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‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4 Review: Treading New Ground

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Paramount+ once again keeps up with its animation hits, this time with the return of the USS Cerritos crew. The trailer for Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 recently came out during San Diego Comic-Con in July, and the poster for this season is a reference to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home! What has been an overall consistent series manages to do exactly that, remain consistently great for another season. The screen time given to a notable guest, T’Lyn the Vulcan ensign (voiced by Gabrielle Ruiz) was a highlight of how well they manage multiple characters simultaneously. If you haven’t gotten caught up, get a refresher with Ayla’s season 3 review to see where we left off.

[Warning: early impressions for Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 below!]

A mystery begins, and we learn more about T’Lyn

An interesting parallel storyline to our lovable crew is a mysterious new ship. It has been slowly navigating the quadrant, disabling power to shields and weapon systems and then destroying other ships without any provocation. Sadly I did not see the resolution to it since I was only granted 8 out of the 10 episodes. But the intrigue alone has me excited to see where this ends and who they may be. It was slyly introduced throughout various episodes, every time you would forget about it they would show it once again to keep you going. How the Cerritos crew comes to handle it will be an exciting moment to witness as they’ve each really come to grow over time.

Starting with Mariner, Tawny Newsome continues to showcase why she was selected in the first place. This season sees her tangling with lots of self-conflicts and even coming to terms with and resolving some of them. After various moments of self-sabotage, it was refreshing to see her actually mature into a role she is beyond capable of. Equally Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler handles a similar issue when he questions the confidence granted to him by his superiors. Both characters have opportunities to prove themselves and deliver as they should.

This show, as any Star Trek show would be, is full of adventure! The women (Tendi, Mariner, and T’Lyn) even venture to a rarely seen planet of Orion, home of D’Vana Tendi (voiced by Noël Kristi Wells). The fourth episode, “Something Borrowed, Something Green” split up the squad and provided both thrills and some gut-busting laughs. While in past seasons we’ve seen some background on Mariner and Boimler, the time spent with Tendi made this one of my favorite episodes of the series. 

As mentioned in the opener, I truly enjoyed everything they did with T’Lyn. For a Vulcan, she provided the most emotional moments repeatedly. While she intends to remain neutral and not bond, it provides the opposite effect and gets her close to Mariner and Tendi. Also, she is a force to be reckoned with in the best way possible, she’s a formidable ally and an absolute welcome to the team. Towards the end of the season, you learn more about her past and it makes her even more endearing than you can imagine. 

Star Trek; Lower Decks season 4
The crew of Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)

A taste of armageddon for Mariner, Boimler, and the rest of the crew

No season is complete without some form of disaster constantly happening on and off the Cerritos. Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) as always is the sound leader of the rag-tag group and Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) as First Officer of the Cerritos remains important to everyone. His relationship with Mariner has a rather interesting turn that I hope carries into the 5th season (confirmed back in March).

Dr T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) does not change one bit and can be relied on to just do the job, she also had quite the reduction in this season, kind of reduced to background comedic relief. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) endures a similar fate but later has a significant episode with Boimler directly that does great character-building work. 

At the end of the third season, a big plot point is left with Rutherford’s (Eugene Cordero) original implant with the Badgey AI that was corrupted. It’s actually hilarious timing with the rise of dislike for AI in current events. Star Trek: Lower Decks devotes more than one episode this season to the inevitable dangers of utilizing sentient technology. It makes you wonder how much, if any, of real-world influences may have inspired those particular storylines. 

Other chaotic scenarios included a Betazoid guest starring Janelle James (aka Ava the principal from one of my favorite shows, Abbott Elementary). She has so much personality brought not only into the character but for the entire occasion. I’ve never wanted to become animated and jump through a television screen so fast in my life. 

Lower Decks stays in line with the incredible animation we’ve grown accustomed to over the years starting with the influence of Rick and Morty. One of the strengths of this series is the medium of animation allowing for grand adventures without as much cost to make those things happen. 

Looking forward to the conclusion of Lower Decks season 4

I hope the resolution to the mystery of the ship is a satisfying conclusion and that the growth and development of our favorite characters remain honest. Nothing ridiculous or far-fetched happens that would make you question the decisions of the ensigns. Instead, a lot of trust and faith is built throughout and inspires the capability of the Cerritos when operating at its best.

With these setups, I’m eager to see how they wrap up this season. There are many tiny references that remain peppered throughout the series, but the opener has an extremely fan-pleasing appearance and mission. Season 4 is one of the finest animated programs I’ve enjoyed in years.

On a side note, Lower Decks has been my first foray into Star Trek media. At most, I’ve watched two or three episodes of The Next Generation and while Sir Patrick Stewart is fantastic, my attachment to Boimler, Mariner, Rutherford, and Tendi is unmatched. 

Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 kicks off Thursday, September 7th, and continues with weekly releases on Paramount+! Will you be watching and laughing along as they come out? Join us on Discord and let us know what you think of the series!

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Anthony Flagg

Howdy! I cover a variety of topics for The Cosmic Circus. My favorite topics to write about are video games, Pokemon and music. Drop me a line on Twitter! @redovah_

Anthony Flagg has 94 posts and counting. See all posts by Anthony Flagg