‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Has “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption”
Star Trek: Lower Decks throws away its cast, its penchant for tons of Easter eggs, and winds up with its best episode maybe ever.
Going back to Deep Space Nine is kind of an automatic slam dunk. Sure, something might’ve gone wrong in last week’s episode, but it didn’t. The returning cast is great. Our cast of regulars is great. Deep Space Nine, the station, looks beautiful in animated form. But let’s be honest – most of us long-time Star Trek fans were going to love “Hear All, Trust Nothing” no matter what.
Now, “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption”? Oh, this episode is another story entirely. There are no guardrails here, no tried and trusted crew to fall back on. All we have is a one-off character and a planet full of bird people. And not just any formerly one-off character, but a really obnoxious one: Peanut Hamper.
Yes, that’s right, the bratty Exocomp who left her entire crew to die at the hands of the Pakled is back. Where has she been? And is she a better person for her time away? All will be revealed!
To Boldly Recap
Peanut Hamper floats in space, expecting the Cerritos and her crew’s demise. Instead, they win the day and escape – abandoning Peanut Hamper in the process. Oopsie doodle! No need to fear. PH literally makes a new friend from some space debris (her name is Sofia) and sets to the process of escaping her circumstance. She puts together a nacelle and prepares to latch herself to it.
But, then, tragedy strikes! Drookmani scavengers appear and PH has to (she does this easily) sacrifice Sofia. Peanut hamper speeds away, a little faster than intended, but manages to (somewhat) safely crash land on an M-class planet. The planet is Aereolus and, yes, it is a planet of bird people. In fact, more than that, it is a planet where basically everything has wings and flies.
Aereolus is also something else – a planet that has never heard of the Federation. And that means, at least for now, Peanut Hamper has a safe place to chill and not wind up on a penal colony for abandoning her shipmates to die. Lucky for PH, she comes under the care of Captorus, the leader of the bird people tribe. And while Peanut Hamper doesn’t like this backwater rock (or Captorus’ son, Rowduh), she hangs around.
And that’s when things start to change.
A Mathematically Perfect Love Story
Rowduh shows Peanut Hamper around even though the two do not get along. Captorus is suddenly attacked and poisoned by a sky snake, which would be a fatal wound if not for Peanut Hamper’s scientific abilities. Not only does PH save Captorus’ life, she also provides medical care to everyone in the village who needs it. And then she ensures that all the eggs hatch – which is very rare.
All this leads Rowduh to not only trust Peanut Hamper, but to fall in love with her. How do they, uh.. make amore? Never you mind! Love finds a way! And it finds a way to a wedding. But not before Rowduh reveals a fundamental truth about his people — they used to be technologically advanced! But technology led to war so they gave up everything to live that good good cottage core life. And they still have their spaceships underneath their village.
And wouldn’t you know it? As Rowduh and Peanut Hamper are about to tie the knot, the Drookmani show up – and they want those ships! But taking the ships would compromise the village so the Aereor try to fight back. Obviously, they are outmatched. The only person who can save them is Peanut Hamper. And the only people who can help Peanut Hamper are Starfleet.
And so, as she goes off to potentially sacrifice herself, Peanut Hamper sends out a distress – and it gets picked up by the Cerritos.
A Mathematically Perfect Twist
A lot happens at this point: Peanut Hamper blows up the Drookmani, the Drookmani beam to and take over the Aereor ships, the Cerritos shows up, and subsequently gets pounded by the Drookmani. At one point, Peanut Hamper stops helping and decides she’s done. And that leaves Rowduh to take one of his ancestor’s ships and save the day.
Afterward, Peanut Hamper insists this was the plan all along. Now the Aereor know they can trust technology! Peanut Hamper is lying, although she does have a plan. The actual plan is to ingratiate herself into the Aereor culture, help them, save them, and then use that saving to get back into Starfleet. She is the one who contacts the Drookmani in the first place. And the Drookmani have audio evidence to that effect.
In the end, Peanut Hamper finds herself exactly where all evil machines wind up – in the basement of the Daystrom Institute. And it’s there that PH meets someone very interesting – Agimus. Yes, the same Jeffrey Coombs voiced evil computer from last season – and he thinks that he and Peanut Hamper can do wonderfully awful things together. Cue the maniacal laughter. Roll credits.
To Boldly Review
Star Trek: Lower Decks is on a roll. First, they explain Rutherford’s emotional backstory, then we see Deep Space Nine for the first time in decades, and now we have the surprisingly excellent return of Peanut Hamper. And the reason “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption” is so perfect is very simple — it does not rely on tons of Easter eggs. It does not require an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek. You barely have to know anything about Lower Decks even!
More than that, though, this episode gives us something we rarely see on Star Trek – an honest-to-badness villain origin story. As a matter of fact, Peanut Hamper may just wind up being the best Star Trek villain since Gul Dukat.
In fact, PH is a lot like Dukat. They are both megalomaniacal narcissists, they both pretend to care about others even though they don’t, and they’ll both do anything up to and including genocide to get what they want. Neither sees themselves as a villain – at least not at first. But Peanut Hamper, like Dukat before her, sees now that her best path is the one that involves the most villainy.
We cannot wait to see more. Kether Donohue as Peanut Hamper is outstanding and it’s bonkers that she doesn’t get top billing for this episode. This is one of the funniest episodes of this show and she is a big part of why.
References: Gotta Spot ‘Em All
There are not nearly as many Easter eggs in “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption” as most episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks this season, but there are still a few worth noting.
Peanut Hamper wonders if Starfleet forgot to scan for non-organic life – they forget to do that all the time. Peanut Hamper mentions wanting to run away to be a Dabo girl. Doctor Migleemo has a seat next to Captain Freeman just like Troi does with Picard on the Enterprise-D. JD Hertzler voices one of the Drookmani – he is a Trek actor best known for playing Martok on DS9.
Peanut Hamper repeatedly refers to “the needs of the many being greater than the needs of the few” which is a Wrath of Khan shout-out. She also claims she did not violate the Prime Directive because the Aereor do have warp capability. This is similar to when Picard encounters the Ba’ku in Star Trek: Insurrection.
However, the weirdest Easter egg of all has nothing to do with Star Trek: Lower Decks but with Kether Donohue who plays Peanut Hamper. PH keeps complaining about being stuck with bird people. As it happens, Kether Donahue’s other two most recent voice acting roles are on Tuca & Bertie (a show about bird people) and a show literally titled Birdgirl. So it’s literally true — Donohue cannot get away from bird people!
All in all these episode rules. Peanut Hamper, you are welcome on our televisions any day.