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‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Has “Room For Growth” but Doesn’t Use It This Week

5 Minute Read
Sep 15 2022
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On this week’s episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks “Room For Growth” the game is rigged and everyone is stressed. Hmm. Can’t relate.

Last week, the Lower Decks gang move forward. Tendy moves towards the realm of senior science. Mariner starts accepting the possibility of long-term love. And Boimler is still being bold.

“Room For Growth” is not a step backward, but it is very much the status remaining quo. In fact, in many ways, this episode could be from season one. Is that a bad thing? A good thing? Only one way to find out! Alright ensigns, time…

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

To Boldly Recap

Captain Freeman changes the Cerritos into a temple while possessed by the mask of a god (?) named Manooki. Afterward, engineering sets to the task of cleaning everything up and turning the ship back to normal. This sends engineering chief Billups off the deep end as Captain Freeman realizes the entire engineering department is over-stressed.

As a result, Freeman, Billups, and all of the engineering head to the Dove – basically a spaceship that is also a spa. Freeman just wants everyone to relax. Unfortunately, instead of relaxing, engineering starts fixing problems on the Dove instead. At one point they even convince the system to think they are relaxed when they aren’t.

Eventually, this whole thing drives Freeman completely insane. Freeman might have to go back to Earth from the stress. To counter that, Billups and the engineering team build a device that immediately removes stress – and it works!

Freeman is stress-free. Engineering convinces everyone that being able to work on problems that they actually want to work on is their form of stress relief. And the machine that gets rid of stress immediately is dismantled by the Dove staff so they don’t all wind up out of a job.

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

Delta Shift and the Fight for Better Quarters

Back on the Cerritos, there’s a lottery going on for four rooms on deck one of the ship – which is a huge upgrade from bunking in the hallway. Tendy finds out that Delta Shift plans to game the lottery in order to win the rooms. Mariner convinces Boimler and Tendy that they should be the ones to game the system instead. And so the three sneak through auxiliary systems in order to get to a system where they can anonymously guarantee their victory.

Everything goes exactly as bad as you expect. Boimler and Mariner get high off weird plants. Tendy witnesses Dr. T’ana and Shaxs having weird Bonnie and Clyde sex. And all three of them nearly die in the deflector dish.

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Eventually, our Lower Deckers run into Delta Shift. They end up having a temporary armistice where they agree to put everyone’s name in the lottery. But then Delta Shift reneges and locks Mariner, Tendy, and Boimler in a Jeffries tube. But, plot twist, Bold Boimler finds a faster way to the computer they need.

Mariner, Tendy, and Boimler find out that the lottery isn’t for four rooms on deck one, but one room on deck four. They all agree it’s better to stay where they are than have only one of them get a room – because they are idiots. Delta Shift wins the room and turns it into a quad where they all live together.

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

To Boldly Review

“Room For Growth” is the weakest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks this season, primarily because neither of the plots do anything surprising. Of course, the engineers need work to relax. At one point Freeman calls them all a bunch of Geordi LaForges and… yes. That is obvious. And the process of discovering that is neither funny nor interesting. Cute puppies, kitties, and bunnies can not sway me on this.

Ditto for the Delta shift plot. There are no surprises here. Of course, Delta Shift gets the new quarters. The holodeck sex jokes are kind of tired at this point and none of the other jokes particularly land. But more than that, it’s hard to believe that Mariner, Boimler, and Tendy are foolish enough to fall for Delta Shift’s rouse. They aren’t terribly clever – a fact it feels like we learned ages ago.

This is one of those Lower Decks episodes that rests entirely on its laurels and only succeeds in referencing other, better Trek. And speaking of which…

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

References: Gotta Spot ‘Em All

Let’s go through these Star Trek Easter eggs quickly and then declare a “best reference” at the end. Ready?

Captain Freeman is possessed by a mask just like Data is in the TNG episode “Masks”. They also namedrop the D’Arsay archive which also appears in “Masks”. Two parts of the ship are namedropped: the hydroponics bay and stellar cartography. On Star Trek: Voyager Kes uses the hydroponics bay and her replacement, Seven of Nine, frequents stellar cartography.

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Boimler reveals that Riker says “come” whenever someone buzzes to enter his quarters. Riker learns this behavior from Jean-Luc Picard. We find out the Ransom turned into a caveman at one point. This is a direct reference to the TNG episode “Genesis” where Riker, the Enterprise’s first officer, also turns into a caveman. The mud baths on the Dove come from Tellar Prime – because the Tellarites look like pigs. Get it?

Dr. T’ana says she lost her tail on the USS Algonquin. As it happens Christine Chapel is the chief medical officer in the TOS Crucible novel “Provenance of Shadows”.

Courtesy of CBS Television

The Maquis?

Here’s a first: an Easter egg that we think might be a mistake. And, if it isn’t a mistake, raises a lot of big questions. At one point in “Room For Growth”, Mariner complains about how shady Delta Shift is. Mariner insists that they do not even belong in Starfleet and should join the Maquis instead.

Funny story – the Maquis are effectively dead. Captain Benjamin Sisko basically wipes most of them out with poison gas in the Deep Space Nine episode “For the Uniform”. At that point, there are only about a dozen members left, not including the Maquis trapped in the Delta Quadrant on Star Trek: Voyager.

More than anything though, the Maquis are a freedom-fighting organization that exists primarily to fight the Cardassians. By the end of the Dominion War, though, Cardassia Prime isn’t exactly an enemy worth fighting.

So if there are Maquis around during the Lower Decks era, how many of them are there, and who are they even fighting? It’s a throwaway line, but Mariner mentioning the Maquis does make it worth asking what they are even up to. Who knows? Maybe Lower Decks will have a Maquis episode someday!

In the meantime, “Room For Growth” remains the weakest ‘Lower Decks’ episode of the season. Two and a half stars.

Lina Morgan
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