This post contains minor spoilers for season two, episode four of ‘.’
If you were anewbie, today’s episode of Lower Decks, “Mugato, Gumato,” is not a good place to start. It’s packed full of references across the franchise, including Beckett Mariner, Sam Rutherford, and Brad Boimler engaging in a not-so-friendly match of the appearance of and even the episode name, which references how no one can seem to agree on how to pronounce the creature whose name is spelled “.
However, after a season and a half, the show has already, and as a streaming program, there’s no reason why “Mugato, Gumato” would be anyone’s first episode. Paramount+ would only pull up this one if last week’s “were recently. With less , that leaves a show like Lower Decks free to dabble in.
After nearly 55aired, Star Trek has a lot of baggage that can intimidate a newcomer. Fan service is often derided for being gratuitous at best and an act of gatekeeping at worst. The Abrams reboot in 2009 tried to wipe the slate clean but was still bogged down by decades of cultural knowledge, with even Trek casuals expecting to hear phrases like “beam me up” and “I’m a doctor!” It found itself trying to appease multiple groups of fans and ultimately thrilling a few.
And yet, despite itsinto Star Trek lore, Lower Decks can still be a great entryway for new fans in how it chooses to subvert so many long-time franchise tropes. Both newcomers and hardcore Trekkies get to be on the same page regarding the all-important question: What comes next?
In that vein, “Mugato, Gumato” is a fun ride. The main plot revolves around the re-discovery of a rare species only previously seen in a forgettable TOS episode. The USS Cerritos is charged with discovering how the animals got far from their home planet. Boiler and Rutherford are assigned to the away team, generally for a pair of chronically unlucky ensigns. It’s not the most thrilling adventure on the surface, which makes it a perfect assignment for the.
Instead, the rest of the group is captured by Ferengi poachers, leaving Brad and Sam in the unlikely and awkward position of saviors. But rather than have them step into the role of “action-oriented leading men,” they instead embrace their unique skills as “nerdy supporting characters.” Meanwhile, the captain and bridgewith the b-plot of helping out a stranded trader whose ship they accidentally destroyed.
After Boiler and Rutherfordwith a well-thought-out PowerPoint (yes, really), it ends up being the senior staff who isn’t fully informed of what happened on the planet. This directly contrasts Boiler’s point that what’s going on. Captain Freeman shrugs the whole incident off as some “environmentally conscious Ferengi,” apparently unaware of the two ensigns’ critical role in getting the ultra-capitalist Ferengi to in favor of a more profitable path without resorting to violence.
It also ends up being suitable for continuity in reconciling the two versions of Ferengi we’ve seen throughout the franchise. It argues that they are the same species in the end, just that the offensive, retrograde Ferengi from “The Last Outpost” hadn’t found a less overtly evil way to make money.
“Mugato, Gumato” may have trafficked in old tropes, but it also twisted them to teach the characters and audience something new about themselves and the franchise. Or, as Boiler and Rutherford would say, “If we’re both unhappy, it means we’ve reached… a compromise!”