Published Oct 13, 2023
Below Deck with Lower Decks: The Good, the Badge, and the Ugly
Badgey, if you didn't really just accidentally turn into an omniscient god, you have to tell us!
By Dayton Ward
SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season 4, Episode 7 "A Few Badgeys More" to follow!
Peanut Hamper, Agimus, and Badgey? We’ve just got all the evil artificial intelligences throwing down on this week’s all-new episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks!
It all starts with Lieutenant Tendi traveling to the Daystrom Institute on Earth to attend a parole hearing for Peanut Hamper (introduced in the first season’s finale episode, “No Small Parts”). While she tends to those proceedings, Lieutenant Boimler has come along so he can meet with Agimus, the nasty supercomputer who first showed up in Season 2’s “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” and who’s also being held at the institute. The rogue AI claims to have information about the ongoing series of attacks against various starships by an unknown adversary, which he’ll only share with Boimler.
Naturally, everything goes horribly wrong because that’s what happens when Agimus and Boimler team up. Still, things go to a whole new level when we find out that Badgey, the malevolent little hologram created by Lieutenant Rutherford and who’s been missing in action since the end of Season 3 (“The Stars At Night”), is still kicking. A cybernetic implant lost by Rutherford in “No Small Parts” and containing a copy of the Badgey program was recovered by Drookmani salvagers. Once activated, Badgey takes over the Drookmani ship. Whoops.
Long story short? Things go crazy in the way only an episode of Lower Decks can make things go crazy, when Badgey attempts to hack into the Federation computer network while traveling at warp 9.9. This triggers a metamorphosis that transfers him to a plane of existence where he can occupy every computer system, everywhere, all at once (That’s right. I said it.). Then he transports himself to another dimension so he can create a whole new universe to his liking.
What could possibly go wrong? Stay tuned…..I guess?
Meanwhile, the idea of “ascending” to some higher order of life form or realm of existence is not new to Star Trek. One of the earliest examples is Charlie Evans, the lone survivor of a spaceship crash encountered by Captain Kirk and his crew in the first season Star Trek original series episode “Charlie X.” The civilization of the planet where he crashed, the Thasians, gave him extraordinary powers so he could survive on their world, but they’ve made him wholly unsuitable for living in a universe of “normal” people.
Then there are the Organians, a race of non-corporeal beings who long ago grew beyond the need for physical form. In the first-season Star Trek episode “Errand of Mercy," they step in to preempt all-out war between the Federation and the Klingons. They’ve advanced so far that they don’t even like being around the rest of us, and evolved to the point they don’t mind telling us how much we suck. Rude, right?
And how can we forget Will Decker, the captain of the refit U.S.S. Enterprise who gets bumped to the back seat when Admiral Kirk takes command in Star Trek: The Motion Picture? At the end of the film, Decker ends up merging with the evolved machine-being V’ger before it can destroy all life on Earth. Part of that process includes joining with a recreation of Lieutenant Ilia, a former flame who earlier in the movie was killed by V’ger. Way to take one for the team, amirite?
In “Where No One Has Gone Before,” the first-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, young Wesley Crusher is identified as having special promise by a mysterious alien being known as “the Traveler.” We learn the alien is capable of perceiving and traveling through time and space in ways beyond all human comprehension, and Wesley apparently carries the potential to rise to that level of existence. It wouldn’t be until the seventh-season episode “Journey’s End” that the Traveler returns to show us what he meant, when he taps Wesley to accompany him on a quest to realize his true destiny. Fans would not learn what all that entailed until “Farewell,” the final episode of Star Trek: Picard’s second season. It seems Wesley’s been out there, traveling the universe, and hints at all sorts of amazing things. What. A. Tease. Dude.
In the fourth-season Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Gift,” Kes, the Ocampa who’s been traveling Voyager since being rescued by Captain Janeway and her crew, finds herself in the grips of an astonishing transformation. At first, this poses a critical danger to the ship. Forced to leave the ship to save her friends, she evolves into a non-corporeal being with great powers. I sure hope she never gets mad at Janeway and her crew and comes looking for payback.
:: looks ahead in the episode guide :: Oh.
There’s no way we write an article like this without mentioning The Man himself, Benjamin Sisko. His journey begins with the very first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which the Prophets, the central figures of Bajoran faith, identify him as their “Emissary.” Sisko eventually lives up to the divination put forth by the Prophets when he ascends to their Celestial Temple in the series finale, “What You Leave Behind.” Will he ever return?
As with just about everything when it comes to Star Trek, I think you need to learn to never say “never” when it comes to this stuff. You’ll just sleep better.