We have already recapped and reviewed “Moist Vessel,” the fourth 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; art is in the eye of the beholder.
Obviously… SPOILERS ahead.
After Mariner is promoted to lieutenant she has to attend a lot of boring mandatory meetings and events, including “executive poker” with the senior officers. Playing poker was a recurring motif for the characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was even played in the final scene of the series. In the TNG episode “Lower Decks“—which partly inspired Star Trek: Lower Decks—we saw both the senior officers and a group of ensigns playing poker.
What happens on the holodeck (unfortunately) stays on the holodeck
After being assigned the worst jobs on the ship, Mariner is tasked with holodeck waste removal. Fans have often speculated as to what happens to the waste on the holodeck and now we know it gets stored in cylinders—and generates some unpleasant odors. On both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager we have seen indications that some Starfleet members act out some fantasies on the holodeck, and Commander Jack Ransom made it clearer what we all have always known: The holodeck is mostly used for adult purposes. We already got a hint of that from Mariner herself in episode one, when she showed off her nude Olympic training program.
Klingon prison stuff
Another one of the dirty jobs given to Mariner was scraping carbon off the carbon filter. Boimler’s assessed this particular job as “Klingon prison stuff.” The job involved using phasers to scrape off the carbon and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country we saw inmates of Rura Penthe, the most notorious Klingon prison, mining by using energy devices to scrape rock off of other rock.
When Boimler is caught giving voice to his plot to give the people on the bridge “exactly what they deserve,” he explains his evil tone away by saying, “That was a holodeck. Uh, Moriarty,” referring to the holographic Professor James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis who was brought to life on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise-D. This could also be a bit of foreshadowing; in a recent panel, Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan revealed that an upcoming season one episode will feature a holodeck malfunction which will include a villainous character.
Keeping up with the Tamarians
Tendi’s story was all about witnessing (and helping) Lt. O’Conner’s plan to ascend to a higher plane of existence. When she told Rutherford about it, he compared it to both Q (the impish being with god-like powers that first appeared in the TNG series premiere) and The Traveler (a being who could alter space and time with his mind). When Tendi later tries to use techniques from various cultures to help with O’Conner’s ascension, one involves releasing bugs called “florkas” which are a vital part of the ascension process of Tamarians, referring to the enigmatic race from the classic TNG episode “Darmok.”
The Great Koala of the Galaxy
As Lt. O’Conner prepared for Ascension (although he thought he was just faking it) he created a Tibetan sand mandala painting that featured a large bird, possibly another reference to the “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” a nickname for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Later when O’Conner actually started to ascend, he went through a phase where he became an energy being like the bird seen in his mandala. His narration of the process included mentioning “time has no meaning,” something the Prophets/Wormhole Aliens of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would say.
He later said “I see Abraham Lincoln,” which may be a reference to the “Space Lincoln” projection of America’s 16th president created by the Excalibans in the TOS episode “The Savage Curtain.” After saying he could “see everything” he finally revealed “The universe is balanced on the back of a giant Koala,” which sounds like a reference to the popular Discworld series of novels set on a world balanced on a giant tortoise.
I’m called Durango
“Moist Vessel” featured the first appearance of a Tellarite on Lower Decks, who are one of the founding races of the Federation. The Tellarite commanding officer of the USS Merced was named Captain Durango, which could be a reference to Counselor Troi’s gunslinger persona “Durango” from the TNG episode “A Fistful of Datas.”
The USS Merced was the second California-class ship featured on Lower Decks. Keeping with the same naming convention, Merced is a small city in the State of California, like Cerritos. However, it appears the Merced was lost due to the aggressive terraforming substance, and the crew was forced to abandon the ship. It was not seen at the end of the episode when the Cerritos returned to Douglas Station.
In order to get herself re-demoted, Mariner makes fun of the pompous Admiral Vassery and the way he pronounced sensors, saying “sense-oars.” He really didn’t appreciate her making fun of him, or as he said it “fawn.” However, this admiral’s pronunciation of sensors was not unique. In fact, no less a figure than Mr. Spock used the same pronunciation, which has been debated by fans for decades. Charles Harring Elster’s The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations refers to the tendency to “overpronounce” by referencing how Spock would pronounce words like sensor, sector, factor, and record. Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager pronounced it “sense-oars” as well.
Earlier in the season, we saw Captain Freeman workshopping her own catchphrase for going to warp. In this episode we saw her borrow the one used by Captain Pike in Star Trek: Discovery, when ordering the computer to distribute the gas that saved the ship, saying “Hit it.” And the computer replied, “Hitting it.”
Bonus Video: Mariner’s homage to Geordi
In a video posted on Sunday, Mike McMahan explains how Mariner being issued an ops uniform after her promotion was a reference to when Geordi La Forge was promoted in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
What did we miss?
Did you catch anything else? Let us know in the comments below.
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.