“Temporal Edict” gives us some much-need character depth on ‘Lower Decks’

When the captain learns of the vaunted Star Trek tradition of officers exaggerating their repair time estimates, she puts the ship on a strict schedule where every task is timed. Meanwhile, Mariner and Commander Ransom go on a diplomatic mission where everything goes sideways.

If there is one thing about Lower Decks so far that I’ve found severely lacking, it is the character development: They’re all rather one dimensional caricatures that are more like stereotypes than actual people. Mariner is the annoying, high energy woman who thumbs her nose at authority, Boimer is the nerdy, by-the-book guy… it’s all fairly common in adult animated series which is why I’ve given it a pass. After all, even in a series as loved as Futurama, the characters took more than one episode to gel.

With “Temporal Edict,” we unexpectedly got some of this character development a lot earlier than I was expecting. Boimer, who has been, historically, the awkward and dorky comic relief, finds himself in an environment that he not only excels in, but outclasses everyone else on the ship including the senior officers. In this episode, we’re given a very strong example of why Boimer is in the fleet and why, yes… the guy probably will be a captain some day.

Mariner, in the meantime, finds herself humbled and learns instead of being the cliched character with street smarts who is better than everyone else because the plot demands it. I really liked seeing her admit that she was reminded what Starfleet was about and seeing that kind of humility from her demonstrates that she’s more than what we’ve been led to believe.

To be honest, I was actually shocked to see how incompetent Captain Freeman was portrayed. Perhaps “incompetent” is too harsh of a word, but she definitely has issues with inferiority. I hope that this is explored further later in the series.

The episode itself was perfectly fine. There were some stellar moments of comedy, mostly at the expense of Star Trek’s long standing traditional story beats such as Starfleet crews being overwhelmed by spears and the “buffer time” phenomenon made famous by Scotty in the original series. Of course, the trial by combat was very amusing as well, poking fun at Star Trek fighting styles and the like.

I’d place this third episode firmly in the middle of the other two. All of them have been perfectly acceptable, occasionally rising to greatness, and completely enjoyable. Lower Decks is finding its footing and becoming more and more comfortable in its skin as we go on. I can’t wait to see what’s on that horizon for this daring little show thumbing its nose at the fandom elite.

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