Mariner Is at Her Mariner-est in the second ‘Lower Decks’ episode

In “I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee”, Mariner and Ransom go on a mission to free two humans from an alien zoo, but she thinks he's setting her up for failure...

This week, Paramount+ dropped the first two episodes of Lower Decks, make the season’s second episode, “I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee,” something of a Season Premiere Part 2. Yet so far, both episodes have mostly stuck to the episodic, sitcom-y format the show has become known for.

At the very end of the season premiere, “Twovix,” we bear witness to the sudden destruction of a Klingon ship by an unidentified space vehicle. The second episode begins with the same fate befalling a Romulan vessel. Seems the writers are setting us up for a season arc of sorts… something Lower Decks has dipped in and out of from the start.

While the plots of Lower Decks tend to be self-contained, there are through lines that carry the story forward, particularly when it comes to character development. And this week, the spotlight is on Mariner, Star Trek’s favorite problem child. Since Day 1, she has been a chaotic combination of prodigious talent, wild energy, and shameless insubordination. For that reason, viewers tend to love or hate her… I’ve heard some say that she was the most relatable Star Trek character, and others call her “awful”. Me? I think she embodies the show’s spirit… irreverent, topsy-turvy comedy with a heart of gold that’s more intelligent than it wants you to know.

Mariner in workout gear with Random, looking out a window with a terrified ensign
Image: Paramount+

At the end of the last episode, Mariner was promoted — practically kicking and screaming. The ensign is notorious for getting promoted and demoted, promoted and demoted, and she’d accepted her place at the bottom, even come to revel in it. So being bumped up to Lieutenant Junior Grade is messing with her head… especially after she overhears Ransom (in delightful workout gear that pays tribute to Troi and Crusher’s) say that soon she won’t be his problem any more. She takes that to mean that she’s being set up for failure… again. She decides if she’s going to be demoted, she’ll do it on her own terms.

Ransom and Mariner in a shuttle, with Mariner piloting and Ransom looking angry
Image: Paramount+

So when Ransom assigns her and some redshirt ensign to accompany him on a mission to free two humans from an alien zoo, whose proprietor is amicable and apologetic about the situation (and, as a tree-like being, can’t tell one bipedal from another), Mariner is determined to be her Mariner-est. She shows up out of uniform, still in her workout gear. She calls her commanding officer by his first name. She insults their alien ally repeatedly.

And when one of the alien creatures escapes the zoo… well, it’s not hard to jump to conclusions.

Ruthorford with his arms around Tendi and Boimler
Image: Paramount+

Meanwhile, Tendi and Boimler have been promoted as well and feel bad that Rutherford was left out. No problem, Rutherford says. He’ll just get himself promoted so he can keep hanging out with them. Now, Rutherford has proven his genius time and time again over the course of three seasons — so many times, in fact, that it’s odd he hasn’t been promoted before (though Harry Kim did build half the Astrometrics lab on Voyager and never got promoted… still rooting for you, Harry!). But he finds himself constantly outdone by the smarmy Ensign Livick.

Boimler, meanwhile, discovers that the lieutenant quarters he’s been assigned ain’t so great. Look closely and you’ll see his Starfleet recruitment poster featuring Una Chin Riley in the background…

Narj leads Mariner, Ransom, and an ensign through his alien zoo
Image: Paramount+

Though the situation with the zoo provides plot backbone to give the episode structure, “I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee” (oof that’s a heckuva title) is really a character-driven episode, with Mariner hiding her insecurities by being loud and obnoxious while Rutherford busts his butt to keep the gang together. So far, it seems Lower Decks has managed to keep its spirit of celebrating the lowliest of Starfleet despite the ensigns’ promotions. Here’s hoping they keep that up.

4/5 stars

Mary Fan
Mary Fan
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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This week, Paramount+ dropped the first two episodes of Lower Decks, make the season's second episode, "I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee," something of a Season Premiere Part 2. Yet so far, both episodes have mostly stuck to the episodic, sitcom-y format the...Mariner Is at Her Mariner-est in the second 'Lower Decks' episode