Overall, this week’s episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks is a fun but instantly forgettable episode that fails to add anything of real relevance to the season as a whole.
It’s time for our weekly installment of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. After last week’s hijinks with Badgey, it’s time to return to mundane shiftwork aboard the Cerritos. But things are never dull when the Lower Decks crew are involved. And when a routine away mission arrives, Boimler, Rutherford, Tendi, and Mariner are assigned to the landing party. Their mission? To investigate a series of caves…much to Mariner’s disdain. But can a typical Star Trek cave adventure build upon the foundations of its predecessors? Or is Season 4 starting to run out of dilithium?
Sadly, dear readers, this week is a mixed bag. Although “Caves” is a fun and serviceable episode, the tired flashback trope rears its ugly head and whisks us away to experience a “Cave Story” from each of the crew. Thankfully, these flashbacks aren’t a retelling of past episodes, which is a saving grace. But after teasing us with a mysterious spacecraft destroying vessels throughout the quadrant, the overall plot of the season is discarded for a disposable episode that just about does enough to keep us entertained. Don’t get me wrong, this week’s hijinks are entertaining in their own right, with each member of the crew using what they’ve learned from past exploits to overcome a predicament. But overall, this episode feels like filler designed to pad out the season before we reach the inevitable conclusion.
As a rule, the franchise has always played with the trapped-in-a-cave formula to great effect. After all, “The Devil in the Dark” is the most famous cave outing for the crew of The Original Series. And Mike McMahan and his brilliant team poke fun at these past exploits in their usual satirical manner. In fact, Mariner delivers a fun running commentary about how away missions in caves always end in disaster. So when things inevitably go awry, she constantly berates her crewmates and reminds them about her blatant accuracy!
Once the flashbacks begin, each member of the away team retells a story from a past mission where they went on a journey of self-discovery and attained a talent needed for the current emergency. The exploits prove to be a jaw-dropper for the team as first-time revelations leave them all stunned. Especially where new friends come into play. In truth, these divulgences lead to a true bonding experience that strengthens the relationships of the core four. And that is a joy to behold, especially after the events of the flashbacks come to the fore. But sadly, it never feels like enough to fill an episode. Some of the jokes are hit-and-miss and many of the anecdotes would be better suited in lighter animated fare, and the result is our first instantly forgettable episode of the season.
Yes, the team-building brings the team closer together. Yes, the traditional creature in a cave trope is refreshed and reused for all to see. And yes, many of the traditional tropes are dropped in for comedic effect. But when all is said and done, there is very little relevance here, and in truth, the unveiling of the identity of mysterious attackers threatening vessels throughout the quadrant is way overdue.
Overall, this week’s episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks is a fun but instantly forgettable episode that fails to add anything of real relevance to the season as a whole. Although Mike McMahan and his brilliant team have given many of the old tropes a fun and contemporary polish, it is nothing we haven’t seen before. And in truth, they pale in comparison to their live-action predecessors. An animated series has more leniency than its live-action counterparts when using the building blocks of the franchise. But I expected more than the stereotypical fare we’ve seen done dozens of times before. Let’s hope next week kicks back into gear because, on this showing, season 4 may be running out of dilithium.
Caves is the first disappointing blemish in an otherwise noteworthy season, but it does what it says on the replicator. It’s a fun and disposable twenty-five-minute lark that will dissipate into the ether as soon as the credits roll. And sometimes, we as viewers just want something to tune out to. This episode will satisfy that need in abundance. So settle in, replicate some popcorn, pour yourself a Romulan Ale, and get ready to enjoy some warp factor fun!
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!