“I am Vindicta, vengeance personified. At last, Freeman, I will bathe in your blood.”
Mariner and her Mommy Issues come to a head in “Crisis Point,” the penultimate episode of Lower Decks’ first season. In analysis, I don’t know which character is more annoying: Mariner (Tawny Newsome) or her mother, Cerritos skipper, Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis). Both have issues, but I was thinking of the tremendous amount of hate the writers have for their characters, as well as anybody else.
You don’t create “hero”-types and then make them completely unlikeable and unrelatable unless you have an ax to grind like say Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe. It becomes an even bigger problem when you use your writing as a form of personal therapy. Therapy! How about that? I managed to slip the overarching theme of the episode into my analysis of the writers’ motivations! See how brilliant I am? I’ve turned this review into an inappropriate tribute to my own work!
Despite my peccadilloes, this is probably the strongest episode thus far of Lower Decks. The timing of jokes is still an issue, but at least we’re getting somewhere. Freeman, perhaps because she is constantly challenged by her daughter (as a form of insubordination), decides Mariner should talk to the ship’s counselor, Dr. Migleemo (Paul F. Tompkins), who looks like some kind of crazy Hanna-Barbera bird.
Meanwhile, Boimler, in preparation for an interview with the captain, conjures up a holodeck scenario using real characters from the ship, including the captain. When Mariner sees what he’s up to, she rewrites his program and turns it into an action movie. Mariner plays Vindicta, a space raider hell bent on destroying the Cerritos. Tendi and Rutherford play her crew.
This is where I begin to wonder if Mariner is not completely out of her mind. I also felt that a lot of this parental hatred was coming from a real place. The previous eight episodes, while hostile, only hinted at hatred. It’s difficult to read voices, but I have to wonder if this is a miserable work environment. Mariner as Vindicta eventually runs into a holographic version of herself (that is Mariner as a member of the crew) and they fight and criticize each other for their inadequacies until she finally gets it in her head that she loves her mother (which we all knew—I mean, come on!).
Indeed, Freeman later reveals that she tried to protect Mariner for years by keeping her close. That’s fine, but I didn’t know we were going to get this deep. As I mentioned several times before, the real point of these shows is to embarrass Boimler, and this episode doesn’t disappoint. Boimler, completely nervous about the fact that he has just discovered Mariner is, in fact, Freeman’s daughter, flubs his interview with her. I realize this was supposed to be a secret, but how does one keep a secret like that not only on a starship but within Starfleet?
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