Published Sep 21, 2023
Looking past his fists set to stun and kicks to kill, can you see Jack for the officer he is?
By John DeQuadros
I sense you exaggerate your confidence in order to mask an ocean of insecurity.
Deanna Troi, "No Small Parts"
What would you get if you stuck James Kirk and William Riker in a pattern buffer and hit frappé?
Why Jack Ransom, of course!
Perhaps the most vain member of Starfleet to date, this native of Tycho City, and first officer of the U.S.S. Cerritos, exhibits a level of overconfidence so laughable that he fights like Kirk, flirts like Riker, and flaunts a hair game on par with that of Christopher Pike. More interested in working out and the oddly sensual properties of the Iberian Peninsula, this arrogant amalgam of masculine archetypes oftentimes seems as though he’d be more at home composing ballads about Barcelona than leading second contact missions throughout the Galar system. Cursed with an insatiable need to impress his superiors, coupled with an obsession for career advancement and sculpting his obliques, he’s a by-the-books bootlicker whose overly inflated ego best represents the faults of those who’ve come before.
However, this in no way makes him a bad person. Were we to dig past that machismo, it would not take long to discover that Ransom is in fact quite the competent officer. One who actually uses an air of egotism to mask feelings of self-doubt and diffidence as they cry out for conciliation. Yes, I do realize he was responsible for bringing a rage virus back aboard the Cerritos. And yes, I do recall that a total lack of preparedness once resulted in him attempting to pick up a Salt Vampire. However, just beneath that cocky, clueless exterior lies a capable commander with a list of redeeming qualities a mile long! Sure, he may be a bit much to handle on occasion, but the truth of the matter is that this Number One remains, not only an asset to his crew, but Starfleet as a whole.
Join me now for a look at the redeeming qualities of Star Trek: Lower Decks' Commander Jack Ransom.
First, let’s take a look back at the man’s actions in the first season episode “Temporal Edict.” While serving on the Cerritos, under Captain Carol Freeman in 2380, Ransom was tasked with leading a gift-giving mission to Gelrak V shortly after they had been signed into the ranks of the Federation. However, when his team accidentally presented the Gelrakian people with a wooden fertility totem belonging to their sworn enemies, the situation quickly turned dire.
Imprisoned and forced to fight for the lives of his crew, Ransom soon showed his true colors by agreeing to square off against the monstrous Gelrakian champion Vindor in a fight to the death — proving once and for all that he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. While this decision didn’t sit well with Ensign Beckett Mariner, who had been assigned to join the mission, Ransom informed her that he would rather die than have one of his team put their life on the line before him. After all, he was the ranking officer in charge of the mission, and it was his job to protect those under his command — a decision he capped off by stabbing Mariner in the foot to prevent her from taking his place.
Now, while these actions may have looked like nothing more than bravado, a means by which to assert himself as top dog to his underlings in the face of a potentially deadly situation, Ransom’s actions here actually demonstrate just how seriously he takes his roll as first officer. When things went bad, Ransom stepped up to protect his people. Giving no thought to personal safety and putting the needs of others ahead of his own, he even went so far as to break protocol and risk a court martial offence to ensure that Mariner would be unable to endanger her life on his behalf. There was absolutely no question in Ransom’s mind as to what he had to do in order to keep his team safe and, even though there was a good chance he might die in the process, he was still willing to fight to his dying breath in an effort to protect them. Even if it meant having to rip off his shirt and showcase his skills with the famed double-fist punch! All joking aside, Ransom’s dedication to his role as commander is a commendable trait to be sure. Especially coming from a man who generally seems more interested in appeasing Captain Freeman’s sweet tooth than putting his life on the line for a bunch of subordinates.
Now, let’s backtrack to Ransom’s interactions in “Envoys.” In this episode, Rutherford decides it is time to look for a new job on the Cerritos. Making his way through the ship’s various divisions, he eventually finds his way to command – where Ransom looks to show him that “nothing compares to the firm, hot pulse of a joystick in your hand.” The Bridge was where the action was and Freeman’s Number One was willing to take the time to help Rutherford discover this joy firsthand.
Heading to the Holodeck, Ransom loaded a scenario that put Rutherford in command of a mission to simply guide the Cerritos back home; however, it quickly becomes evident that this wasn’t going to be some leisurely Sunday drive. Within moments of taking his seat, klaxons pierce the air and Rutherford is informed that the ship is being drawn into a temporal rift. Not having any previous command experience, he fails miserably and ends up killing 105% of the crew involved in the simulation. Now, given Ransom’s egotistical personality, one might have expected him to begin putting Rutherford down, or jumping in to show off his far superior skill in such a situation. However, this is not the case.
Instead, Ransom looks to bolster the ensign’s confidence by assigning him a simpler simulation – something far easier to cut his teeth on before deciding to join the ranks of the command division. Of course, Rutherford continues to fail time and time again, and each time, Ransom is there to offer advice and commendation. Patient and willing to take the time to teach, this commanding officer keeps his cool and looks to help a young ensign successfully find his footing – regardless of how many simulations he fails. Thus, macho muscle-head though he may be, Ransom displays the attributes of not only a capable commander, but also a long suffering teacher eager to impart much needed knowledge to the next generation of galactic explorers. There is no air of superiority. No hurtful mocking. There is just the desire and willingness to teach. Again, an admirable trait from a rather surprising individual.
Finally, let’s wrap things up with a look at Ransom’s sense of loyalty. As Captain Freeman’s Number One, Ransom has displayed unfailing devotion to her on a number of occasions. Always by her side and ready to carry out her orders at a moments notice, he is by far a loyal second-in-command if ever there was one. In fact, the man is so loyal that the very thought of serving under anyone else but Carol Freeman is too upsetting to ponder.
Upon discovering that Captain Freeman was up for a promotion and transfer to a new ship in the second season finale, “First First Contact,” Jack displayed visible agitation at the thought of not serving as Carol’s commanding officer moving forward. No doubt feeling a sense of camaraderie with his SO, he was clearly hurt and betrayed upon learning that Freeman would be bringing on someone new — a choice that he and the rest of the senior staff took personally right up to the moment she was framed for her apparent role in the destruction of Pakled Planet. Granted, some may look at the situation and see it as an opportunity for Ransom to simply begin sucking up to someone new.
However, his actions here demonstrate that he is the sort of man whose loyalties run deep – proving he’s definitely the sort of friend you’d want watching your back when things get complicated. And given that he’s faced everything from horned gorillas to sentient tar and spores that make you hook up with your best friend’s sister, Ransom is clearly someone who knows a thing or two about handling complicated situations.
Yes, arrogant though he may be, there is little denying the fact that Jack Ransom is still a capable leader and asset to Starfleet. On the surface, it may be easy to simply write him off as a self-centered jerk who fancies himself the most gifted officer in the Federation, but dig just a little bit deeper and you’ll find so much more.
Sure, his biceps may be bigger than his brain and he may appear to be better suited to blowing things up as the head of an off-the-books black ops brigade, but he’s still prepared to fearlessly put his life on the line for others. Couple this with a willingness to teach the next generation and a fierce loyalty to his superiors, and you’ve got one of the finest individuals to ever don a delta.