``Lower Decks''
Stardate: not given
Rating: **** 1/2

Edited Length: 45:02
U.S. Airdate: February 20, 1994
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [11.9/3]

Guest Stars
Dan Gauthier: [Lavelle]
Shannon Fill: [Sito]
Alexander Enberg: [Torak]
Bruce Beatty: [Ben]
Patti Yasutake: [Ogawa]
Don Reilly: [Joret]

Consulting Producer: Peter Lauritson

Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss

Co-Producer: Brannon Braga
Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay By: René Echevarria
Story By: Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias
Directed By: Gabrielle Beaumont

[end credits]
Executive Producer: Rick Berman

[closing credits]
Executive Story Editor: René Echevarria
Story Editor: Naren Shankar


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Extended Synopsis (by Tim Lynch) ------------------------------------

Riker and Troi, in Ten-Forward, are bulling through the oh-so-riveting task of crew evaluations in preparation for promotion decisions. Meanwhile, at a nearby table, four ensigns - Lavelle, Sito (a Bajoran), Taurik (a Vulcan), and Nurse Ogawa - are sitting before going on duty. Lavelle in particular is very concerned about these evaluations, hoping like crazy for a promotion. Riker and Troi begin discussing candidates for one shift's Ops position, and both Sito's and Lavelle's names come up - and a waiter, Ben, passes this information along to both ensigns, who are somewhat nonplussed.

Later, both Lavelle and Sito participate in a stations drill, where Sito errs slightly at tactical by having to change a phaser lock before firing. After Riker passes along some advice to her, Picard comes in and quickly orders a course change to a system near the Cardassian border, referring to new orders. The senior staff retire to a conference, leaving Sito (now at Ops) and Lavelle to wonder what's up.

Meanwhile, in Engineering, Taurik talks to Geordi about simulations he's been running for a new warp-field configuration that is rumored to be in the works. Geordi is intrigued, but tells Taurik that tests on the real ship are out of the question for the time being. However, he adds, "if you have any other ideas for increasing efficiency, don't hesitate to run them by me." "Actually," volunteers Taurik, "I do." Geordi makes a hasty exit to join the meeting in progress.

After a brief conversation between Ogawa and Dr. Crusher (in which Bev tells Ogawa that she's likely to be promoted soon, and the two talk of Ogawa's current flame), Sito and Worf talk in Ten-Forward. Sito is incredulous that Riker would even consider her for the Ops post, given that she's a security officer; but her surprise is even greater when Worf reveals that he recommended her for the position. She promises to try not to disappoint him.

Lavelle, elsewhere in the room, worries aloud about what Worf and Sito could be talking about. He is flat-out shocked, however, when Ben, a civilian, greets an entering Riker as "Will". Ben reassures him that Riker's not such a bad guy, and that Lavelle just needs to get to know him a little better. Lavelle tries to strike up a conversation with Riker, but what little he knows (that Riker is Canadian, for instance) turns out to be horribly wrong, and he leaves as quickly as he can.

Some time later, the Enterprise has reached the Argaya system and is waiting for ... something. They finally detect an escape pod, but 50,000 kilometers inside Cardassian space. Both the bridge crew and the Engineering crew quickly try to figure out how to retrieve the occupant without crossing the border. As Engineering works to beef up the transporter, Taurik attempts to ID the lifeform inside, only to have Geordi tell him quickly and sternly not to do that again. In sickbay, Beverly is ready to receive the occupant, and tells Ogawa that she has to leave now.

Ogawa leaves, and talks to Sito, who's outside standing guard. Neither is sure what's going on. As Ogawa leaves, Picard enters - and gives Sito a long, probing look as he proceeds to sickbay. Later, when he leaves, he takes Sito with him, much to the chagrin of Lavelle, who exits the turbolift they enter. En route to the bridge, Picard confirms that Sito is, in fact, a qualified pilot.

In his ready room, however, he takes a very different tone. He refers to her candidacy for the Ops position, but says that he has some serious questions about her record. At the Academy, she took part in a dangerous, daredevil stunt that took the life of a cadet - and though he is certain she would not do that again, he takes great umbrage to her participation in the coverup afterwards. He tells her that her unwillingness to come forward with the truth raises profound questions about her character - and when she protests that sticking with the unpleasant aftermath of being found out also says something about her character, he tells her rather brutally that she's made her bed. "As far as I'm concerned," he adds, "you should have been expelled for what you did. Frankly, I don't know how you made it on board this ship." Sito is dismissed, and leaves as fast as she can.

Some time later, Taurik is assisting Geordi by firing on a shuttlecraft. Geordi explains that it's due to a little-known requirement to test hull resiliency, which Taurik expresses some skepticism about. He maintains that the firing pattern he has used would be consistent with making it look like the shuttle fled an attack and was fired on multiple times. Geordi turns to Taurik and tells him in no uncertain terms, "It's an amazing coincidence," with the clear message that he is to treat it as such from that moment on. Meanwhile, Bev brings Ogawa into sickbay to help with some emergency surgery, but tells her that she is not to reveal anything of what she sees. She agrees, then reacts with shock at seeing the species on the table, as Bev walks away to synthesize some Cardassian blood...

That evening, there's a poker game - among the ensigns (and Ben). They all talk of the rumors about who and what is in the pod, with Ben saying he heard it was Spock and Taurik being strongly skeptical of the idea. Ogawa's flame, Powell, had to bow out due to a double-shift assignment.

Meanwhile, in the senior officers' poker game, Bev talks about seeing Powell in Ten-Forward with another woman and wonders what to tell Ogawa. Riker tells Worf that he doesn't think Sito's prepared for Ops, and Worf disagrees.

Lavelle then bets as the conversation turns to Sito's dressing-down earlier in the day. Sito wonders what she could have said, and if perhaps Picard was right, but her friends do their best to convince her that she's a fine officer. Lavelle says that Sito is more than prepared for a promotion, and glumly adds that he surely won't get it - "not if it's up to Riker."

Riker, just then, adds that he'll keep thinking about Sito, because he's not sure about Lavelle either. When asked why, he says that Lavelle's a little too eager to please, and seems to be kissing up. Deanna disagrees that he's only doing it for the promotion, and tells Riker that he and Lavelle are a lot alike.

"What? We're not at all alike!" "You're bluffing," asserts Bev.

"You think so?" says Lavelle, smirking - and Ben restates it. As the hand continues, Ogawa suggests that Lavelle stop trying so hard to please, saying that Riker doesn't need to like him, just respect him. Everyone else concurs, and Taurik, having computed the odds on his hand winning, folds.

So does Worf after a bad hand, as Deanna reminds Riker that Riker learned to play poker on the Potemkin to play with the senior officers, which might have been looked on as kissing up. Fortunately, she points out, they didn't hold it against him. Riker agrees, and says he'll rethink things about Lavelle. Geordi, convinced Riker's bluffing, bets big.

Riker shows his cards - a full flush. Geordi is rather upset - "I cannot beLIEVE this!" Riker, on the other hand, is generous: "I am your worst nightmare."

Ben, on the other hand, bets that Lavelle is bluffing and wins, much to Lavelle's chagrin. Sito and Ogawa leave for the night. So does Geordi, although Riker protests that "you don't have to quit just because I'm unbeatable."

Taurik talks about having inadvertently annoyed Geordi that morning in Engineering with his simulations, and wonders if Geordi will hold a grudge; Geordi then answers that question inadvertently himself by inviting Taurik to help with some late-night work. Taurik leaves, and Lavelle pleads that he needs sleep and says goodnight to Ben. Ben leaves, only to head for the other game to try to clean them out...

The next morning, Worf stops Sito at the end of his mok'bara class to give her an unscheduled test for the advanced-level class. The test, however, is blatantly unfair, and Sito realizes it after three falls. She refuses to continue, and Worf congratulates her for passing by having the courage to note that the test was unfair. In fact, he adds, there is no such challenge, "but perhaps next time you are judged unfairly, it will not take so many bruises for you to protest."

Sito heads for the ready room, there to confront Picard about his actions the previous day. She tells him that, with respect, it is not his place to punish her for the Academy incident, and that he should either judge her on her record now or let her transfer off the ship. Picard is impressed by her courage, and tells her that he was interested in getting her reactions, not for Ops qualification, but for an upcoming mission. He asks her to join the senior officers at 0900 for a briefing, and adds that he does know why she's on the Enterprise: he asked for her.

After Ogawa tells Bev that Powell has asked her to marry him (making Bev relieved beyond measure), Sito attends that meeting, only to meet Joret Dal, a Cardassian officer who is also a Federation mole. He has given them vital information that will help the security of countless planets, and now needs to be able to get home. He points out that the border is heavily guarded, and that alone he would be unlikely to convince them that he's legitimate, even in an apparently-stolen, damaged Federation shuttlecraft. However, he might be able to pass as a bounty hunter - if he had a prisoner, particularly a Bajoran terrorist. Although the mission is extremely dangerous, Sito volunteers. She leaves for sickbay, and Joret observes, "I didn't realize she would be so young."

Shortly thereafter, Sito boards the shuttle, cosmetically altered to appear brutalized by Joret. She thanks Worf for his confidence in her, and tells him she'll see him soon. The shuttle leaves, and Worf stays in the bay, watching, for a long time.

As the shuttle approaches the border and the pair make preparations, Joret tells Sito that he's doing this, not to be a traitor, but to dissuade the Cardassian government from pointless wars. "My people need peace," he adds, surprising Sito. A patrol ship approaches...

Meanwhile, Lavelle and the others wonder in Ten-Forward if Sito is on the shuttle that left. Lavelle, knowing nothing, speculates as much as he can about the occupant and the condition of the shuttle - but Ogawa and Taurik, concerned by what they do know, ask him to change the subject.

The Enterprise reaches the rendezvous point and waits for hours, with no sign of the escape pod carrying Sito back home. Despite it being a treaty violation, they send a probe in to search for the pod. What it finds, however, is debris - and debris consistent with the remains of a pod. When they later intercept a Cardassian message reporting the death of a terrorist, the truth becomes all too clear. Picard announces the death to the crew, lamenting the loss of "the finest example of a Starfleet officer."

In Ten-Forward some time later, Lavelle enters, glum. He's been promoted to the Ops position, but now has to wonder if Sito would have gotten it had she lived. The others reassure him that he should simply do his best in his new assignment, and Ben manages to convince a solitary Worf to join Sito's other friends in remembering her as she was.

Highlight Listing:
"Lower Decks" - While enduring the Enterprise's promotion evaluation process, four junior officers find themselves involved in a top-secret mission.
Advertising Headline:
THE ULTIMATE TEST As young officers compete for promotions, a top-secret mission threatens to test their strength.
TV log listing:
Top-secret mission tests junior officers/STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

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Andrew Tong

Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: January 28, 1995 || Last Modified: November 09, 2010