In Mugato, Gumato Star Trek: Lower Decks Continues Characters' Growth
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In Mugato, Gumato Star Trek: Lower Decks Continues To Let Characters Grow

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BY September 2, 2021

The latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks features the classic original series alien the Mugato (or Gumato, depending on who you ask). It’s a perfect creature for Lower Decks because it’s both a recognizeable pull from the lore, and one that’s been called multiple names throughout its appearances. My favorite running gag in this episode is how the creature’s name is not pronounced the same way twice. Beyond this, the episode is one that continues to build on the groundwork laid down by the first season. From the series premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the characters fit neatly in their places. Yet, in season 2 the characters are changing and growing, which is risky for an animated comedy series.

It can be very risky when a series deconstructs the unlikely relationships that make up a good comedy cast. However, in this episode the storytellers use the foundation laid in the first season to add depth and emotional stakes. Star Trek: Lower Decks is a show primarily for adults, after all. Characters in animated series change just like any other characters. However, they usually become a caricature of their fan-favorite traits. But, in Mugato, Gumato, the storytellers let the characters grow.

The dynamic established between the show’s characters is first underscored, then challenged. Ensign Tendi has her own mission in this episode, but it follows the same theme. And it ends with a sequence that will be hilarious to anyone who has ever had to give a cat medicine.

Spoilers to follow

“Mugato, Gumato” -- Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved **Best Possible Screen Grab** Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc.

Mugato, Gumato Is the Perfect Lower Decks Premise

One thing that Star Trek: Lower Decks is able to do in Mugato, Gumato is poke fun at the parent franchise. The name of these creatures, white gorillas with a horn sticking out the middle of its head, was never consistent. This is the kind of franchise in-joke that fits perfectly with what Lower Decks does. Essentially, all of these characters are “fans” of Star Trek, because those are the most amazing crews in their organization. When I was in the military, us regulars were equally excited about the missions of the various special forces units out there. An inconsistency in something’s name in the organization is exactly something a lower decker would mock.

Yet, lest this be mistaken for just a goofy cartoon that riffs on Trek references, they actually tell a remarkably pure “Star Trek” story. Despite its various incarnations, a consistent theme is the conflict resolution without fighting is the ideal solution. On the planet they visit, Boimler, Mariner, and Rutherford encounter scoundrels and dangerous creatures. After some thrilling hijinks, the storytellers call back to the “boring” game that Rutherford and Boimler played called “Diplomacy.” And this time, he got to (technically) save Mariner, for a change.

“Mugato, Gumato” -- oel Wells as Ensign Tendi and Gillian Vigman as Dr. T'Ana of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved **Best Possible Screen Grab** Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc.

Lower Decks has let Boimler be the hero, but I can’t recall a time he succeeded and Mariner failed. So when he and Rutherford negotiated and compromised their way out of trouble it just felt perfect. The unlikely characters saved the day, and they negotiated the best possible outcome without even having to kill or wrestle a Mugato, or Gumato, or Mugatu. And, the characters are in different places in their relationships than when the episode began. Let’s see if it sticks.

Star Trek: Lower Decks debuts new episodes Thursdays on Paramount+.

What did you think of Mugato, Gumato, and do you want your Star Trek: Lower Decks characters to grow? Share your thoughts, theories, and reviews in the comments below.

Featured Image: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc.

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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