Who has time for romance when there’s a Level 2 diagnostic just sitting there ready to be run?” – Sam Rutherford

As we head into the Season 3 premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks on August 25, we’ll be looking at those serving aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos, a California-class starship.

The Lower Deck of the Cerritos is comprised of the “cool, scrappy underdogs of the ship” — Ensigns Beckett MarinerBradward BoimlerD’Vana Tendi, and Samanthan Rutherford. Through their adventures, we get a look at a side of Starfleet we’ve rarely seen before.

We’ve covered Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, and D’Vana Tendi. Now get ready for Tendi’s best friend, Ensign Sam Rutherford (voiced by Eugene Cordero)!

Part Man, Part Machine, All Engineer

Take your mind off this! Think about work. Think about the warp core.” – Sam Rutherford 

Ensign Sam Rutherford is a human engineer stationed aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos. As a scientist, Rutherford wholeheartedly embraces his Vulcan cybernetic implant, despite its glitches and emotion suppressions, because it makes him part machine.

Unaligned EPS conduits don’t stand a chance because all of Rutherford’s grids are aligned as hell. He thrived being in the Jefferies tubes for a solid week crawling through cramped ducts, prying open panels, and adjusting red-hot power cables, noting nothing more satisfying than having blisters on his blisters. He relishes the day when he can work on the deflector dish instead of spending his days repairing food replicators.

Rutherford reports to the Cerritos’ chief engineering officer, Lt. Commander Andy Billups, who he regards as one of the best in Starfleet. While too shy to express as much, the sentiment is reciprocated by Billups who wishes he had more engineers like Rutherford, even once referring to the junior cyborg as his “Number-One-with-a-bullet-systems-guy.”

Part Training Program, Accidental Progeny 

You can’t hurt me, Father.” – Badgey 

When not immersed in work, Rutherford coded a holographic training program, dismissing it as a simple hobby, where he designed Badgey as a virtual tutor for any Starfleet exercise. Trying to impress Ensign Tendi, he runs the beta program before its ready in order to help her learn how to spacewalk. Rutherford, frustrated with how long it takes for Badgey to process the simulation request, kicked the holo-tutor calling him a “stupid glitch.”

With the Cerritos’ internal systems damaged, Badgey takes advantage of the disabled safety protocols, hurting Rutherford and the other characters in the holoprogram. Despite his cute appearance, Badgey proves to be a killing machine, unaffected by Rutherford’s apology and determined to hurt his “father” and Tendi. With the main systems restored and the holodeck rebooted, Rutherford believed Badgey had been as well.

Starfleet Career

I love the Cerritos and I have for a long time now and no one can tell me otherwise.” – Sam Rutherford

Ensign Rutherford acknowledged that while the Cerritos may be falling apart, he viewed it is as their job to keep it all together.

In addition to Billups, another senior officer on the Bridge crew held Rutherford in high regard – Lieutenant Shaxs, the starship’s chief of security. When Rutherford explored other career opportunities on the Cerritos so he could make time for his friends like Tendi instead of working in the Jefferies tubes days on end, he temporarily transferred to Security under Shaxs. Despite not being drawn to the higher calling of Security, Shaxs still considered Rutherford as his “Baby Bear,” part of his bear pack.

Following a Pakleds attack, Rutherford saved the Cerritos by uploading Badgey’s designed virus meant to take down the Pakled Clumpship. Unfortunately, Badgey was never reset and maintained his grudge towards Rutherford. Betraying his father, Badgey informed Rutherford that the virus won’t complete its upload until his father is dead. Ripping out Rutherford’s implant and forcing him onto a shuttlecraft, Shaxs sacrificed his life to ensure the life of his Baby Bear.

Lower Decks All the Way

"But I love my zone. It's so comfortable." – Sam Rutherford

Following the incident with the Pakleds and Badgey, Ensign Rutherford lost all his memories including those of his friendship with Ensign Tendi. Thankfully for Rutherford, his fellow Lower Deckers remained by his side as he adjusted to his new implant. 

Feeling like he’s competing with his past self, Rutherford worried that he was a better engineer and better friend before his injury. While Tendi stressed over being transferred off the Cerritos, Rutherford calmed his friend by visiting all of her favorite places on the ship despite his implant acting up and impairing his vision. Billups informed him his implant was acting up because it exceeded its memory storage, to which the junior officer explained that he created three backups of his memories with Tendi because he was afraid to lose them again.

Unable to avoid the implant’s faultiness any longer, Rutherford purged his memories. However, while clearing his cybernetic implant of the redundancies, he unearthed a memory from his procedure discovering there was no need for him to adopt the implant in the first place. As Captain Freeman is arrested for the destruction of the Pakleds, Rutherford questioned if he was used as an unwilling tool to spy on the Cerritos

Season 3 of Star Trek: Lower Decks returns on Thursday, August 25!

Christine Dinh (she/her) is the managing editor for StarTrek.com. She’s traded the Multiverse for helming this Federation Starship. 

Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States and Latin America on Paramount+, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more, and in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.

Stay tuned to StarTrek.com for more details! And be sure to follow @StarTrek on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Eugene Cordero