Penultimate episode of the season, which begins with Mariner risking her life in a reckless attempt to save a science outpost.
The Cerritos is assigned to find and relocate Nick Lacarno to Earth for his own safety. The ship that has been destroying or capturing other vessels has started targeting former Starfleet officers -- Beverly Crusher and Tom Riker are also identified as being at risk.
The Cerritos warps over to some non-Federation world where Locarno is believed to work as a pilot for hire. Freeman, Shaxs, and Rutherford go to a bar on the planet where Freeman attempts to buy Locarno's location from a broker known as, uhhh, "the broker" and looking like the Balock puppet from TOS's Corbomite Maneuver. Turns out ... not a puppet, and the broker sells Locarno's information to a bounty hunter ... who turns out to be Billups as part of a clever gambit. But when they go to Locarno's supposed location they find ... no one.
Boimler, Tendi, and T'Lyn have been assigned a "very dangerous task" ... to repair a weather satelite in orbit of a remote world, but really, to keep Mariner safe. Freeman is, to put it mildly, really concerned about her daughter's self-destructive actions which have only been increasing since her promotion.
Whoops, a Bird of Prey shows up and blows up their shuttle. Fortunately, they're able to beam to the uninhabited world below, where they quickly realize they are not as alone as they thought.
The truth of the mission revealed to her, Mariner sneaks away and quickly finds a fight with the Klingon Mach, who we first met in S2's Wej Duj (same episode we met T'Lyn in). His ship was captured by the mysterious vessel, and he was deposed.
Running away from an intense thunderstorm that hurtles frozen glass to the planet's surface, Mach and Mariner find safety in a cave until the storm passes and they can resume their fight.
Mariner reveals she's got a shit ton of PTSD. A brilliant student she admired when they were at the Academy got killed on one of her first missions -- Sito Jaxa, from TNG's Lower Decks -- and then came the Dominion War.
Mach gives her a pep talk, and tells her he doesn't believe Sito would appreciate Mariner's self destructive tendencies. "She died to preserve Starfleet's mission," he tells her, and then with the storm over, proposes they resume their fight, to which he gets a big hug from Mariner.
They seek out the other people on the planet -- Bynars, Ferengi, Orions, Romulans, and Cardassians, and reunited with the rest of the Starfleeters, rig an emergency beacon from the satelite's ground relay.
Mariner is suddenly, and rather mysteriously, beamed away.
The Bird of Prey enters the atmosphere to destroy the relay, and the ship is quickly boarded and Mach resumes command. Boimler can't find Mariner anywhere.
Mariner wakes up in a sparse room aboard the mystery vessel that's been running around this whole season, and forces the doors open to find herself confronted by someone she knows from her time at Starfleet Academy. "Nick?" she asks, identifying her captor, and our Big Bad, as Nick Locarno.
Lower Decks' penultimate episodes have all been powerhouses, and this ... just isn't quite that. Mariner steals the show, and I'm looking forward to the finale next week (even if it does mean a long ten months with no new Lower Decks).
While I agree it didn't top most of the other penultimate episodes, it was still pretty good.
Freeman is quite savvy when she's not letting her ego get the better of her. Pretending to be everything expected of Starfleet in order to piss off the broker enough to sell it to a competitor was genius.
Also, in hindsight, only Billups has the physique to pull off that bounty hunter look.
I have to admit that Nick Locarno was not on my Lower Decks bingo card. I think a lot of how his return is received is going to hinge on the next episode, though.
Also, learning Mariner's true backstory... It all makes perfect sense now. We've already seen that Mariner served during the Dominion War and many have speculated she had PTSD from that. But her being friends with Sito Jaxa? It's been several seasons since we've seen that her holodeck workout program of choice... was escaping from a Cardassian prison.
-------------------- "Kirito? I killed a thing and now it says I have XPs! Is that bad? Am I dying?"
-Asuna, Episode 2, Sword Art Online Abridged
Registered: Mar 1999
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I dunno. Did anyone really care whatever had happened to Nick Locarno? Apart from a silly and easily-rebutted fan theory that he was Tom Paris all along. That, plus the “Bingo card” of Starfleet officers - where did they even get it?! - and the reduction of Sito Jaxa to a fridgee, it all felt a bit TOO fan servicey…
And, that list though - interesting choices. They did say they were ex-Starfleet officers? Can’t remember. Obviously we now know lots of details of Seven’s and Bev’s years in the wilderness between TNG & Picard; but this is the first indication in canon that Tom Riker did survive Cardassian imprisonment… and who else can we think of who MIGHT have ended up in a Cardassian prison camp?
Who wants to bet someone (probably Boimler) will make a joke about Locarno looking like Paris?
She’s retired from acting, but a VO role wouldn’t be too onerous and seem less wooden than Wheaton or Dennehy did.
Sito breaking bad makes a kind of sense if you consider her arc - that we know about. She’s a refugee from oppression and occupation, who finds acceptance and success in the Academy - only to lose it all by going along with peer pressure, something someone in her position would be susceptible to. After that, her bright future is compromised, she’s shunned and sidelined. The only job she can get is as a security officer on the flagship, where its captain (instrumental in her downfall) can keep an eye on her. Despite that, she still excels and is in line for a promotion.
Then in short order she’s bullied by the captain, then learns that was a ruse to test her and the reason he brought her onboard was to give her the second chance everyone else had denied her.
And then that’s immediately undercut by his wanting her to go in this mission - not because, or not just because, of her competency or character, but ultimately because she’s a convenient Bajoran. So she does, and it goes wrong.
That’s what we know. Suppose she ends up as a prisoner of the Cardassians, for years, subject to torture - and maybe worse. After that, who knows what sort of person she’d be?
The only counterpoint to this is, would she team up with Locarno though? She’d be more likely to blame him for her misfortunes as the rest of Starfleet…
Starship database: completed; History of Starfleet: done; website: probably never
Member # 343
Consider something else: Locarno was in his senior year, so had the incident not occurred, there would've been an opening in Nova Squadron. If Mariner knew Sito, knew Locarno enough to call him Nick, then it's reasonable to conjecture that she would've been the next member.
-------------------- "The French have a saying: 'mise en place'—keep everything in its fucking place!"
Registered: Jun 2000
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OK now my really out-there theory: “Sito” is not Bajoran at all. She’s a surgically-altered Cardassian sleeper agent, like Seska. Only when she had the chance to extract herself, after her carefully-planned scheme to make herself a rising star in Starfleet blew up in her (or rather Joshua Albert’s) face, she grabbed it.