“In the Cradle of Vexilon”
What They Say:
Tendi is summoned back to Orion for a wedding.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Similar to past seasons, it always feels like it takes a couple of episodes to “get into the groove” of the show. I enjoyed what we had so far this season to be sure but the overactive aspect of it is an adjustment as I don’t watch too many shows like that. This episode delivers something that’s definitely in my favor, however, with a Tendi-focused story. I love that we continue to get the Orions explored and expanded through her, and presumably drawing on other works over the years, as they’ve gotten little love, unlike a lot of other species in the Star Trek world. Just the bits we had that were taken and utilized for the Strange New Worlds crossover delighted me with what it achieved.
The cold open for this is fun as we get to see an Orion ship looking to deal with the mystery ship we’ve seen recently only to have them blown to pieces. Just the nods to their own lower decks crew is fun but the show highlights the seriousness of what’s going on quickly. While that unfolds, we see how everyone is handling their days now that they’ve been promoted. For Tendi, she’s surprised that there’s more downtime as the work is different but not so constant, which has her getting an assignment to go to Orion which she isn’t thrilled about. At the same time, we get to see how Boimler and Rutherford are handling being roommates, which is to say they’re politely at each other’s throats. That sets its own kind of fun to unfold here as they continually raise the stakes of how they’re polite but frustrated with aspects of this situation. It works well because both are just so much fun to watch this way and we haven’t had too much time with just the two of them together lately.
The main draw is watching Tendi and showing off the Orion culture, or at least a part of it, as T’Lyn and Mariner come with her. Tendi’s just frustrated with all of it and the other two are just loving all the weirdness, especially since Tendi comes from a family of wealth. And has now been asked to help save her sister since she’s been kidnapped as part of the tradition of an Orion wedding. Tendi’s reactions are great as she’s just exhausted by her culture – hence her draw to Starfleet – while the amusement we get from Mariner and the light-hearted interest from T’lyn is a great balance to it. Especially since Tendi comes from such wealth and power in the family that everyone is so deferential to her. Tendi handling all of this with an exhausted attitude works so well while trying to downplay it that you end up liking her all the more as she goes through the rituals while trying to play innocent.
There’s so much covered of a certain seedy aspect of Orion society here that it’s just a delight – especially with Mariner constantly getting stabbed. She and T’Lyn fit in well with the costume but it’s Tendi’s show for the most part as she navigates it with all of its weirdness, especially since she’s using her Starfleet side in order to do so. Getting to the heart of the kidnapping and just seeing so many neat parts of her world, and knowing more of who Tendi was when she was younger, does a great job of breathing even more life into the character. It just makes me hope all the more for a good live-action version of all of the cast at some point. And playing this out against the other storyline with the boys as they help to broker a truce using southern charm is just the kind of strange path that this show always takes and handles well.
The show gets to some good family stuff between Tendi and her sister and while it’s a familiar piece overall, it’s executed very well and definitely makes Tendi a lot richer of a character. Everything involving this storyline delivers in a big way, from the places we get to visit, the humor of the seedy side of things, and Mariner continually getting stabbed. T’Lyn continues to be an intriguing addition to the show as well. She’s fitting in pretty well here and has me wondering what her story arc will be in the big picture. The Cerritos side has its humor to be sure, and some of it is certainly more forced than the Orion storyline, but it goes for the blunt laughs in a good way and provides the necessary contrast to the main storyline. And, as I said, just getting more time between the two boys is fun to watch.
Streamed By: Paramount+