The trajectory of “Lower Decks” in terms of the first season has becomes more psychological as time goes on but the heart is what comes through. Mike McMahan totally understands this world. He may make fun of it but the lore he brings in is exceptionally deep. “No Small Parts” ends the season in an insane way but also structures the element of growing up within the ideal of what friends mean. The aspect at the beginning of the season which needed to grow was stakes and reasoning which only happens with the experiences of character. Boimler (as played by Jack Quaid) thinks he has an idea of what he wants but his life is only made better by Mariner (played by Tawny Newsome) through chance and a bit of strategy on her part.
Without giving too much away, the idea of the finale brings together all the disparate forms while engaging the high action Star Trek is known for. What is interesting again especially with the antagonist here is the aspect of Trek lore. Without even mentioning cameos or harks back (to say nothing about music cues), the animated perspective that comes to bear in the final moments can be as good as any of the live action. The only difference is that because of animation anything is possible. What McMahan has found at the end of the season (especially with this episode and the previous one: “Crisis Point”) is showing reflexivity within genre using different elements whether it is the holodeck, technology and mirror universes but to enhance character (which is when Star Trek is a its best). While the action here sometimes outpaces the story (especially in the opening minutes), it catches up to itself pretty quickly without losing a beat. This bodes well in the context of a second season, though things might change (always do).
By Tim Wassberg