Review: Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 Episode 1 “Twovix”
Star Trek: Lower Decks returns for its fourth season, and the half-hour animated comedy wastes no time jumping back into the deep-cut Star Trek jokes we know and love. The season premiere, “Twovix,” takes us to a legendary ship as our ensigns face something that threatens their very existence as lower deckers: promotion.
The title for this episode hints at the theme of this week’s plot and jokes. If you’re a Voyager fan, you’ll remember the famous and controversial episode “Tuvix,” where Neelix and Tuvok are accidentally bonded into a new body thanks to a strange orchid. Captain Janeway faces the difficult decision to either allow this new entity to live or reverse the bonding to get her crewmates back. Knowing this lineage, then, it’s a welcome surprise that “Twovix” takes us to the legendary U.S.S. Voyager, as the Cerritos is tasked with escorting the now-decommissioned museum ship to its new resting place on Earth.
Just before Voyager starts its journey to Earth under the careful eye of its curator, the same plant that caused the Tuvix trouble causes a transporter bonding between Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) and Andy Billups (Paul Scheer), resulting in a new lifeform, T’Illups. As Voyager gets on its merry way, Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) remains on the Cerritos with the new being and investigates how Janeway handled this problem while in the Delta Quadrant. T’Illups does some investigating, too, and it does not want to be killed. To avoid suffering the same fate as Tuvix, T’Illups starts taking Cerritos’ crewmembers hostage and combining them with other crewmembers, thus creating a crew of bonded Tuvix-esque beings.
“Captain, I caution against socializing with the organism.”
“Organism? I’m a totally unique sentient being. Plus, I’m cool as [bleep]. We’re going to be best friends fast.”– T’Lyn and T’Illups.
Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) was hoping this escort mission would go well, as Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) indicated the ensign is up for promotion should the Voyager mission succeed. So, Boimler isn’t his usual nerdy, energetic self while on Voyager, and Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) takes notice of Boimler’s mood even as things go haywire when a Tak Takian macrovirus, the same kind seen in “Macrocosm,” wakes up from a dormant state and replicates everywhere on the ship. The macrovirus creates an army of holodeck minions to help take control of the ship, and things get even worse when the virus uses remnant Borg technology stored on Voyager to infect the vessel and set it on a course toward Borg space.
Boimler is seriously off his game when it comes time to save Voyager, as he is worried about both not getting promoted, and the eventual rift that’ll form between him and Mariner if he does get promoted; a similar situation happened when Boimler served on the Titan. Moreover, Boimler doesn’t think he deserves a promotion thanks to his history of bad judgment calls, like when he didn’t back up his friend when Mariner was marooned to Starbase 80 in “Trusted Sources.” But a motivational talk from Mariner revives his spirits, especially since Mariner reveals it was she who recommended Boimler for a promotion. That’s all Boimler needs to rally his spirits and rescue a captured Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) to ultimately save the ship and get it to Earth safely.
“Are you sure this is going to work?”
“Nope, but it feels like a kooky Voyager solution, so it’s worth a try.”– Boimler and Rutherford, as the pair prepare to disable Voyager using the tried-and-true “Neelix cheese” method.
Back on the Cerritos, D’Vana Tendi (Noel Wells) and the Cerritos’ newest Vulcan ensign, T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz), manage to beam all the Tuvix-ed crew members on the Cerritos into a single massive blob. Thanks to wonky science – the kind of science in which Voyager often dabbled – the pair devise a medical solution to separate those people back into individuals. With the Cerritos crew back to normal, and Voyager parked at Earth, the time has come for promotions.
Boimler is sure he won’t get one thanks to the challenging events during the escort mission, but Ransom rewards the ensign’s quick thinking by granting the promotion. Tendi is also promoted, much to her great excitement, as is T’Lyn. Finally, Mariner, of all people, gets another pip, as Ransom saw via Voyager’s security cameras Mariner’s inspiring speech to Boimler when the ensign was down in the dumps, and Ransom appreciated her leadership. The underachieving Mariner totally doesn’t want the promotion, but for now, it seems to stick.
Finally, as a tease of surely what’s to come, “Twovix” ends with a quick scene showing a Klingon ship encountering a deadly alien vessel. The aliens waste no time in destroying the Klingon ship. No other information is given as to what this vessel is, or why it’s killing with such abandon, but we’ll obviously learn more about it in the weeks ahead.
Taken together, “Twovix” is Lower Decks’ Voyager tribute, much in the same way “Hear All, Trust Nothing” was this show’s tribute to Deep Space Nine. Unlike the DS9-centric episode, however, “Twovix” takes a famous Voyager plot and adds to its legacy; seeing the crew of the Cerritos tackle the same problem Voyager encountered is an amusing look at a delicate situation. (Having the Cerritos’ crew add to Voyager’s storied history is symbolized literally as the macro virus episode is given its own museum piece in Voyager’s hallowed halls.)
Of course, Lower Decks doesn’t shy away from making fun of Janeway’s cold and controversial decision to destroy Tuvix in the titular episode, and it’s lucky for our animated crew they could learn from Janeway’s mistakes. It’s clear writer (and show creator) Mike McMahan cares deeply for all Star Trek lore and isn’t afraid to explore when our favorite characters make questionable moral choices – albeit with his signature humorous twist.
“These are like Voyager’s deepest cuts!”– Boimler, as various holographic enemies come alive.
“Twovix” realizes Voyager in as detailed a way we’ve come to expect from a show that sweats the small stuff. It’s so nostalgic seeing iconic sets come to life, like Voyager’s mess hall, Seven of Nine’s regeneration chamber, engineering, the bridge, and the astrometric lab. The cherry on top of this episode’s presentation is the 3D model of Voyager itself, which looks just as good as its live-action counterpart. This episode really is a labor of love.
Beyond accurate set dressing, “Twovix” pays tribute to Voyager by referencing several episodes. Some Voyager elements that appear in “Twovix” include:
- The black-and-white hologram the macro virus employs is Doctor Chaotica, a holodeck character from Tom Paris’ The Adventures of Captain Proton.
- The holodeck character Michael Sullivan was from a holodeck program created by Tom Paris; Janeway became romantically involved with Sullivan in “Fair Haven.”
- The holographic clown seen in this episode was from Voyager’s memorable “The Thaw.”
- Model slugs, the likes of which Janeway and Tom Paris memorably turned into in “Threshold,” are featured prominently as set dressing. One even becomes Borg-ified, which sounds like a merchandising opportunity if we ever heard of one.
- When inspecting the bio-neural circuitry, Rutherford references the time Neelix made macaroni and cheese and it almost destroyed the ship, as seen in “Learning Curve.” Ultimately, Rutherford learns from this event to save Voyager in “Twovix.”
It’s great to have Lower Decks back, and “Twovix” asserts to the audience that creator Mike McMahan and his crew are still as sharp as ever when it comes to parodying this decades-old franchise. We were surprised this episode didn’t include any Voyager cast reprisals – surely they could have written a sensible part for any one of those characters, but alas, “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris“. This deep dive into Voyager‘s past not only made for an intriguing episode but also showcased the depth and flexibility of Lower Decks as a series. It has a unique capacity to humorously navigate serious Trek lore while presenting it through its own playful lens. It’s this mix of irreverence and respect that continues to make this show an absolute delight for old-school Trekkies and newcomers alike.
- This episode asserts Voyager’s final resting place will be in Earth’s orbit, after a time stationed on the ground in San Francisco.
- It’s tough to nitpick such a fun episode, but really… what are the chances an orchid pedal could find its way via air ducts from Voyager’s shuttle bay to the transporter room just in time to hitch a ride in Billups’ and T’Ana’s transporter beam?
- Also, what are the chances the macrovirus can squirt a computer panel with goo and activate various holodeck characters with safety protocols off?
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