A Friendly Anbo-jyutsu Sparring Match

This episode starts with a recurring theme on Lower Decks, Boimler and Rutherford thinking they might finally get the upper hand on the uber-confident Mariner. This time in a friendly sparring match of Anbo-jyutsu. The first mistake Boimler makes is actually hitting Mariner. In fact he bloodied her nose and knocked out a tooth. Makes you wonder what those helmets they wear actually do to protect you, besides their intended goal of blocking your eyesight. Regardless, with first blood drawn, this meant that the kid’s gloves were off as far as Mariner was concerned. The rest wasn’t pretty with both of them pleading with her to put the kid gloves back on.

Frylon 4

As far as the Cerritos, it was on a mission to Frylon 4 (I guess Krylon was taken by some cooking pans) to investigate the sighting of a Mugato. A fanged ape like creature from Star Trek past. (We’ll get into that in my thoughts segment). This is a curious discovery as the Mugato was not indigenousness to Frylon 4. It’s original home is the Planet Neural. So the Cerritos mission is to confirm the sighting and perhaps contain the creature while investigating how it got there in the first place.

Diplomats and Spys

After Boimler and Rutherford’s beat down courtesy of Mariner, they have decided to engage in a more safe and intellectual pursuit. A board game called Diplomats. An endeavor where compromise is the name of the game. Needless to say Mariner couldn’t be less interested. Although, perhaps we should be interested in why Boimler and Rutherford look like two survivors from a car accident and Mariner is without blemish. Even after having her nose bloodied and a tooth knocked out.

Fortunately, the ships Barkeep Otis thinks he knows why. He thinks Mariner is in actuality, a super spy. A highly trained member of Starfleet Black OPS hidden on the ship. Its why she can “kick so much butt and get away with whatever she wants.” Boimler just dismisses that and believes the answer is more likely that she gets away with a lot because she is the Captain’s daughter. As for “kicking butt,” she gets a lot of practice. Mainly on Boimler and Rutherford.

But Otis has questions. Why does she seem to know every fighting style? Being the Captain’s daughter and hanging around with the softest guys on the ship? (I don’t know about them, but I would be offended by that characterization.. even if it IS true). It’s the perfect cover, Otis surmises. All he is saying that if her back is against the wall, her training will kick in. She will protect herself at all costs. So they should be wary of her.

Don’t Take NO for an Answer

Meanwhile, the ever eager Ensign Tendi is given a new assignment by Dr. T’Ana. A number of the crew have refused to get their medical scans. Some BS about not wanting their health being reduced to a bunch of data. It is Tendi’s job to get scans from all those people and not to take no for an answer. Another opportunity to prove to T’Ana she has what it takes. So Tendi tracks down all of the crewman on the list. All but one. Designated not by name but as a number: 08.019.

Come to find out the mystery patient is Dr. T’Ana herself. Apparently, like most curmudgeon Starfleet Doctors, T’Ana didn’t need some scanner telling her she was healthy. She was the ship’s Chief Surgeon. But, as she was instructed, Tendi wasn’t taking no for an answer. Not even from T’Ana. So the chase was on. It was like trying to capture your cat to get them to go to the vet. Eventually, Tendi followed T’Ana down a Jefferies Tube and fell, breaking her arm. T’Ana at first thought Tendi was trying to trick her by feigning injury. At least until she saw the compound fracture. When she approached, Tendi whipped out her scanner and got her medical reading. Right before she passed out from the pain…or loss of blood. Either way, T’Ana was impressed.

Taking Otis’ Warning to Heart

In Engineering, Otis’ warning to Rutherford and Boimler had drilled itself into Rutherford’s mind. So much so, that he doesn’t even pay attention to Boimler’s dissertation on the pronunciation of the Mugato. (As I said, we’ll get to that). Rutherford is more interested in the fact that when Mariner served on the Atlantis, 100 members of the crew disappeared.  Boimler was certain it was just a reassignment. Those things happen on Starships. However, Rutherford reports that there are no log records of such a massive reassignment. One minute there, the next minute not. But while they are discussing Mariner’s possibly secret past, she suddenly appears. Boimler is so startled, he throws his tricorder directly at Mariner who snags it with lightning reflexes, even surprising herself…or so it seems. She asks them why there so jumpy. Boimler claims its because they are excited to see a Mugato. She then warns them to stay out of her way on the planet…or else! Nothing Ominous about that, Right?

Finding Answers to the Mugato Question

Shax is leading the away team to the planet, warning them that the Mugato’s (he pronounces it Magutu) are an endangered species and that no weapons are to be used. Once they materialize, Shax locates a pile of Mugato guana. (He prounonces it Mugato this time). Of course, his flexible pronunciation is not near as alarming as his willingness to taste the Mugato dung. Declaring it fresh…and tangy! Ewww. He follows the trail until he comes across the answer to the Mugato mystery. Ferengi! They are capturing the apes and selling their horns to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, the Ferengi are using a signaling damper to make communication with the Cerritos impossible. So their on their own, with their back’s against the wall. Exactly what Boimler and Rutherford were trying to avoid with Mariner. Figures.

Shax and his team confront the Ferengi. But in their attempt to fight off the Starfleet officers, the Ferengi leader accidentally frees all their captured Mugatos. And they are naturally pissed off. During the chaos, the leader of the Ferengi manages to make it to his shuttle and escape as does the alien he was attempting to sell the Mugato horns to.  Leaving the Starfleet Officers to fend off the angry Mugatos. As Rutherford and Boimler are trying to stay out of harms way, they turn to see Mariner appear to stab Shax and then bite him, spitting out blood. Otis was right. She WILL protect herself at all costs. It would be a prudent thing to get away from her.

Tractor Beam Accident

Back in Space, The Cerritos notices the alien ship trying to leave orbit. They hail him and ask if he had seen their away team. He feigns ignorance and asks them not to communicate with him any more. Friendly fellow. Just the same, Captain Freeman is suspicious and tells them to put a tractor beam on the ship. It immediately starts to come apart so they beam him aboard just as his ship explodes. Much to the chagrin of the alien pilot. To make up for what seemed to be the Cerritos error, Captain Freeman offers the pilot Mr. Hyde a Federation Shuttlecraft to replace his ship. He contemplates this offer but then reminds Freeman that he also lost his possessions. But when he’s asked what his items were, he starts rattling off everything on Freeman’s shelves. What a coincidence that he had the same things she did.

The Mariner Problem

Back on Frylon 4, Boimler and Rutherford are debating what their next move should be. They need to circumvent the signal dampener and contact the Cerritos. They also probably need to report Mariner and the way she stabbed Shax and ate his blood. Before they could consider more, a Mugato and its mate showed up. This prompted them to hide as the Mugatos did what couples did. Afterwards, they ran into Mariner again and she accidentally stepped into a Mugato trap set by the Ferengi.

Safe to Interrogate

Since she was immobilized, the pair accused her of attacking Shax. She explained that Shax had been bitten by a Mugato and she needed to suck the poison out. But what about the missing Atlantis Crew? Did she EAT THEM!!! Mariner told them that the crew had contracted Kerplikian Lice. Starfleet would not have allowed that embarrassment to make it to the ships log. Imagine a whole Federation Starship taken down by Lice.

Ok…but why was she so good at Martial Arts? She tells them that it was the one sport she could practice by herself. Mainly because she didn’t have any friends. At least not ones that stayed. Considering that, they next both threw their tricorders at her. Both hit her in the face. OUCH! They told her they thought she had some Ninja skills the way she caught it the first time Boimler threw it at her. She looked at them incredulously. So, because she made a lucky catch, they thought she was a spy?

Boimler and Rutherford to the Rescue

Although, she could kind of understood the confusion. That whole, Black OPS thing? She was was the one who spread that rumor. It gave her a mystique. Finally Boimler and Rutherford said the main reason they believed she had to be a spy was because someone so badass would never hang around guys like them, unless it was a cover. She reassured them that they were her friends. Of course she would hang with them. And they could STILL be friends if they set her free from the Mugato trap before the Ferengi returned. Too late. She was also captured. Now, they would need to be the Black OPS spy’s and rescue the whole team.

So what does a couple of game playing Nerds do to resolve the situation? They introduce the Ferengi to a profit and loss analysis of preserving the Mugato instead of killing them. By making Frylon 4 a Mugato preserve, they can sell tickets to it as a tourist attraction. When combined with souvenirs, food and other sales, they will make more money than they can by just selling the horns. Nothing appeals more to a Ferengi than a good profit margin. And while it might not be the best solution, it is a good compromise.

Scam Avoided

Back on the Cerritos, Freeman is talking to her husband about the Ferengi. He lets her know that she should beware of a scam going on where an alien blows up his own ship and tries to pin it on Starfleet. Well that will never happen to her! She is just able to place a tractor beam on the shuttle before Hyde escapes. She then informs him that his choices are a Federation penal colony or if he agrees to do some good (after returning her shuttle and her belongings), she might forget he tried to pull this little stunt.  As for good, he is sent to work with the Ferengi and their new Mugato Preserve. He gets to help shovel Mugato dung. Lucky him!

Thoughts

Right from the start, Lower Decks calls back to a Next Generation Episode. Called the Icarus Factor, it introduced Will Riker’s Father and their means of bonding when Will was young. The Anbo-jyutsu (pronounced AN-bo JUT-su). A form of Martial Arts in the 24th century. It was used in this case to resolve long standing differences between father and son. And it worked, once they got past the part where Will’s Father had been cheating during their early bouts.

The Mugato

Of course, the Mugato first made its appearance on the Original Series “A Private Little War” and was encountered on Planet Neural. Its fangs contained a venom that attacked a humanoid’s nervous system. This resulted in death in a few hours unless treated with a mahko root. The title of this  episode is pulled directly from Original Star Trek lore. In the later Scripts for “A Private Little War” Gumato was the name used for the alien ape in the story after having it’s name changed from the Nueralese Great Ape. You can see why the change was made as Neuralese Great Ape didn’t exactly flow from the tongue.

The problem was Gumato didn’t flow from DeForest Kelley’s tongue either. So they changed it to Mugato. However, despite that change, both William Shatner and Kelley pronounced the name as MugaTU for the entire episode. So Mugatu, Mugato, or even Gumato…let’s call the whole thing off. Nice tie in by the writers, as per usual.

Another fun episode that makes great use of Star Trek lore. Although we might have learned more about the Mugato’s mating habits than we might have needed. But baby Mugato’s have to come from somewhere. I give this one a 5 out of 5. Of course, I’m a sucker for Original Star Trek lore. Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks is available now with new episodes of its 10 episode run released on Thursdays.

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