For the eighth episode in a season, we sure are doing some season finale stuff in episode 3×08 of Star Trek: Lower Decks. We’ve got an epic movie-style episode, an existential crisis, and a classic cliffhanger. We’ve got a lot of ground, or should I say, space to cover this week. Here are a few of my thoughts on Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 3×08, “Crisis Point II: Paradoxus.”
Epic Movie-Style Episode
When I chatted with Mike McMahan a few weeks ago, he made reference to them having another movie episode as they did with the original “Crisis Point” episode. What he didn’t share is that “Crisis Point II: Paradoxus” is a delightful homage to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home aka “The One With The Whales.” The premise is silly, but it works. And as Mariner says, “It’s also a Starfleet movie, which means it’s worth doing.” I have always found each iteration of Star Trek to have its merits. Some have worked better for me than others, but I enjoy them all just the same. I hope we get more movie-style episodes like this one. The Lower Decks writing staff clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to this.
An Existential Crisis
One of the things that I enjoy about Star Trek in general is that it asks big questions about humanity. How do we treat one another with dignity? How do we respect everyone’s cultures while simultaneously disagreeing with them? Today, “Crisis Point II: Paradoxus” asks a really big one–what is the meaning of life? With William Boimler’s apparent accidental and meaningless death, Bradward is wondering if his life has any meaning at all.
It’s a valid question to ask and it’s one we all ask at one time or another. While I have my own thoughts about life’s purpose (happy to sit down and discuss over a virtual cup of coffee sometime), I think one thing that most people want by the end of their life is to know that they have had some sort of lasting impact. I think about the younger folks in my life, particularly my niece and nephew. Will they remember me fondly? Did I teach them how to love other people well? These are questions I ask myself, but ultimately, they all lead to the same question that Bradward is asking about himself–does my life matter?
Yes, Brad, it does. And reader, yours does as well.
A Classic Cliffhanger
What’s a big Star Trek movie episode without a cliffhanger? Transporter clone William Boimler isn’t dead. He’s faked his own death and joined Section 31?! But who is the person that revived him? And of course, in true Boimler fashion, be he the OG or transporter clone, he is asking the real questions Star Trek fans have been asking for years. Why a black badge if we’re in a secret organization? Beats the heck out of me, William.
Seriously though, I hope we don’t have to wait a whole other season to know what’s going on with William Boimler and Section 31.
“Crisis Point II: Paradoxus” has a lot of highlights for me, particularly the existential crisis. But most of all, it made me laugh with its meta-commentary on Star Trek itself and the power of art and storytelling to help us process our thoughts and feelings. Sure there were lots of little things like them going to Tatasciore IX, which is named for Lower Decks actor, Fred Tatasciore, aka Shaxs. There’s Captain Sulu(!) aka George Takei and of course great lines like, “Is this heaven?” “It’s Idaho!” Plus, Berzerker Boimler is back! I love all the fun stuff like that.
However, the commentary on the catharsis and emotional processing that goes into experiencing art, no matter how silly or corny is what weighs heaviest in this episode. And it’s not just Boimler! Tendi is trying to work out how she might be perceived as a captain. Boimler is searching for the meaning of life, but it’s Mariner who offers a bit of advice that she learned in the original “Crisis Point.” “Not every holodeck scenario works as therapy.” While it’s incredibly helpful to process our thoughts and emotions through fiction, it’s not the same as going to see a counselor. Take this as your reminder to schedule a counseling appointment. No shame in taking care of your mental health, and I’m proud of you for doing so.
What did you think of “Crisis Point II: Paradoxus”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks will air on October 20, 2022, on Paramount+.