Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets” is a wild ride, apropos for the season four finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks. We have high stakes, throwback guest stars, another visit to Orion, and a whole lot of heart. There’s a lot to discuss so without further ado, let’s dig into my review of Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets.”
The Locarno Mystery Solved
We finally know what’s up with Nick Locarno and his Not-Slave-1. It’s much more than just taking other ships. It’s building his own version of Starfleet. Nick can’t seem to let go of the idea of Nova Squadron. But Nova Squadron was never about being part of a group, part of a crew. It’s always been about Locarno’s ego. It’s about him being in charge and having people under him to bolster his ego. “Confident but in a creepy way,” is a great descriptor from Mariner. Sorry Locarno, but Nova Fleet is the Star Trek equivalent of your mom buying off-brand cereal. You can do better.
Mariner’s takedown of Locarno is awesome. It’s not about being the fastest or the best shot. It’s about knowing that you can’t be a good captain if you don’t have the support of your crew. She doesn’t do it underhandedly either. She simply asks the crew to think logically for themselves. This is a nice contrast to Locarno who lured them away with promises of “independence.” They aren’t independent if they have to follow everything Locarno says. They are also basically jumping from one government organization to another. I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of these mutineers.
Busted Theories and Legacy Throwbacks
My theory about Sito I mentioned in my review of 4×09 was wrong, and that’s okay by me. It was a long shot, but I’m so glad we got to have Shannon Fill back as Sito, not to mention Wil Wheaton reprising his role as Wesley Crusher, and of course, Robert Duncan McNeill as Locarno. Lower Decks has always been first class with their legacy character throwbacks and Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets” is no different. I must say though that Rutherford identifying how much Locarno looks like Tom Paris and Boimler not seeing it made me cackle. It’s low-hanging fruit in terms of Star Trek jokes and I totally expected it, but I still lost it! If any other Star Trek series wants to bring back legacy characters, they need to take a page from the Star Trek: Lower Decks playbook.
I did not expect another visit to Orion so soon, but here we are. I’m quite happy that Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets” takes us back there. D’Erika seems to be settling into her role as Prime and she’s every bit as ruthless as you’d expect. Orion naming customs are still cracking me up, like “B’eth.” It’s something silly and fun, and I’m here for it. I hope we get to see more of this kind of thing in future. It’s a silly detail, but it’s a neat way to have a bit of fun while also winking at the Star Trek proclivity of adding apostrophes to alien names to make them sound a bit more foreign to western ears.
Orion negotiations were also not on my checklist, but it also marks another first for Star Trek history and Star Trek: Lower Decks. The crew of the Cerritos negotiating for a battleship is apparently the first negotiations Starfleet has had with Orion. Well done, Lower Decks writers’ room! I appreciate the consistent effort Lower Decks makes to break new ground with Star Trek, rather than simply rehashing old work.
But in the spirit of space piracy, of course D’Erika gives them a dud ship. And apparently in the spirit of Mark Twain, deciding what to do with it while sipping bourbon on a riverboat while cosplaying as Twain is the only way to solve the problem. I hope we keep seeing random characters (not just our Lower Deckers) working out their problems while dressed as Mark Twain. It’s such a silly inside joke and yet, what T’Lyn says holds true. “Illogical tactics can sometimes lead to logical solutions.” Play, escape, fun, are all great ways to blow off steam but also think about problems in abstract ways. We should make all our world leaders work out their problems while dressed as Mark Twain. It might do them good. I’ll take some illogical tactics like this any day of the week.
Tendi’s bold gambit to get what they need from Orion proves to be a costly one in Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets.” First up, as soon as she promises to go back to Orion, I knew D’Erika would hold her feet to the fire about it. It’s a big change that is necessary for Tendi’s growth. We see Tendi reconcile some of her Orion heritage in episode 4×04 “Something Borrowed, Something Green” this season. What I hope we see next season is Tendi becoming a catalyst for change within Orion, or at least, within her own family. At minimum, I want her family to accept D’Vana for who she is as a scientist. We all want our families to accept us, even if they don’t understand us. That’s an idea I hope we dig into in season five of Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Now, that sweet hug with Rutherford at the end? I fully admit to feeling tears start to well up at that point. My sweet babies have to be apart?! Heartbreaker. But it’s for the good of the crew, right? And absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? And poor Rutherford will get along fine without his bestie around, right? Maybe. I think he’s going to be a sad boy for a while. T’Lyn is going to miss her “science bestie” too. I predict Rutherford finding a way to get himself to Orion at some point next season. Boimler, T’Lyn, and Mariner will get there too. Someone will have to help the guys avoid all the flying daggers. That’s a trip I look forward to very much.
There’s so much more I could possibly say about Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets,” but suffice to say that Star Trek: Lower Decks again proves that it’s one of the best and most consistently written Star Trek shows out right now. It’s got so much heart and is a true love letter to the franchise. I am so appreciative of how carefully Mike McMahans and the writing staff play within the Star Trek universe, but also break new ground. It’s truly boldly going, and I can’t wait for next season.
Before I close the door on Lower Decks this season, I have one more thing to say: Boimler in the Captain’s chair? Leadership looks good on you, Bradward. Keep it up, my guy.
What did you think of Star Trek: Lower Decks 4×10 “Old Friends, New Planets”? Do you have predictions for season five? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.