The title of this episode is a bit of an exaggeration. Certainly, the return of Jeffery Combs to the Star Trek universe where he has played nine thousand three hundred and four characters including myself and you is a lot to celebrate, “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” brings actual interesting characterization to a crewmember who had none and features a fun Mariner and Boimler story where they are trapped on a planet with an evil computer played by Jeffery Combs.
Have I mentioned that Jeffery Combs is in this episode?
Because Jeffery Combs is in this episode!
Before we get into the Jeffery Combness of this episode, let’s examine the story where Billups (the chief engineer) is given a backstory and, my lands… it is a doozy. It turns out that Billups is a prince from a planet where the natives embrace medieval traditions and their whole civilization is basically a space-faring renaissance festival. Their outfits, the design of their ships, even the engine room where the engine looks like a big dragon… all of it is amazing and highly imaginative.
Billups turned his back on all of this to become an engineer, much to the chagrin of his mother who signals the USS Ceritos for help when her engine fails. While Billups sees this as a potential trick to get him onto the throne, which will have to happen by law if he ever loses his virginity, he also sees this as an opportunity to win his mother’s approval for his engineering work.
The plot is hilarious, imaginative, and silly and (spoiler alert by the way), even though I never bought for a single moment that the Queen or Rutherford were actually killed in the explosion, the resulting revelation of Billup’s asexuality in such an organic way was rather refreshing, as was the casual way that Mariner’s pansexuality was revealed a few weeks ago. It’s weird that Discovery has a nonbinary character and two gay men, and yet Lower Decks is bringing more visibility to the Alphabet Mafia by showing that sexuality does not define who they are as a person… that it is a small part of who they are.
Mariner and Boimler crash land on an alien planet with Special Guest Star Jeffery Combs playing an evil computer who wants nothing more than to plug itself into a ship and take over the galaxy. Combs is hilarious, the banter was funny, but can we please drop the Titan drama already? By this point, it feels like it’s been played out and it’s only being brought up out of pettiness or bragging.
Still, “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” was a lot of fun, I enjoyed how both stories wrapped, and I like how the show is continuing to evolve their characters into people that I not only care about, but also into competent and capable officers I would expect to see in a Star Trek series.
It’s okay to admit that Lower Decks is the best Star Trek series on the air today.