The Starfleet Recruiting Booth Is One Of The Greatest Star Trek: Lower Decks Jokes Yet

This article contains spoilers for "Star Trek: Lower Decks" season 3, episode 5. 

There are few greater indignities in this world than manning a booth during a job fair, which makes it the perfect job for a lower decker. In this week's episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks," Ensigns Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Boimler (Jack Quaid) are put on job fair duty, chilling behind the blue booth and trying to convince random folks to sign up with Starfleet. Job fairs are brutal because the people there are rarely genuinely interested in learning anything and are there for school or some required attendance. People aren't exactly receptive, and they're going to be even worse when you're representing the pseudo-military of the United Federation of Planets. If I got called a fascist for just trying to get fellow high schoolers to join the Air Force Junior ROTC, I can only imagine the kinds of insults people could launch at Starfleet officers. 

Boimler and Mariner try to take it all in stride, but there are only so many hits a person can take to their pride before they snap. Eventually the roasting of Starfleet's good name gets under Boimler's skin, and he lets loose in a way that's pretty characteristically un-Boimler. Then again, he is still trying to be Bold Boimler, right? Either way, it's proof that working a job fair can bring out just about anyone's angry side. 

A tough sell

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" finds a lot of its humor in the weird mundanity of existing among the lower deckers. Sure, they occasionally encounter new alien species and have wild adventures, but they also do a ton of grunt work and take care of most of the jobs the senior officers want nothing to do with. It's a workplace comedy, and sometimes the funniest bits of workplace comedies just involve pointing out how much work can suck. It's hard enough being a lower decker and cleaning up after the rest of the crew, but job fair duty is a new low. Like, low enough to make Mr. Rules and Regulations himself, Boimler, absolutely flip his lid. Not only do he and Mariner have to deal with sass from the archaeologist running the booth next to them, but they have to deal with heckling from just about everyone else, too. 

An outpost scientist makes fun of the uniforms, and Boimler initially doesn't realize that she's being sarcastic. I had immediate flashbacks to my own itchy wool ROTC uniform in the hot summer sun and immediately understood Boimler's shame and frustration. Sometimes the thing you love is really challenging and not for everyone, like Starfleet, but it's irritating when others are dismissive. Joining Starfleet could mean adventure and exploration, or it could mean all but certain death on an alien planet. It could mean years spent staring at the warp core or translating alien languages, or it could mean one day captaining your own starship. Starfleet rewards those who fight for their dreams, and the truly aimless need not apply. 

A point of pride

There's an added level of embarrassment to Boimler and Mariner running the job fair stand, because you just know it's not the kind of thing crew members of a Galaxy-class starship like the Enterprise would ever do, even the lower deckers. To add insult to injury, Mariner can't act out or tell off the random hecklers because Commander Ransom (Jerry O'Connell) is looking for an excuse to kick her out of Starfleet. Even if Mariner frequently makes fun of Starfleet, she's also protective of it and all it represents. Starfleet is hers to make fun of, not theirs, because they didn't earn that right. Similarly, the moment that makes Boimler blow his lid is when an outpost scientist pulls off his rank pip and chucks it in the dirt behind her, where it gets stepped on. It's one thing to disrespect the idea of Starfleet, but to throw away the thing that represents all of Boimler's sacrifices, hopes, and decisions in his career is one step too far. 

When he does snap, throwing tables and yelling some harsh truths about the necessity of Starfleet, it's deeply satisfying. Anyone who's ever been stuck taking crap from the general public all day and kept a smile on their face knows the desire to go haywire, and seeing Boimler do it is a treat. (He also shouts a bunch of funny little Easter eggs about other issues people have had with various points in "Trek" lore, which is the icing on the catharsis cake.)

"Star Trek" can be a blast when the characters boldly go where no one has gone before, but sometimes, it's refreshing to see them tread some familiar human ground. 

New episodes of "Star Trek: Lower Decks" premiere Thursdays on Paramount+.