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”).
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.