This review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist. Our favorite Lower Deckers are moving up in the world! Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 brings back the crew of the USS Cerritos and promotions are on the horizon for the lowly ensigns of Starfleet’s most chaotic California class ship. The series picks up shortly after Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) take a trip to the past (and live-action!) in the special crossover episode of Strange New Worlds. While fans who haven’t seen that episode won’t be missing any major context for Lower Decks Season 4, Mariner and Boimler’s friendship is that much stronger for it.

Season 4 of Star Trek: Lower Decks is a hilarious ride with each episode finding new ways to fill the galaxy with humor and heart. Set in the 2380s, the adult animated series is smack in the middle of one of the most beloved eras of Star Trek, allowing the crew of the Cerritos to run into some familiar faces on their wild and wacky adventures. Fans of Voyager and Deep Space Nine are in for some special treats as Season 4 pays homage to some of the most iconic moments from both series. Even Enterprise fans may spot a reference or two in the upcoming episodes, and the links to The Next Generation have been baked into the very fabric of Lower Decks since its inception. Beyond its references to the franchise’s shared universe, Season 4 of Lower Decks holds up entirely on its own, infusing the very best of what Star Trek stands for in a way that will have audiences laughing and tearing up all in the space of half an hour.

In addition to Newsome and Quaid, Lower Decks features a talented voice cast that includes Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, Gabrielle Ruiz, Dawnn Lewis, Jerry O’Connell, Gillian Vigman, and Fred Tatasciore. Each of these actors gets to flex their comedic timing with genuinely hilarious line delivery that will stick with audiences for days after each episode. While we can’t reveal who they are, Season 4 also includes some very talented guest actors that comedy fans in particular will certainly get a kick out of! Led by creator and showrunner Mike McMahan and supervising director Barry J. Kelly, the incredible creative team behind Lower Decks Season 4 continues to craft a hysterically funny and warmly inviting series.

RELATED: ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Season 2 Episode 7 Recap: Meeting Your Heroes Rocks

‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4 Blends a Season-Long Plot With Episodic Adventures

Image via Paramount+

Early on in the season, Lower Decks sets up a running gag linked to a mystery that stretches through the rest of the season. Through a mix of humor and intrigue, Lower Decks is making the most of its sitcom-length runtime, delivering an endlessly entertaining blend of episodic adventures and a mystery that will have fans eagerly awaiting the next episode week to week. With this plotline in particular, the writers and animators behind the series are going above and beyond to explore parts of this franchise that no fan has ever seen. And as each joke builds upon the last, audiences will love the clever way this series keeps pushing the boundaries of what the world of Star Trek looks like.

While they won’t be ensigns forever, the relationships between all four of the beta-shift besties are better than ever in Lower Decks Season 4, and Vulcan newcomer T’Lyn is a welcome addition to the crew. While Mariner and Boimler are certainly front and center, Season 4 takes the time to invest in several interesting dynamics among the crew. Mariner gets to go on some pretty epic adventures with D’Vana Tendi and T’Lyn while beefing with First Officer Jack Ransom who has made it his personal mission not to fall for her shenanigans. Elsewhere, Boimler and Rutherford unpack new layers of their friendship when they find they have more in common than they realize.

Suspiciously missing from those relationship dynamics is any reconciliation between Mariner and her Season 3 girlfriend Jennifer (Lauren Lapkus). While they did break up at the end of the previous season, and it’s possible that outside circumstances affected the writing, as a queer viewer it’s more than a little disappointing to see Mariner’s queerness effectively minimized after being celebrated in previous seasons. Queer Trekkies can still look forward to some breadcrumbs when a trio of Betazoids comes to town, but romance is seemingly off the table for Mariner in Season 4. Meanwhile, Lower Decks finally addresses the chemistry between the unstoppable duo that is Rutherford and Tendi. Without giving anything away, Season 4 takes these two besties and puts them through a romantic wringer specifically designed for Star Trek fans — particularly those who’ve been writing shippy fanfiction throughout the last six decades.

‘Lower Decks’ Season 4’s Incredible Attention to Detail Is a Love Letter to Star Trek Fans

Image via Paramount+

There is an undeniable attention to detail in Lower Decks that is entirely unparalleled. While the full writers’ room for Season 4 has not yet been revealed, each person on every creative team that brings Lower Decks to the small screen is operating on a higher level when it comes to infusing this series with the very essence of Star Trek. From references to the rest of the franchise to an endlessly innovative expansion of its own worldbuilding, Lower Decks is easily one of the best Star Trek shows to date. Designed to focus on the jobs that rarely, if ever, make it into the spotlight in the franchise’s live-action shows, Lower Decks extends that sense of possibility through every element of Season 4. Whether it’s introducing inventive new societies, planets, and alien races, or expanding upon Orion culture and other lesser-known parts of the Star Trek universe, Lower Decks is never afraid to do something truly unique.

More than any other show in the franchise the characters of Lower Decks are exceedingly relatable. While we all want to be Rikers and Janeways, it’s far more likely that we’re somewhere along the lines of Mariners, Boimlers, Rutherfords, and Tendis. And in Season 4, it’s easy to see that the reason Lower Decks works so well is because these characters themselves are also just big Star Trek fans. Getting to see the Lower Deckers nerd out over new discoveries, exciting workplace drama, and the legacies of their biggest heroes is pure joy. Every frame of this animated series is brimming with affection, and it’s exceedingly obvious how much love goes into crafting each episode. Season 4 is somehow able to critique and comment on fandom culture in a way that deftly uplifts and validates the best parts of being a nerd.

Despite being aimed at an adult audience, Lower Decks Season 4 never loses sight of its heart. Season 4 broaches, (and in some cases reintroduces) some of Star Trek’s biggest moral quandaries, and faces them head-on with bold and unabashed honesty. Amid drunken adventures, spicy language, and horny co-workers, lessons about trusting yourself and your crew, seeing the best in each other, and embracing life to the fullest are what really make Lower Decks sing.

Rating: A-

The Big Picture

  • Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 is a hilarious and heartwarming series that embraces the beloved era of Star Trek, featuring familiar faces and iconic moments from past series.
  • The voice cast, including Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid, delivers genuinely hilarious and memorable performances that will leave audiences laughing for days.
  • Lower Decks Season 4 blends episodic adventures with a season-long mystery, pushing the boundaries of what the Star Trek universe looks like while still exploring moral quandaries and delivering heartwarming messages.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 premieres with two episodes on September 7 on Paramount+.

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