‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Boldly Goes to Orion in “Something Borrowed, Something Green”
At long last Star Trek: Lower Decks takes us someplace the franchise never goes: the planet Orion. And for a wedding no less!
The nice thing about animation is that it removes certain creative limitations in science fiction. The first Star Trek: The Animated Series did this in a number of ways, one of which involved having cat aliens and aliens with three arms.
Basically, animation makes it so that the aliens can be a little more alien and a little less “humans with bumpy foreheads”.
While Orions do exist in live-action Trek, it’s no mystery why we’ve never seen Orion itself. The cost and time for multiple guest casts as well as a load of extras all in full, green makeup would be astronomical.
Star Trek: Lower Decks has no such limitations. And so, after many decades we finally get our first full glimpse of Orion and its civilization in “Something Borrowed, Something Green”.
To Boldly Recap “Something Borrowed, Something Green”
Tendi is out of work! Just in time, too. Her sister T’Erica is getting married and her family wants her there. So Mariner and T’Lyn join Tendi on a rare trip to Orion. Meanwhile, Boimler and Rutherford remain on the Cerritos where they are perfect roommates except when it comes to bonsai trees.
On Orion, Tendi’s family is the fifth wealthiest of the syndicates. That means the family lives in a gigantic castle and is carried around everywhere. It also means T’Erica got kidnapped before the wedding. And while that can be normal, this time seems unusual so Tendi, T’Lyn, and Mariner set off to investigate.
We find out a lot of things about Orion. There are clubs where people play a drinking game involving death bugs. There are sex dens where Orion men huff Orion women’s pheromones. But mostly we find out that Tendi a.k.a. Mistress of the Winter Constellation is a very big deal on her homeworld.
And as you may have surmised, T’Erica kidnapped herself because she thought it was the only way Tendi would come home. Tendi was supposed to be this high muckety muck assassin–a job T’Erica takes instead. And T’Erica loves being an assassin, but she misses her sister. It’s all very sweet and ends with Tendi helping T’Erica crash her own wedding. Also, Mariner gets stabbed in the same place three times.
Back on the Cerritos Rutherford and Boimler settle their bonsai differences by playing a game of dueling Mark Twains. Then an alien captain eats the bonsai.
Is Tendi the Best Character on Star Trek: Lower Decks?
Who you think is the best character in a TV show is entirely subjective. But I think there’s an argument to make that Tendi is the most interesting. Tendi is, in many ways, the Spock, the Worf, or the Nog of Lower Decks. She comes from a vastly different culture, but she yearns to be a part of Starfleet.
All of these characters have a conflict that arises between the culture they are born into and the one they choose in Starfleet. Spock struggles with being half Vulcan and half human. Worf loves being Klingon but he lives most of his childhood on Earth and loves being in Starfleet. Nog holds some Ferengi traditions dearly even when they conflict with what he learns from being a Starfleet cadet.
Tendi actively runs from being an Orion. If she encounters other Orions, she feels intense shame if they behave in a way she deems stereotypical. She comes from a respected family but keeps it secret. She’s this alpha assassin and, quicker and more powerful than almost anyone, and yet she never shows that part of herself.
The bubbly, empathic Tendi is her truest self. And there are Orion scientists other than her! But despite her disinterest in certain “stereotypical” aspects of Orion culture, they are also a part of what makes her who she is. And that’s not because she is Orion, it’s because she is actually good in a scrape and when the chips are down. Each season brings us a little closer to seeing who Tendi can be if she stops running.
“Something Borrowed, Something Green” is the closest we’ve gotten so far.
To Boldly Review “Something Borrowed, Something Green”
Boimler and Rutherford are a delight. The dueling Twains idea is very silly and very funny. The button on the B-plot where their conflict exits via devouring is absolutely hilarious.
But what I like most is how this silly idea actually pairs perfectly with Tendi’s story. Boimler and Rutherford resolve their differences by dressing up as the same person, Mark Twain, and talking to each other as Twain.
And while there aren’t two southern gentlemen inside of Tendi, there are two sides that she sees as in conflict. On the one side is Tendi, the science officer who solves things with empathy and is everyone’s best friend. On the other side is Tendi, the Orion assassin who can win any drinking game, outfox any combatant, and is sexually desirable (and maybe even likes that a little).
The truth is that there’s room for all these parts of Tendi to thrive. The conflict comes first in Tendi accepting that all these aspects of her are okay. And then it extends to figuring out how they fit into the life she has so far.
Tendi wants to be a captain someday. Being captain means being both caring and cunning. What makes this latest offering so good is that it reminds us that, yes, Tendi will be a great captain someday if she incorporates that ruthless assassin in with the adorable Pollyanna.
Also, watching Mariner get the business end of a knife three times is genuinely very funny.