Published Oct 9, 2022
Below Deck with Lower Decks: Peanut Hamper and Exocomps
A character makes a surprise return!
By Dayton Ward
SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season 3, Episode 7 “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption” to follow!
The latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks brings with it the surprise return of a character we’ve all missed since being introduced to them in the show’s very first season!
(If you said “Badgey” right then, because you haven’t yet seen the episode and you’re living dangerously by checking out this article with all the spoilers it’s liable to contain, well then guess what? SPOILERS! We’re actually talking about Peanut Hamper.)
When last we saw Peanut Hamper in the Lower Decks first season finale episode, “No Small Parts,” she was adrift in space after abandoning the Cerritos crew during their battle against the Pakleds. They ended up getting rescued in the nick of time by Captain Will Riker and the U.S.S. Titan. You just know he’s never going to let Captain Freeman live that down; she is his cha'DIch after all.
Fast-forward to this episode where we catch up with Peanut Hamper…still adrift in space. She’s graduated to talking to herself during her lonely journey through the debris field. When she’s not doing that, she’s instead chatting with Sophia, basically a mini exocomp action figure that is Peanut Hamper’s answer to Tom Hanks’ Wilson the volleyball from Cast Away. After narrowly avoiding Drookmani scavengers checking out the debris field, Peanut Hamper crash-lands on a remote planet and is taken in by members of the primitive indigenous population. In time, her ability to make repairs and treat sick or injured villagers earns her great respect.
Then the Drookmani come calling and the exocomp is forced to send a distress call. She’s hoping a Starfleet vessel will come to the rescue while dreading what that might mean for her after she deserted the Cerritos crew in their time of need.
Longtime fans will know that exocomps were introduced to us way back in the sixth season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Quality of Life.” Essentially compact worker robots, they were designed to take initiative and acclimate to their environment while carrying out whatever construction or repair tasks for which they might be deployed. Due to the robust nature of their onboard computer systems and their ability to adapt, exocomps were capable of achieving sentience.
The first known instance of this occurred when the Enterprise-D was dispatched to repair a malfunctioning experimental orbital mining platform in the Tyran system. While carrying out hazardous tasks necessary to complete critical repairs, a trio of exocomps refused to place themselves in danger. Commander Data discovered the machines actually possessed the equivalent of a “survival instinct.” Following the resolution of the crisis, further studies were conducted and it was determined exocomps were not simply robots or tools but actual sentient artificial life forms, much like Data himself.
We know Peanut Hamper possessed a similar instinct to survive. The original exocomps were able to demonstrate bravery and ingenuity in the face of danger, helping the Enterprise-D crew at a critical moment. Could Peanut Hamper achieve similar redemption?
(SPOILERS! The answer is literally in this episode’s title, y’all.)