If you’ve been watching Star Trek: Lower Decks (wait, you haven’t? Go stream it on Paramount Plus like right now), then you know that former Ensign, current Lieutenant Junior-Grade Beckett Mariner is often presented as a complete rebel. If her best friend and fellow lower decker Bradward Boimler is an archetype of the perfect Starfleet officer, then Mariner is meant to be his completely chaotic counterpart. But hold onto those isolinear chips, Friends of DeSoto: what our theory presupposes is that Mariner is secretly the most realistic Starfleet officer of them all.
She ‘Gets Off On Breaking Protocol’
In Star Trek: Lower Decks, Mariner is one of the more self-aware characters. In the episode “Temporal Edict,” she sums up her view of Starfleet rules and regulations: “I do get off on breaking protocol,” she says, going on to note that “Protocol is for people who need to be told what to do, which I don’t.” On paper (or should that be “on PADD?”), this establishes her as a major rebel who completely rejects the plethora of protocols that Boimler and other model Star Trek characters cling to.
However, any fan who is being honest with themselves would admit that they, like Captain Kirk and Captain Picard before them, would throw out the rules when the stakes were big enough. For that matter, Kirk and Picard are considered the exemplars of Starfleet service, and we’ve seen Kirk steal his ship to save Spock’s life and Picard go native and fight an evil admiral trying to displace the peaceful Ba’ku on Starfleet orders. In shunning protocol in favor of what she thinks is right, Mariner establishes herself as one of the greats in Star Trek character history.
She Hates Promotions
The entire premise of Star Trek: Lower Decks is that we are following the adventures of some of the lowest-ranked characters on the USS Cerritos. As such, most of the characters are motivated by getting promotions and advancing their careers. Mariner is presented as an anomaly in this universe and even in this show because she dislikes promotions and has been busted back down to ensign multiple times in the past.
Rejecting promotions would seemingly make her an outlier in our world as well, but remember that in Star Trek, all of a Federation citizen’s needs are taken care of no matter what they do (or what they don’t do). In that world, we’d likely join Mariner in disdaining promotions, especially if they meant we’d have to kiss the asses of annoying superior officers or be separated from our friends. Plus, even Commander Riker turned down the biggest promotion of all–Captain–for years to hang with his buddies on the Enterprise, so we think Mariner is in very good Starfleet company here.
She Loves Getting Into Fights
One of the more visceral ways that Mariner seems different from most Star Trek characters is that she loves getting into fights. In addition to loving the scrapping itself, she even loves the scars the battles leave: in the episode “Temporal Edict,” when Dr. T’Ana offers “to clean up those disgusting scars,” Mariner replies, “no way” because “These are my trophies.” Someone who loves both kicking ass and showing off their scars like an action movie hero certainly seems different from your usual Starfleet officer.
But here’s the thing: Star Trek is a universe in which all but the most extreme injuries can be healed by someone waving a little light over you. In this universe, we realistically think most people would either openly or secretly love getting into scraps because they don’t have to really worry about the consequences. Plus, we know that when they were a bit younger than Mariner, Kirk, and Picard were also barroom brawlers who were never afraid to throw down, so we think Mariner is upholding a fine tradition of Starfleet officers who just love to kick ass.
She Violates the Prime Directive
Nominally, nothing is more important to Star Trek’s Starfleet officer than the Prime Directive. This directive (so important it’s also known as “General Order 1”) forbids Starfleet from interfering with the natural development of alien life or alien society. Mariner certainly stands in contrast to reverence for this order: not only does she quasi-frequently violate it, but she summed her feelings up in the episode “Crisis Point” when she blurted out “screw the Prime Directive!”
However, most Star Trek fans who have watched the shows long enough know how monstrous the Prime Directive can be: we’ve seen Picard let millions of people die in The Next Generation episode “Pen Pals” and been horrified, and we cheered in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Kirk and crew saved the day by violating the Prime Directive by bringing whales and a human into the future and even revealing the formula for transparent aluminum over a century earlier than it would have been invented.
Kirk saved Earth and everybody on it because this charismatic captain understood the same thing Mariner understood: the rules are meant to be bent and even broken when lives are on the line. Mariner is secretly an amazing Starfleet role model, and the crew around her would all become better officers if they took her lead more often.