Becket Mariner’s self-sabotaging nature has been a part of the fabric of Star Trek: Lower Decks for so long that it’s become accepted canon.
The daughter of two high-ranking Starfleet officers with her own exceptional skills and strong moral compass, it’s been a profound mystery why she’s determinedly undermined any promotion that has come her way.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 Episode 9 finally reveals her reasons behind the behavior, as Ransom’s refusal to demote her has recently driven her to extreme levels of risk-taking, alarming everyone who cares about her.
In a near overload of narrative convergence, this penultimate piece also begins to draw together the threads originally spun in Season 2 with the glorious tale that was “Wej Duj,” wherein we first meet T’Lyn and Ma’ah.
Revisiting — yet again — my belief that Ma’ah is a Klingon Boimler and T’Lyn is Vulcan’s answer to Mariner, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Mariner’s epiphany comes by way of the Klingon Lower-Decks-turned-captain.
Boimlers and Mariners seem to complete each other, no matter what their species. It’s the coolest game of mix ‘n’ match around. The same yin-yang energy is seen when Boimler and T’Lyn pair up.
Mind you, Ma’ah’s time on Sherbal V has him tapping into his visceral Klingon self, much as Boimler allowed his inner uber-perfectionist loose on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8 when he fixated on scoring 100% on the testing simulation.
How’s your adrenaline still so high? Mine wore off, like, two panics ago.
But since that adventure, Boimler’s learned to moderate some of his overachiever tendencies and recognizes the need for balance.
In an odd way, Mariner’s current full-tilt recklessness is her Boimler-in-the-simulation-assessment moment. Only she’s not looking for a computer to mark her as 100%, she wants to find the limit of what she can survive and cross it.
Somewhere out there, there’s an apex predator and I want it to know I’m the new apex predator around here.
So Boimler’s grown, but Mariner’s regressed? I don’t think it’s as simple as that.
Grief is a weird thing. Everyone deals with loss in their own way, and it’s hard to see other perspectives when you’re deep in the well of mourning. (By odd coincidence, this theme is also present on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 3 and Episode 4, currently airing.)
The way the Lower Decks writers’ room sources Mariner’s trauma-driven behavior back to the (presumed) death of Ensign Sito Jaxa in the line of duty is some canonical scripting magic.
Mariner: Back at the Academy, my dream was to be a captain. I modeled myself after this perfect friend. Sito was everything I wanted to be. I mean, she made some mistakes but she rallied, graduated ahead of me and was stationed on the Enterprise.
Ma’ah: The Enterprise! I have heard tales of its triumphs.
Mariner: Oh yeah, so did she. And it got her murdered by Cardassians. She didn’t sign up to be a spy. She wanted to explore. She… It destroyed me.
As a refresher: Sito Jaxa and Nicholas Locarno were cadets with Wesley Crusher when a fellow cadet dies during a Nova Squadron flight training incident on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Episode 19, “The First Duty.”
Locarno is expelled for ordering Nova Squadron to perform the prohibited maneuver that resulted in the cadet’s death. (And probably for trying to orchestrate the cover-up.)
Cadets Sito Jaxa, Wesley Crusher, and Jean Hajar are forced to retake a year’s worth of Academy courses, but after graduation, Picard personally taps Jaxa to join the Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7 Episode 15. That episode’s title? LOWER DECKS.
Mind. Blown. Right?
Jaxa, being Bajoran, is asked to help a Federation-flipped Cardassian asset embed himself on Cardassia Prime by playing the part of his prisoner. She is assumed dead when word that the shuttle she was meant to return to the Enterprise in has been destroyed.
All caught up? Let’s add Mariner’s piece to this.
Mariner idolizes Sito, her fellow Academy classmate, and is devastated by her death in 2370. Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 is known to take place in 2380.
Doing the math, Beckett Mariner has been an ensign for over TEN years.
Just consider how insanely hard she had to work to screw up enough to be drummed back down to ensign every time she got promoted and not be thrown out completely.
It’s wild and totally explains how she knows Sisko and Riker and all the sketchy contacts she has on what seems like every planet.
Furthermore, it makes her a contemporary of Locarno, a fact Freeman clearly realizes, making it even more imperative that Mariner be kept far away from the New Axton extraction mission.
Trekkers of a certain age will remember that Locarno was portrayed on TNG by Robert Duncan McNeill, who returned to Starfleet uniform on Star Trek: Voyager as Tom Paris.
Lower Decks aficionados will recall McNeill voices Tom Paris when he visits the Cerritos on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 3.
Behind the scenes, there has always been a question of whether the original plan to redeem Locarno by bringing him back for Voyager could’ve worked.
The consensus seems to be that Locarno and Paris are fundamentally different characters — despite the striking physical resemblance — in that Locarno is inherently “bad” while Paris is “good” even though he is certifiably criminal.
Sorry the mission was a failure, Captain. Who knew a bunch of criminals would hate Starfleet?
With Mariner on Locarno’s mysterious vessel, I expect a shuttle bay full of exposition on the finale wherein his entire convoluted plot is explained.
Knowing that all the stolen ships were sabotaged by their respective lower decks, I wonder if Locarno is looking to burn down the hierarchical starship structure in favor of solo-piloted vessels.
Only one life form has ever been detected on his prototype vessel which means he’s his entire crew.
However, that begs the question of what he’s doing with the ships he’s taken. Why is the Che’Ta the only one in orbit above Sherbal V?
Now that Ma’ah and Mariner have met and T’lyn’s revealed that she was also at the Pakled battle on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 9, how will the spirit of the “Wej Duj” Lower Decks’ victors be embodied?
I dislike two-parters for many deep-rooted psychological reasons, but one major gripe is there’s often an imbalance between the halves.
While Freeman leading the away mission on New Axton is admittedly clever, its slapstick comedic elements — even assaulting the Balok’s Puppet lookalike information broker — don’t quite balance out the seriousness of Mariner’s revelations.
Can we expect a more lighthearted, even humorous, conclusion? Or will we dive deeper with an examination of Locarno’s psychopathy? Or could we even see Sito return, her death a decade of Section 31 lies?
Hit our comments with your most outrageous thoughts and theories on how they’ll bring the curtain down on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.