The finale to season four of Star Trek: Lower Decks is here. Can the season go out on a high or beam itself into being forgotten?
The finale to the fourth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks is here. After last week’s episode left me feeling cold, I asked if the finale could redeem the season. I said that the finale would really have to go some to make the season memorable. I mean, the finale to season 3 was outstanding, and couldn’t be matched. Despite the return of Nick Locarno (Robert Duncan McNeill), episode 9 had me thinking the series was running out of steam, running out of galaxy to survive. The question is, can the season redeem itself with the finale? Or is it ready to beam into the TV series Scrapheap?
Mariner faces her past.
What would you think if I said the series was tied to the episode of The Next Generation with the Starburst manoeuvre? What if I told you that as well as Robert Duncan McNeill, some more guest voices make themselves known? How would you react to the Federation being threatened by a certain torpedo from Trek lore? Of the music being a combination of Lower Decks and a certain James Horner score? And the premise to the episode harking back to the best film of the original crew’s time? Would that interest you?
Has the episode redeemed the series? You’re damn right it has! Leaning heavily on the ending of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, the episode is one for the ages. Even some of the battle in the Mutara Nebula is replicated here in animated form. And it works brilliantly. I lost count of how many times I ended up smiling from ear to ear. And was bashing the arm of my seat. Fans of the series or of Star Trek in general will be punching the air in delight. This is what we wanted. This is what the show needed as a finale. And this is more like it.
May Darmon is the writer behind the episode. And she has written something that fans will remember for a long time to come. She has managed to dip back into Trek’s past and construct something that not only amuses us but also has an edge to it that we don’t expect. By having Mariner have dealings with Nova Squadron before the Starburst accident that saw Locarno thrown out of Starfleet, she has set up a narrative that resonates. By bringing Locarno back as the head of Nova Fleet and finally revealing the mystery the season has had hanging over it, she has managed to give us something special.
Even with the comedic aspects and the usual Mariner and Boimler comedy, the episode has a darker feel to it. Of course, most of this is played for laughs at times. But just the feel of what we are seeing at times is enough to transport us back to the classic 1982 adventure. By combining what we expect from the series with what we’ve experienced before, the episode is a complete winner. And one that comes mightily close to topping last season’s finale. Almost but not quite. But she deserves plaudits for the effort she has put into the episode.
After a letdown last week in the build-up to this finale, we were lulled into a false sense. We thought the series couldn’t get back on track. Or at least I did. I was wrong. Handing us an episode that wasn’t the best made me think the series was running on empty. For that, I apologise. This is the best episode of the entire season. It is witty, enjoyable, and completely engrossing. The way it all plays out is exemplary. Using Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan as a basis and harking back to The Next Generation and adding it to Lower Decks is a masterstroke in itself. One that pays off in spades.
The end of the episode sees the departure of one of our fabulous four. Who it is, I shall leave you to find out. The emotion of one of the remaining trio at this gives us a sense of sadness. But then the departing member says something that brightens our mood as the episode ends. They will return in the inevitable season 5. How or why they will return is pretty easy to guess. But it’s the waiting for the resolution to the question that will play on our minds. But that is for next year or even 2025. Until then, sit back, get ready, and enjoy a season finale that was worth the wait. It truly is Warp Factor fun.
Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 is now available to stream completely, alongside the first three seasons on Paramount+. To start your seven-day free trial, click here.
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