It’s the return of Delta Shift! The fourth episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, “Room for Growth,” was written by John Cochran and directed by Jason Zurek.
The hallways in the lower decks of the Cerritos are crowded. Federov (the towel-wearing guy) knocks over a flask D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) is using for “Goopy.” Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) tunes his violin. Meanwhile, Samathan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) read on PADDs.
But they’re interrupted when Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) hovers past. She’s wearing an ancient mask that has possessed her. “I am Minooki,” states the possessed Captain. “I will rebuild my palace!”
A wave of energy passes through the hallway and turns it into a stone temple. Vines drape from the ceiling. Small aqueducts line the walkways. Bradward’s violin is turned into a stone idol. Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) and Lt. Kayshon (Carl Tart) chase after Freeman as she hovers away.
Temple of Minooki
A Captain’s log (Stardate unknown) recaps the fact that the Cerritos was “once again” partially transformed into a temple. Freeman laments that Starfleet must come up with a better way to handle “these D’Arsay Archive situations.” See Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 Episode 17, “Masks,” for more details.
Lt. Commander Andy Billups (Paul Scheer) and the Engineering department have been working nonstop to restore the Cerritos. Freeman is concerned the additional labor is taking an emotional toll.
In Engineering, Freeman and Lt. Shax (Fred Tatasciore) encounter a stretched-thin Billups. Freeman tells Billups that it’s the opinion of Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) that he is “a ****ing pile of stress.” Freeman says they need Billups refreshed and cites an upcoming project with the Carlsbad.
The head engineer protests but soon collapses, sobbing, into Shax’s arms. Freeman says she’s arranged a mandatory vacation for Billups and the rest of his team.
In the Lower Decker hallway, Mariner and Bradward are pulling vines away from their bunks. Samathan tells D’Vana that he’s bringing along Tricorder instructions in case relaxing gets too boring. Since Freeman will be joining the Engineers, there won’t be much happening on the Cerritos.
But Boimler points out the room lottery will be taking place. Four quarters have opened on Deck One. The other Lower Deckers promise to put Rutherford’s name in for the lottery but Mariner notes it’s weighted for the upper decks.
Rutherford accidentally knocks over Tendi’s flask. She chases Goopy into a Jefferies Tube.
Tendi follows Goopy and soon comes upon Delta Shift. Ensign Asif (Asif Ali) recounts a plan to enter their names into the access terminal on deck 9. By changing a few lines of code, they will ensure they win the room lottery. Utilizing the auxiliary corridors, they’ll avoid monitoring (and by extension, being caught). Ensign Karavitus (Artemis Pebdani) celebrates the plan.
D’Vana shares the news with Beckett and Bradward, who are appalled. Mariner wonders why delta shift doesn’t just join the Maquis before deciding to beat them at their own game. Even Boimler’s on board. All three beta shifters agree to gray area the **** out of delta shift.
Meanwhile, the Cerritos arrives at the Dove. They are greeted by the Edosian in charge, Toz (Mary Holland). She distributes wristbands that monitor tension levels by changing color. Green indicates stress relief.
Toz guides them through the Dove, showing off various relaxation strategies. These include a puppy room (kittens are available for the more deviant), a Tellar Prime mud bath where many familiar Lower Decks aliens relax, and a Klingon battle room. However, the Cerritos engineers have become distracted by fixing the first door they walked through.
On the Cerritos, the beta shifters plan their route through the maintenance systems of the ship. This should get them to the terminal before the delta shifters. The shortcut begins through a panel in the back of Holodeck 3. The beta shifters discover that T’Ana is running a program before they enter.
Inside Holodeck 3, everything is black and white. Boimler identifies their location as a “bank” (a word he mispronounces). Mariner mocks the idea of money, pointing out currency has no intrinsic value. But that’s when T’Ana yowls and shoots a gun into the air. She and Shax are in costume as robbers. They’re undertaking a stick-up. A shower of bullets through the windows signifies the arrival of the Feds. T’Ana cackles and turns off safety protocols.
Shax freezes the program, however. He asks what they’re doing and T’Ana says, “the usual.” They’re going to “off these Feds” and “when the blood’s pumping,” they’ll copulate on the counter as the holographic hostages watch. The beta shifters wince at the awkwardness.
Things get worse as Shax and T’Ana begin arguing. Shax says he died and they never talked about it (see season 2 episode 3, “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”). T’Ana attempts to diffuse the emotion with her bare breasts but Shax responds with, “Would you put those away, Diane?” Shax tells her he’s more than a hard body for her to scramble around on.
T’Ana says she’ll tell him a secret. She agrees to tell him how she lost her tail. Tendi tries to hang back and find out, but Shax re-engages the program. She narrowly avoids another hail of bullets as the beta shifters escape.
The beta shifters enter the swamp-like area beneath the hydroponics bay. Mariner wonders who signs up for Starfleet to garden. We cut to the answer: Kayshon, who is delighted as he trims flowers a deck above. “The path to Kamata in spring,” Kayshon sighs with contentment. “Gramble, his throat slit by his mistress!”
Tendi identifies a Tamarian Devron Root, which can grow without water. She notes that Orions are immune to its hallucinogenic properties. However, we soon see that humans are not. Both Bradward and Beckett begin to trip, hallucinating distorted bodies and experiencing synesthesia as non-diegetic sitar music begins to play.
Boimler wonders how they’ll escape the maze. We switch back to Tendi’s unaffected perspective as she asks, “What maze?” Bradward begins to run away but in his intoxicated state he doesn’t realize the door is a few feet to his right. Fortunately, D’Vana is able to shepherd the pair of tripping beta shifters into the next corridor, where they swiftly sober up.
On the Dove, Toz and Freeman look on with approval as the engineers rake a sand garden. But it’s soon revealed they are actually using the sand to work on a design schematic. Freeman asks why they can’t be more like Ensign Meredith. However, she discovers that Meredith is clandestinely working on an engineering project. Freeman becomes enraged. She leaves the room muttering angrily.
Mariner laments the duration of Boimler’s “shortcut” and he acknowledges her complaint. He explains that the Cerritos has undergone so many retrofits, it isn’t always clear what’s behind the next door. They arrive in the room behind the deflector dish, where gravity is low. They bounce around, and Boimler declares himself “Anti-Grav Boy.”
On the bridge of the Cerritos, Shax informs Commander Ransom of a small approaching asteroid cluster. Ransom orders power be re-routed so as to allow the deflector dish to take care of it.
In the deflector dish room, everything begins to spin. Beckett and D’Vana escape but Bradward will be flattened against the dish if they don’t help him. They form a makeshift tether from their uniforms and drag Boimler out by his hair. Once safe, the beta shifters laugh about “Anti-Grav Boy.”
On the Dove, the engineering crew is enjoying mandatory mani-pedis. This keeps their eyes covered and their hands occupied. Toz and Freeman are once again satisfied. But then they discover the engineers have slid cucumber slices meant for eyes under their wristbands. They engineered a way to make the bracelets green. That’s what the Captain wants, right?
Freeman is further enraged and says the engineers didn’t give the Dove’s programs a fair shot. She says her engineers don’t respect her. Her wrist band goes from green to yellow to red and finally to black. Toz sounds an alarm. She orders intensive treatment when she learns Freeman has recently been possessed by several ancient artifacts.
“All of them are all god damned Geordi LaForges,” Freeman screams at the orderlies as she is wheeled away.
Toz says that Freeman will have to be sent to Earth for a full assessment if this isn’t resolved. But then Rutherford realizes what they shouldn’t do. Billups is listening.
The beta shifters arrive in the penultimate room. There, a vent that opens for ten seconds every hour will lead to the terminal. The beta shifters sit down. As they wait, they dream of life in their own quarters.
But then the delta shifters arrive. They immediately begin arguing. But they soon bond over the fact that delta shift heard Diane and Biggs having make-up sex.
Time passes. The delta shifters and beta shifters have continued to bond. Asif tells a rumor that Ransom has a “wife” made of replicated churros (“Churrolivia”) that he keeps “refreshed” in his room. The six Lower Deckers agree that things would be better if they all worked together. However, this harmony is subterfuge. Delta shift pushes beta shift aside as the hatch opens. “God damn you ****ing delta shift pieces of ****,” Mariner curses at their backs as the hatch closes again.
On the Dove, the most aggressive therapeutic tactics have failed to return Freeman’s wristband to green. Toz has become so stressed that she’s smoking something, presumably something illicit. The rest of the Cerritos team arrives and announces they have engineered a machine that removes stress. Freeman says the point of the trip was to stop working. But Billups explains that there’s no greater stress relief for the Cerritos engineers than engineering solutions. All of their bands have turned green.
Rutherford insists Freeman try the pod. He says it delivers the same therapeutic experience as months on the Dove in mere seconds. Freeman enters the machine and it activates. It’s a success! Freeman is restored.
The Cerritos team leaves. Recognizing that the device would make her job obsolete, Toz orders it be ejected into space.
On the Cerritos, the beta shifters kvetch about their situation. Then they realize the Minooki water they’re sitting in must be draining somewhere. They locate an unmapped point of exit. Bold Boimler dives into the unknown. Fortunately, he finds a viable room on the other side.
At the other end of the vent, a ladder leads directly to the terminal. But when they reach it, they learn it’s not four rooms available in the lottery, but only one. They don’t want to be divided. If only one of them is on deck one, how will they have more adventures? Beta shift decides to forego the lottery in order to stick together. Splitting up delta shift is just what delta shift deserves.
Later, delta shift celebrates in the Cerritos bar. Winning the room lottery doesn’t split them up. They just share the room. Beta shift was just too tired to think of this obvious solution.
Rutherford returns and asks the other beta shifters why they didn’t get the room. He says delta shift is having a party in their room and they have to get on the list. He suggests using the same “shortcut” to get their names on the list. But the other beta shifters aren’t doing that again.
Elsewhere in the bar, Ransom approaches a replicator. He orders “35 churros in an unmarked paper bag, hot.”
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are available for streaming on Paramount Plus on Thursdays.
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