Lower Decks Season 3 Episode 8: “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus” Recap and Review

A holodeck episode pokes fun at movie conventions—and reveals a few surprises

After a weird departure last weekLower Decks returned to its usual mix of irreverent parodies, references to legacy Star Trek, and character friendships amid a low-stakes plot. “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus” opens with the USS Cerritos in the midst of battle with a Romulan ship. Some baddies beam on board to steal a technological wonder, and then the Romulans move in for the kill… only to be thwarted by the heroic crew of the USS Wayfarer, led by Captain Boimler! Or rather, Captain Dagger. Because this is a holodeck simulation and, nominally, a sequel to the Season 1 episode “Crisis Point”.

In the original “Crisis Point,” Mariner took over Boimler’s simulation of the Cerritos crew (which he’d crafted to practice impressing the senior officers) and cast herself as the villain in order to work out some issues with her mom, Captain Freeman. “Crisis Point Part 2” has virtually nothing to do with any of that—a point Mariner brings up.

But this doesn’t bother Boimler, who’s excited to share his action-packed holo-movie with Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford. This time, they’re all playing intrepid Wayfarer bridge crew members out to stop a dastardly plot in the tradition of Star Trek movies everywhere. The stolen tech is a time travel device called the “chrono-gami”, and of course it’s up to the crew to get it back before terrible things happen!

Right before they’re about to dive into the action, Boimler is summoned by Ransom. He returns moments later looking notably disturbed, though he claims the meeting was menial. Mariner seems to notice something is wrong when Boimler fails to engage his character’s love interest, the improbably attractive designer of the chrono-gami who explains, in typical Trek technobabble, that the Romulans can use the device to change history.

The bridge crews of both the Wayfarer (Boimler, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford) and the Cerritos (Freeman, Shaxs, Ransom, T’Ana) track the Romulans to a desert planet, populated by computer-generated alien extras spewing mystic nonsense (“The koala has the truth!”). Boimler appears disinterested until a cloaked man claims that “Kityha,” an all-knowing figure who resides on a forbidden moon, can reveal the meaning of life. Much to Mariner’s dismay, he’s drawn into the mystic’s ramblings while the rest of the crew goes off to pursues the Romulans, with Tendi as acting captain. After all, Boimler insists, the holodeck contains an adaptive program, which he believes could reveal answers about the meaning of life.

Tendi leads a motorbike chase across the desert

Tendi leads a thrilling pursuit of the Romulans with some typical sci-fi chase scene stunts but is too late to stop the baddies from opening a portal to the past. So, of course, she leads the team (which now just consists of Rutherford and holo-versions of the Cerritos bridge crew) into the portal as well. The portal leads to a slime-covered world during an “algae crisis,” with a giant sentient octopus at the center of it all. As Tendi explains that the algae could wipe out every living creature, Rutherford takes a giant bite of a sandwich. Turns out, he’d gone out for a snack. Tendi is frustrated that he’s not taking the program seriously.

Mariner tries to convince Boimler to return to the main story, but Boimler asks the mystic how to get to Kityha. The mystic reveals a literal meaning to “back story” by revealing a map on his literal back (of saggy old-man skin). All the while, an odd alien called Knickknack seems to have taken a liking to Boimler and follows him around. Irritated, Mariner storms out of the program.

Later, she has a meeting with Ransom, who is impressed that she’s managed to stay out of trouble. Ransom then asks how Boimler is doing—turns out, Boimler’s transporter clone, William (created following a Season 2 confrontation with the Pakleds), died in a freak accident on board the USS Titan.

Meanwhile, Tendi and Rutherford’s adventures have taken them to an aquarium in late 20th century Sydney, where the Romulans are apparently after one of the sentient octopus’ ancestors—a reference to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Some punks try to mess with the crew, which quickly dispatches them. Rutherford is excited to steal the punks’ clothes and play dress up, ignoring Tendi’s urgent requests to go after the Romulans.

Mariner reenters the program to find that Boimler’s story has led him to the brig—he’d tried to lead a crew of mystics in search of Kityha, but they turned against him. Mariner asks why Boimler didn’t tell her about William, and Boimler says he hasn’t processed it yet.. turns out, he’s been distracted by the random and meaningless nature of William’s death.

Knickknack appears to break them out, and the three of them retake the ship Kirk-style (that is, skipping the inspirational speeches and going straight to punching and kicking). After knocking out the mystic, Boimler discovers that folding his skin reveals a different kind of map to Kityha.

Tendi and Rutherford are now at the found founding of the Federation. What does this have to do with any of the octopus stuff? In a nod to over-stuffed plots everywhere, the show doesn’t really say. For some reason, there’s a bomb, which Rutherford casually diffuses while Tendi tries to hold off the bad guys. Holo-T’Ana is killed, which seems to hit Tendi pretty hard considering it’s all a program. Rutherford asks why she’s so upset, and Tendi exclaims that she’s afraid no one would believe in her as a real captain—and reveals she wants to be one someday. Rutherford excitedly says she’d be a great captain. He follows her lead as she finishes the movie by time traveling back to the Romulans’ original attack on the Cerritos but swapping the chrono-gami for the bomb, blowing up the enemy ship and saving the day.

Boimler and Mariner make it to the forbidden moon and find Kityha, a giant rock creature that spews inspirational quotes. Boimler keeps asking it for real answers, hoping the holodeck has somehow programmed some truth into it, growing more and more panicked as it continues to speak nonsense. He then crawls into the creature, where he finds a plaque that shows that “Kityha” is actually short for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight… a reveal that makes literally no sense.

Boimler blacks out then comes to at a farm in Idaho, which appears to belong to Kirk. But then, surprise! It’s Sulu tending to the horses. In a delightful cameo, Sulu advises Boimler not to worry so much about the meaning of things, because it will keep him from finding joy.

Boimler comes to in sick bay—turns out, he’d become dehydrated and passed out in the holodeck. But the part with Sulu? Not part of the simulation…

It seems all’s well that ends well as Boimler accepts William’s death and Tendi and Rutherford talk about how much fun they had, and how glad they are that there wasn’t some dark cliffhanger…

… which of course leads to a dark cliffhanger, where William is shown waking up in an unknown part of space and joining Section 31.

In “Crisis Point Part 2: Paradoxus”, Lower Decks shows off what it does best: making fun of sci-fi with referential humor while weaving in profound character-building moments. The sheer volume of jokes, references, and Easter eggs in this sharply written episode would take a novel-length article to list out. Yet it’s not all one-liners and lamp-shading. The holodeck serves as a backdrop to reveal Tendi’s hidden ambitions and explore Boimler’s grief and confusion over the apparent death of someone who could easily have been him (and, in a sense, was him). What could easily have been another throw-away episode both developed the characters and teased at plot points ahead.

Mary Fan
Mary Fanhttp://www.MaryFan.com
Mary Fan is a Jersey City-based author of sci-fi/fantasy. Her books include Stronger than a Bronze Dragon, the Starswept Trilogy, the Jane Colt Trilogy, the Flynn Nightsider series, and the Fated Stars series. She is also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls sci-fi anthologies about girls in STEM.

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