the story: Mariner is convinced Boimler’s girlfriend can’t be real.
review: Well, I guess it had to happen. “Cupid’s Errant Arrow” is the first episode of Lower Decks that didn’t really work for me.
Everything about it feels like the series at its most basic level, in fact everything we’ve already seen...again. The worst part is that for the first time, Boimler is reduced to being the butt of the joke rather than actively participating in it. In fact, it’s kind of a whole episode that’s theoretically about him but instead is about Mariner’s desperate attempts to uncover the truth about his girlfriend.
Tendi and Rutherford get a subplot about how much better everything is on another ship, but they learn it comes with a price, that the crew there is under immense pressure...because they experience big wacky events all the time. Except literally every episode of Lower Decks has pivoted around big wacky events, too. And therein lies the danger of the series: calling too much attention to the fact that it doesn’t really follow its own premise.
In fact, the other subplot is another big dramatic Starfleet mission the crew of a third-rate Starfleet ship is...still involved in. I mean, I get that this is an animated series in an era where big wacky events are expected to happen every episode, and that half of Lower Decks is the funny version of Star Trek. But there have to be some limits. Even Orville frustrates viewers just expecting funny Star Trek, because as often as not it’s actually trying to...just be Star Trek(ish).
Anyway, there’s nothing that particularly stands out this episode. You might call it the one where the creators were finally done enjoying how great the original idea was and then just took it for granted.
>franchise - If you’re already a Star Trek fan there’s little to gain from watching this one. Except that one alien who was fighting for the right to inhabit a whole planet with his wife. In context it’s the best bit of the episode, and nothing you would ordinarily see in the franchise.
>series - Which I guess I’ll use as the reason to watch Lower Decks this episode. It’s a great punchline, however deeply buried it is in everything else.
>character - Since it’s really a Mariner episode, it’s worth watching for that, including a flashback scene that’s kind of fun.
>essential - Not essential. Nope. Move along home!