“Old Friends, New Planets”
What They Say:
Captain Freeman assigns the Lower Deckers an overly safe mission to try and keep a self-destructive Mariner out of danger.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The season draws to a close with this episode and it’s been a very fun season overall. The larger storyline of the season was kept to small bits largely at the start of most episodes and even then it just gave us a taste of lower-deck crews across different species and types of ships. And then we got some of the reveals in the previous episode that tied us back to some of the better Next Generation material while also explaining why Mariner is like she is. That made a lot of sense and was great to connect with events that go back to the Dominion War and other aspects of the Federation and the way larger wars have become more of the norm instead of simple space exploration and the unknown. The shift from episodic to serialized storytelling across the various seasons necessitated some changes but it also came at some conflict with fans over what they wanted out of Star Trek.
Getting the flashback material to that episode and showing us more of what was going on and blending Mariner into it with her admiration of Sito is fun – and getting some Wesley time makes me laugh too. With Locarno and his group creating Nova Fleet instead of his squadron, he’s excited to have Mariner there but she’s pretty wary of all of this. Mariner’s trying to play it that she’s sorta joining up and Locarno wants to use that as propaganda, so it’s a problematic situation – especially with Locarno making his public statement with her in view. His idea of creating an independent fleet has him trying to recruit from other lower decks people, essentially creating a lot more coups that may not be quite so bloodless as they have been, definitely creates a complicated situation. And he’s definitely going big in all of this as he has a black market Genesis device that gives him some real power in all of this. It’s a pretty solid sell on his part but Mariner handles it beautifully as she should for a show like this.
The rest of those on Locarno’s ship are all in on this since they’ve gone over already and they wouldn’t fare well upon capture and going back to their homeworlds. We also get to see Tendi going back to her homeworld with the Cerritos in order to get help from there in dealing with Nova Fleet since it’s right up their alley and Tendi has made some good connections there recently. A little trial-by-combat material there for Tendi with the crew in attendance is definitely going to up her reputation and picking the therapist from the ship as their proxy to fight is great because it has Tendi using some fun techniques in order to win the match. It’s just as absurd as you’d think but it also goes in a comically unexpected way to complicate the situation. Tendi putting herself in the middle of all of this and her offering herself up is definitely something that could reshape things a bit going forward.
There are a lot of good twists and turns as they work out how to get to where Mariner is – which makes Boimler an acting captain as Freeman goes for a big play – and it’s a lot of fun watching the animation for how they get past the Trynar shield and interrupt the conversation Locanro is having with Mariner that brings us back to those days with Sito. It all falls apart pretty quickly for Locarno at this point and even if we do get a Wrath of Khan-like sequence for it. Having it all come down to that beautiful and terrifying Genesis creation moment is interesting since it hasn’t been used much to my knowledge in the properties over the years and creates all kinds of trouble. Of course, Locarno gets all of the grief in the end and Freeman manages to come out on top since even though she abandoned duty she opened a new avenue of communication with the Orions. It’s a good clean-up moment for all of that, including how the new planet is likely going to be used for refugees in the future.
There are a lot of good jokes throughout this – especially Boimler not seeing how much Locarno looks like Tom Paris – and there are probably so many deep cuts I missed that it’s ridiculous. The episode goes big in the right way throughout this and is a good “serious” season-ender that changes things a good bit. In terms of character, it sets Tendi up to deal with more of her past and her culture while Mariner is possibly on the path to a far better place after working through some of her feelings going back to Sito and the rest of Nova Squad. It’s a lot of fun and delivers on just about every level for me. And is definitely easily rewatchable with how much material there is here. This was a great season that focused more on standalone and character-driven material instead of the big plot and that made it a lot more enjoyable.
Streamed By: Paramount+