An uneven first season of Star Trek: Lower Decks comes to a close with an uneven episode that is in many ways the show so far in a nutshell: some funny parts, some head-scratchers, lots of references to other Trek stories, animated series nods, and parts that just don’t feel like Star Trek in any way. However, there are three great guest stars in Kether Donohue, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis (and yes the latter two are playing who you think they are), a nod to the novel series, and actual forward character movement for Boimler and Mariner! My review of “No Small Parts.”
One other side plot that worked despite itself was the journey of Ensign Peanut Hamper. An exocomp—from the TNG episode “The Quality of Life“—she chose that name because it’s apparently a mathematically perfect one, based on a study of all Federation languages. The biggest problem with this plot is that the exocomps in the TNG episode were not sentient. But it works anyhow, because Kether Donohue does such a fantastic job with Peanut Hamper’s voice, from her initial eagerness to her frustration with her inability to manipulate tools (what with not having limbs or hands or anything) to her being incredibly brilliant at medicine to her selfish (and insubordinate) refusal to help the crew and beaming herself off the ship so she doesn’t get killed. That last part backfires rather spectacularly, as the Cerritos is able to escape and Peanut Hamper is left floating alone in space.
Yeah, now that I wrote that out, that plotline doesn’t work, either, but Donohue is so good I almost don’t care.