When I first heard the name of this episode — Moist Vessel — I thought for sure it meant that the crew had unleashed some sort of goo aboard the Cerritos. A goo, which was very difficult to clean up. I was a bit off. Well, way off.
This one was a lot of fun, and there were some unexpected callbacks to prior series and the films too!
We join the U.S.S. Cerritos as they work alongside the U.S.S. Merced (NCC-87075) as they move an ancient generation ship, which looks like some kind of gigantic insect. The crew is still aboard, but mummified and dead in “cryo-units.” In her speech to her bridge crew, Captain Freeman said that Starfleet is interested in a mysterious fluid which “generate life from inorganic matter.”
Freeman introduced Captain Durango (a Tellurite) to her team, saying they worked together before on the U.S.S. Illinois. But as she did, Ensign Mariner began to yawn noticeably.
Freeman asked if she’d had trouble sleeping, but Mariner said that she hadn’t. She was in the room to pass out PADDs with more information about the mission. Durango said that towing the alien ship will be a delicate operation due to the danger of destabilizing the cargo.
Mariner yawned again.
“Sorry, it’s just so much information,” she said. “I don’t know how you guys aren’t yawning.”
Durango got mad, but as Freeman reassured him, Mariner yawned again.
In her ready room, Freeman lectured and yelled at Mariner. The ensign did not appear to care, giving her mom the “sarcastic Vulcan salute” out the door. As she left, Ransom walked in with sensor data. Freeman said that she thought Mariner stayed up late to think of ways to ‘piss her off.’
Ransom said that he wasn’t sure why Freeman hadn’t kicked Mariner off the ship yet. He then suggested that Mariner get assigned all the worst jobs on the Cerritos.
“That way, transferring will be her idea, and not yours,” said Ransom.
Freeman liked the idea and eventually talked herself into thinking that she came up with it.
Later, in the lower deck bunk area, Boimler danced around when he found out his assignments. Tendi told Rutherford that she was going to watch an ascension, which he had never heard of.
“Some people who master the art of alien meditation can achieve inner peace,” said Tendi. “Then they transcend the physical realm and become a being of pure energy.”
“Like a Q or the Traveler?” Rutherford asked. Tendi explained that it was studying so much that one becomes the test.
When Mariner checked her assignments, they were pretty bad. Turbolift lubing, holodeck waste removal, and scraping carbon off the carbon filter… which Boimler said were the worst jobs on the ship.
When Tendi entered the cabin where the ascension was to occur, they were just finishing a sand mandala. This is the Tibetan Buddhist ceremony of placing colored sand in intricate designs. The people in the room were sitting around the mandala and meditating, and Tendi walked through the pattern to check out a gong.
She knocked the gong off its perch, and it rolled through the mandala. Tendi tried to catch it before it did, but she made sure the design was completely destroyed. She tried to recreate the design as everyone else watched.
Later, when Mariner started the turbolift greasing, Shaxs got in while she was working, and her face filled with grease when he stopped. While she used a phaser to clean the carbon off the carbon filter, she created a game out of it. Ransom observed her having fun, and he grimaced.
The Cerritos and the Merced fired off their tractor beams at the generation ship. Rutherford seemed like he was enjoying himself as he watched their fluctuations.
Tendi visited the crewman whose ascension she interrupted. He told her not to worry about it and not to bother him. She offered him a Hiverian metronome, which might help him relax and get back to ascension. O’Connell (voiced by actor Haley Joel Osment) grabbed the metronome and smashed it.
On the bridge, Freeman asked Ransom if Mariner had submitted her transfer papers yet.
“She’s… having a great time,” he responded. She told him to give her worse jobs, but Ransom said that he already gave her the most terrible available.
Freeman walked into the ready room with Ransom, wondering what they could assign her that could possibly be worse … Freeman observed Ransom checking out his biceps. She then summoned Mariner to the conference room.
Mariner walked into a full table of command staff. To her horror, Freeman promoted Mariner! While Mariner froze, Boimler watched from the corner in shock. Mariner tried to leave right away, but Freeman would not let her until the end of a “very important meeting.”
Shaxs started the meeting, which was about the new conference room chairs.
“HEY! We all agreed that a strip of leather was too ostentatious,” snarled Dr. T’Ana. Mariner sat silently and watched. Freeman smiled.
“Strap in,” she told Mariner. “This will take a while.”
Later, she worked on an audit. As soon as she was done, Ransom asked her to “audit the audit,” which was contained on a massive pile of PADDs. Mariner gave a Marge Simpson-style moan.
After that, Mariner was called into another meeting for management training, which was the senior staff singing and performing on a small stage. Then she had to report to “executive poker,” where all of them folded.
In the cafeteria, Tendi complained to Rutherford about her problems with O’Connell. She said that she would study twice as hard to help him get back to ‘ascension’ status.
Boimler went to visit Mariner in her new quarters, which she got with the promotion. He asked her what she did to get the promotion, and she said: “same thing I always do.” They agreed that it didn’t make sense. As they talked, she was called to Ops to look at the “scheduled ops.”
“So… they like when you break rules, eh?” said Boimler after Mariner left.
We then see Tendi in a Peruvian hat following O’Connell around chanting in Latin. She told him that she was mixing and matching prayers so they could “beat the system.” He told her to leave him alone.
“You don’t get to be the hero here, because you are the villain!” said O’Connell. She fell on the floor and grabbed his foot, and he dragged her away.
Meanwhile, as Boimler thought of ways to be “bad,” he was assigned to bridge duty. He happened to have a mug of hot coffee.
“Oh, I’ll report to bridge duty, and they’ll get exactly what they deserve!” Boimler said, not realizing that he was still transmitting to the bridge. He blamed it on the holodeck — Moriarty, to be specific.
NOTE: That little line was a hilarious callback to the TNG Season 2 episode “Elementary, Dear Data,” when Prof. Moriarty gained control over the Enterprise.
Mariner reported to Freeman, saying that they were “towing a rusted old ship of mummies.” The captain said that if Mariner didn’t like her duties, she could be transferred to another ship. Mariner declined. Freeman reminded Mariner that she would have to be there later for Ransom’s birthday party. The party’s theme would be Commander Ransom’s time spent in Barcelona, and he would be performing on his guitar.
Mariner accused Freeman of being a “dick.”
Captain Durango ordered that the Merced get closer to the generation ship since they should be in a superior position to the ship. Ransom tried to get Durango to move the Merced back into formation, but Durango refused.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you, Commander!” said Durango. “The protection of this artifact is my duty! Mine!”
Since the Merced was too close, a panel broke free from the generation ship, which allowed some of the fluid to break out of the ancient vessel. Soon, the Merced was pulling the compound onto its hull through the tractor beam. The ship started to transform into organic matter.
NOTE: I’ve got to compliment Chris Westlake on his music through this sequence. It was really super-dramatic and added to the tension!
The Cerritos tried to break free from the terraforming fluid in the tractor beam, but not before some of it got onto the ship.
While Ransom was relaying the situation to Captain Freeman, Boimler spilled coffee on Ransom’s crotch. This was Boimler’s attempt to be bad, and very, very funny. That reminded me of something that ought to happen on The Office rather than Star Trek. But hey, it’s a comedy!
The ship started to rock as organic tentacles grew all over. Rocks burst into the conference room where Mariner and Freeman were arguing. In the corridors, icy rock blew through the floor (much like what happened to Kirk while fighting Kruge in Star Trek III).
In engineering, water flooded the warp core area, trapping Tendi and O’Connell. They continued to argue, and she admitted that she didn’t care if he ascended or not; she just wanted him to like her.
“It kills me when someone doesn’t like me!” Tendi said. As she spoke, a small glowing coral exploded, knocking O’Connell unconscious. She rescued him, and he admitted that he faked the ascension stuff just to stand out from the Starfleet crowd. He said that he was a “jerk” and used Tendi’s interruption as cover.
“We’re both jerks!” said Tendi. “We wanted to be liked and lied about it!”
Mariner and Freeman used shards of stone to tunnel their way free. Mariner said that they could reverse the destruction by getting to the environmental controls. Freeman critiqued Mariner’s choice of rock tools, and they bickered some more.
They broke through to an open area, which required them to use vines to reach the ground, fighting the whole way down. Freeman said that Mariner needed to start acting more mature. Still, Mariner accused Freeman of trying to trick her into transferring. Freeman had nothing to say.
“Yeah! That’s what I thought — Carol!” Mariner quipped as she repelled.
“We wanted to be liked and lied about it!”
“You did not just call me Carol!” yelled Freeman.
In engineering, Tendi used a glowing choral to free her and O’Connell from the water. When they got to a dry corridor, a rock fell toward Tendi. O’Connell pushed her out of the way, and the rock crushed him. He told Tendi to save herself.
Freeman and Mariner arrived at the ship’s environmental controls. Mariner came up with a plan to change the air pressure and flush out organic growth, and Freeman agreed.
“You read my mission brief!” Freeman said, proudly.
“Maybe… just a little bit,” said Mariner.
The fix worked, and the gasses Mariner released dissolved the organic matter. All was well. O’Connell and Tendi kissed, but as he did, he began to float. He was ascending. Tendi figured that it was due to when he attempted to sacrifice himself for her.
He started to glow, and his skin started to burn. He bounced off the walls and the hull. He made a shape of a giant month, saying that he was everywhere and nowhere. He said he could “see everything” as he turned into “pure energy.” He then said that the universe was balanced on the back of a giant koala.
“The … secret … of life … is…” but before he could finish his thought, he disappeared, leaving only his Starfleet-issue boots behind.
“Your chair, next to mine, spending all of our time together — an unstoppable mommy-daughter team!”
Ransom reported that the Merced was exposed to more terraforming effects, and its life support was getting ready to fail. Freeman and Mariner beamed the Merced crew aboard the generation ship.
“Durango should be right at home with some dusty old mummies!” said Freeman. When they saved the crew of the Merced, they hugged until they realized that they were hugging.
Later, the Cerritos dropped off the generation ship at a starbase. Freeman chatted with Mariner as Admiral Vassery came to visit. The two agreed that working together was better.
“Maybe you are fit to be one of my senior officers,” said Freeman. “Your chair, next to mine, spending all of our time together — an unstoppable mommy-daughter team!”
Mariner didn’t like that.
When Vassery came into the room, he gave them both medals for their bravery. He then said he must get back to work.
“Apparently, we’ve picked up a strange signal on our sens-orrs,” said Vassery.
Mariner immediately made fun of that. Freeman tried to smooth it over, but Vassery got upset, and Mariner yawned.
Later, Tendi told Rutherford that she realized that “life’s too short to be hung up on whether everyone on the ship likes me.” Rutherford agreed, saying that there were probably a few people who didn’t like her. Tendi laughed, then violently demanded that Rutherford tell her who exactly did not like her.
Mariner came back down in her red uniform without her second “pip.” Boimler got upset when she told him that she got demoted. She had what he wanted.
“How are we even still friends?” said Boimler.
Mariner said that it was because she still had a senior officer access card! Boimler got excited to get the “good” macaroni and cheese with the breaded top.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
Another triumph. Each Lower Decks episode is like a combination of the best of TOS and TNG, with the craziness that TAS allowed. I can’t count on my fingers how many funny references they make to classic Trek per episode. Maybe I could keep track with fingers and toes.
RATING: 4 out of 5