In Review: Star Trek Lower Decks -Cupid’s Errant Arrow (Episode 5)

"no problems coming up with week to week issues for the crew to solve"

Synopsis: The U.S.S. Cerritos is on another routine mission, trying to rehome a species that live on a collapsing moon. They are assisting the U.S.S. Vancouver in the task. In typical fashion, they are the ones helping out, not leading. Meanwhile, Mariner (Tawny Newsome) decides that Boimler’s (Jack Quaid) girlfriend, Barb might not be all she is claiming.

 

The Story

A standard intro here, as we learn the mission parameters. The writers have no problems coming up with a week to week issues for the crew to solve. That works well as this is a lighthearted show, mainly. It’s hard to imagine viewers ever truly being gripped by a cliff-hanger or any huge story-arcs occurring. There were so many references to the show’s history this week that it was much easier to lose count than to keep it. That’s the show’s strength and it must be said that it does it well.

Boimler (Jack Quaid) and his girlfriend took the limelight this week. It was so much better to see Mariner (Tawny Newsome) as his protector than his jealous “friend-zoned” would-be lover. The writing dealt well with a traditional trope and managed to put its own spin on things. Viewers know Mariner is good at what she does and so we’re willing to go with the idea something wasn’t right. In the end, she is and isn’t right, or is right that something is going on, but the results are surprising and well-planned.

Vendi (Noel Wells) and Rutherford’s (Eugene Cordero) romance looks more like blooming and this week saw some crucial development there. They are very clearly similarly geeky and their love of engineering came through. This is subtle, but bonds them and promises more. Great development that’s controlled and built steadily.

 

The Voices and Characters

 

As the characters become more familiar, the task of getting the most from the voice actors grows. They are more than up to the job and continue to impress. Going through so many emotions can’t be easy when all you have to go from is your imagination. The way the actors give themselves over shows that they must have a great grasp of who they’re portraying. That shines through, especially when Mariner is showing her protective side towards  Boimler. There is enough of Mariner being reserved and maintaining she is looking out for Boimler because of a sense of duty, balanced with her genuinely caring. Once she realises that barb has no ill intent she is much softer and warmer, which is a side to her character Tawny Newsome’s depiction accomplishes brilliantly.

The speed the characters talk at is impressive, as the show is so short. Vendi (Noel Wells) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) manage to keep up with one another, despite the chat being quick as light-speed. There is great understanding and even chemistry coming through, which is impressive seeing as they’re just voicing them.

The Animation

 

A starship forcibly imploding a moon would have meant lots of expense and technical wizardry for a live-action show. It was done with ease here, and for a limited style of animation, a good job was done. The phasers do look like Starfleet phasers too, which shows that research has been done to keep the show in-keeping with the extended universe.

Another good set-piece was the shape-changer that killed Mariner’s friend, during her previous posting. Because it’s all cartoon the sequencing works well with flashback scenes. It’s not the first time they’ve used this. It was fun to see a different looking Mariner, with big hair. The uniforms were also those that the TNG wore during their film years. Again, more attention to detail. What might not be drawn with anything that is really innovative, at least there is accuracy and that scores some points. The parasite was also well imagined and fun.

 

Overall

This show is like the track on an album by a band that you love, that you like the least. You leave it on. Over time, you find yourself disliking it less, which isn’t the same as liking it more. Soon, you’re tapping your foot to it and you don’t even look forward to it being over. The episode is one of the stronger of the five released so far and more cerebral than others. It’s best to take a show like this on its own terms. It aims to be clever in its use of Easter eggs and it does do that. Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that the events are canonical to the others shows.

Characters make a show and they’re only ever really as good as them. This show has designed some wonderful ones and whilst some aspects are caricatures of other established characters (it’s easy to imagine Boimler as a young Reg Barclay and Ransom — Jerry O’Connell is a clear Riker parody, right down to the high-knee pose) they do have their own charm. Mariner is a great strong, female role model. She is capable, but does what she wants and isn’t obsessed with how she looks. It’s a stronger show and more enjoyable yarn than most fans of the franchise will admit.

8.2
Star Trek Lower Decks -Cupid's Errant Arrow (Episode 5)
  • Story
    8.8
  • Voices
    8.4
  • Animation
    7.6
  • Overall
    8.1
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