went wrong along with Wesley Crusher and the Robert Duncan McNeill character in ‘The First Duty’. This gets referenced in the tale.

Picard chastises Sito her actions during that incident, considering her unworthy for promotion. I did like it when Sito stood up for herself to Picard. Worf helped Sito in that lesson involving a blind-fold.

One thing confuses me though. Sito says that ‘The First Duty’ incident happened three years ago. Three years? I thought it’d be two years since ‘The First Duty’ was in Season 5 and we’re in Season 7.

The episode also features Don Reilly as Joret Dal, a Cardassian who is actually a Federation operative. Both Joret Dal and Sito go off on a mission in a stolen shuttle craft that all ends in tragedy.

‘Lower Decks’ had me in tears once I finished watching the episode. The fate of what happened to Sito is so heartbreaking and the final scene between the three remaining friends and Worf is moving.

‘Lower Decks’ (TNG) rating – 8/10

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