Published Oct 1, 2021
Below Deck with Lower Decks: Shari yn Yem
An Animated Series alien returns to Star Trek canon.
By Dayton Ward
It’s testing time on the Cerritos!
This week’s episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks sees Captain Freeman and her crew facing an assessment of their effectiveness while undertaking scenarios based on previous Starfleet missions. To that end, Starfleet dispatches a “drill administrator” to conduct the evaluation, and she wastes no time putting the Cerritos crew through their paces.
Longtime fans will certainly recognize the inspiration for several of the training scenarios, which include tests drawn from classic Star Trek villains like the Borg and the Klingons as well as visits to the Mirror Universe and even the weird, alien-conjured Old West town of Tombstone, Arizona, as seen in the original Star Trek series episode “Spectre of the Gun.” This naturally means plenty of references to a handful of classic Star Trek episodes, but the most fun callback has to be the drill administrator herself, Shari yn Yem. A Pandronian, she represents a race not seen on Star Trek for 47 years.
(You read it right. 47. How poetic is that?)
The Pandronian race first appeared in “Bem,” the second season episode of the animated Star Trek series in September of 1974. David Gerrold, who so famously gave us “The Trouble With Tribbles” for the original series as well as its animated sequel, “More Tribbles, More Tribbles,” introduced us to Ari bn Bem, a “colony creature” capable of separating his body into three independent parts. Unfortunately, Bem uses this ability to visit more than a bit of mischief upon Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock as they investigate primitive and possibly dangerous life forms on a newly discovered planet.
Meanwhile, over in the realm of Lower Decks, Shari yn Yem demonstrates this trait in a much more exuberant manner, splitting her body into its different segments while making various points as she briefs the Cerritos crew ahead of their evaluations and tries to get them pumped up for the tests they’ll face.
“Like many of you, this one started from the bottom. But with hard work and plenty of drills, this one is now at the top!”
As the evaluations progress and crewmembers experience varying degrees of success and failure during their individual tests, Yem keeps laying on the encouragement as the crew prepares to undertake a joint exercise on the bridge.
“The true test of a crew is seeing how you can unite as a single team.”
Pandronians as motivational speakers; I definitely did not have that on my Star Trek Bingo card.