We have already recapped and reviewed “Envoys,” the second episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast. Now we take a deeper dive into the fun details, references, Easter eggs, and more. In some cases, the references are clear, with others it may just be our Trek interpretations, but art is in the eye of the beholder.
Obviously… SPOILERS ahead.
Risa is for lovers
One of the many districts on Tulgana IV was Little Risa, a “pleasure planet” originally introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also seen in other series. The Risa District featured a large Horga’hn sculpture in a central fountain. These statues are used on Risa by those who want to show they are up for some jamaharon. When Boimler sat in front of the statue, a telepathic Anabaj said she could sense he was interested in jamaharon. You can also see some native Risians, who wear a small decoration on their foreheads.
The Janeway Protocol
When Rutherford tries out different jobs on the ship, he is run through some bridge command simulations by Commander Ransom. After his first simulation goes poorly, Ransom suggests if Rutherford ever finds himself in a similar situation to try “employing the Janeway protocol,” named for Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager. Ransom didn’t provide any details on what exactly the Janeway Protocol does, but the situation in that first simulation was the ship being “drawn into a temporal rift.” So it is possible it has something to do with time travel, something Janeway was known to do from time to time. When Rutherford was then run though a more basic simulation that simply dealt with avoiding a small asteroid, he ordered the crew to deploy the Janeway Protocol. This immediately causes the ship to collide with the asteroid, and the ship’s children to be tragically ejected into space.
UPDATE: Thanks to our comment section, it seems likely The Janeway Protocol is referring to when Captain Janeway said:
In command school, they taught us to always remember that maneuvering a starship is a very delicate process, but over the years, I’ve learned that, sometimes, you just have to punch your way through.
— VOY “Parallax“
Mariner knows Kirk Fu
In his TrekMovie interview, Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan said Mariner was partly inspired by Star Trek’s first captain, James T. Kirk, who has his own unique fighting style known as “Kirk fu.” During a bar fight scene in “Envoys,” Mariner showed she was familiar with this style of combat, yelling out “Kirk hands!” as she took down an Andorian. During the episode, we also learned that Mariner used to work in “grey ops” before joining Starfleet, and she implied that she has faced a court martial (just like Kirk), telling Boimler, “don’t knock it until you tried it.” She also revealed she, like Kirk, is open to some alien romance, revealing she once dated an egg-laying Anabaj, but it was mostly to piss off her mother.
Payback for “The Child”
“Envoys” kicked off with a cold open that saw a “transdimensional energy creature” infiltrate the ship. Energy creatures are not uncommon in Star Trek, and the one in “Envoys” sounded a bit like Futurama’s Melllvar, but it most resembled the energy being seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Child.” That energy being impregnated Deanna Troi without her consent, so perhaps having Mariner and Tendi capture this one was a bit of payback for that violation.
The Wrath of Khan *was* awesome
Talking in her sleep we hear Mariner say “Buried alive,” “Marooned for eternity,” Moons of Nibia,” all of which are lines from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. When awoken by Boimler, Mainer reveals, “I keep having this awesome dream.”
Later on, Shaxs puts Rutherford into a Borg-filled fighting simulation called “Smorgasborg,” which he later says recruits are put into “so they can learn how to deal with defeat,” just like the famed no-win Kobayashi Maru Scenario from Wrath of Khan.
Enterprise envy on the Cerritos
“Envoys” reminded us that this show is set on one of Starfleet’s least important ships. As the ensigns talk about a crewperson named Castro, Mariner says “Castro is the best,” but Boimler disagrees saying Castro is “overrated because she served on the Enterprise for like a second,” referring to the flagship USS Enterprise (either D or E) featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the TNG movies.
Just a cursory glance around the USS Cerritos makes it clear, this is no flagship. Even though Mariner claims “it doesn’t get more exotic than this,” the ship is in disrepair with numerous leaks and Rutherford appears to have to spent days in the Jefferies tubes just to keep the EPS conduits functioning. And when Mariner had that energy creature trapped and it said it would create anything she wanted, she requested a new fancy tricorder, indicating the crew of the Cerritos may not be getting the latest equipment.
Section 31 is truly insidious
We all know that the secretive Federation organization Section 31 is nefarious due to its lack of morality, transparency, and accountability. But Brad Boimler still seems to admire Section 31 for its ruthless efficiency, defending his use of speedwalking by saying, “It’s to conserve energy, Section 31 does it.”
One of the most iconic Star Trek shooting locations is Southern California’s Vasquez Rocks, with its distinctive jutting rock formations. The location has been used throughout Star Trek history from The Original Series through the movies and most recently on Star Trek: Picard. On Lower Decks, a park on Tulgana IV featured a number of Vasquez Rocks-style rock formations.
Also, if you look around the park you can see embassies for the United Federation of Planets, The Klingon Empire, The Romulan Star Empire, and the Ferengi Alliance.
Ferengi are people too
Speaking of Ferengi, “Envoys” featured one who was first encountered in that same park. This Ferengi initially emulated the way the race was introduced in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was considered a failed attempt to establish the Ferengi as a major adversary for the series. Boimler demonstrated a lot of prejudice towards this Ferengi, saying they were the “most untrustworthy race in the galaxy,” and pointing to “the big ears, the beady eyes, the greedy thing they do with their hands.” For his part, the Ferengi played up the stereotype, calling them hyoo-mons” and demanding “give me your profit!”
But it is later revealed that the whole thing was a setup to help boost Boimler’s morale, and this Ferengi (named Quimp) was actually friends with Mariner. Quimp turns out to be a sophisticated and articulate family man, who even wears a monocle. This different perspective on the Ferengi may be a nod to how they were reinvigorated on Deep Space Nine, adding richness to the race and putting the failed introduction on TNG behind them.
Drinking with Klingons
“Envoys” introduced us to the first Klingon in Lower Decks and the episode packed in a lot of references to Klingon lore, including a visit to “Little Qo’noS,” named for the Klingon homeworld. General K’orin looked (and drank) just like a TNG-era Klingon is expected to. He even carried his own supply of blood wine and Klingon flagons and sang a Klingon drinking song with Mariner. To sober K’orin up, Mariner suggested they get him some Raktajino, the Klingon coffee that was popular with the crew of Deep Space Nine.
General K’orin also had a bolted-on eyepatch, like General Chang from Star Trek VI. When they lost K’orin, Boimler expressed concern they were violating the Khitomer Accords, the Klingon/Federation peace treaty from Star Trek VI again. K’orin had an apostrophe in his name, which Mariner pointed out was common with the Klingons. Boimler greeted K’orin with the standard Klingon greeting “nuqneH,” and Mariner joked about his growing “ngech” (cleavage).
Don’t take a ushaan-tor to a disruptor fight
A lot of Klingon weaponry was on display in “Envoys.” Like any good Klingon, K’orin was armed with both a bat’leth sword and a d’k tahg knife. And a Klingon food vendor threatened Boimler and Mariner with a mek’leth blade. There were also displays featuring a number of Klingon disruptors, from across the franchise.
The Klingons weren’t the only ones who brought their own weapons to Tulgana IV. During a bar fight, some Andorians were using ushaan-tor ice knives, introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise. One Andorian wielding a ushaan-tor was taking aim at Lurian, the same race as DS9’s perennial barfly Morn.
Even more aliens
Tulgana IV was described as a “bustling exotic planet” full of districts and embassies for various races, so it’s no surprise that Lower Decks crammed even more aliens into “Envoys,” including a number of the more obscure ones from Star Trek lore. Soon after the ensigns land on the planet, a couple of Evora from Star Trek: Insurrection can be spotted outside of Little Qo’noS.
And inside the Klingon Market Boimler points out a couple of isolationist Kaelons from the TNG episode “Half a Life.”
Other aliens seen around the planet in the background included Arcturians, Aurelians, and even Ariolo. The alien deep cuts continued in the Andorian bar, starting with a Vendorian shapeshifter from Star Trek: The Animated Series.
And then Lower Decks went even deeper, with a couple of “Rock Men” from a deleted scene in Star Trek V.
Lower Decks in memoriam for “Lower Decks”
During their drinking session, Mariner and K’oriin talk about adventures they had on the planet Jaxa Prime. Since Star Trek: Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan has stated that the show is inspired by the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Lower Decks,” we like to think this is an homage to the character of Ensign Sito Jaxa, who was killed in that episode. It’s even possible that Jaxa Prime was named in honor of her memory and sacrifice to the Federation.
What did we miss?
Did you catch anything else? Let us know in the comments below.
CBS released a new short video with Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan acknowledging the easter eggs he and his team put into “Envoys.”
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New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. It has not yet been announced where and when Lower Decks will be available outside of the USA and Canada.
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