Even the Cerritos got naked in the end! Is this what Star Trek has come to?

Anika and Liz catch up on New York Comic-Con and the second half of Lower Decks season 2. Which … we loved! 

We talk about: 

  • Anika’s NYCC experience
  • A new Discovery trailer! Gosh, people have awfully strong opinions about the Ferengi make-up…
  • Serenading the cast
  • Liz loves the Federation president and has pre-forgiven her for any war crimes she might do.
  • Prodigy‘s goal is to welcome new people to Star Trek without making them watch hundreds of hours of TV and movies, and we are HERE for it.
  • We wound up LOVING the rest of Lower Decks season 2
  • …except the Pakleds
  • We love Boimler now? Like, a lot? 
  • Liz’s confession: “I’m a Doopler.”
  • We loved “I, Excretus” so much that Anika can’t talk about it without laughing!
  • We want Captain Freeman to command the Enterprise
  • Anika fangirls Dawnn Lewis

It’s the episode where Liz has so many last-minute thoughts that this is basically the end of Return of the King, in Star Trek podcast form

Transcript

Liz: 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 back half of Lower Decks season two, and Trek news out of New York Comic-Con.

How was New York Comic-Con?

Anika: It was great. It went very well. I was intimidated. I went to ConnectiCon – in September, I suppose it was? But that’s always a much smaller con, and then it was even smaller because there were fewer people involved. So that was a good first step.

But this was – I mean, I haven’t even been in New York City since the pandemic started, and so just that was a little bit overwhelming. And weird. It still wasn’t busy anywhere, so it wasn’t crowded like New York Comic-Con. I have not seen that few people at NYCC in 15 years. It was very, very sparse compared to previous years, but still more people than I’d seen in a really long time.

Liz: A friend of mine went, and she was kind of weirded out to realize that she could see everything and buy everything she wanted, and then go home after lunch. That actually sounds like a really enjoyable way to do a Comic-Con, but if you’re used to a full-scale event, it must be very disconcerting.

Anika: It was strange. Marvel and DC didn’t come. It’s missing all of the big vendors that are normally there. No Funko, no publishers.

Liz: Oh.

Anika: No books at all. There were zero publishing houses. I like to just walk down the book aisle and have people hand me free books. That’s one of my traditions at the con. So I was a little sad about it. But it was nice to be able to, yes, go everywhere, see everything. There was a line for the Star Trek: Prodigy event, but that was the only line I even really saw. There were lines – like I didn’t go in Amazon line because I don’t care.

Liz: I mean, yeah.

Anika: There were lines for some things, but even those were nothing compared to – like, I waited in line for three hours to get a Monster High doll once. It’s a big deal, and this was a much smaller and stranger event.

And then my panel went amazingly well, we had a full room. Which, at 3:00 PM on Sunday was amazing. Like, thank you to all those people! And then they were the best audience for a panel that I might have ever had. We would switch to the next slide, and they would get excited because it would be like Xena, or a Scolder – Scolder? Scully and Mulder. I just made up a portmanteau!

Liz: Thanks. I hate it.

Anika: I did not mean to do that. But people would be in the room, excited, you know, Lucille Ball is one of our slides, because she saved Star Trek three times, and they were excited to talk about that. So it was a wonderful audience. We got really great feedback. And that was the end of my con! It really went out on a high note. It was very exciting.

Liz: And this was a panel on the women who made fandom, and it’s so great to get that reaction from a Comic-Con crowd to feminist nerd history.

Anika: Exactly. It was really, really wonderful. But then there were the Star Trek panels!

Liz: We have a new Discovery trailer. The universe is ending again. The Federation president is amazing. For some reason, people have really strong opinions about the Ferengi makeup?

Anika: Sigh.

Liz: This fandom, man.

Anika: It’s the Klingons all over again. And I’m tired.

Liz: It is perfectly okay to have your opinion. But it just feels like a lot of it is bad faith criticism.

And I’ve seen the usual complaints about Michael pop up. And it’s like, four seasons in, if you don’t like it, it really is okay to take a break and not watch it. And maybe come back in a few years and you’ll like it. Or not! Just because you’re a Trekkie doesn’t mean you have to like everything.

Anika: There’s so much other Star Trek that you can spend your time on. I find it hard to be up to date on all the Star Treks now.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I have other things! There was a [trending topic] on Twitter recently, that was, if you respect the author, you read the book. Even if you hate it.

Liz: Yeah, nah.

Anika: It was basically a hundred percent pushback that – “No, no, you don’t. Write a better book, author,” is the response there. And I feel like that’s the same thing with Star Trek or any franchise. If you don’t like what you’re watching, just stop watching and watch something else. There’s so much available, even just in Star Trek, that you will find something, even just in new Star Trek now.

Liz: Yeah. We had the conversation in my writer’s Slack, one of my friends has her first book coming out in a few months. We were having the, “not everyone is going to love your book. Not everyone is going to like it, and that’s okay. Not every book is for every reader.”

And not every Star Trek is for every Trekkie. And I kind of feel like maybe – oh gosh, because we had such a long break between Enterprise and the Trek renaissance, there’s this fear that if you don’t watch and love everything, it will be taken away again. Which is irrational.

Anika: It’s irrational.

Liz: It’s an attitude I saw with a lot of forced positivity in Doctor Who fandom after 2005. And I feel like forced positivity is maybe not a problem we have with Discovery haters.

Although I would say it is sort of a thing in Star Trek Twitter that I don’t love – because if I’m very positive, but if you tell me to be positive, I’ll just go into the corner and sulk at you. But, you know, we can have our opinions.

Having said that, people who say Michael Burnham is a Mary Sue and a bad character, and doesn’t deserve to be captain, those people are wrong and their opinions are bad, and they should feel bad.

Anika: Yes. Their opinions are bad and they should feel bad.

But just stop watching and stop talking about it. Number one, stop talking about it. Because if you just don’t like Michael Burnham, great. That’s fine. You don’t like Michael Burnham. Just don’t tell me. I don’t need to know that. I never asked. If I say something like, “Michael Burnham appreciation tweet,” do not reply, “I hate Michael Burnham”. I will delete your tweet!

Liz: Yes. And the thing is like, of late, I have noticed that – as someone who is not really into Deep Space Nine as the other Treks – I’ve kind of had this urge behind my little fingers to type an argument to people who [talk about] how much they love Deep Space Nine.

And then I stop myself and go, “Liz, this is more about you being in lockdown for 70 days, and you don’t have enough going on with your life, and you need to go outside and touch some grass and sit in the sun and let people like their Star Trek.” And so that is what I say to people who are not resisting that urge.

Also, don’t literally touch grass. It’s full of allergens and bugs and stuff.

Anika: So about the Ferengi, the moderator–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: That was her first response. They showed us the trailer, and then they immediately showed us the trailer again. Wilson Cruz did that thing where he was like, “Do you want to see it again? Everybody, let’s go!” They picked the right person to do it. Wilson Cruz was really good at it.

But the moderator, she only had a one-word comment in between the two showings and it was, “Ferengi?!” And that was such a wonderful moment. Because no one had seen this trailer before, so it was everyone’s first response. And, to me, that means that all of these people are complaining about the Ferengi quote unquote redesign – which I also disagree with, but it’s like, we knew immediately it was a Ferengi, and we were excited to see it. So what are you complaining about?

Liz: And I don’t understand the complaints, because he doesn’t look that dramatically different to the Ferengi of the Berman era. There’s a bit more of a point in his ears, but who’s to say that Ferengi have not always had that much variation in ear shape?

Anika: Maybe I’m weird in that I think that when you go 55 years, or, I guess, 35 years, it should change. The technology has changed. There are obviously completely new makeup artists. Let them play. I don’t understand the obsession with the way it was, but I’m like that with everything.

Liz: I definitely don’t understand the appeal of a slavish recreation of the styles and technologies of the 1990s. We’ve been there and we’ve done that, and let these new people put their mark on the show.

Anika: But also there was a lot of singing at this panel. I wanted to just mention that.

Liz: I saw your note about singing.

Anika: So Sonequa Martin Green and Mary Wiseman were singing at each other. And apparently they do that on set all the time. They just don’t talk to each other, they sing to each other.

Liz: I mean that is some theater kid nonsense right there.

Anika: Everybody in the cast was like, yes, this happens all the time. It was heartwarming. I just think that must be a really fun set to be on. They all seem to be so comfortable with each other.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’s delightful that they burst into song at random times.

Liz: Most definitely.

Anika: There was a Q and A session. And the last question was actually Kennedy, who is one of the Women at Warp, singing an ode to Adira to close it out. It’s “Call Them They” and it’s about like, it’s about pronouns. And the way she explained it to me afterwards was that her, I think grandmother – somebody in her family – was having trouble with the ‘they/them’, and, ‘what does that mean?’ And, ‘I don’t understand,’ you know, and so Kennedy wrote this song in response to that to try to be like, this is a fun way to explain why it’s important to respect their pronouns

Liz: That’s so clever!

Anika: And she sang it, and we were all clapping. David [Ajala], Book, got the whole audience clapping along.

And Adira, Blu, was just so touched by the whole thing, and, afterwards wanted to meet Kennedy and talk to her. And it was this really amazing moment in the fandom because it was Kennedy, someone who is very outspoken, but always wants to be seen as herself and her authentic self, bringing that energy to Blu del Barrio and Adira Tal, and being like, “Yo, this character is better than Wesley, and they’ve saved the Discovery, like, five times over, and they deserve our respect and the least possible thing that we can do is respect their pronouns.”

And it was just a beautiful moment, and that ended that panel. And I felt very lucky to be there and be a part of it and know Kennedy. I get to give Kennedy a hug afterwards, and say, thank you for that amazing that just happened.

Liz: It sounds really wholesome and heartwarming.

Anika: It was very wholesome and heartwarming. So I wanted to make sure that we mentioned that.

Liz: So great.

I would like to just say that I love the Federation president, and I love that Georgiou leaves and another woman steps up to mentor Michael. And at this point, she can have a little war crime as a treat. I’m still going to love her.

Anika: She sounds a little bit like Amanda – the actress. It was so interesting to me. Like you, I was like, oh, yay. Another mom for Michael. Michael collects moms, as we know, and I appreciate that in her. But the way that she spoke, I was staring at her and being like, “Are you Mia Kirshner again? How much makeup do you have on?” But she’s not. It was just like, that’s how strong it came across to me.

Liz: That’s fascinating.

This is a bit silly, but she reminded me of Seska. Not because I think she’s evil, but just because her combination Cardassian/Bajoran/human heritage, as confirmed by Michelle Paradise, means that her Cardassian features are very flat, the way Seska’s were when she got them back. And that’s why my first thought is, she can be a little bit evil, and I will still love her.

Anika: And it will be amazing.

Liz: I mean, politics is all about compromise. She’s going to have to make hard choices.

Anika: I’m also already shipping her with everyone

Liz: Oh, I was just going to say, I’m also ready to ship her with Vance at the earliest opportunity.

Anika: Right. Number one. I was very, very ready.

Liz: I think, more than anything else, we’re like heat-seeking guided missiles in search of older women in Star Trek to love. I have good feelings about this president and I look forward to learning her name.

Anika: The important things.

Liz: Yeah, yeah.

Anika: Okay. Do you want to talk about Prodigy?

Liz: There’s a note here that says you’ve seen the first episode, and I am deeply, deeply jealous. So big question, no spoilers. Was it good?

Anika: Yes. Yes. Yes. I am under whatever gag order to not speak about it.

Liz: Please don’t feel tempted.

Anika: But I loved it. I know exactly what the complaints are going to be, but they’re the kind of complaints that I like. So sorry. Sorry to people who don’t like the things I like.

Liz: So there’s going be too many women, and the teenage girl will be important…

Anika: I can’t wait until our next episode to talk about all of these things, because I’m very, very ready

Liz: So does it feel like a good introduction of the universe for children?

Anika: So this is what we are allowed to talk about, because this was what was in the panel, and therefore what was reported.

The premise – not the premise, the thesis, because the premise is something I can’t talk about – but the thesis is that this is an introduction to Star Trek for kids, for sure, but also for anyone who feels intimidated by the fact that it’s been on TV for 55 years, and there’s so many episodes of so many series, which one am I supposed to start with?

I’ve had that question posed to me multiple times. “Do I start with TOS? Do I start with TNG? Is it okay if I just start watching Discovery?” Those kinds of questions come up all the time, and the idea of this show is that these kids also don’t know what Star Trek is. They don’t know what the Federation is. They don’t know what Starfleet is. They don’t know what the ship they’re on is. And so they learn about Star Trek from Captain Janeway, and the audience does as well. The first season is an introduction to Star Trek 101–

Liz: I love this.

Anika: –that is also a space adventure with these characters.

So they’re on an adventure, solving a problem, and they’re learning to use Star Trek‘s way of solving problems in order to do it, and thus being introduced to, you know, this is Star Trek history, or a Starfleet history or Federation history, or, you know, space exploration from the beginnings of time on Earth history.

And I think that is so clever. That’s what we’ve needed. Oh my goodness, what a great idea, and what a great idea to aim it at children, so you’re creating a new fandom base with these kids, and they’re going to watch with their parents, who may or may not be Star Trek fans. Either way, those people also get to take the class, and they’re either going to be excited as it becomes more and more like the Star Trek they know, or they’re going to be taken along on the journey with us, you know, with the kids.

I was just like, this is brilliant. Everything should be like this. We need a 101 for all of these giant franchises. And I always say that I haven’t watched Supernatural or Grey’s Anatomy because they have, like, 25 seasons, and I can’t start from day one, it’s just too much. It’s too scary. And so I can’t imagine how Star Trek must feel to someone who has never experienced it.

Liz: And I have so many friends who started watching Discovery, and who love it, but feel really intimidated at the thought of going beyond that, and they found Picard incredibly opaque. Most of my non-Trekkie friends did not finish watching Picard.

Anika: Hm.

Liz: And so I love this anti-gatekeeping premise.

Anika: Yes, exactly. That’s exactly what it is. It’s the, we are throwing the gates open and inviting you in with cookies and hot cocoa.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I am just so, so thrilled that this exists.

Liz: And it’s so smart to have Janeway be the introductory figure, because I think, of all of the nineties Treks, Voyager is the most kid friendly. There are certainly episodes that I would not let a child watch unsupervised, and there are probably a few that I wouldn’t let my hypothetical child watch at all, but–

Anika: There’s a reason that Naomi Wildman is the most successful child character. And it’s because the series makes sense for her to be there. She’s a part of the community.

Whereas Wesley, even though they literally created the setting, they were like on this Enterprise, we have families, they completely failed to actually integrate it in any way. Whereas Voyager‘s premise requires you to integrate it.

Liz: Yes. And Jake is a wonderful kid character, but he’s so often on the sidelines. And for all that Deep Space Nine is a genuinely great show, I don’t know if it’s necessarily one that kids would enjoy.

Whereas Voyager, it’s silly. It’s dark at times, but the episodic nature actually means that it goes to dark places in a very safe way.

Anika: Yeah. You’re right. That’s a good way of putting it. But it also still tells a story. It’s episodic, but it has this through line.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I think that Voyager makes many, many missteps, but they hit a pretty good balance. TV was changing while they were on, so it was becoming more serialised literally while Voyager was being filmed and presented. It’s interesting. Television history is interesting from that moment in time.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: All three of them, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, all have that same push and push me, pull you. And it’s interesting. They all fail in different ways, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also succeed sometimes.

Liz: Also, I just wouldn’t let my child, if I had a child, watch Enterprise.

Anika: I don’t let adults watch Enterprise sometimes.

Liz: I just remembered that, you know, one of our Enterprise episodes, you talked about watching it with your little girl and she made a graphic. And I did not mean that as a dig at you! I was thinking about older kids who are in a position to take in the messages.

Anika: Right. She’s so funny. She doesn’t watch Star Trek because that was her first Star Trek. And that’s Enterprise‘s fault. That’s not my child’s fault. And it’s not really my fault, either, because I didn’t choose Enterprise to be her first Star Trek. It’s the one that was on when she was a child. I was trying to share something I love with my child, and it happened to be Enterprise.

But I’ve told you that I don’t remember anything from season three. There’s like a few episodes, like Twilight, and that’s it. My favorite episode. And then the rest is sort of like, I had already given up by that point.

The theory is that the last two seasons of Enterprise are better than the first two seasons. And it’s like, that might be so, but I don’t know because I didn’t get there, and neither did my child. So she is never going to watch Star Trek again.

Liz: This is why we need Prodigy as a clean slate for young viewers. And I’m so excited about that. And as someone who loves kids media and who wants to write science fiction for young readers, I am just really so happy that this exists.

Anika: And I’m very excited for you to meet all of the characters.

Liz: We had some new cast announcements. Some–

Anika: Some great names,

Liz: Jason Alexander, who was in one episode of Voyager.

Anika: Right?

Liz: Which I’ve repressed. I don’t think it was bad. I just think it was – I remember the talk at the time being like, “Wow, was that Jason Alexander? He’s so quiet and boring.” Daveed Diggs, whom I love.

Anika: The best!

Liz: Jameela Jamil.

Anika: And Jameela Jamil. Oh my goodness. I feel like I’m going to try to use this casting news to try to get my child to watch Prodigy, and be like, no, but you know these actors, you love these actors. Two of your favorite actors are now in Prodigy. Give it a try. And it has like an anime feel–

Liz: Yeah, it’s CGI, but it has that bright color palette of anime.

Anika: That’s what it is. That’s exactly right. It’s the bright color palette and the sort of like painted effects kind of thing.

Liz: Yes. And then there’s Robert Beltran as Captain Chakotay. (sigh)

Anika: Yeah. ‘My Chakotay feels are negative and I feel bad about it,’ is what I wrote about that announcement. I don’t want to feel bad about it.

I was sort of agnostic [on Chakotay], and now I am negative. The further we get away from any sort of nostalgia for Chakotay, the more all of the problematic problems come out. And Robert Beltran does not help, because he is not good at being…

Liz: A person?

Anika: A person that I want to have positive feelings for.

Liz: He sort of like our William Shatner.

I think, as someone who was a very big Janeway/Chakotay shipper at the time, I am rewatching season four and realizing, for all of the many, many problems with the depiction of Chakotay as a Native American character, which have been discussed at length in this podcast and many other places, I really like him.

And I’m trying to pinpoint the point where I stopped caring about Chakotay. And I think it must be season five or six, but it was entirely down to Beltran and his–

Anika: His negativity…

Liz: His negativity. His refusal to act as the series goes on. Chakotay is always a very stoic character, but there’s a lot of life in him in the early seasons. And even – I’m up to Prey in season four and he’s still there. He’s very present. And there just comes a point in the latest seasons where it’s just like, “You’re just kind of an arsehole, mate.”

And in episodes like Shattered, where he gets a big role and he gets to do things, that was great! And it’s like, you could’ve been doing this all along!

And we have discussed how Voyager does not serve its ensemble well, and I don’t blame him for feeling uninspired, but it’s that thing where I’m like, you could have just left and gotten another job.

Anika: Yeah. I get it. I do understand from his point of view, because absolutely, the Doctor and Seven took over that show. That that is a true fact. But Tim Russ, as Tuvok, also was completely overshadowed by that point. He has more to do in the earlier seasons–

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: –but he took every opportunity to still be Tuvok. And he still talks about it in a very positive way. And I’ve mentioned before, I might’ve been cut out, but he was in iCarly and in Lab Rats. And there are Voyager jokes in those shows because he knows that Tuvok is who he’s known for, and leans into it and enjoys it, and pokes fun of it, because you know, he still has these warm feelings for it.

And I feel like Robert Beltran would like contractually require people to not mention Chakotay if he was doing something else. That’s the vibe I get from Robert Beltran. He is more willing to talk about how unfair everything was on Voyager than he is to enjoy the fact that he was in it.

Liz: Yeah. And he said stuff on Reddit Ask Me Anythings about not wanting to play a character who is subservient to a woman. And then he spends a lot of time on Twitter, interacting with J/C shippers, which is (a) embarrassing, we don’t bring us shipping to the actors, and (b) it’s like, well, which is it, mate? And you know, maybe he’s had some kind of great revelation. I don’t know. I don’t know his life.

[But] I’m sort of excited to have Captain Chakotay in it because that’s a gateway to real flesh and blood Janeway. And maybe they’ll use his character in a really cool way that sort of makes up for what has gone before.

Anika: Right. Yes. I can certainly be hopeful, but I’m just scared. I’m not good at hope anymore. Star Wars broke me.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I’m trying, I’m trying. I’ve become soured on Chakotay, which is like … I have a teddy bear! I have a Chakotay teddy bear. Handmade. It is adorable. And I don’t want to be angry at Chakotay. I just … That’s what’s happened.

And so what I try to do is not let it affect me. And it could be great. We don’t even know, like, is he going to be a hologram too? Or is it going to be Captain Chakotay, doing some sort of deep space mission to … I’m curious. So there’s at least that.

Liz: Well, this answers a question that I didn’t want to ask in case you weren’t allowed to answer. Is he in the first episode?

Anika: I can safely say that he is not. No, I’m pretty sure everyone knows he’s not in the first episode. Because it was a surprise, you know, when they announced the new cast.

Liz: Yeah. My assumption is that he is captaining a ship and crosses paths with the kids. And presumably there’s going to be some sort of hilarious interaction between him and holo Janeway.

Anika: Yeah, that would be fun. That could be fun. They could get me back. I definitely shipped it. So win me back! Right now, Janeway/Crusher is my OTP. So sorry, but that’s where Picard and non-nostalgic Chakotay has left me.

Liz: My secret confession is that I’m kind of into Janeway/Picard.

So we’ve spent 30 minutes talking about the events out of New York Comic-Con. How do you feel about Lower Decks?

Anika: Yes! Okay. So what I want to say is the second half is way better than the first half. They got me. They pulled me back in.

Liz: Same! But I think it’s partially that we had our episode, and we talked about our problems with it. And then, because I’d gotten them out, I was able to accept that this is the show, and love it for what it is.

Which is not to say that I like the Pakleds. If we’re coming to a resolution of the Pakled plot in season three, I will be delighted.

Anika: Yeah. Can we please stop? I guess they’re funny. I guess they’re supposed to be inherently funny. I don’t think I ever found them inherently funny. All the way back to Next Generation, I don’t think I found them funny. And so I am not the audience for the Pakeds being inherently funny.

On both The Spy Humongous and in First First Contact, my comments are, ‘I still don’t like the Pakleds.’ That’s my main comment. My main comment on the Pakleds is ‘no’.

Liz: We discussed last time how it feels like the Pakled stuff is punching down, and I don’t like that. I think we can do better than that.

However, the rest of season two fixed my problems with Boimler. I can’t even remember, like, why did I start loving Boimler? I think it’s at the end of An Embarrassment of Dooplers where he accepts that he is Mariner’s number one. And I was like, yes!

And once he accepted that, and stopped fighting it, he suddenly became much more confident, which means he hit my embarrassment squick less, and I liked him more. And likewise, that same episode addressed Rutherford’s memory loss.

Anika: In The Spy Humongous, and then in I, Excretus my comments about Boimler are ‘Boimler, heart emoji’, because I loved him in those two episodes. I loved him with the red shirts and how he was like, “You people are just wrong!”

Yeah. It was confidence in who he was. It was almost like he finally figured out why his position on the show as it is, is good, and can be a pathway to his, to whatever he wants. He doesn’t have to fight it. He doesn’t have to be upset that he’s in lower decks.

When he accepted, “Look you’re an ensign, you’re supposed to be lower decks,” and he got recognition by just not trying to be something he’s not, but actually paying attention to the situation and jumping in and doing it, which is how anyone on Star Trek gets recognition and how you get to be a Kirk.

He’s on his way, now, to getting what he really wants. If he really wants to be Riker, the new Riker, now he’s on that path and he just has to–

Liz: Keep–

Anika: Be confident. Yeah, keep going. And then, in I, Excretus, he almost made me cry. I just love his determination to get that 100% and just keep doing it, and learning every time, and saving more and more Borg.

I was just like, this is the best. I was so happy with Boimler, and I was sitting there going, I don’t understand, why is Boimler my favorite now? What is wrong with me?

But at the end, when he had all the babies strapped and carrying the other Borg, and they were like, “You have to stay in it, so all of us can get there, too,” and then he had to like sacrifice his points. And I was just like, oh my goodness. So that was the best, this the best.

Liz: I think one of the reasons that was so great is that we’re seeing him being both confident and competent. And I think that’s a really natural arc for a young ensign to go through, where he’s nervous, and he’s kind of screwing up, and now he’s really good at his job. And by the end of that episode, he is starting to train junior officers – junior, junior officers.

I think it helps that his acceptance of his place means he is less cringy when he’s interacting with the senior staff, which triggers both my anxiety and my embarrassment squeak.

So by the time you get to wej Duj, where he’s trying to find a bridge buddy, I could sort of lean in and appreciate the humor, because it felt like it wasn’t at his expense. And, you know, by the end he is the reasonable person, and all the fake Hawaiians slash moon people are the ones being ridiculous.

Anika: Right. Yes. I can see that. Fake Hawaiians slash moon people…

Liz: When he says, “You’ve been pretending to be Hawaiian, do you know how culturally insensitive that is?”

Anika: Oh my goodness.

Liz: That’s what I had been thinking. When he starts pretending to be Hawaiian, I’m like, wow, Twitter is going to have a lot to say about this.

Anika: Right. But it was like, wow, you stuck the landing! That was really good, you guys. Good job, Lower Decks.

I think that’s what it is, is that the show got better as the season went on. It was almost like Boimler, in that it got more confident in what it was doing, and just went for it all. And that could be like, they knew what their end goal was, and they had to set things up that was going to get them there. Even Tendi’s Orion trip home, that I still don’t like – then, when, she was getting upset–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It added to that.I was like, oh, this is why they told that story. So that this part of the story makes sense.

Liz: Yes. Not only that she is estranged from her family of origin, but that she comes from a position of great privilege where, yeah, probably everyone did like her, or act as if they liked her. And probably she is not used to being rejected, professionally or personally.

Anika: Exactly. It retroactively made those ideas better. There was a purpose.

Liz: I still wish we could dig more into the Orion thing ,and maybe we will in the future, but I still love the parallels between Tendi and Mariner. Mariner and Tendi are so much alike, but Tendi brings everyone closer to her and doesn’t want them to let go. Whereas Mariner pushes everyone away.

Anika: Mariner is still a problem, in that she still doesn’t belong in Starfleet, but she’s like trying more, maybe. I don’t know.

Liz: I think she is trying more, and Starfleet, in terms of the Cerritos, is adapting to her, which is kind of ideal. Because a California class ship that specializes in second contact does need to be flexible.

Anika: Again, I, Excretus was good for that, in that they all had to work together. That was a good episode arc, guess, for both sides, the lower decks and the bridge crew. Obviously that was the plot of the episode, like, that was purpose, but it worked, and so I just appreciate that that story was told in that way.

Liz: And that laid the groundwork for the finale.

Anika: Exactly. Because Mariner has learned this lesson, like, four times over now and I’m tired of that because I don’t like it. I hate it. I’ve said this before. I hate it when a character has to be told the same thing over and over and over again, and just keeps making those mistakes. It’s like, get over it. This was my main problem with Saru, who also has finally grown into his own self, and I don’t have this problem anymore.

I liked that they took that Mariner lesson and sort of put it on everybody. And then, finally, they all learned it, including Mariner. And so it was like, oh, okay. She needed to be a part of a group, so it wasn’t just her. And that also makes character sense. It’s like, okay, she didn’t want to be singled out for being the problem. She wanted everybody to have that within them, and for it to not be just her. And then she could be like, oh, okay. I will now change. I will now grow.

Liz: Also, I think it’s very natural to keep making the same mistakes, even when you know that you’re doing the wrong thing, and it’s really hard to break that pattern. And I wonder if this is a case of a realistic psychological thing in a setting that is not remotely realistic.

Anika: I mean, Lower Decks is cleverer, certainly, than I expected it to be. Almost than it has any right to be.

Liz: No, I think that’s fair.

Anika: It’s not just clever about Star Trek. It’s also clever about people.

Liz: Yeah. Like, in An Embarrassment of Dooplers, the Doopler – I saw myself in him. Some people who are conflict avoidant, which I am, can cause trouble for others by making my conflict avoidance other people’s problem to work around. And then I feel bad because I’m causing them problems and that makes it worse! So am a Doopler, and I will try to be less of a Doopler.

But I think the insight into people and human beings is great, and I’m so impressed that we can have that in a show. And we can also have an episode about Billups’s mother tried to get him to have sex or the naked time scenario where we see Boimler on full display

Anika: ‘Cause she’s just like, “No, no, no. All of this is a no, I fail.” I mean, that was hilarious. That was hilarious.

And I’d seen all the controversy about Boimler’s … Boimlerness in that episode before I saw the episode. And again, like, the Boimler part of that episode is my favorite part, but Mariner was hilarious. Like even the “you can’t ride a horse”. Like all of that, all of it was hilarious to me. It was just really well done. It made me laugh. Good job.

Liz: Tendi having to euthanize the Klingon, and failing the simulation by saving him, or by not killing him? After our episode on Ethics, I really enjoyed that.

Anika: It was so good. I forget what it was, but it was like, you know, “you failed, he’s alive.” And that was just hilarious to me. Terminal life, or something. I think that’s what it was, terminal life.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I lost it. It was so funny.

Liz: And then two of Mariner’s sims are really parodying the horny aspect of Star Trek with the naked time. And, oh my gosh, there’s actually a bit where she walks into the bar and everyone’s making out, except Billups, who’s reading his PADD, because he is my precious asexual son. But you actually see – in the background, Captain Freeman is making out with the bird counselor and fortunately for Mariner, she’s so fixated on Boimler’s everything that she doesn’t even see that.

Anika: Because that would scar her for life, right?

Liz: This is why people shouldn’t serve on starships with their parents.

Anika: Yes. Both ways. Cause what poor Captain Freeman could have seen–

Liz: Oh my.

Anika: –is also bad. But that was also hilarious. “Why are these made this way if we’re supposed to stack them?” I’m laughing so much. That episode was gold.

Liz: I also saw criticism of Where Pleasant Fountains lie, and the whole Billups is tricked into having sex subplot – I think actually it was Kennedy from Women at Warp who didn’t care for that. And I see her point, but I thought it was a really good parody of (a) the way people act around asexuals, and (b) Lwaxana Troi constantly trying to get her daughter to marry and have babies.

Anika: Yes. So on the Promenade Merchants podcast, they were talking about that, and David said, you know, this could be a Troi episode. You would not have to change much to make this a Troi episode. And, you know, would people have the same criticisms? Would they like it as much? That’s an interesting thought, you know, like, uh … I forget what it’s called.

Liz: Experiment.

Anika: Thank you. A thought experiment. I’m like, what is the word? I’ve forgotten the words. But yes, I mean, she was clearly written and performed to be a Lwaxana Troi type. I mean, that was an homage. Just the fact that we have a blatantly asexual character in Star Trek

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –not coded, but actually textually asexual is great. And the fact that at the end, when they were trying to trick him into losing his virginity, and he was like trying to pump himself up, and there were both a man and a woman waiting. That was good. Those were good choices. And I can sort of see the criticism, but I think that, given that it’s a comedy, they did it in the most sensitive way that they could.

Liz: I saw a lot of asexual fans who loved that, and a lot of allosexual fans who were uncomfortable with it. And I feel like that kind of says something in terms of how our culture treats asexuals and expects sexuality.

And also how Star Trek requires sexuality of everyone. You know–

“Romance is an inherent part of the human condition.”

“Oh Seven, you must date a man and it must be a man, but you must date.”

That whole thing, which has really permeated Star Trek from the beginning. And I get that it was progressive in The Original Series. And I understand and appreciate that Gene Roddenberry was horny as hell in good and bad ways. I just like that there’s room for one nerdy asexual in this entire universe.

Anika: Yes. My main takeaway is, whether you like it or dislike it, it exists.

Liz: Mm.

Anika: And that is better than it was, you know, three weeks ago. So let’s take our wins where we can get them.

Liz: Yes. I also really enjoyed the arguments that Mariner and her mother having in wej Duj while they’re playing Velocity, and Mariner is like, “Why did you tell Billups I have really bad cramps,” and, “I should tell everyone about your hot flushes!”

Because obviously it’s ridiculous that cramps and hot flushes are a problem in the 24th century, or that anyone would find them embarrassing. But it’s just so exciting to have periods and menopause raised, even as a joke.

Anika: It’s depressing that we want this representation of women’s reproductive systems so badly that we’re like, yes, that happened! And yet I one hundred percent agree. I loved that. I was like, this is so good. Yeah, it’s a joke, but it’s a joke that is true to life. And I’m super here for it.

And even the fact that Boimler was like, “Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. I don’t even want to be in this–” like, whenever anyone starts talking about this stuff, half or more of the people go, “Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope.”

And it’s just like, we are never going to solve these issues, we’re never going to make it so that people don’t have cramps and hot flashes in the 24th century if we don’t start talking about it like things that happen. These are things that exist and affect more than 50% of the population, so can we please stop treating it like something that’s embarrassing to talk about?

Liz: Also, Lower Decks is smart enough that I feel like they would have a joke about how it’s the 2380s, and they’re still trying to figure out the fetal transporter. Part of me wonders if the persistence of cramps and hot flushes, wasn’t part of the joke. Or maybe they were just going, ‘heh heh, ladies.’ But honestly, I think Mike McMahon is smarter than that.

Anika: You know what? ‘Heh heh, ladies’ is, again, like the asexual thing, more than we had three weeks ago. I mean, obviously, I don’t want to be a joke, but also, I want us as a society to have these conversations. I want us to acknowledge that asexuality is a thing. I just want us to acknowledge that menstruation is a thing that affects, again, more than half the population monthly.

Liz: Yeah. And we don’t want to be a joke, but also periods are really inherently funny?

Anika: Also true.

Liz: So finally, I want to talk about First First Contact, which I watched with a big grin on my face. I just want to say that Carol Freeman has done nothing wrong, ever, in her entire life and Starfleet should respect that. And I feel like this is case of Starfleet visiting a harsh punishment on a black woman.

Anika: Yeah.

Liz: But I’m reserving judgment.

Anika: Yeah. I mean, we don’t know what happens. So we’ll find out.

But there was a moment, I don’t think it was in this episode, I think it was in an earlier episode, where they said, “If you keep doing this Picard stuff, they’ll give you the Enterprise,” And I was like, yes, give her the Enterprise, give her the Enterprise right now. That’s what I want.

I love Captain Michael Burnham. I love Captain Freeman, but I want them on the Enterprise. Like, I’ve decided. That one line, that throwaway line in Lower Decks, has made me like, okay. I need that now. I need a new Enterprise, Enterprise X, or whatever. And it is an awesome black woman in the captain’s chair.

Liz: I have an even better idea. I know we were very attached to a pre-existing headcanon for this, but season two or three of Picard, the Enterprise turns up, Dawnn Lewis is in the captain’s chair.

Anika: Yes, I want this so badly! So one of the other things that happened to me at New York Comic-Con was, I got to meet Dawnn Lewis.

Liz: Jealous.

Anika: And I was such a fangirl. I was not able to articulate how excited I was, because I love Captain Freeman. I don’t know what happened, because I don’t know when that switch went off. And this was before – like that most recent episode hadn’t even aired yet. And so it was before her biggest episode, and yet I was just like – she moderated the Prodigy panel, which (a) is super smart, guys, like bringing on a Lower Decks person, the captain, to do the Prodigy panel, I was like, this is so sweet and cute. And I love it.

She lives in New York and she’s currently on Broadway in the Tina Turner musical. Like, you know, she was also there and available, but it was also like, it was great. But they introduced her name they said, you know, “currently starring as Captain Freeman on Lower Decks.” And I almost jumped out of my seat. Kate Mulgrew was going to walk on stage in five minutes, and yet announcing Dawnn Lewis got me so excited.

And then the first thing that happened was Kate Mulgrew and Dawnn Lewis complimented each other as captain to captain. I almost started crying. I was just so happy. So I was riding this high when I was introduced to her. And we mostly talked about her Tina Turner musical, which I totally want to go see. Again, I just love the Lower Decks cast. I want all of them to come into live action. I just want them all to show up somehow. It would be amazing.

Liz: The thing with Captain Freeman is that, from childhood, and it’s part of my comedy issue, I have real trouble seeing authority figures as figures of fun. This started with Captain Picard in, you know, the Big Goodbye, when he comes out of the holodeck, and he makes first contact with the aliens wearing his Dixon Hill suit, I almost died of secondhand embarrassment. And I was nine years old.

So with Captain Freeman, I’m like, she’s such a good captain. Stop making her slightly ridiculous. I know it’s a comedy, but let her have her dignity! And yet, like, you know, the bit in season one where she’s trying to come up with cool catchphrases for when they go to warp, and then in the finale, she’s like, “Warp me!” And it sounds totally natural and cool. I’m like, oh, I can laugh at the captain!

Anika: It’s another confidence thing, you know, she said it with confidence. And the thing is that we all have confidence in her, because we know her now. The two characters that really won me over in the second season, ‘cause I already loved Mariner, but Boimler and Freeman really leveled up in my esteem in this second season and I just want more. So nothing bad can happen to her. She needs to be reinstated and make captain of the Enterprise, the end.

Liz: Obviously I think she’s going to be exonerated. I’m on the fence as to whether I want her to be promoted to a different ship, or to stay on as a regular, because I feel like they could go either way. And I want her to have that big ship, and I want her to grow as a captain and a person. And just because a character is a woman in her fifties or sixties doesn’t mean she has to be stagnant forever.

But at the same time, if she leaves, I’m really going to miss having her there every day.

Anika: That’s true. And I don’t know who we would get in exchange.

Liz: I think you could get a lot of comedy mileage out of bringing in a much stricter captain. Mariner has the line about some weird captain with a riding crop, which I think is a reference to the captain of the Excelsior in Star Trek III? It’s been a long time since I saw Star Trek III, so obviously I’ve completely forgotten that, but I’m like, dude, keep your kinks for the holodeck and your quarters. Not even Emperor Georgiou would go that far. Not even Lorca went that far.

Or, at the other end of the scale, someone who is totally loosey goosey and cool, and, you know, Commander Ransom has to step up and be the discipline guy. I think either of these are great.

Anika: True.

Liz: Brooklyn Nine Nine opens every season with a new captain.

Anika: Yes.

Liz: I just think we could get some laughs out of stealing that brilliant idea. Or just drop Captain Holt from Nine Nine on the ship. That would be amazing.

Anika: Fun times.

Liz: Most definitely.

Anika: I don’t want Captain Freeman to leave, but I do think that Mariner with not her mom would be a different,

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’d be a new arc. And I want a new arc for Mariner. So I think that it’d be an easy way to make it happen, that if she loses her safety net.

Liz: Yeah, because it’s obviously been a while since she served with someone who wasn’t a close relative. And yeah, I think she is ready for that as well.

So bring in someone new, keep Carol around as a major supporting character, the way she is now. Keep making Dr. T’Ana more and more of a cat every week. When she hugged Tendi and purred, I died,

Anika: And T’Ana and Shaxs.

Liz: Oh my God.

Anika: The best background romance exists.

Liz: You know, I love my sad middle-aged people who’ve been around the block a few times, and picked up some scars and a bit of trauma. Oh my gosh. If they were live action, and if she wasn’t a cat – because I have a cat and therefore know a little more than I would like about cat sexuality – I would be totally into it. As it is, I’m trying not to think about the intimate details too much because, cats. Got to get them fixed.

Speaking of romance, do we think Mariner and Jennifer the Andorian are a thing?

Anika: Yes.

Liz: Me too!

Anika: I definitely do. It’s so funny because Jennifer the Andorian was not an Andorian to begin with. But everybody was like, the idea of an Andorian named Jennifer was so out there, and wild and ridiculous and hilarious, that now it’s a thing. And now she’s more of a character, and she has her own personality, and she gets to interact with people.And now I’m like, yeah, they clearly have a thing going on. I mean, to be fair Mariner flirts with literally everyone.

Liz: It’s true. Especially now that we know that her love language is being mean to people and pushing them away…

Anika: Yes.

Liz: Truly a queen.

Anika: I would be totally into exploring that.

Liz: At the end, where she says something complimentary about Boimler, I was like, yeah, she’s passed the test. It was okay for me to not be into Boimler. But if you are romantically interested in a person, you should at least enjoy the company of their best friend.

Anika: Of their friends, right? I think you’re right, that he’s the number one, and accepting that really is what made Boimler into – I just, I love him. I’m so mad. I like him so much.

Liz: No, same.

Anika: I don’t want to have these feelings.

Liz: It’s okay, if you want something else to be mad at, there was a Reddit thread that was like, “Mariner and Michael Burnham: are they the same character?” It was about them being Mary Sues, because of course.

And then there was a comment that was like, “Mariner would be a Mary Sue if she was the main character, but she’s not.” You are wrong on every single point.

Anika: Amazing. Everything you just said was wrong.

Liz: Yes. Then I downvoted him and moved on with my life, except obviously not really, ‘cause I remembered to tell you.

Anika: You know that “red flag, red flag, red flag” meme? “Mary Sue” is my red flag, red flag, red flag. I just can’t. I will stop listening to you if you compare any woman to a Mary Sue.

Liz: Mm mm. And can I just say, for the clarification of any new listeners, sometimes I call women Mary Sues and it’s because I love them.

Anika: Yes, but the people who posted on Reddit, people who post on Reddit, red flag, red flag, red flag, they are not using Mary Sue respectfully, as we have said.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And just this idea that either of those characters, first of all, that they’re the same? What? What? They are opposites. What is wrong with people?

Liz: I can see similarities, in that they are very intelligent, and sometimes underachieving, women with powerful parents. But yeah, they’re completely different characters. To the point where you could put them in a room together and have them interact, and it wouldn’t feel like someone talking to herself.

Anika: And they attack problems in wildly different ways. Their leadership is wildly different. They’re just not the same

Liz: No. If you put Mariner on the Klingon beacon, she would not kill the Klingon torchbearer. And if you put Michael on the Cerritos, she would handle problems very differently, even as a junior officer.

Oh, oh. Speaking of Vulcan women, or Vulcan-raised women, and junior officers, the last thing I want to say is that, like everyone else, I love T’Lyn, and I would die for T’Lyn, and I want her to be a regular.

Anika: They certainly left the door open for her to return and be a new member of the team. Which could shake things up. I feel like maybe we do need a new member of the team. We’ve made a lot of progress, but I think that maybe – like, it’s still the Mariner and Boimler duo–

Liz: But also, they’re getting to the point where they’re starting to level up, and you can’t go for too much longer without it not really being about lower deckers.

Anika: Right. I agree. Like, good on Tendi for her moving to science.

Liz: I’m confused. All this time, I thought she was a trained nurse. And once again, I have questions about the role of nurses on Starfleet vessels.

Anika: Yes. I can’t explain what Tendi was doing for the first two years, but good on her. It was weird because she was always medical. She was always working under Dr. T’Ana, but it was … so I guess maybe she was a biochemist or something?

Liz: I’m going to headcanon that she is a nurse technician, because all med techs in Starfleet have some nurse training so that they can help out in emergencies. And Tendi is just so keen that she will do nursing stuff all the time.

Anika: Okay.

Liz: Officially her role there is medtech. That’s my headcanon.

Anika: Go for it.

Liz: So I feel like we’ve covered everything.

Anika: Good. Yay.

Liz: I kind of wish that in wej Duj we’d gotten to see a Romulan lower decks because, I feel like, you know, I realized that they did not have a role in this season at all. I just think Romulan lower decks would be amazing(ly bad).

Anika: I’ll be honest that I don’t remember a single thing that happened on anything on the Klingon ship.

Liz: Oh, it was great. Klingon Boimler realizes that his captain is totally dodgy. And the problem with Discovery is that, thanks to L’Rell, I’ve started to care about Klingons, and apparently this goes for more than just live action. So…

Anika: Okay. Okay.

Liz: It’s embarrassing. Thank you for your support in this difficult time.

Anika: I mean, I just said that I don’t know what happened. I just blanked out the entire subplot. I know it happened on our ship and I know what happened on the Vulcan but the Klingons was like, when the Klingons were onscreen, it was like, my brain just stopped working. I don’t know.

Liz: It was certainly, I think, the most straightforward of the Lower Decks subplots. But I enjoyed it and I enjoyed how Klingon Boimler wound up a captain of a ship.

Anika: I mean, that sounds very Klingon to me.

Liz: Yeah. Bradward Boimler can only dream. Oh, oh my final final thoughts is that it was great to have the return of Sonia Gomez, who was sort of like the first lower decker.

Anika: Right. That’s right. Yes. Amazing. So many years later.

Liz: Pure fan service, but she was sort of the prototype Tilly in a time when awkward, clever young women did not really have a place in media

Anika: And she made it to captain. Woo!

Liz: And she’s a really good captain. And I loved the whole strategy of ripping off the Cerritos hull and having it go in naked to save them. I thought that was clever. It looked great in animation. I would love to see something like that happen in live action. And yeah, the tension was really high and I thoroughly enjoyed that as a concept. Also Cetacean Ops are jerks and need to have mandatory sexual harassment training again.

Anika: “Cetacean ops are jerks” is just – like, that should be a t-shirt.

Liz: We will make that t-shirt.

Anika: I mean, come on, we have to, now.

Liz: I don’t see that we have a choice!

Anika: I loved cetacean ops. And that’s the kind of thing that like, look, it’s animation, you can do this ridiculous stuff. And it doesn’t matter that it’s ridiculous because the whole thing is ridiculous. And it was hilarious and it was good, but yes, they’re jerks.

Liz: Stop sexually harassing Rutherford. Oh, okay. I have one more final, real final thought.

Anika: This is your fourth final thought.

Liz: This is the end of Return of the King, but in podcast form. Do we think that Rutherford’s implant is from Section 31?

Anika: Oh my goodness. Is that a theory?

Liz: I don’t know. It’s my theory.

Anika: Yeah, I like your theory. I had not considered such a thing. I do think it’s a plot point. I had not considered Section 31, but I did — it did, you know, I pinged that this–

Liz: Mm.

Anika: –is important.

Liz: We had that whole episode where the guys think that Mariner is a super spy.

Anika: Oh yeah, that’s true.

Liz: I think it would be really funny if that was actually Rutherford. And I love a secret agent plot. And especially if they’re a secret agent from themself.

Anika: I mean, you know me and my obsession with people who are raised to be secret agents and then let loose in the world and don’t know it. And then they’re activated. Like, that’s my favorite plot ever. And Rutherford, being – like Rutherford is the least likely he, like, you would never think of him as a spy.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: So that’s great. Mariner made sense as a spy. Tendi totally makes sense as a spy.

Liz: One hundred percent.  

Anika: Even Boimler, because of how he is. Like, you can imagine it. I can imagine it.But Rutherford’s a Hufflepuff. He’s not supposed to be a spy.

Liz: Exactly. It’s always the ones you least expect. And also I love memory stuff and shenanigans like that, so…

Anika: Watching his own little – oh my goodness, all his little memories of Tendi–

Liz: Oh no, but it’s okay. There were backups. Remember, he was keeping three copies. This is not an Ariam situation. This is a, “dude, get a Dropbox” situation.

Anika: All of space is now the cloud. What a great note to end on.

Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media. and credits for our theme music and transcripts of our episodes.

You can also follow us on Twitter at @antimatterpod, and on Facebook at Antimatter Pod, we are at Antimatter Pod everywhere. Very exciting.

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And join us in two weeks when we will be discussing the first episode of Star Trek: Prodigy.

Liz: I’m so excited.

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