It’s 2 Fast, 2 Rutherfords in an episode that sees a return to the second planet visited on Star Trek: Lower Decks: Tulgana IV. Lower Decks season 3 episode 5, “Reflections,” was written by series creator Mike McMahan and directed by Michael Mullen.
Ensign Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) sleeps in his cot in the Cerritos lower decks hallway. In his dream, he attempts to stop an overheating engine from exploding. His reflection in the control panel doesn’t have his Vulcan cybernetic implant (or his missing hair) yet. He fails to stop the engine from overheating, and it explodes.
Rutherford awakens. In the process, he frightens Federov (the towel-wearing crew member). Samanthan apologizes, then lies awake in his cot.
Captain’s log Stardate 58354.2: Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) states that the Cerritos is back at Tulgana IV. The ship will be updating the Federation Consulate’s power systems. Since this is a straightforward job, the Cerritos crew can fill other quotas.
This means Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) have been assigned to the Starfleet Recruitment booth. Mariner says no one has ever signed up at one of those. Ensign D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) volunteers the fact that she did. Mariner shushes her before she and Boimler leave the repair bay.
Tendi asks Rutherford why he looks so under the weather. He tells her about the nightmare. D’Vana scans him and identifies some long-term memories stuck in the buffer. She offers to purge the cache, and he accepts. Afterward, she suggests he try taking a nap.
Elsewhere, Bradward and Beckett load the shuttlecraft Death Valley with recruitment booth supplies. Boimler states there’s a spot they can set up in the commuter’s market, as Mariner complains.
Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) overhears Beckett’s complaining and tells her he’ll be checking in throughout the day. Any failure to zealously comply with her duties and he’ll transfer her to Starbase 80.
Both Bradward and Beckett are immediately compliant. The Death Valley departs for Tulgana IV.
In the LD Sleeping Quarters, Rutherford lies down for his nap. Instead, his implant sparks and its “eye” turns red. Samanthan laments a headache in an uncharacteristic way. It becomes clear he has no memory of being aboard the Cerritos. Surveying a ship map, he asks how he got on a California Class ship. The computer answers: he transferred from Douglas Station on Stardate 56329.4.
Rutherford tells the computer to shut up. He catches sight of his reflection in the window. The reflection is our “blue-eyed” Samanthan. Blue Samanthan asks what’s happening. Then he demands control of his body be restored.
Red Rutherford retorts this is his body, and Blue Rutherford has already “effed it up.” Blue Samanthan tries to call for help from a passing Cerritos crewmember, saying an anaphasic alien has stolen his body. But no one else can hear him.
On Tulgana IV, Bradward and Beckett are at the Starfleet recruitment booth. Mariner is putting an unusual amount of effort into the endeavor. But her attempts are subverted by the woman at the adjacent Independent Archaeologists Guild booth. Boimler urges Beckett to control her temper.
Aboard the Cerritos, Red Rutherford criticizes California class ships for being “firetraps.” Blue Rutherford defends the ship as Ensign Barnes (Jessica McKenna) approaches. Red Samanthan doesn’t recognize her but flirts with her in a lewd manner. But when Barnes is offended that he can’t recall her after four dates, and Red Rutherford is mean to her. She leaves in tears.
Blue Rutherford says he needs to contact Tendi. Red Samanthan overhears this and immediately seeks her out.
Red Rutherford finds Tendi in Repair Bay 5. She’s studying a plant from Omicron Seti III. Red Samanthan engages in a mocking but passable imitation of Blue Samanthan. Tendi informs him that the security shift changes at 0900. Blue Rutherford realizes if he punches his implant, Red Rutherford will experience the effects. Red Samanthan threatens his reflection, causing D’Vana to realize something is amiss. She calls an emergency medical team to Deck 11.
In Tulgana IV’s commuter’s market, Mariner attempts to repay the independent archaeology by interfering with her recruitment. Beckett asks why the archeologist doesn’t steal something from the nearby Museum of Antiquities. Mariner says not being in Starfleet is a limitation. The archeologist reveals she was in Starfleet. She introduces herself as Petra Aberdeen (Georgia King).
Bradward looks her up and hands the PADD to Beckett. Mariner is impressed that Aberdeen served on the Victory. Beckett says Aberdeen must have screwed up, but Aberdeen counters by singing the virtues of an independent lifestyle. Aberdeen accuses Starfleet of being a military organization. Mariner gets defensive but resists further altercation.
On the Cerritos, Red Rutherford is pursued by Tendi, Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), and Lt. Shax (Fred Tatasciore). In the transporter bay, Red Samanthan knocks out Chief Lundy. But he can’t escape by beaming to Tulgana IV due to the planet’s ion field. Shax points this fact out as he corners him.
Red Rutherford mocks the nickname “Baby Bear” before teleporting away. He beams into the private docking bay for the Captain’s Yacht and prepares to depart. However, Blue Rutherford subverts his efforts by punching the implant. This buys Shax enough time to stun both Rutherfords using his phaser. Shax contacts T’Ana for a medical team.
2 Fast 2 Rutherfords
In the Cerritos medical bay, the Captain and Tendi join T’Ana by Rutherford’s bedside. T’Ana’s scans reveal there’s no anaphasic presence. Rutherford is still himself. However, his memories and personality are from a decade earlier. T’Ana compares the situation to a “backup” overwriting his brain.
D’Vana is concerned she may be responsible. But T’Ana informs her that cerebral activity is transpiring. They’ll have to wait and see which Rutherford wakes up.
Inside Rutherford’s head, Rutherford 1.0 wakes up alongside our Rutherford. They’re both inside a void. Samanthan realizes Samanthan 1.0 is an earlier version of himself. 1.0 demonstrates that they can manifest whatever they’d like in their mindscape.
1.0 explains that they’re trapped in their subconscious. One must emerge as the dominant personality and take over their body. 1.0 manifests the repair bay where their accident occured. Rutherford is impressed by the Sampaguita, a dangerous racing ship built by 1.0. Samanthan asks why he doesn’t remember building it.
1.0 says it’s because he erased his memories with the implant. Rutherford protests and says the implant was to help with engineering stuff. 1.0 taps the implant, activating the memory from season 2, episode 10, “First First Contact.” Shadowy figures state that Rutherford’s desire to get the implant is “programmed” in. Samanthan will believe it was “elective.”
In the mindscape, 1.0 says that the brain is too complicated to be erased like a computer. As a result, his “cool ass” was stored away. Earlier implant malfunctions, like Rutherford’s “programs turning against [him]” (Badgey from season 1) and the “pears” incident (from season 2 episode 1 “Strange Energies”), are revealed to be 1.0 attempting to reassert control.
The two Rutherfords will have to choose which one takes control.
Although the two Rutherfords fight, perfectly symmetrical violence never solves anything. 1.0 informs Rutherford that they’re in their garage. He explains that they snuck away from Starfleet Academy to build racing ships. Sneaking was required because Starfleet regulation forbade students from working with a warp core before graduation.
Rutherford says the regulation makes sense. They could have hurt themselves otherwise. But 1.0 reveals they did more than mess around with warp cores. They funded their work by winning Devron Races. These illegal races feature courses that go through the Neutral Zone.
In order to decide which of the two Rutherfords assumes control, they agree to a simulated race.
In the commuter’s market, tensions between Aberdeen and Mariner continue to rise. Representatives of the Collector’s Guild stop by the Starfleet booth to mock the ensigns. Boimler offers soothing words, but then they’re approached by the conspiracy theorists. They further mock the ensigns. Aberdeen looks on with approval.
In Rutherford’s mindscape, both versions construct ships. 1.0 drinks a beer as he completes the Sampaguita. Rutherford constructs a copy of the Delta Flyer (see: Star Trek: Voyager).
Meanwhile, Aberdeen brings up the artifacts destroyed in the bombing of Big Strong City on Pakled Planet. Then a pair of outpost scientists approach the Starfleet booth. They mock the Starfleet uniforms. When one of them plucks Bradward’s rank pip from his collar, he loses his composure.
Boimler begins flipping tables. He runs around the market screaming in the faces of everyone who has mocked them over the course of the day. As he vents and creates a distraction, Aberdeen sneaks into the nearby museum. Meanwhile, Bradward’s confidence inspires many passersby to sign-up for Starfleet.
Inside the mindscape, the Sampaguita and the Delta Flyer stand ready at the starting point. Soon the two ships are racing neck and neck through the virtual Neutral Zone. But a Romulan Warbird appears and begins firing upon both racers.
It is revealed that the Delta Flyer is crewed not only by Captain Rutherford but also by his fellow beta shifters. 1.0 protests that imagining a crew isn’t fair. Rutherford points out that he said anything goes.
On Tulgana IV, Ransom arrives expecting to be disappointed by Mariner. Instead, Beckett is cheerfully handing out PADDs to many different individuals interested in joining Starfleet. Then Ransom’s attention turns to Boimler, who is stomping on the outpost scientist’s booth. Bradward screams that he failed the Kobayashi Maru seventeen times.
In the mindscape, the Sampaguita is critically damaged by the Bird-of-Prey. The crew of the Delta Flyer manages to rescue 1.0 by transporter before fleeing the oncoming Romulan ship.
1.0 concedes to Rutherford, and the pair returns to the mindscape void. Rutherford asks if they can merge, but 1.0 says he thinks it’s good that he’s going. Before 1.0 vanishes, he mind melds with Rutherford: “Remember!”
After the explosion that injured Rutherford, he was rescued by an unidentified individual. “This is going to set us back years,” they say. Then, an additional memory fragment from the implant operation returns. A third obscured individual instructs the two surgeons to erase “everything that has to do with me or the program.” The implant was a cover-up.
1.0 tells Rutherford not to lose his friends. Then he thanks him for one last race and vanishes.
Rutherford wakes up in sick bay and reunites with the real Tendi. As D’Vana hugs Samathan, Shax puts his hand on T’Ana’s shoulder.
Later, Ransom and Lt. Kayshon (Carl Tart) escort Boimler. Bradword asks if he’s being sent to Starbase 80, and Ransom says that place is a hellhole. Kayshon agrees: “Koltar, when he drowned in the swamp.”
Ransom assures him he will only spend the night in the brig. Then he admits that he was impressed by Bradward’s defense of Starfleet. He says they should grab a drink when he gets out.
In the brig, Boimler smiles as Rutherford and Tendi speculate about which higher-up Starfleet officer blew him up. With Bradward in the brig, it’s up to Mariner to complete the mission log.
As she completes the log in her bunk, Beckett is interrupted by a transmission from Aberdeen. Aberdeen admits Mariner was right. She did instigate a distraction so as to steal from the museum. She was liberating the Grand Nagus’ staff, stolen from the Ferengi (with a reward for return).
Aberdeen offers Beckett an open opportunity to join her in the Independent Archeologist’s Guild. Mariner says she’s not interested. But she saves Aberdeen’s contact information in her PADD.
As the Cerritos warps away from Tulgana IV, Becket sits in reflection.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are available for streaming on Paramount Plus on Thursdays.
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