Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 Premiere Review: A Promising, Hilarious Start To The Next Chapter
Better than ever!
When Star Trek: Lower Decks revealed its poster for season 3, the art was cleverly based on the movie poster from 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. While at first you might think this is just because Lower Decks has reached its third season, the premiere episode “Grounded” hints that there’s a bit more of a connection to the late Leonard Nimoy’s feature directorial debut. It’s impossible to not be reminded of exactly how the heroes began their search for Spock in the season 3 premiere, and it’s just one of many callbacks that helps to make “Grounded” a wonderful beginning to the show’s third season.
Season 2 closed on the troubling cliffhanger that USS Cerritos Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) was somehow being accused of destroying Pakled Planet–the homeworld of the dimwitted thieves who proved to be the heroes’ most consistent antagonists last season. In the Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 premiere, while Freeman stands trial for the crimes we know she couldn’t possibly have committed, her daughter Mariner (Tawny Newsome) can’t just sit on her hands. With the Cerritos impounded and the entire crew grounded on Earth, Mariner first finds Boimler (Jack Quaid) on his family’s vineyard–where they make, fittingly, raisins–and together they recruit Tendi (Noël Wells) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) to prove Freeman’s innocence. Their adventures brings them face-to-face with the sweetest old fart in Starfleet, hot sauce fit for a Jem’Hadar, and a massive orbital space orgy.
“Grounded” makes it clear Star Trek: Lower Decks has hit its stride and with season 3 its writers are getting better at navigating the grand Trek mythos that they treat with as much irreverence as fans can stomach. Early in the premiere, the cameo of a Trek legend is hinted at and cleverly whipped away. Among the treasure trove of Easter eggs and callbacks found in just about every episode of Lower Decks, “Grounded” pays tribute to 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, including an animatronic Zefram Cochrane with James Cromwell (who was apparently not too busy glueing his hands to Starbucks counters) returning to voice the pioneer. We get music sure to awaken your nostalgia, a return to Sisko’s Creole Kitchen, a hot sauce named for one of the most infamous substances in all of Trek, and a brief semi-cameo from a fan-favorite Voyager hero.
In a way, you could argue that the conclusion of “Grounded” fulfills the promise of Star Trek: Lower Decks in a way no episode before season 3 ever has. The show has always been promoted as a comedy about what’s going on in the background while the big, heroic action of the stories on Deep Space Nine or The Next Generation unfold; and the argument could be made that’s rarely, if ever, been the case. But “Grounded” delivers on that concept and it’s executed beautifully.
If this is what fans have to expect from the rest of Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3, then our Thursdays for the next few months should be filled with belly laughs and joyful Easter egg hunts. New Lower Decks episodes are scheduled to stream every Thursday on Paramount+, with nine more episodes on the way between now and early November.