“Cupid’s Errant Arrow” is insanely funny and a Star Trek: Lower Decks high bar

When Boimler gets to reunite with his long-distance girlfriend during a mission to implode a disintegrating moon, Mariner suspects that there is more to this seemingly perfect woman than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Captain Freeman tries to negotiate an agreement between alien natives before she can save them and Tendi and Rutherford get into a friendly competition to win new equipment, only to find out that they are being scammed.

I am actually in awe, folks. It seems that every week I’m saying the words, “This is the best episode of Lower Decks so far,” but I have to say it again: This is the best episode of Lower Decks so far. The humor is completely on point, I laughed at just about every gag, the reference game was tremendously strong, and the episode had a good old-fashioned Star Trek feel to it. I never would have guessed in a million years that an animated Star Trek series would be this good, rivaling and surpassing the other adult animated fare out there, but doing it will class and heart… I loved this episode. I loved this series.

Firstly, I really enjoy how this series is able to tell a story like this and not be overly mean. Yes, Boimler is the butt of so many of the jokes, but the main motivation for Mariner repeatedly interfering and making things worse wasn’t done out of cruelty or out of spite, it was done out of a genuine concern for her friend and a past trauma. Even though Mariner did damage, her motivations were still endearing.

I enjoyed this storyline so much. Every comedic beat was done so well, every joke worked, every reference was great… My gosh, we saw Deep Space Nine. Deep Space Nine! If anything about this episode upset me, it’s that we didn’t get a cameo from one of the DS9 crew.

Tendi and Rutherford’s B-plot was enjoyable, but never as interesting as the A-plot but that’s okay. The writers of the series gave us just enough to divert us and give Rutherford something to do for once. I also enjoyed how Tendi and Rutherford’s story intersected and orbited the A-plot, but never directly engaged with it. Just enough going on in the background to remind us it was there. The eventual reveal and revelation of what exactly was going on with the competition was just classically funny.

I also enjoyed the very brief moments with Freeman and the negotiations. I never really expected Lower Decks to be the kind of show that would look at current events with a science fiction lens as is a Star Trek tradition, but seeing the aliens flat out deny that the moon was going to crash into them could have been taken out of Facebook comments about Covid or climate change today… the idea that saving the planet was being delayed by rich people selfishly looking after their own interests was a hilarious and topical reveal.

This episode worked on every level. Uproariously funny — I honestly laughed out loud several times, undeniably Star Trek, true to its characters, appropriate action and drama, and a resolution that, while a twist, made perfect sense in hindsight and really turned the expectations I had on its ear.

Star Trek: Lower Decks had a lot to prove… you’ll notice I said “had” because, in my book, it’s proved it. This is a quality show, a funny show, and a Star Trek show. I cannot wait to see the second half of this season.

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