Anika and Liz check in on season 2 of Star Trek: Lower Decks. And … maybe it isn’t for us? And that’s okay!
Along the way, we talk about:
- Walking the line between responding to fans versus pandering
- We have feelings about the depiction of Orion women in Lower Decks … and, in fairness, most of Trek
- We have even stronger feelings about the Ferengi here. “Why???” is a feeling, right?
- We’re also not into the Pakleds!
- This remains a Beckett Mariner stan podcast
- Liz is still lukewarm on Boimler, but Anika finds him charming and appreciates the meta genius of making him a Tom Paris fan
- Where are the NGOs in the Star Trek universe?
- We talk about Kai Winn for a while because we love her
It’s the episode where we had to cut out a twenty-minute chat about police procedurals because not even we could pretend it was on topic!
Anika: Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re discussing the first four episodes of Lower Decks season two.
Liz: This is such a nice show to sit down and watch for half an hour a week. The problem is, then I kind of walk away and forget about it. And now I have to do a podcast on it, apparently? Why did we decide to do this?
Anika: You don’t have anything to say? Is that what you’re saying? That’s probably better than me.
Liz: Why, do you have a lot to say?
Anika: I don’t have a lot to say, but I have things to say that are not entirely positive.
Liz: Oh, oh, well, you know we love criticizing things that are popular, and I think Lower Decks is good enough to withstand a bit of criticism. So let’s go!
Anika: Well, so my overall reaction to the second season has been, ‘oh dear, I might not be able to take more than one season of this.’
Liz: Oh, that’s interesting. I have to admit that part of the reason I’ve found it a bit forgettable is that, yeah, maybe the premise doesn’t sustain more than one season. It’s fun and all, but … yeah.
Anika: To be fair, I was even sort of feeling this way at the end of last season. It’s very fun. And, I don’t know, maybe I’m just not fun. The two things are, are – why I’m saying this.
And the first is that I have an aversion to comedy in general, and it’s back. I was pleasantly surprised by the first season, or at least, most of the first season, in that I was just able to laugh along and enjoy it on that comedic level. And I still laugh out loud at certain things in these four episodes, and I still enjoyed them, but.
The first one I watched as soon as I woke up that morning. And the other three, I didn’t watch right away. I went an entire week in between–
Liz: Oh, wow.
Anika: –watching the second episode and watching the third episode, and then this week’s episode. So I watched Tom Paris yesterday. I watched Mugato today.
Liz: Okay. For me, it drops at, like, 4:30 PM on Thursday afternoon. And I’m working from home, so it’s not really a big effort for me to sit down and watch it, and then go about the rest of my afternoon and evening.
It’s not that I’m not enjoying it. It’s just not making a big impact, except for a small handful of things. Mainly Shaxs, and how very much I approve of just bringing back extremely exploded Starfleet officers without an explanation. And obviously I have a bias there.
Anika: And then my second thing is actually, I think, really just an extension of the first, in that I just don’t get comedy. Because my main problem is that there is an obvious solution to the problem of all of these – like, if there is a problem in these episodes, which, that’s the way that stories are structured. So I’m sort of looking for the problem, even if I’m not supposed to be.
And the main problem of everything is that Beckett Mariner should just not be in Starfleet, and everything would be better for everyone.
Liz: And that’s not a criticism! Like, for you, that is the highest praise you can give a character.
Anika: Absolutely. She’s too good for Starfleet
Liz: They don’t deserve her.
My problem is that we had the first episode, Strange Energies, which I liked a lot. And it basically proved that the series doesn’t need Boimler. And then we get to the next episode and we have … two Boimlers.
And it’s not even that I dislike Boimler as a character! I really enjoyed his working with Rutherford in episode four. It’s just that he really is – you know, if Mariner is the type of fan who is very much into interrogating the premise of Star Trek and Starfleet and the utopia, then Boimler is more of the conventional fan boy figure. And that’s fine! That is a perfectly legitimate way to be a fan. It’s just not something I’m really interested in.
Anika: Yeah, I have no feelings one way or the other about Boimler. You said that [the show] doesn’t have a big impact on you? Boimler is the poster boy of not having a big impact on me. I don’t dislike him. I just I have nothing to say about Boimler. I want to have something to say about Boimler, but he seems to be more of a foil for the others–
Anika: –than a character in his own right.
Liz: He is the least interesting member of the ensemble. And this is an ensemble that contains Rutherford, who literally had his memory wiped, and it doesn’t seem to have made a single difference to his life.
Anika: Again, I feel like these are really good comedic beats. I feel like that this is great. It’s great that Rutherford that he can be erased and brought back. And the same thing happened with Boimler. So it’s a theme, and that’s funny.
Liz: And it’s a parody of every single thing that we complain about in Star Trek, but it’s also … what we complain about in Star Trek. It’s cool that they’re self-aware enough to make fun of it, but it’s still there.
Aside from Shaxs, I’m like, I don’t really care that any of these characters are back and unchanged. And I really only care about Shaxs for Kat reasons.
Anika: Shaxs is one of the funniest, because he’s not trying to be funny, I think? I don’t know. Shaxs made me laugh out loud this episode. I think it was when he came into their weight room, and he was just like, “Don’t mind me, just keep beating each other up.”
And then, like, he went on the planet and he was, you know, all barrels, four barrels ahead, going and eating the dung. And it was … I don’t know, he was just really ridiculous. It felt like that was his character, rather than it was an over the top version of – I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it. But he worked for me in ways that the Ferengi absolutely definitely did not. The Orions last year – last year? Last week definitely did not. Which, again, was yesterday for me.
I feel like a bad Star Trek podcaster because I knew we weren’t talking about it, like, the next day, so I put it off. Sometimes I like comedies better when I binge them. Like, Ted Lasso, which isn’t even–
Liz: It’s not a sitcommy sort of–
Anika: Right. It’s more of a dramedy comedy. I watched the first two episodes of the new season, and I decided that I would like it more if I was bingeing it, the way I did the first season. And so I’m not watching it right now.
Liz: Gosh, I cannot wait for you to binge it, because I have so many feelings about season two, and I love it so much.
And, once again, it’s the thing that everyone hates it and I’m really, really into it. But also, so are all of my friends. So I think I choose my friends really well. The whole theme of Ted Lasso in season two is, everyone needs therapy. And you’re really going to enjoy that because I know how much you enjoy that as a theme.
Anika: Everyone does need therapy.
Liz: I will say that one thing that I really enjoyed about Strange Energies as an opening is that Mariner has figured out that maybe conventional therapy is not for her, which is fine. It’s really not for everyone. But she has figured out that using the holodeck to work out her feelings is good for her.
And I’m so happy. I’m so proud of her. I feel like she’s done a lot of work on herself. And we did not care for the movie episode last year, where the premise of holodeck therapy was set up. But I’m glad that it’s still part of Mariner’s life.
Anika: Yes. That’s the thing that I do like. Because again, my main issue is that if you just have the same situation over and over and over again – which is like the definition of a sitcom. So…
Anika: But if you just have the same situation over and over and over again, and no one ever learns, and no one ever changes, and no one ever does the obvious thing that they need to do in order to solve the problem that they have every week – I can’t deal with that. It’s just not my way of interacting with the world. I just sit there screaming at them, saying, ‘If you just did this, which you learned last week…!’
So I like that Mariner has retained things. I like that Tendi is growing as a person. That it is moving forward, maybe incrementally, but it is moving forward. And I appreciate that.
And I also find it very interesting that season two really seems to be a response to critiques of season one, which normally I’m against, but I kind of like the way that they are self-aware, and … I don’t know. It’s a tight rope walk, but so far they’ve done it, in my view.
Liz: I mean, you can respond to a critique by going out of your way to explain why Spock never talked about his sister, or you can respond to critique by establishing that yes, Mariner is canonically bisexual and queer and will date anyone, as long as they’re a sexy, bad person.
Liz: There’s catering to a narrow part of the audience, and then there’s widening your story.
Anika: Mixing up the pairs, where we have an episode with Mariner and Tendi, and we have an episode with Rutherford and Boimler, and that was like – literally every single week, my brother would complain about the fact that they were always the same, and they never switched it up. That felt like a little, you know, “Here’s a response directly to you, Anika’s brother.”
The bridge crew are less background. They’re not taking over, but they do have more to do, which I think I appreciate.
And I found episode four, the rumor that Mariner started about herself – it really felt like a response to that Mariner is too good at everything–
Liz: Oh, I didn’t think of that!
Anika: –is a Mary Sue, quote unquote. And it really felt like they were saying, “No, Mariner pretends to be something, but it’s absurd to think that she is too good.”
It felt like a good version, like a good, you know, slap back on them. As opposed to the Rey problem, or the Michael and Spock problem, where we have to explain how this happened, and how they’re so good, and it has to be directly connected to a man, somehow. I think that’s bad. I really appreciate that they went in a completely different direction with Mariner.
There’s plenty of things that I like about this story. I think that the tone is not for me. It was never a [show] for me, and it’s becoming more obvious the more that I watched, because there’s more of it.
Liz: I think that’s totally fair, and it’s a reasonable criticism, and it’s a reasonable conclusion.
I have to say that, I think We’ll Always Have Tom Paris is my favorite episode of the whole series so far, even though the Boimler stuff really didn’t land at all for me – but Boimler stuff is never going to land at all for me – whereas everything with Tendi and Mariner getting to know each other, and realizing that they’re both from very high status families in their respective cultures, and they’re both rebelling against that in different ways. That was great. I have so many feelings about that.
Some of my feelings are, Star Trek does not know how to handle the Orions and should maybe stop trying.
Anika: That’s definitely – well, it’s sort of like, they just keep trying, they really, really want to get it right. And they just are not.
Liz: I respect that, but – and I say this as a person who has not yet watched the Enterprise episodes that explain how Orion is secretly a matriarchy, it’s just that the Orion women are totally objectified for reasons.
Anika: I recommend not watching those. I understand that you’re a completionist, but I would support you in not watching.
Liz: My feeling is that I should watch them so I should know what I’m criticizing, but also I think that we should just stop treating that as canon, and start afresh with the Orions. Because I think that they’re potentially very interesting.
Anika: This is the thing. So this episode, Tendi, and the Orions both were suggesting that there is more than one type of Orion, you know, like you only see this kind of Orion, and we don’t ever see these other kind. But it was one of those telling, not showing issues, where we still haven’t seen any of those other Orions, so how can we believe in them? It’s weird that they’re setting it up.
And so part of me thinks that maybe it’s going to come back, that we’re going to see more of Tendi’s family, and it’s going to become a richer culture, or something.
But the problem is, thus far, in four or five series, we’ve seen one kind of Orion. Like, Gaila and Tendi are in Starfleet. So that’s sort of like, okay, they’re not the stereotypical Orion, but they’re also still both shoved into the stereotypical Orion box at times.
Liz: I feel like the least stereotypical Orion we’ve seen is Osyraa. She’s a pirate and a villain, but she is definitely not one who is using her sexuality in any way whatsoever. And all of the other Orions we’ve ever seen, all of the Orion women we’ve ever seen, are in some way sexy. You know, Tendi – I love Tendi and I think she’s a great character, but she’s a cute girl. She’s a girl you can date. And–
Anika: Are you suggesting that Osyraa is not sexy?
Liz: I don’t think she is intended to be sexy in the same way.
Anika: What about that whole thing with Ken Mitchell’s character?
Liz: I guess I didn’t really … like, I could see a subtext there, but I don’t know if it was sexual. Obviously she’s hugely attractive, and I would ship her with anyone. But most Orion women are sexy – say sexy in a different way.
Anika: All right. So you’re saying that because she didn’t try to seduce Vance, she tried to negotiate with him, that she was being a different Orion. Okay. I can see that.
Liz: Obviously Tendi, as a main character, is different again, but I think she is still very much cute and appealing and available. Not that there’s anything wrong with being those things.
Anika: And in this one, again, we get this story of her that she was from–
Anika: –we don’t know the whole story, but it was definitely suggested that she is from some kind of clan that has power, and that she is a daughter of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and thus can command men.
Anika: Now the subtext is text.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. And I am curious, like maybe they’ll go somewhere interesting with it, but I feel like simply by its nature as a comedy, Lower Decks is always going to embrace the stupid parts of Star Trek canon, like anything from Enterprise. And we have to look elsewhere for interesting Orion stuff that’s not in some way cringy.
Anika: I had high hopes for Osyraa. I’m just angry that she’s dead.
Liz: Maybe we’ll get new Orion characters. Maybe Captain Pike can have a cool, sexy Orion nemesis in Strange New Worlds, like an Asajj Ventress to his Obi Wan Kenobi.
Liz: I knew you’d be into it.
Anika: I’m up for it. Their banter is so good! So good!
Liz: Because I’m not saying that Orion women shouldn’t be sexy. They’re green alien women, I feel like that’s inherent to the genre. I just want to see more variety in personality types and types of sexiness.
Anika: Fair. Very fair.
Liz: The flipside of the Orions is, of course, the Ferengi, who are straight up throwbacks, Mariner even calls them out for it.
Anika: Right. On purpose, they’re purposefully throwbacks. And then, in the end, they’re tricked into being good, but aren’t actually – the whole thing – so again, my brother, I’ve watched Star Trek with all of my brothers, different series at different times, but this is the brother who is closest in age to me, John. And we text back and forth about Marvel shows and Star Trek shows all the time. He lives in California, so he lives furthest away. I don’t get to see him. Sometimes in holidays. Fingers crossed. We’re getting together for that Thanksgiving–
Anika: – you know, as long as we’re all healthy.
Liz: I understand. There’s an asterisk over any plans these days.
Anika: But we text about Star Trek all the time. And he was upset on behalf of the Ferengi, with the previous appearance of the Ferengi in the first season, where Mariner’s friend like pretends to be a bad Ferengi, and tricks Boimler into thinking that he is. He was really offended that Boimler, who is supposedly the textbook Starfleet officer, believed that the Ferengi were these horrible people. And he was like, “What happened to Rom?” You know, he was just really, really upset.
Liz: You really like to think that between Boimler’s graduation from the Academy and Harry Kim’s – or the other way around – some things would have changed in terms of what they teach.
Anika: Exactly. Exactly. And yet that’s not what was suggested. And then this double down on it – even Mariner, who understands that they’re not like that, was still like talking about … even though she was correcting it, in a way, by calling it out, it was still like, that was the assumption. Like, that was the default.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. And it kind of made sense, like, you can’t expect that Rom’s reforms will be universally received or instantly implemented. So maybe the Ferengi culture is in a state of flux. But it just seems like they’re going for the easiest possible joke.
When, I don’t know, I think, it’s much funnier to have Ferengi who are still capitalists, but they’re like totes woke, greenwashing, pinkwashing capitalists.
Anika: Right, exactly. It was the low-hanging fruit.
But my main critique of both the Orions and the Ferengi, I think this show showcases that the inherent problem is that these are stereotypical characters. It’s a wider Star Trek problem. It’s not Lower Decks. Lower Decks is just shining a spotlight on the fact that you can’t have an entire planet of people who are exactly the same. Like, all Ferengi are not going to be capitalist jerks. All Orions are not going to be pirates. All Vulcans are not going to be Sarek.
Anika: Yet, they’re treated that way. The different races in Star Trek, the Bajorans, Cardassians, all of them, every non-human race in Star Trek is treated as a monolith.
Liz: I feel like part of it also is … oh, I’ve lost my train of thought, but Mike McMahon said something in an interview about choosing the Pakleds as an enemy, because they don’t really have a hat. They’re not warriors like the Klingons. They’re not capitalists like the Ferengi. Their only trait is that they’re kind of stupid. And that doesn’t make for great entertainment to me, I guess,
Liz: But also, one thing I remember is that when Samaritan Snare first aired, way back in season two of Next Generation, a lot of people criticized it for seeming to make fun of the intellectually disabled. And I have never been able to shake that interpretation. So – possibly I said this in our Lower Decks episode last year – but I just can’t find the Pakleds funny.
Anika: Nope. I can’t find the Pakleds funny. And, you know, to universalize that, that’s why I have issues with the Ferengi and the Orions, because they are making fun of a certain type of person.
Liz: It feels very much like punching down.
Anika: Yeah. Obviously capitalism and evil CEOs are like – I’m fully against them and I think we should make fun of them all the time, but there’s a difference between Jeff Bezos and me making fun of him and, you know, the guy who owns the hardware store in my town. That guy is still a capitalist, but he doesn’t actually have more power than me.
Liz: You can criticize him as an individual, and also criticize the system and there’s room for nuance.
Anika: And so in this idea that all of Vulcan, or all of Klingon is the same, it’s really weird to me. And I get it. I get that they’re all made up people. They’re all made up races that don’t really exist. And it’s very, very difficult to imagine a universe with all of this variety, and then variety within the variety.
And we are human, so we are seeing it through our lens as humans, watching a story written by humans about humans. Like I get it. I get why it’s big and why it’s the way it is. But as a person who interacts with fiction, I want it to have more of that nuance. I want there to be as much variety in the Ferengi as there are in humans.
Liz: I feel like it’s also partially, in going back to the old, early TNG style Ferengi, they’ve also reincorporated a lot of Jewish stereotypes which Deep Space Nine deliberately erased. And I don’t think that there is remotely any antisemitic intent, but again, it’s hard to have fun with this when you’re kind of going, “Guys, guys, you can do better.”
Anika: Yeah. So, you know….
Let’s talk about things we like, because I feel like I’m a super downer, and I don’t – this is never going to be my favorite Star Trek. It’s not going to be my Star Trek quote, unquote. Even though, like, they’re pandering to me specifically by having so much Voyager going on.
Liz: I know.
Anika: And I love Beckett Mariner. Beckett Mariner is such an amazing character, and all I want to do is scoop her up and put her in a different show that is all about her, and not about Star Trek.
Liz: I think the beautiful thing about the way this show is cast is that the cast could play live action versions of their characters. And that would delight me. I would love to see Mariner in a different context, and I would be interested in seeing Boimler and Rutherford in non-comedic contexts, where there is more to their characters than getting to the next punchline.
But mostly what I love about this show, and I really do enjoy it, for all my criticisms, is every single female character. Except maybe Barnes, I don’t know if she has much of a personality. But Mariner, and Tendi, and Captain Freeman, and Dr. T’Ana, who is getting more cat-like and weird by the week, it’s amazing. I love these women.
And I love Ransom and Shaxs and Kayshon, in puppet form or otherwise. I feel like to me, this show doesn’t need Boimler. It maybe doesn’t need Rutherford.
Anika: So I want to talk about Jack Quaid for a minute. Jack Quaid plays Boimler, and I watched this – I think it’s on Hulu, this movie Plus One, which stars Jack Quaid. And – I’m looking it up – Maya Erskine.
It’s a romcom. It’s very much in the Lower Decks wheelhouse, in that it is just a comedy that depends on your experience with other comedies. Full of tropes, like tropetastic. But he was so charming in that movie that I like Boimler more because of this not great movie, but like fun, stupid, easy to watch movie?
Anika: If that makes sense.
Liz: It makes perfect sense, because I’m much more engaged with Rutherford for having seen Eugene Cordero in Loki.
Anika: In Loki, right? Yes, me too. I love the idea that Rutherford and Casey are variants. Like I am totally on board with this.
Anika: I think that Boimler and Jack Quaid are charming. It was super incredibly smart to make him a Tom Paris fan boy. I love that, because it is so meta. I’ve said often that Tom Paris is the only, like, white guy in Voyager, like, straight up straight cis white man in Voyager. Like obviously there are like, you know Ethan–
Anika: I forgot his last name. Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo are obviously white men, but they’re not necessarily playing, you know, the…
Liz: Hmm. I would argue that the Doctor very much is, but yes, I understand your point.
Anika: Tom Paris, from Caretaker, it is clear to me that he is supposed to be the audience surrogate, that the audience that they are directing the story towards is Tom Paris and you’re supposed to relate to him. And so the fact that Boimler wants to be Tom Paris is so perfect in this, you know, extra layer of Star Trek. And I’m impressed that they know that.
Anika: It’s like, wow, you guys like really get what is going on here. And that’s why I give them a lot of credit for making Mariner and her mom and her dad like such – it’s really great that they centre Mariner, and that she has these parents. And that whole story is just really, really cool to be given to a young black woman.
Anika: And a black family. And then, having her best friend be Boimler, and basically be Tom Paris. I like the layers. I like where they’re going with that. And I love that they’re, self-aware. It’s the same thing with the, how I said that they’re responding to criticisms of season one. It’s the same self-awareness. I really appreciate that.
And I think that that is something that I like about comedy, is that they can be self-aware, and they can address it in that very specific way, that in drama is too much. In drama, it’s like you want there to be that layer between the story and the audience. Whereas in comedy, the layer can sort of be transparent at times.
Liz: Right. And actually, just to bring it back to season two of Ted Lasso, and I don’t want to spoil you, but there’s a lot of complaints about it because it’s not catering to the audience. And I think, in that way, where it’s a dramedy as much as it’s a sitcom, and it has a narrative – so they are choosing to be true to the narrative they want to build, rather than pivot to please the audience. And I think that is absolutely the right choice for Ted Lasso but it does – what you’re saying about the difference between drama and comedy, in that respect, makes sense to me.
Anika: So can we talk about Riker–
Anika: –and his crew?
Liz: I know that the whole, “I got into Starfleet to beam people, not to deal with complicated narratives and twists and plots,” I know it’s taken, particularly on Reddit, as a diss against Discovery-type storytelling, but I think it’s okay to like both and or one or the other, you know?
Anika: So I forget where I read this review of that episode, of the second episode, with the two Boimlers, which was the most Riker and Titan heavy episode. It might be Trekmovie, but I’m not positive. I will try to find the link. But it was like a Valentine to the idea that what that second episode was saying was, it’s okay to like Discovery and Lower Decks, and also TNG, and also whichever type of Starfleet or Star Trek that you personally connect to the most, that’s okay. That’s good. And it’s okay to have that dissonance when you come up against something that isn’t yours and your way, because there’s room enough in the universe for both.
I didn’t get that out of that episode. I’ll be honest. [But] the review was great. I was like, oh, you know what? I get that. I kind of see it, now that you’ve laid it out for me. Like, I can read it that way. And I like it.
Watching the episode, I did get that it was positive towards both the Boimler we know, and the Boimler who became the other Boimler. The one who, who belongs in the Titan.
I think in the Discord, one of us said that Mariner actually belongs on the Titan and Boimler doesn’t.
Liz: Yes. Yes.
Anika: And, uh, I think that’s true. I think that’s absolutely true. I think that her, you know, face on, full phasers running way of doing things belongs with Riker and his crew that we saw in that episode.
And I like it for Riker. It’s sort of like, that’s kind of fun, that he was holding back when he was the second in command, because it was his job to make sure that the ship was intact, was okay. But when he’s in charge, he gets to be making all the decisions and full throttle ahead. That’s sort of fun for Riker. I like it.
And I like that he inspires that in his Titan crew, even in his Boimler that he gets to keep, all of that is great. It’s very fun for Star Trek, it’s very fun for Riker. And fun for Boimler.
But I’m a more of the other Boimler, who’s like, it’s kind of great to have string quartets on the ship, if you don’t have string quartets on the ship, then what are you even doing anything for? It’s like my rants from last week, if all you ever do is work and you never go on vacation, then what is your life?
Liz: I feel like on an ideal starship, there is room for both string quartets and Klingon acid punk. Which is great by the way. And I just want to point out that there was a tiny bit in season one where we see Mariner and Tendi at talent night, and they are playing what sounds like Klingon acid punk. So they really should have talked earlier about their taste in music.
But yeah, I do agree with Trekmovie that it boils down to the fact that there is enough room in Starfleet, and in Star Trek, for all.
Anika: That’s actually a really great message that we should embrace. Even though I still maintain that Mariner, and also I, do not belong in Starfleet.
Liz: Yeah, but there’s no shame in that! I just feel like Mariner stays in Starfleet because she would not have the authority to do what she can do if she was a civilian.
Anika: I think that is the truth. And like, people are gonna yell at me for this, but I think it’s great to, again, shine a spotlight on the fact that there isn’t a place for these people who don’t belong in Starfleet, but should have the ability to handle some of the things that Starfleet kind of doesn’t do well.
Anika: I wish that there was somewhere for Mariner to be where she would have the power, but she would also have the freedom.
Liz: I feel like it’s partially that Mariner is very good at second contact, at looking at a situation where these people already know the Federation, and maybe the Federation has failed them in some way. And she is good at going, yeah, this is the problem, and this is what we’ve done, and this is how we need to fix it.
Liz: And I think part of the issue with Strange Energies is that she doesn’t have enough experience in doing this legitimately, so she doesn’t actually know yet when she can and can’t, or should, or shouldn’t act.
Anika: That makes some sense.
Liz: She’s never had that free rein before. And so in the end, it ends with a compromise where she and her mother are still on great terms. They’re still on the same side, but Mariner does still need boundaries before she can act as a free agent.
Anika: Right. And I don’t think that she should be just free to do whatever she wants. That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t think she should be off on her own. I just think that there should be more than one organization. That the Federation shouldn’t be the only people who are capable of doing these things.
Liz: It shouldn’t be only Starfleet, yeah.
Anika: I feel like, again, if I actually lived in this universe, I would be the person who is standing up and saying, you know what, the Federation isn’t all that. And we should have non-Federation – like, you know, Seven’s Rangers, I’m totally on board with Seven’s Rangers, because I think that there should be people who can do the things that Starfleet is unwilling to do.
Liz: Which is not to say, go out and violate the prime directive, willy-nilly, but who are not beholden to a pseudo-military.
Anika: Right. I just don’t think that the Federation should have as much power as they do in the universe. You know, I don’t think that America should have as much power as they do in the universe.
Liz: I’m thinking, you know, we have so many structures and organizations to do similar things. We have UN peacekeepers, and we have various national militaries. And for natural disasters, we have the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières and various organizations. So where is the Red Cross of the alpha quadrant? Where is Beverly Crusher’s independent Médecins Sans Frontières, going out, doing illegal AI medicine?
Anika: Exactly, exactly. It’s just upsetting to me that the Federation has so much power. Because I don’t want anyone to have that much power.
Liz: No, no. And as we see with season three of Discovery, if that infrastructure collapses, then there’s so little to take its place. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket, and you cannot have your entire fleet dependent on dilithium. And you can’t have your whole quadrant dependent on the Federation.
Anika: I’m going to plant my flag in the sand and say, yeah. And that’s my issue with Star Wars, and it’s everywhere. It’s an issue with every fandom.
Liz: I think it’s a reasonable issue. This is obviously not just a Lower Decks problem, but I think because Lower Decks is about quote unquote second contact, and the smaller and more routine works of maintaining the infrastructure of the Federation, and you and I are very into critiquing that…
Anika: Poor Lower Decks. Obviously they’re not going to solve this issue. And it’s not even necessarily an issue that needs to be solved. I just think that in the Star Trek universe as a whole – I would like to see more of the civilian systems and the non-military, the non-Federation, the non-NASA.
Anika: That is happening. I would like to see more of it. Because I just hope that it exists. I really loved the episode where Bajor decides not to join the Federation.
Liz: Yes. Yes. And I think it really misses the point that in the novels, they turn around and join the Federation.
Anika: It almost make it seem like that was an error. Like, you know, “Oh, we were wrong to choose that.” And I was like, no, you weren’t wrong to choose that. There should be another option. There should be, we want to be allies with the Federation, but we don’t want to be a part of it.
Liz: It’s difficult because the Federation is simultaneously the United Nations and the United States.
Anika: Right. Which is again, because it was written, because it was created in America. I’m not angry at anyone who sees it that way. It’s just the way it is. And I think that it’s shortsighted of some fans to not understand that that’s the way it is.
Liz: No. And I do find – God bless it. But Star Trek fandom is hopelessly US-centric. I mean, even more than usual for a fandom dedicated to an American media product.
I have this pet peeve, where people point to the root beer scene in Deep Space Nine and go, “Yeah, root beer does represent all of humanity! It’s sweet and cloying and over emotional!”
And I’m like, yeah, I’m pretty sure that root beer is only consumed in massive quantities in America. And actually, I think tea and coffee might be the beverages that epitomize humanity. Cause they’re wildly varied. They can be sweet or bitter. They’re full of caffeine.
Anika: Wow. I tip my hat to you.
Liz: I’ve thought about this too much over the years.
Anika: I don’t even like root beer. So obviously–
Liz: I actually really do.
Anika: –I’m not into the root beer thing.
Liz: The other thing I was going to say is that I really hope that Star Trek Prodigy gives us this non-Federation aligned–
Anika: Yes. That’s what it seems to be set up for, right? It seems to be set up for, we are creating our own version.
Liz: I hope it’s about that. And these kids learning from Long Janeway and taking what is good from the Federation and learning from it, but not being beholden to it. But who knows?
Anika: Yes, yes. Yes.
Liz: We’ll probably know more next week when Star Trek Day happens.
Anika: Yeah, I’m kind of excited for Star Trek Day. I like that they are doing it, a big hoopla, all virtual. I’m expecting to learn about Strange New Worlds. Maybe Picard season two. Definitely Prodigy. The fourth season of Discovery has wrapped up, like, there’s a lot going on.
I will say that there are way too many men on the panels. It was something like, you know, in the twenties of men and eight women, or something like that.
Liz: I don’t like that.
Anika: So not great, but I get it, like, they chose one person to do the retrospectives of all of the different series. And now there are just more men than women, it turns out and, you know, I sort of get it, like, are you gonna choose Deanna Troi to represent TNG? No, you’re not.
Liz: I mean, I would, but that’s just me. I might be an outlier.
Anika: On the diversity front, it was pretty good. On the women front, not so much, but…
Liz: That sounds like Star Trek!
Anika: I know, that sounds like Star Trek. I’m still looking forward to it. I’m excited to learn things and it’s a very exciting time to be a Trekkie. There is so much going on.
Liz: Yes. Yes. And even though Lower Decks is not for us, I expect to absolutely love Prodigy, and I’m probably going to enjoy Strange New Worlds. They did what I wanted it to do, which was give it a diverse background cast along with the three white leads. And I really hope that it is a series about Number One, rather than Pike or Spock.
Anika: I’m obsessed with Number One. I’m so excited.
Liz: I was going to say this is just proof that we were right not to try and do weekly episodes on Lower Decks.
Anika: I don’t think it could sustain it. I mean, definitely, with my proclivities, it couldn’t sustain it. But I also, I don’t think that these episodes are written to be discussed in depth, in that way. I don’t think that’s the purpose.
Liz: I do love that Mariner questions these systems, but it’s also very much a part of them, and actually likes being a part of them. She is not a perfect character. She’s not a perfect person. Can you imagine how boring a perfect character would be?
Anika: Oh yeah, no, no one wants that. I know that people who – people online really are against complication and flaws, in theory, but then they love the characters who are the most flawed, and the fact that they excuse their flaws is really strange to me.
Liz: Right. Like, I love characters who do terrible things. I am on the record as being a Dukat fan. But I would never pretend that Dukat has never done anything wrong, ever, in his entire life.
Anika: Some people–
Liz: Yeah. Apparently there are people–
Anika: –say that. Most fans don’t say that Dukat has never done anything wrong in his entire life, but the actoris kind of on record with that.
Liz: And you do get people saying that that Kai Winn is worse than Dukat. And I’m like, really? How many people did Winn rape?
Anika: Yeah. I’m sorry. I mean, people don’t like Kai Winn for acceptable reasons. However, they also don’t like, Kai Winn for unacceptable reasons, like the fact that she’s a woman, the fact that she’s middle-aged, the fact that she has an opinion that’s different than Sisko’s.
It’s like, you can be against her for her problematic – her very obvious, problematic opinions and issues and platforms. But you can’t be against her because you don’t like her, she’s not charming, she’s not pretty, she’s not nice. Like, sorry. Those aren’t acceptable reasons to dislike a character.
Liz: No. I mean, she’s a passive aggressive bitch and I love her, but also I think she’s right about a bunch of things.
Can we do an episode on Kai Winn?
Anika: Absolutely. I will 100% to an episode on Kai Winn. I will watch episodes for her. I think that she is not necessarily a great character, but she has the potential to be a great character.
Liz: I think what makes her interesting to me is that she could have been a great person, and she didn’t even understand that she was turning down the opportunity to be so. But also that she had good reasons! Like, I think that if I were Bajoran, and we had just driven the Cardassians off and then this alien came in and announced that he was the Emissary, I would be horrified. I would reject him.
Anika: Well, and that’s the thing, we are told the story from the point of view of our cast.
Anika: She is an outsider. And so narrative never requests us to be in her point of view, or in her shoes. She is just an antagonist.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. The closest we get is Kira admitting in her first episode that she agrees with some of Winn’s positions.
We’re very off topic and I just had a nice message from my flatmate to say she’s ready to drive me to the shops whenever we’re done. Should we wrap up? We’ve covered all of our feelings about Lower Decks, and also some other shows.
Anika: We’re going to do the back half ,too. I will say as much as I am not as invested in Lower Decks as I am in other Star Treks, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch it.
Liz: Oh, no. no. It is a very enjoyable way to spend half an hour a week. And if I hadn’t put myself in the position of volunteering to talk about it every now and then, I really wouldn’t have thought of most of these problems that I have at all.
Anika: That, too. I think that’s true.
Liz: Sometimes fandom can make things less fun, and not everything needs to be analyzed to death. Although I do think it’s worth having a discussion about their depiction of Orions and Ferengi so…
Liz: Okay. Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.tumblr.com, including links to our social media and credits for our theme music. You can also follow us on Twitter at @antimatterpod, and on Facebook.
If you like us, leave a review on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you consume your podcasts. The more reviews, the easier it is for the algorithm to show us to new listeners. And join us in two weeks, when we’ll be discussing the news out of Star Trek Day.
Liz: I know it’s silly, but I do enjoy our intermittent episodes where we just catch up on whatever announcement has been made at a con or…
Anika: It’s fun.
Anika: You never know what it’s going to be about. That’s great. I love it.