We have already recapped and reviewed “Temporal Edict,” the third 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.
What is this, some kind of TOS homage?
Even though Lower Decks is set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era, “Temporal Edict” had a distinct Original Series vibe. Before the episode aired, executive producer Mike McMahan previewed it on Twitter, saying “The Cerritos crew runs into a TOS-style problem with some ornery aliens….” And if that weren’t enough, Mariner really hung a lantern on it when she surrendered to those ornery aliens with, “Circled by spears. This is a classic. What am I, Kirk? Is this the 2260s?”
The Great Bird… and ’70s sci-fi
Lower Decks also paid tribute to original Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as the episode wrapped up. In a jump forward into the far future, we saw Brad Boimler honored with a virtual statue, and a class being taught about the “Boimler Effect.” Brad’s statue holds the plaque with his rule in one arm, and “one of the great birds of the galaxy” perched on his other arm. “Great Bird of the Galaxy” was a nickname given to Roddenberry during the TOS era, and stayed with him throughout his career.
The collection of children in this scene—which included Human, Ferengi, and even Borg—was an homage to a similar jump-to-an-outdoor-classroom-of-the-future scene in Battle for the Planet of the Apes where the Lawgiver taught a class of Ape and Human children under the shadow of a statue. And speaking of ’70s sci-fi, when the leader of the Galrakians suggested creating a “death race” with “crystal cars” as a new form of justice, he was describing the plot of the 1975 cult film Death Race 2000.
Miles O’Brien *is* more important
Things got even more meta in the final far future moment of the episode as Boimler’s virtual statue was swapped out for one of Chief Miles O’Brien, who was described as “more important” and “perhaps the most important in Starfleet history.” Discussing this Easter egg moment on startrek.com, Mike McMahan describes O’Brien as “the original Lower Decker,” and shows his admiration by saying, “One could argue Miles O’Brien is the most fully realized character in Star Trek, and we ask, no, demand he be given a statue.” McMahan also indicated on Twitter that the choice of Miles at his transporter room station was inspired by the popular webcomic Chief O’Brien at Work.
Scotty’s legacy… and Jellico’s schedule
The plot of this episode starts with Captain Freeman discovering that ensigns and other lower ranks on the Cerritos were exaggerating the estimates for their work, giving themselves “buffer time.” Engineering ensign Rutherford describes it as “creative estimating,” saying if you exaggerate how long tasks take senior officers will “think you are a hero when it’s done early.”
Rutherford was essentially paraphrasing Trek’s most iconic engineer, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, who outlined this policy of exaggerating to your commanding officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, saying he multiplied his estimates by four to keep his reputation “as a miracle worker.” Scotty later suggested Geordi do the same with Captain Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics.”
Much of the busy work occupying the ensigns in “Temporal Edict” encompassed familiar Star Trek tasks, including calibrating, diagnosing, degaussing, compiling, balancing a phase variance, and conducting a Baryon sweep. It was also revealed that the Cerritos has a Delta Shift, implying the ship functions under a four-shift rotation, something Captain Jellico implemented on the USS Enterprise-D when he was under temporary command in the TNG episode “Chain of Command.”
Ransom has Riker’s stance, Kirk’s Fu, Cavill’s fists… and Willie’s abs
There is a lot of Commander William T. Riker in Commander Jack Ransom, and this week he showed that off by doing the classic Riker lean multiple times. We also saw Ransom demonstrate that he (just like Mariner) knows Kirk Fu. He even called out some of his James T. Kirk classic fighting moves like the double-fist punch and use of interlocked hands.
And while Ransom’s ripped shirt may also be a nod to Kirk—or even to Kirk’s Galaxy Quest counterpart Commander Taggert—the way Jack tore off his own shirt before heroically going into to battle looks to be an homage to the surprisingly ripped Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons. And while we’re pointing out homages, at one point during the arena fight Ransom does the Henry Cavill double fist-cocking thing from the bathroom fight scene in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Ransom’s away mission goes awry due to bringing the wrong token to a greeting ceremony. Trying to get diplomatic details just right is something we have seen in all the Star Trek shows. The crisis in “Temporal Edict” started with displaying a wooden token to a planet that had a deep hatred of wood. This felt like a reverse of the time Captain Archer got into diplomatic trouble when his dog Porthos peed on one of the sacred trees of the Kreetassan people in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “A Night in Sickbay,” leaving Archer to have to perform a painstaking woodcutting ceremony to apologize for the slight.
Meta TNG music… now part of canon
Music was a big theme for this episode, which started off at talent night on the Cerritos. Boimler showed off his skills with the violin and the team of Mariner and Tendi rocked the ship out with some very loud heavy metal. We have seen this kind of thing before in Star Trek, including Data performing the violin on the Enterprise in the TNG episode “Inheritance.” There were some musical homages in the episode’s score as well, including callbacks to music from the TNG episode “The Best of Both Worlds” as well as to the classic TOS “Amok Time” fight music.
Perhaps the most significant musical moment was a brief bit in the turbolift with Boimler. Before being joined by Captain Freeman, Brad starts humming the theme to Star Trek: The Next Generation (originally Star Trek: The Motion Picture). This means that this music exists in the Star Trek universe. And this isn’t the first time Trek music has worked its way into the universe: As contributor Dénes House reminded us in the comments, The Original Series theme music was played as a jazz arrangement, in the background during a party in the “The Conscience of the King.” Later in the franchise, a variant of the Deep Space Nine theme was performed at Quark’s in the DS9 episode “Sanctuary.” With Boimler’s deep loyalty to Starfleet, perhaps the TNG theme is music used by the Federation or Starfleet.
Angry Klingons and Creepy Cardassians
Unlike the first two episodes, there weren’t a whole slew of aliens to identify in “Temporal Edict.” But for the third episode in a row, Klingons played a part, this time with a Bird-of-Prey dropping by briefly and its captain angered by the loud speed metal. Cardassia Prime also got a mention, as a summit was moved from there to Vulcan because the Cardassians were “creeping everyone out.” Finally, the planet Magus III—mentioned once by Guinan in Star Trek: The Next Generation—got namedropped by Mariner, who said it was where she picked up one of her “high-concept fight” scars.
Mugato, Armus, and Spores
There were some alien hostiles mentioned by Commander Ransom that sounded familiar. He recalled he has faced down “horned gorillas” (a reference to the Mugato in TOS’ “A Private Little War”), “sentient tar” (Armus from TNG’s “Skin of Evil”), and mind-altering spores (pod plants from the TOS episode “This Side of Paradise”).
What did we miss?
Did you catch anything else? Let us know in the comments below.
UPDATE: McMahan talks talent night
CBS has released a video with Mike McMahan discussing the musical talent night easter egg mentioned above.
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.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.
“What did we miss?”
Well, referencing alien races and places seen or mentioned before on Trek isn’t that much of a big deal. The TNG theme humming, along with Mariner’s dream of Khan’s TWOK speech however, is a very big deal.
I’m not that familiar with the genre of animated comedy and this might actually be only meta stuff that’s typical for a show like this but I think they have stated time and again that there is one big rule for this show: everything has to be canon, everything has to fit within the Trek universe.
I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again: many, if not most of these meta-winks could be part of an elaborated plotline that’s going to fully unravel at some point, maybe towards the end of Season 1. There could be forces at work, destroying the fabric of space-time, tearing down the walls between dreams, spheric music and fiction, with the crew slowly and increasingly becoming aware of the fact that they are – from our POV – TV characters, not unlike Deadpool is able to break the fourth wall and talk to the viewers.
At some point we might observe the Cerritos crew unanimously singing “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, LIFE IS BUT A DREAM!” while steering the ship down the Nightmare Slipstream Void, taking the fight to the alien entities playing with reality itself: the Great Birds of Reality, superevolved offsprings of the Xindi Avians that never got whipped out at all but escalated to a new level of existence (being the ones that fed Gene with his visions for Star Trek in the first place!)
Remember Sisko being the dreamer and the dream far beyond the stars?
And yes, there will be a Ferengi in a Gorilla suit guiding their path…
Totally idiotic? No, totally IDIC!
That’s sums it up really well.
I think its more likely that these are just meta jokes.
Far beyond the farthest star, far beyond the Delphic Expanse, far beyond the Moons of Nevia, the Antares Maelstrom and Perdition’s Flames, there is an Improbable Planet known or rather not known as Paramore, home to the Great Birds of Reality also known as Metawings who are able to manipulate spheric sounds, dreams and fiction… the Guardians of the Metaverse, the Harbingers of Forever, the Acolytes of Entropy… Nightmare Eaters, Death Dealers and Psychomongers, lurking in the dark emptiness of entertainment to feed on your childhood memories straight on till the morning…
Admonitors of Nightmares Past, Premonitors of Nightmare Yet To Come, these Metawings monitor the watchers, dream up the dreamers and personally pick on the nitpickers. As soon as the Metawings are unleashed upon the fandom, no enemy of canon will be safe from their glaring eyes.
The Metawings’ medelling with time, space and reality can explain almost any plothole in the entire Trekiverse. They are the missing link we’ve been waiting for.
Maybe they’ve given me that glimpse of their existence to warn you. The Birds are coming, an oncoming swarm of terror, opening the floodgates of madness, breeding their black eggs of anxiety right within your very skulls…
Or maybe this is just me itching for a writer’s job. :-)
Wow! Your postings are really funny if not amazing. Really nice. How long did it take you to write those 3 postings? If they go askew with Trek references I’m sure you will be the first to say, “Excuse me, what does God need with a starship? Aren’t you God?”
The easter eggs are a bit much but overall a pretty descent episode. Looking forward to next week’s episode.
Boimler humming the TNG theme music also has a classic TOS precedent: The Alexander Courage Original Series theme music was played, in a jazz arrangement, in the background during a party in the TOS episode, “The Conscience of the King.”
The Log looks very Logmilliar like from Ren and Stimpy
Ned Flanders is suprisingly ripped as well. Warp Speedili-oh!
Instantly took Mariner showing her scars as a reference to gratuitous undressing of female crew members in Star Trek 2013 and ENT, only this time not so gratuitous
“I thought you only said Vindor” –> Game of Thrones
Not gratuitous enough, if you know what I’m sayin’!
Did anyone else notice that ‘Requiem for a Hug’ starts out exactly the same as ‘The Minstrel Boy’? Coincidence? I think not!
It’s more recent but the wood mix up was reminiscent to me of Beyond when the aliens were questioning the gift Kirk was presenting them. “Why don’t they want it?” Then hilarious mix up mischief ensues.
I know we live in creatively bankrupt times, but is there any chance McMahan can come up with new concepts instead of always coping and referencing past Treks? The showrunner is literally saying this episode is like one from another show.