Fan Collective Unimatrix 47: Star Trek Lower Decks “Mining the Mind’s Mines” Episode

Marie Brownhill
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Marie's blog, Fan Collective Unimatrix 47.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

“Mining the Mind’s Mines,” the third episode of the third season, isn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it seems to be a solid adventure episode. We don’t learn much about the Lower Decks world or the characters, but we do get an entertaining romp that plays into the strengths of each of our characters. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fun, and “Mining the Mind’s Mines” serves as a great reminder that Lower Decks is meant to be, first and foremost, fun.

Plot Ahoy!

After a successful negotiation featuring some of Starfleet’s rising stars, the Cerritos and the Carlsbad head to Jengus IV to make good on Starfleet’s promises. Their assignment is to break down not only a scientific outpost that has caused great consternation among the local species—the Scrubble–but also to remove the psychic mines the Scrubble deployed to attack the scientists. Mariner, Boimler, and Rutherford have been assigned to the planet, where they encounter crew members from the Carlsbad, Kearns, Cor’dee, and Young, who seem unusually standoffish. The two groups divide the tasks—the Carlsbad crew opting to dismantle the research station while the Cerritos folks get to handle retrieval of the psychic mines.

Struck by the Carlsbad crew’s hostility, Mariner immediately makes it a point to rally her troops to get their job done faster than the other group because everything has to be a competition. Lieutenant Commander Stevens rebukes her about how cavalierly they’re all handling the psychic mines. Mariner observes that she doesn’t want the trio from the Carlsbad to believe that Ransom is a weak leader, so Stevens throws himself into the job, causing the mines to break in the process.

Once broken, the mines begin conjuring creatures from the officers’ nightmares including, a Borg snake, Klingon clowns, and a particularly commitment-hungry girlfriend. After Stevens gets captured by Kukulkan and turned to stone, the remaining Lower Deckers take refuge in a cave where they discover that the mines aren’t just reading their fantasies and nightmares. They locate a data storage center, constructed with Federation technology, in the back of the cave, leading them all to conclude, correctly, that the scientists and the Scrubble are in cahoots.

Back aboard the Cerritos, Tendi begins her senior science officer training with Dr. Migleemo, who turns out to be a terrible mentor. However, he does order her to try and get Captain Freeman’s attention while Freeman and Captain Maier of the Carlsbad attempt to negotiate with both the scientists and the Scrubble.

The Scrubble gift the captains with some sort of special rock, causing the captains to squabble. Tendi gets odd readings from the object, but no one pays attention when she tries to say something. She slinks back down to Sickbay where a solid talk with Dr. T’Ana sends her back up to deal with the bedlam in the conference room. While everyone yells at each other, Tendi grabs the rock and smashes it, revealing a Federation-tech listening device just in time for the planetside Lower Deckers to barge in with their knowledge of the listening station on the planet below.

The captains cease their squabbling and settle down to discuss the fate of both groups—scientists and Scrubble. The plan was, apparently, to collect Starfleet intelligence for sale on the black market. Freeman authorizes a party for the Lower Deckers, and the two trios discuss the reputation the Cerritos has developed. As it happens, the Carlsbad folks were intimidated by our stalwart Lower Decks crew, which is why they were hostile.

Analysis

Clearly, “Mining the Mind’s Mines” isn’t a particularly deep episode, beyond the usual Trek trope that not everything is always as it seems. There’s the usual hijinks, featuring a Freeman worried about ageism and Mariner always taking her reaction to eleven. Boimler’s fantasy of being picked up in a sidecar to save the Federation should surprise no one, and even Tendi’s frustration with Migleemo is perfectly in line with her character.

We do get a really nice moment in which T’Ana effectively mentors Tendi, despite Not Having Time For This Nonsense. We really need more T’Ana in this season because she’s such a great character, and now we know she packs a chainsaw for amputations. Similarly, watching our Lower Deckers enjoy having gained some notoriety, becoming “Cali-class famous,” is equally nice because Lower Decks as a show is built on acknowledging the efforts of the folks who aren’t on the Bridge. I don’t know that the show quite goes as far as I’d like, but I did like seeing a nod in that direction.

Mostly, the episode is just fun, and that’s absolutely, one-hundred-percent fine. Lower Decks is supposed to be fun. Episodes like this one remind us of that, and there’s not so much fun in the world that we shouldn’t appreciate it when it appears before us.

That said, we do get a fantastic piece of representation here with the reveal of Mariner’s burgeoning FWB relationship with Jennifer Sh’reyan. Boimler, of course, mocks Mariner for it, but importantly, that teasing is exactly what it would be were Jennifer male. Everyone takes Mariner’s bisexuality in stride, and that’s perfect. The characters treat Mariner’s sexuality as if it’s no big deal, and honestly, it shouldn’t be. However, bi characters don’t have a great history in Trek. Mostly, openly bi or pan characters in Trek have been villains—Intendant Kira, anyone? Their bisexuality is often treated as a manifestation of their evil rather than an unrelated aspect of their character. With Mariner, her issues are just that, unrelated, and her bisexuality is just a part of her character. That kind of representation is long, long overdue, and I’m thrilled to see it in Lower Decks.

 

Rating:

A solid Three cups of Earl Grey Tea, a saucer, and a cup abandoned in order to head to a Red Alert

The Egg Hunt

  1. Ah, Leah Brahms—from one of the creepiest episodes on record.
  2. Kukulkan is from the Animated Series.
  3. In case you’ve forgotten, so is Migleemo’s species.
  4. Kayshon makes an appearance! Yay!
  5. The title is a pun involving “mines” as in the weapon, “datamining,” and “mines” where we find minerals.
  6. We all know Parrises Squares, right?
  7. I refuse to label Ambassador Spock as an Easter Egg.
  8. The rock thing comes to us from “The Enemy Within” as well as “A Private Little War.”
  9. If you thought Cor’Dee’s name was odd for a human, that’s because he isn’t one. He’s a Zaldan, from “Coming of Age.”
  10. The Koala is a reference to Lower Decks canon, as was the Black Mountain.
  11. I kind of love that Boimler has nightmares about raisin monsters because that was clearly his.
  12. Did anyone else think the Klingon Clowns looked kind of like the clown from It?
Share this GiN Article on your favorite social media network:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.