**** (4 stars out of 5)
Ensigns Sam Lavelle and Sito Jaxa are chums, and up for the same promotion. They also hang out with Nurse Alyssa Ogawa, a gossipy Ten-Forward waiter called Ben, and Vulcan straight man (aren't they all?) Ensign Taurik.
Despite her Nova Squadron mis-step, (back in 'The First Duty') Sito's doing well as Worf's security protege, although Picard tells her flat out that he doubts her character. After that body blow to her confidence, Sam looks a little ridiculous when he says Riker's too mean. And Taurik charts new frontiers in Ridiculousity when he can't get his mean boss (yes, Geordi, apparently) to notice him. Teacher's pet Alyssa loves her boss, gets a promotion, and her boyfriend proposes to her. Ben beats The Peons and The Opening Credits alike at poker. What, me worry?
Worf keeps Sito after martial arts class to blindfold her and beat her up. She only passes this "gik'tal challenge" by finally telling him off. Pointing out that gik'tal is Klingon for "to the death", Sito asks if it was even a real challenge. Worf admits he can't speak Klingon. Just kidding. He actually says: "Perhaps next time you are judged unfairly it will not take so many bruises for you to protest."
Sito gathers the courage to face Picard again: which is what the Captain wanted in the first place. He needs her bravery on maximum for a dangerous mission. She's got to help smuggle Cardie double agent Joret Dal back into enemy space, while posing as his bounty. It works all the time in 'Star Wars'...
Two days later, the Cardassians celebrate the death of their 'One Millionth Escaping Terrorist', good for one free round of war reparations and a medium-sized muffin basket. Hooray...? For the good guys...? No? Oh... just sadness.
"Lower Decks" brings slice of Enterprise life from an outside perspective, which was a such a good idea they made it a TV Trope. The ugly uncertainty of the ending is most effective, as it still bums me out. 'Killed during escape' might actually be the best case scenario but they've left me feeling it might be worse. Sito's 'Tee Hee, Dr. Crusher gave me fake bruises' exchange with Worf now seems just awful. Is it better drama to get to know a security guard before they die? I felt just as bad about Sito dying for a cause as I did about Yar dying at random.