That’s the ultimate secret of “Lower Decks,” of course. As often as the franchise has dived into ethical and moral debates, or helped us better see ourselves through the lens of science fiction conflicts and high concepts, it’s also been really, really funny.
The original series often tackled the futility of war and racism, but “The Trouble with Tribbles” also features an extended sequence where a bunch of fuzzy balls fall out of a cabinet and onto Captain Kirk’s head. The first villain from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Q (John de Lancie), was basically the MCU’s Loki before Tom Hiddleston graduated from primary school. He was a powerful, petulant jerk who caused life-threatening trouble with an arrogant smirk (and maybe a mariachi band). And “Deep Space Nine” — known as the darkest “Trek” show for years — explored the costs of freedom and utopia, among other deeply dramatic themes. Meanwhile, some of the best episodes of the “Star Trek” franchise as a whole revolve around a space-goblin bartender getting into fights with his mom about the fact that she’s dating the president.
That’s why when “Lower Decks” was first announced, I really never should’ve been worried. “Star Trek” has always been a potent mix of serious and silly from the very beginning. With “Lower Decks,” the franchise has finally broken past the threshold and evolved into its newest — and maybe truest — form.