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Trekkies who've been tuning in to Star Trek: Lower Decks will know that the new animated series isn't afraid to both poke quite a bit of fun at the long-running franchise or offer up Easter eggs and nods to previous storylines and beloved characters from the past. The show usually does so at a dizzying pace and many times in each short episode, so there are always plenty of cool tidbits to look forward to for those who've enjoyed Trek for many years. Now, Lower Decks has gone above and beyond, by resolving one of the long-term tropes of the franchise.
All you have to do is watch just a few episodes of any Star Trek show and you'll know that, even hundreds of years in the future, space exploration will still be a somewhat tricky feat. Whenever one deals with alien civilizations, previously unknown creatures or the extremely complex technology that will lead us to interact with those things, there can be mishaps. And, one thing that Trek has sprinkled throughout its many series is what happens when things go awry.
Generally, these "space accidents" which alter the crew are miraculously reversed by the end of the episode, and while we've seen many examples of this over the several decades of Star Trek, there's never been a solid answer for what happens to those crew members who can't be fixed / healed. Well, in the most recent Lower Decks episode "Much Ado About Boimler," we get confirmation that Starfleet does, in fact, take care of its own when the crew manages to survive irrevocable damage.
In the episode, the Cerritos is expecting crew to visit from another ship, and Boimler, who's eagerly anticipating their arrival, agrees to help Rutherford with a transporter, which he's been asked to make work a bit faster. The first run goes swimmingly, but they get cocky, with Boimler asking to be run through the transporter again and Rutherford gleefully complying, thus leading to this episode's "space accident" which leaves Boimler slightly out of phase with spacetime, blue, transparent, and walking around with that very familiar transporter sound firmly attached to his newly changed person.
Rutherford is eventually able to stop the incredibly loud, looping transporter noise, but a trip to the sick bay and examination by T'Ana proves that Boimler's condition isn't going to be as easy to fix as, say, that one time Captain Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien were turned into 12-year-old versions of themselves on The Next Generation. Which was, also, the result of a transporter accident and just goes to show how sparingly Starfleet should use that tech.
Because Boimler is out of luck where traditional medicine seems to be concerned, T'Ana alerts Division 14, which is the first we've heard of this unit that handles "unsolvable space illnesses and science mysteries." Obviously, Boimler is hoping this means that they'll be able to fix him right up, but it turns out that all this division does is collect people who've been the unfortunate victims of such accidents and ship them off to medical spa.
The division's intentions appear to be nefarious at first, but it does turn out that everyone who's sent to the spa gets to live out their days while being cared for because of their time serving the Federation. Too bad they didn't have this up and running when Geordi almost got turned into an alien by a reproducing parasite, because Dr. Crusher was not able to save two other crew members, who we only saw being left behind for isolation on the alien planet, with nothing but beacons being placed there to warn others away.
To see how things turn out for Boimler, check out Star Trek: Lower Decks, which airs new episodes every Thursday on CBS All Access. For more on what you can watch right now, you can stay up to date with our fall TV guide!