None of you understand. We’re not locked in here with you. We just lost our keys.

Skip to content

L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. David Faggiani
    April 6, 2016 @ 2:30 am

    I've really been loving your readings recently. It's good to get a different take on 'Lower Decks'. Like the UK Office nod in the title.

    Presumably due to your accusation of the Enterprise-D coming across often as a 'cosmic brokerage' too often, filled with 'cubiclespeak'.

    This chimes with me, as I recently caught 'Tapestry' on TV with my flatmate and we both noticed the scene where alt-Picard (the risk-averse 'wimp' as the show would have it) approaches Riker and Troi about his prospects for career development. It comes across like the most acute sort of sitcom HR officer cringe, which we both noticed.


  2. EK
    April 6, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

    Great analysis.

    A small shoutout to Crusher may be warranted here as well; she's a wonderful mentor and friend to Ogawa in this episode and I enjoyed seeing the closeness in their relationship that was shown to viewers here, in contrast to other episodes Ogawa appears in.

    I remember that the first time I saw this episode I thought that as an ensign it would be awesome to serve under Crusher, but the shits to serve under Geordi.


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    April 6, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

    Yikes. Obviously nothing against Bev, but that sort of says everything, doesn't it?


  4. EK
    April 6, 2016 @ 5:15 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  5. EK
    April 6, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

    Yeah, I get the impression the writers wanted to portray different types of relationships between ensigns and commanding officers; this ended up working more to Picard's, Crusher's and Worf's advantage, and to Riker's and LaForge's disadvantage since they had relationships with ensigns that were a little more conflictual. LaForge in particular though ended up looking like he had no depth of character compared to the other senior officers, which is reprehensible.


  6. Spoilers Below
    April 7, 2016 @ 8:30 am

    From speaking with friends who have been in the military, the vast majority of military work is really very boring, and does resemble modern office work. A lot of it involves paperwork. A great deal is trying to figure out what is supposed to have gone where when, and why it didn't. And a lot of cleaning.

    The friends who were on ships in the navy found it quite monotonous, outside of the times when they could sneak off to drink rocket alcohol. Incredibly loud, also, because the constant roar of the ship engine filled the metal interior so omnipresently that you were supposed to have your hearing checked semi-regularly ("supposed to" being the operative phrase here), because after a while you didn't notice it until you were on shore leave and that meant permanent damage had probably occurred. If you enjoyed fixing things that broke, it was a little better, but things like watch were pretty uneventful and boring, though important and potentially terrifying. It really depended on rank and personality.

    The folks involved in "actual" combat (infantry and the like) spent a lot of time playing video and role playing games, watching movies, working out, going to church, and doing everything in their power to ignore the 1% of the time they were out in the field with the potential to be killed.

    I've been told that whoever described it as 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror was completely correct.


  7. Ross
    April 7, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    As someone who works with a lot of active military people, yeah, most of the time the only difference between my job and theirs is that they can stay on the clock if they go to the gym.


  8. Daru
    April 10, 2016 @ 12:43 am

    Great perspective on the episode! I think I always loved the idea of this more than the episode itself. I'd always thought that there wasn't a separation between the 'classes' on the ship but that everyone had a skill set that was regarded as important – not position or place as that suggests that people are not mobile. So yes as you say, underlining the class here just undercuts the idea of utopia here and removes any sense of wonder.


  9. Dustin
    April 11, 2016 @ 3:23 am

    "I want to see gigantic walk-through aquariums with sentient whale-people navigators."

    So you're aware of the dolphins. They're in the blueprints. 🙂


  10. TommyR01D
    September 17, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

    I think that “underclass” is perhaps too charged a word to describe their situation. They are not “oppressed” because of their relative juniority any more than any subordinate in any organisation is “oppressed” by working under someone else. Starfleet may not be exactly parallel to modern day militaries (if it was that would be rather strange) but is still a hierarchy of navy-esque ranks at which the heroes of this episode are on a low rung, just as the senior officers originally would have been. Indeed, the story even shows one of them receiving a promotion to a more senior role, which is what ultimately comes to most of the “little people” in Starfleet provided they don’t get killed by a coolant leak or exploding console first.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.