Higher Purposes and Star Trek: Lower Decks


In the animated Star Trek spinoff, the lower-ranking officers are blessed with the sort of attention usually reserved for the bridge.

On the distant planet K’Tuevon Prime, four officers of the United Federation of Planets—the galactic coalition at the center of the Star Trek franchise—stand before an inquisitor called Clar (voiced by Kurtwood Smith). From the shadows stare grim observers, their imposing silhouettes standing before yawning red chasms. Clar comes forward, his visage intensified by the steel plate bolted onto his face and the green horns protruding from his head.

“Fellow Primes!” Clar declares to the observers, banging a skull-topped gavel. “These witnesses have been brought to you to speak truth about the senior officers of the Federation starship Cerritos!” Specifically, Clar wants to know about a covert mission into space controlled by the enemy Romulan Empire. But the answers fail to satisfy the inquisitor. Every response from the officers only further stokes his anger.

Had Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Picard been in this situation, he would have delivered a speech to inspire Clar\’s better nature. Had the original Star Trek\’s Captain Kirk been in this situation, he would have defeated his enemies in shirtless combat.

But the quartet questioned here are not Captains of the U.S.S. Enterprise. They aren’t captains at all. They’re ensigns, the lowest-ranking officers in Starfleet. As ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid) explains to his inquisitor, “We’re lower decks. Nobody ever tells us what’s going on. We’re not important enough to have anything to lie to you about!”


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