Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for youth to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks seasons 1 through 3.
Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is captain of the USS Cerritos. A California class ship operating in the early 2380s, the Cerritos is tasked with “Second Contact” missions. These missions are essential for the continued functionality of the Federation. However, Second Contact is not as glamorous as First Contact, so the Cali class does not receive the same level of respect as the “bigger” ships.
While Freeman may work just as hard as any other Starfleet captain, the spotlight is rarely shined on the Cali class. At least, not for its victories: the Cerritos received attention when Freeman was falsely accused of detonating a bomb at Big Strong City on Pakled Planet, or when the Cerritos is cast in a negative light for a sensationalized piece of “journalism” in “Trusted Sources.” Nevertheless, Freeman manages to make being more often overlooked work to her advantage, including allowing her daughter Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) to serve aboard the Cerritos despite several previous demotions.
However, while Freeman may not receive a consummate level of respect from her peers, she continues to serve the ideals of Starfleet just as dutifully as any other starring role captain. Throughout the series, the Cerritos has undertaken many missions that may not be as exciting as those undertaken by the Enterprise but are vital for the survival of entire planetary societies. These include tasks like replacing water filtration systems, delivering supplies, engaging in diplomatic negotiation and occasionally ferrying rogue AIs to the Daystrom Institute.
The Cerritos can accomplish these varied goals thanks to the leadership of Freeman. This extends to her selected command team. While it’s easy to form superficial judgments about the Cerritos command crew, they have repeatedly risen to the occasion in dire situations. Under Freeman’s leadership, the Cerritos has weathered several battles. These include tussling Pakled Clumpships (in season 1’s “No Small Parts” and season 2’s “wej Duj”) and a faceoff with a trio of automated Texas class ships (in season 3’s “The Stars at Night”).
The Real Deal
Whether Freeman’s undertaking more mundane (but necessary) Second Contact engineering missions or facing high-stakes sci-fi battles and situations, she always rises to the occasion. This is even though she may be starting at a situational disadvantage, as when she was reassigned to negotiating with the Karemma on short notice in season 3’s “Hear All, Trust Nothing.”
Freeman has also learned some important lessons throughout Lower Decks. In “Temporal Edict,” some advice from Ensign Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) helped her recognize that she had to trust her crew to do their jobs. This led Freeman to mandate “The Boimler Effect,” a law remembered in the far future.
And that’s not the only time Freeman has seen the benefit of trusting in her crew. In “Room for Growth,” she experiences years’ worth of relaxation in seconds thanks to a device designed by her Engineering team.
Why She Matters
She shows us that leadership is about approaching every task with the same sense of duty, whether or not it’s the most exciting task in the universe. Her continued competence, despite a lack of surplus support (and occasional outright antagonism), demonstrates a determination to get the job done with the resources available.
Plus, Freeman shows us that trusting your team to do what they do best is essential to leadership. Furthermore, she shows that even when we’ve reached a position of authority, there’s always room for growth.
So, be like Freeman. Be ready for anything, even things that might seem mundane. Recognize the value of those closest to you, even if you all may not be Galaxy class. And never underestimate the importance of showing the lower decks you appreciate them by making sure they have access to one of the big replicators — the ones that can make a whole pizza at one time.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams on Paramount Plus.
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