This article delves into the details of the fourth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks.
There’s a risk when using the word “should” that we’re a short leap away from a tantrum to enforce the boundaries of What Proper Star Trek(™). But after watching most of the fourth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, it feels like the show’s prospects are among the most Star Trek-ish of the bunch. Part of this is because the show is mature enough to laugh at itself, and part of it is now allowing its characters to grow. This being a sitcom, its first duty is to be more funny than serious, but it’s a welcome sight to see the quartet escaping from the bottom rung.
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler since it’s in the trailer, press material, and TrekMovie promo interviews with the cast. At the start of the fourth season, some of the quartet are promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and out of their year together. Now they are expected to lead off tasks, take on real real responsibilities and lead other people. It affects them all differently, as Boimler struggles to grow into his role and Mariner fights every urge in his body not to sabotage himself with varying degrees of success. And here I think we see a side of Star Trek that is so often overlooked in its other properties.
After all, Starfleet is an organization of people coming together to do better for other people, but also to better themselves. With every daring scientific experiment and tooth-and-tooth rescue, we see more of the desire of senior officers to truly cherish their contributions. This also helps expand the series’ focus to include T’Lyn, a fan favorite who joined Cerritos at the end of last season. The larger view also gives Captain Freeman more of a central role in several episodes, particularly highlighting the times when his superiors ignore his knowledge. For all that we’ve seen of the manure rolling downhill and landing in Beta Shift’s trench, it’s not like those further up the chain don’t get their fair share of excrement as well.
I wonder if its status as Star Trek’s officially sanctioned Class Clown allows it to be more subversive than anyone gives it credit for. Both in this series and in the past, we see totems from Star Trek’s past time and time again commercialized and packaged for sale. It’s an easy way to milk fans’ nostalgia glands, but it’s also a potentially subtle critique of the nature of nostalgia. Although Lower Decks was created by the next generation of fans who want to recapture some of that magic, it’s also a commentary on that same desire. And the show’s creative team is clear-eyed enough to spot the show’s blind spots and mine them for comedy.
But for all that great talk, this is still Lower Decks, a series that can bring you to tears at the sight of dueling couples [SPOILERS] trying to compliment each other. And if nothing else, it’s a pleasure to spend more time with the fiercest and weirdest crew in Starfleet.
The first two episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks will be available to watch on Paramount+ on Thursday, September 7. A new episode arrives on the following Thursdays.