A Tribute To Star Trek: Lower Decks' Ensign Beckett Mariner, One Of The Great Trek Characters

This article contains spoilers for season 3 of "Star Trek: Lower Decks."

"Star Trek" is inspirational television that offers a more optimistic, hopeful glimpse of our future than just about anything else out there. There's an element of escapism to be had, because who can deny the fun of imagining yourself exploring the stars with Captain Kirk or fighting against the Jem'Hadar with Commander Worf? The expansive crews of the various starships in the franchise mean that there are characters for everyone to latch onto, whether you're an introverted engineering type or more suited to the bridge. The characters of "Star Trek" are the franchise's greatest strength, and that thankfully extends to its two-dimensional adaptations

The lower deckers of the U.S.S. Cerritos on "Star Trek: Lower Decks" are all fully-formed characters with well-defined pathos and personalities, but one of them deserves an extra shout-out after her season 3 arc: Ensign Beckett Mariner. Voiced by real-life "Star Trek" super-fan Tawny Newsome, Mariner is the Starfleet version of a military brat, having grown up with both of her parents in Starfleet. This gave her both an appreciation for the Federation and a unique understanding of just how messed up it can be. She's perfect for critiquing the Federation and the franchise, representing the whole generation of fans that grew up watching "Star Trek" with their parents, and she's also just a great character. Beckett Mariner freaking rules; now let me count the ways.

What's in a name?

While many of the names in "Star Trek" have no discernable meaning, "Beckett Mariner" is chock-full of potential references to both her personality and her parents' aspirations for her. Her first name, Beckett, is likely a reference to the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, best known for his dry, dark humor in works like "Waiting for Godot." Beckett was a satirist, subverting tropes and expectations in order to force people to question their preconceptions about storytelling, and it's not hard to see the connection to the eternally irreverent and sarcastic Beckett Mariner. 

"Mariner" is a little simpler: the word means sailor or seafarer, and exploring outer space is as close to seafaring as someone can get in the 24th century. While it makes sense that she chose to enlist in Starfleet under her mother's maiden name to avoid detection as Captain Carol Freeman's daughter, there's also something to be said for how Mariner sees herself as, well, a mariner.

Appreciating the chaos

There are a number of great characters to look up to in "Star Trek," and I've spent plenty of my life imprinting on characters like badass Bajoran Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), but Mariner was the first time I saw myself fully reflected in a "Star Trek" series, annoying habits and all. Mariner is a smart-mouthed, party-loving, queer woman who rages against the machine more than she goes with the flow. I'm an Air Force brat who went into the junior ROTC (think Boy Scouts, but military!) in an attempt to impress my parents, but found myself constantly in trouble for some kind of insubordination. Mariner's sarcastic Vulcan salutes are a mood, let me tell you.

Mariner doesn't let people get close, using a puffed-up sense of bravado and her silly sense of humor to keep people at a safe distance. She sees herself as trouble, as someone who causes problems and gets others hurt, and in season 3, this comes around to bite her when she didn't even do anything wrong. After growing up quite a bit over the course of season 3, she still got blamed for making her mother look bad by talking to a reporter. In reality, Mariner had nothing but good things to say and everyone misjudged her, but by the time the crew of the Cerritos realized their mistake, Mariner had resigned from Starfleet. 

Of course, it all works out in the finale, but (in typical TV fashion) everyone learns a valuable lesson.

A different kind of Starfleet officer

Despite frequently bending and breaking Federation rules, Mariner is a damn fine Starfleet officer. She's practically fearless, diving into potentially deadly situations without a second thought, and she is a brave leader and steadfast friend. She's served on so many different ships over her short career that she's learned a number of skills that come in handy, making her better rounded than other young officers who spent all of their time devoted to a specific study. She has the guts of Captain Kirk, the passion of Captain Sisko, and the swagger of Captain Pike all wrapped into one slightly insecure young ensign, which is pretty incredible. Because she's a fan of these men in-universe, she carries a bit of them with her. 

The other huge Starfleet nerd in "Star Trek: Lower Decks" is Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), Mariner's closest friend. He represents another portion of the fandom that was raised with "Star Trek," who embrace the franchise without an ounce of critique. Boimler worships at the altar of Starfleet in the way some fans worship "Star Trek," but my approach has always been more like Mariner's: I like to make jokes about the things I love.

Letting others in

The most important lesson that Mariner learned in season 3 was that she can't do everything on her own, and she really wouldn't want to, anyway. After her mother sends her to Starbase 80 for the assumed trash-talking, Mariner resigns from Starfleet and goes off adventuring with the young woman she met from the archaeologists guild. She's great at it and manages to recover artifacts with style and ease, but she's miserable because she misses the other lower deckers. She misses feeling like she was a part of something, and she eventually goes back to ask for her place back aboard the Cerritos. 

In the end, Mariner realizes that it's okay to want and need other people in her life, and that's not a weakness. She's learning to be completely earnest and let herself look dorky and be embarrassing, which is something all of us should take to heart a bit more often. I can't really relate to being in a weird bromance with an all-powerful being like Picard and Q, or understand what it's like to be a Klingon raised by humans, but I definitely know what it feels like to be so afraid of rejection that you'll do anything to avoid it. 

Mariner may not know if she wants to be a captain or not one day, but I would be proud to call her my captain.