Lower Decks aims low, but makes a profound statement with “Mugato Gumato”

When the crew of the USS Ceritos investigates the sighting of a dangerous Mugato on a planet that is supposed to be Mugato-free, the mission is complicated by Rutherford and Boimler and their assumption that Mariner is hiding a dark past from them. Meanwhile, Tendi is tasked with a personal mission from Doctor T’Ana to get the few stubborn holdouts on the ship to submit to their annual physicals.

Although I do have a rather large problem with this episode, I want to open by saying that it is really funny and says something profound and, yes, very Star Trek with its resolution. The idea that the entire situation that starts with shootouts and fights is resolved through common sense and diplomacy is just what Star Trek is all about… common ground and finding the high road. Looking at conflict and saying, “Hey, we’re better than this!” and being better than this.

It’s just such a disappointment that the episode had a scene that was decidedly not better than this.

If you’ve seen the episode, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, allow me to enlighten you.

While running from the Mugatos, a white, horned, venemous ape-like alien, famous from the original series, Boimler and Rutherford take refuge inside a log, upon which a pair of Mugatos… well, they start mating on top of it. Another Mugato shows up and the starfleet officers fear that the two males are about to fight for dominance, but no… the newcomer just likes to watch and… well… with his horn…

Yeah.

I am hardly a prude and I enjoy watching Family Guy, American Dad, Big Mouth, and a dozen other series that see the line and then screams like a banshee and fires machine guns into the air as it leaps over it. Star Trek: Lower Decks, however… it never really does that because it’s never really needed the shock value. To see Lower Decks stoop to a prolonged joke about mating apes and horn fondling was so distinctly out of character for the series and so incredibly beneath it in a dozen different ways.

I don’t mind Lower Decks going a bit base every now and then, but something this prolonged felt more like it belonged in an episode of Rick and Morty than an episode of Star Trek and it felt like it blighted everything in the episode.

That being said, as I stated earlier, “Mugato Gumato” is rather good and I’ve seen many people raving about the scene so, who knows, perhaps it is just be being prudish. I enjoyed how the episode fell back on good old fashioned diplomacy and common sense to resolve the conflict, I enjoyed the team up of Boimler and Rutherford and love how the series is mixing up its regulars into new teams, and the Tendi B-story was cute and not only developed her character, but gave some development to Doctor T’Ana who is quickly rising to be my favorite character of the senior officers (sorry, Shax).

I still enjoyed it, but I’m a little disappointed that a usually high concept, optimistic series went this crass.

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