Star Trek: Lower Decks has me laughing again this week with “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris.” Not only do we get the madcap humor and breakneck-speed dialogue we’ve come to expect from Lower Decks, but we also get a special guest appearance by none other than Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) of Star Trek: Voyager fame! Voyager is my favorite Star Trek series and I especially love Tom Paris’ arch from rogue to hero. Or maybe a slightly roguish hero. Regardless, there’s a lot to discuss in this week’s episode. Let’s take a closer look at “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris.”
Girls Trip A-Plot
Like most Star Trek episodes, “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” has both an A and B-Plot, and I would say that 2×03 has a C-Plot too. The A-Plot portion of the story focuses on Tendi and Mariner and is quite fascinating. I love the idea of a “Girls Trip” with Mariner and Tendi and could not help but feel that several of the lines of dialogue were taken straight from fan commentary. “You’re always with Rutherford!” and “You’re always with Boimler!” felt very meta to me, which is saying something for a show that functions nearly entirely on meta.
The thing I love the most about this particular part of the story is that we get more insight into both Mariner and Tendi’s backgrounds. This is the first time that we hear Tendi’s first name. We learn more about her life prior to Starfleet and the discrimination she’s experienced because of her Orion heritage. I also loved getting to know a little more about Mariner and her adventures before joining the Cerritos and watching the two of them bond. That was really fascinating and very encouraging to watch two women become friends and encourage each other.
I think the funniest thing about this entire plotline is that the one thing that Dr. T’Ana really wants is the box! Such a cat.
Boimler’s Trippin’ B-Plot
I love the humor found in Boimler’s transition back to the Cerritos. While this plotline functioned for the majority of the humor in the episode, I also love Boimler’s enthusiasm for the crew of Voyager. He’s got an unrepentant fanboy attitude and I am here for it. His enthusiasm is sweet and endearing. I was curious to see if the Voyager (or should I say, “VOY”?) plates are real, and sure enough, these are things that exist and were released back in the late 90s. This made me laugh because my grandmother had her own collection of commemorative plates that hung on the wall in her house. I can’t say I remember her collecting much past the 80s, so the fact that this was a commemorative item still going strong into the late 90s amuses me greatly. She also never had any Star Trek plates, so it’s fun to see what is considered, “plate-worthy” for this collection.
Boimler’s crashlanding onto the bridge and then his sound beating from Tom Paris who mistook him for a Kazon really had me laughing too. He definitely looked like a Kazon after his time in the Jeffries tubes!
Shaxs is Back C-Plot
I was just as surprised as everyone else to see Lt. Shaxs back from the dead. I also love that the show is bent on NOT explaining it, winking at plot holes in older Trek shows. It’s amazing what you could get away with back in the day! And really though, can you blame Rutherford for wanting to know why and how Shaxs came back? I can’t, but the explanation seems almost stranger than reality. I’m curious to see if we’ll get a further explanation about this later in the season.
As a relevant aside, if you’d like to learn more about Fred Tatasciore, the voice of Lt. Shaxs, you should check out this episode of the Mission Log: Live podcast from a few weeks ago! He really played his cards close to the chest with this one!
This is my favorite episode of Lower Decks so far this season. I’m all about positive female friendship and it’s heartwarming to see Tendi and Mariner grow in that way. Tendi is also my favorite character on Lower Decks, so it’s fascinating to see her Orion pirate background when in actuality, she’s the kindest and sweetest person in the Lower Decks crew. This is also the episode that has made me laugh the hardest, which I think is a good barometer to measure how well a comedy is working.
What did you think about “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”? Leave me a comment with your thoughts on Lower Decks 2×03 and we’ll talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks will premiere on September 2, 2021, on Paramount+.