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 (http://www.tv.com/star-trek-the-next-generation/the-first-duty/episode/19105/summary.html).
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.
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.
The stretch of episodes between "The Pegasus" and "Preemptive Strike" is among the weakest in the show's history, but "Lower Decks" is a very pleasant exception.
Despite some lighthearted moments, it's a serious episode - along the lines of "The Pegasus", "The Wounded" and "The Drumhead". Putting a guest actor in the headline role is always a risk, but here it works out great. We get a great supporting turn from Michael Dorn (go back and watch one of the 1st season episodes - hard to believe it's the same guy!).
Alas, there is a lot of mediocrity to sit through until we get to the series' final two.
A very interesting and fresh episode. I found it fascinating to see the Enterprise from the eyes of those who are not pivotal, high ranking members of the crew. For the majority of the series, we see life on the enterprise through the eyes of a select few. We have come accross small, bit characters in past episodes. Though we have never seen things through their eyes, as they are merely a portion of a larger character's storyline. In this episode, the bit characters drive the plot as we follow them through their world, through their eyes. It also gave us some insight on the starting point of young Ensign and their experience climbing the Federation ladder. It puts us in their shoes and in doing so, offers us a fresh take on characters we know inside out (Riker, Picard, etc.). Overall, one of the more informative episodes in the entire series. My only complaint is that it could had a more pivotal, interesting plot arc.
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.
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!
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.
I found this to be a well-written episode giving an important look at the lives of Enterprise crew members I can more easily identify with. Face it - if any of us could be put into the Star Trek world, we souldn't be captains and commanders - we'd be very junior officers at best, ordinary crew members or a civilian employee like Ben (Bruce Beatty). There is little in STNG about the ordinary Joes & Josephines, so that watching the show is sometimes like watching The West Wing with the idea that it's the average American family. I'd like to have seen more episodes like this, but, coming as it did in the final season, it was way too late for the creative staff to capitalize on any positive reaction from fans to give us those episodes.
Riker is conducting crew evaluations in order to promote some immature ensign to new positions. The junior officers up for evaluations are Alyssa Ogawa , Sam Lavelle , Sito Jaxa and Taurik. It seems the junior officers will be tests on how well they can handle stress. Sito Jaxa has been selected for a mission by none other than Captain Picard. Her goal is to take the Cardassian informant back to Cardassian space. Will she succeed? Will she get promote to Ops. Or will it be Ensign Lavelle. I always wondered about the rest of the crew.
I grew up watching Star Trek, and when TNG came out, my mom and I watched it faithfully. Granted, there are some episodes of Star Trek (every series) that make me groan with how poorly written they are, or how contrived the plot is, but this isn't one of them. In following the lives of the 4 ensigns (Sito, Lavelle, Ogawa, and Torik) and their civilian friend Ben, we get a glimpse into life on a starship. We tend to forget that part of the job of a senior officer is to train the junior officers who will come behind them and eventually replace them (hopefully because of promotions), and Trek is just another example of this...until you get to this, and similar episodes (I think every Trek series has had one of these type episodes).
I especially like the parallel poker games; we get to see each group discussing the other, comparing their experiences and gaining insight and guidance from those they consider their closest friends. It gives us a chance to look past their extraordinary circumstances and see them for who they really are; fallible, compassionate, and social. If only more of Trek could be this good...but then, maybe the drek leaves us room to appreciate the great!
in lower decks four junier officers are awiting to see which ones get the promtions. the senior officers are playing cards as well as the junier ones. later that day a ship arrives and the patient is sent to med lab. each member one of med lab and security are told not to say anything about the person in medlab. one of the security officers is ensign sito jax. you will remember her from when crusher and the others try to do a cover up involing a death of a recurite. at the end she is send out on a mission and is killed. its a good episode.
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