Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 7 Episode 15

Lower Decks

Aired Unknown Feb 07, 1994 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
204 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 47566.7 Four young officers struggle to prove themselves, and soon become involved in a top-secret, potentially life-threatening mission.

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  • Ensign Sito is hot! And so is this episode.

    This superbly put together "little people" episode plays out somewhat like the pilot to a spinoff series. (And actually, it would be an interesting experiment to do two Star Trek shows on board the same ship at the same time, with one dedicated to the command crew dealing with the tough decisions, and the other featuring the junior officers working for them, wondering what's going on in the secret briefings and trying to figure out ways to move up the ladder... although the idea might work better as one show, divided into A and B stories.) As a standalone episode, "The Lower Decks" is the perfect idea for a series this late in its life, as it gives the writers new territory the Star Trek franchise has never before explored, and lets the audience, after six years, finally view the command crew from a different angle.

    The true genius of the episode lies in the makeup of the five leads it features. Rather than just creating five new characters out of thin air, the writers go with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue (okay, it's more like green). Nurse Ogawa has already been established as a continuing character by this time, and her presence gives the audience an anchor. Ensign Sito, borrowed from "The First Duty" (the popular fifth season episode) is a doubly fine choice, as the character already has a backstory and the actress is magnificent to boot. These familiar faces serve as a bridge to getting to know the two new junior officers, Lieutenant Lavelle (who is more or less the featured character of the episode), and his Vulcan roommate, Lietenant Taurik. Rounding out the newcomers is the smiling civilian bartender, Ben, who wears a green jumpsuit and acts like he's been serving bar at Ten Forward for seven seasons.

    To the benefit of the episode, the writers don't simply develop a "junior" story that's centered on these characters, abandoning the more familiar command crew in the process (which would defeat the point of seeing an episode of the show from a different point of view.) Captain Picard and his people are still dealing with a crisis and are still making weighty decisions; we just don't get to see these actions from their perspective and only learn about their decisions (and the consequences of them) when they affect the junior officers. This adds a mystery aspect to the story that already has humor and drama, making "The Lower Decks" not only one of Star Trek's most unique offerings, but one of TNG's best.moreless
  • The episode is good if you really pay attention.

    IN order to appreciate this episode, you should have:

    - seen "The First Duty" which is the first episode that Sito was involved in;

    - an appreciation for Worf's character, since this is one of select few times you see the true human side of him; and

    - a desire for the STORY part of Star Trek, which is what makes it stands out (I saw some guy talking about the "action" episodes. This isn't Star WARS.)

    The whole point of this story is not about the junior officers, it's really about the senior officers, since they are the ones who ultimately need to interact with the juniors. Ben is there as filler, and quite frankly I like him better than I like Whoopi. Sito is the star of the show, as she is given this opportunity by Captain Picard and Worf to make amends for her participation in the stunt of "The First Duty" where another cadet was killed. While Picard shows her tough love with reason, Worf takes to her as a pupil and friend, something he doesn't do often.

    The other thing about this episode is that it almost seems that Picard is using his interaction with Sito to do with her what he didn't get a chance to do with Wesley. Where the younger Crusher up and left on some spiritual journey with the Traveler, having shown no real responsibility for the cadet stunt and having never really made up for it to the captain, Sito showed genuine desire to prove that she belonged in the uniform.

    Lastly, like Miles O'Brien, there were times during the episode that you felt she was a lesser exposed character who could really have stood out in Deep Space Nine given she was Bajoran; possibly a confrontation with her and Ro Laren or something. Ogawa not only got to be on a lot of TNG episodes, she is the only one of the rookies (except Wesley, inexplicably) who got to star in the TNG movies. Vor'ak went on to Voyager and had notable episodes there.

    If all you want is stuff blowing up this episode is not for you. If you actually watch Star Trek for the stories, this was one of the better episodes.moreless
  • Rather disappointing approach

    As this episode is rated at 8.8 I expected much more of it. Don't get me wrong, I liked the different view on the lower ranked crew, especially Ben in 10 Forward got my attention. The Enterprise seems much more alive and realistic as you usually don't hear much about the over 1000 people on board this ship.

    But as I watched several other episodes with good ratings lately, this is the first one where I don't agree with the high rating. In my opinion it is not comparable to the Borg or Q episodes or others like the gambit. Nothing really happens here and the ending is rather unspectacular and leaves you behind with a bad feeling. Usually you don't have such an emotional connection to people that are getting killed.

    Nevertheless I enjoyed this quite unique episode just because it is that unique.moreless
  • Shows the lives of four junior officers, two of which are competing for the same position. All are involved in different parts of a critical mission, and one's life is placed in danger.moreless

    This episode really didn’t contribute anything useful to the series. It showed the lives of four junior officers and their respective duties aboard the Enterprise. They are all involved in different, somewhat critical, roles of the same mission, but were unable to discuss it, so had no real idea what was going on. In the end, the mission itself was really not that important. The only really memorable parts to me were (1) the beginning comparison between the junior officer’s and senior officer’s poker games, and (2) the fact that Ensign Sito was in fact previously Cadet Sito, who appeared in season 5’s “The First Duty.” This was the episode in which she and four other cadets (including then Cadet Wesley Crusher) participated in a cover-up of a fellow cadet’s death (
  • Instead of focusing on the normal crew of the Enterprise... This episode focuses on some lowly Ensigns as they seek advancement in Star Fleet... when one of Ensigns gets asked to go on a dangerous mission... Wackiness Ensues!moreless

    This episode focuses on the little guys who make the Enterprise tick... The lowly ensigns who never get any screen time (unless they are wearing the proverbial "red-shirt")... what results is some excellently acted, well written characters... its just too bad the characters don't show-up again in the series...

    I think this episode also shows the only Vulcan on the Enterprise crew (I don't remember seeing any others)... too bad he's one of those annoying Vulcans as opposed to a Spock, Tuvok, or T'Pol...

    Also the ending is rather unique for a Trek Next Gen episode... not at all happy or nice... Over-all I really liked this episode, I just wish they used these new characters more later.moreless
Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • During the shuttlecraft Curie's flight into Cardassian space, the external view of it showed none of the fake battle damage inflicted on it earlier by La Forge and Taurik.

    • As Sito takes the Ops console after the battle simulation, a wedge of wood can be seen on the floor behind her under Lavelle's arm.

    • When LaForge had Taurik shoot at the shuttle after discussing that it appeared they were making it look damaged, LaForge told him to shoot for four seconds. When Taurik fired, it was for a much shorter duration than four seconds.

    • When Geordi leaves the officers' poker game he walks right up to the doors but they don't open until he's done talking.

    • Apparently Ensign Lavelle doesn't know much about poker. Ben successfully bluffs Lavelle (who has two pair showing) with a handful of mismatched cards (king - jack - ten - eight, no match in suits). Ben can't possibly beat Lavelle's two pair no matter what his hole card is, but Lavelle folds.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Taurik: (Lavelle) is convinced Commander Riker has it in for him.
      Ben: Why? Did you crash the ship into something?

    • Sito: Sir, is there really such a thing as a gik'tal challenge?
      Worf: No, there is not, but perhaps the next time you are judged unfairly, it will not take so many bruises for you to protest.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Sito was, at one point, intended to turn up alive in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Ronald D. Moore stated: "We talked about this for quite awhile, but then decided that bringing Sito back would rob "Lower Decks" of a great ending." The proposed story would have found Sito in a Cardassian prison and would climax with her killing her own cellmate. Elements of the story were ultimately recycled into the DS9 episode "Hard Time."

    • The incident Picard refers to while speaking with Sito Jaxa is portrayed in the season 5 episode "The First Duty."