Star Trek: Lower Decks S1E10 – No Small Parts Review
Opening with a cute moment as the crew of the Cerritos find themselves on Beta III from the original STAR TREK episode RETURN OF THE ARCHONS explaining to the populace once again not to blindly follow the instructions of the megalomaniacal computer Landru. It’s a wonderful touch that Ransom’s log shows Kirk and Spock as they appeared in the animated series although it’s referencing a live-action show. It’s an extended metatextual moment that sees the phrase ‘TOS’ named checked in official series continuity although it’s given a different explanation as Ransom wistfully observes that Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the others seemed to run into crazy new aliens every week. It sets out NO SMALL PARTS’ stall early on because this episode is going to be call-back central.
When Boimler accidentally reveals Mariner’s connection to Captain Freeman, it causes chaos onboard the Cerritos just when the ship is called to its most perilous mission yet. Meanwhile, Tendi is assigned as orientation liaison to a new recruit and Rutherford finds a new set of controls for his cybernetic implants.
The stakes are set early on, with a brief reappearance of Captain Dayton from MUCH ADO ABOUT BOIMLER as her new ship, the USS Solvang encounters a new and astonishingly powerful alien vessel. It’s a spectacular and sinister teaser for what’s to come. Onboard the USS Cerritos, Tendi’s new recruit turns out to be an Exocomp from TNG’s THE QUALITY OF LIFE which calls itself Peanut Hamper. It’s a lovely little subplot to a packed episode and explores some of the more authentic and unedifying aspects of sentience.
When the Cerritos responds to the Solvang’s partial distress call, it runs right into the arms of the mysterious aliens who turn out to be the Pakleds, who have been beefing up their technology since they first encountered the USS Enterprise-D.
There’s always a frisson of excitement in a STAR TREK series (or movie) when the main ship suffers extensive damage and that’s the case here in NO SMALL PARTS where the Cerritos is quickly disabled by the Pakleds and the crew find themselves fighting hand to hand while Rutherford and Shaxs lead a desperate raid to disable the Pakled computers.
Amidst the escalating action, the series finds time to wrap up a few series arcs and set up some interesting developments for our heroes, particularly Rutherford and Mariner. There’s sacrifice, too, as one of the command crew pays the ultimate price for the ship’s safety. But the undoubted highlight of the episode for long-time fans will be the appearance by the now-canon USS Titan and its captain Will Riker, making Frakes the only actor to have played the same character across six separate STAR TREK series. He’s joined by Marina Sirtis as Troi and it’s just a joy to see their wonderful chemistry playing out again as it did in STAR TREK PICARD. Then again, NO SMALL PARTS isn’t above taking a swipe at Riker and Troi’s involvement in the final episode of STAR TREK ENTERPRISE either. It’s something of a paradox that while its live-action stablemates seem to struggle sometimes to fill their allotted ‘hour long’ episodes, STAR TREK LOWER DECKS has consistently managed to pack so much story and character into half that time without ever feeling rushed or incomplete.
It’s a triumphant end to the first series and leaves me eager to boldly go on more adventures with this brilliant crew. NO SMALL PARTS confirmed what I’d been suspecting for some time now: STAR TREK LOWER DECKS will become the first new Star Trek series that I’ll be looking to buy and keep on physical media since this new era began.