Where to begin on this one... apart from some unexpectedly pleasant plot twists, which I won't spoil here. Nitpicks are few and far between, and harder to get wound up about because even the storyline is fresh and new. Yeah, Riker has his underwear in a knot over the new guy, citing he's too eager to please. Troi states they're alike - and without having to namedrop "The Best of Both Worlds" where Riker is reminded that like how Shelby was, Riker too was eager to please. And Bev - really, she claims she has no idea what it's like to rush into a relationship? Um, hello!! Earth Galaxy Fifteen universes calling Beverly, just last week you were getting shagged by a ghost, were more than quick to resign and hop into bed with it, and didn't care it was terrorizing your family lineage for 800 years to the point you were forgiving of it maybe half an hour after zapping it with the phaser!! The bartender - this is another first, where a double agent exists in a good way since he's getting to deal with both sets of crewmembers: the experienced and the eager lower ranks who get to hear all the juicy gossip. Indeed, the poker scenes' cuts made by the director were also first rate. This episode is genuinely and deservedly one of TNG's most creative, robust in detail and nuance, and finely produced. Easily in the top 10, the actual position of which may vary from person to person. Like the taste of Soylent Green but in a more palatable way. Taurik (the Vulcan guy) loves looking into ship performance, but unaware that unknown variables could cause problems. (Though to be fair, how did he get classified information from the academy that hasn't been made public but given how cadets can be would be more than public by this point? ) His bigger role is also to inform the audience that (I'll let the episode speak for itself.) Picard even agrees to engage in his own Spoiler: this time I have to add detail but it does discuss two major plot elements and this is a story that's actually worth watching without big spoilers Kobyashi Maru and violate a treaty by launching a probe into Cardassian space. How cool is that! In other episodes and even movies, he's got that prime directive stick so firmly lodged he says other people that were killed were better off! That is how brazenly beautiful this 7th season entry is, even Picard gives a bleep about his crew. I also liked the interchange between Sito and Joret Dal. Like Kirk and the Klingons but on a muchgrander scale. And while the episode is open-ended, I do not really believe Joret would send false intel to the Federation just to pull a ploy that would get poor Sito (just another Bajoran to him as they both share unpleasantries AND epiphanies while in the shuttle) killed. It is a shame, almost a D-word shame, that Joret didn't get some time in DS9. Taking it in an optimistic direction, Joret and Garak might have been another robust double act. After all, look at Joret as he gulps while in the briefing room/observation lounge in one key moment: Which suggests she may have been a prisoner as a child, long before getting into Starfleet Academy. Or she was a firsthand eyewitness. I'm not sure who got the best dialogue - whether it be Taurik, Sito, Picard, Joret, or the bartender. So much of it is so good. Loved the ending, as bartender contrives a good way to get Worf to visit the eager lower ranks. But this is season 7 - it featured new lows for the show but also put in new highs. "Lower Decks" is one of those highs. Highly recommended.