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.
Such a juvenile show with annoying characters. Just not getting it?
Also, that’s not how tractor beams work. They need to cover the entire ship or at least some of the hard structural points. As shown in this ep, those beams would simply rip off some outer hull plates. This is a violation of high-school level physics.
Yeah because Star Trek has ALWAYS adhered to real-world physics. Get over yourself.
This is the same series that not only showed the entire starship shaking from music in the crew lounge, but also showed a nearby Klingon ship shaking from the same music — somehow transmitted through the vacuum of space? WTF?
Like what you want, but this show insults my intelligence as a life-long Star Trek fan.
You have made that same complaint on another website and it has already been pointed out to you that the music was transmitted to the Klingon ship through the comm channel.
Also, you have claimed repeatedly that you don’t even watch the show so I fail to see how it can insult your intelligence.
Tractor beams are not in common use in the real world. His criticism seems to have an understanding of how the science works.
Nope. Scientists at NYU demonstrated the first operational tractor beam technology in 2016.
I don’t agree with that interpretation of that scene, but fine, I’ll let that one go.
So now, I would like to hear your explanation of the other major issue with that scene that I brought up — why would the entire Cerritos starship be shaking from a simple crew lounge musical act? That’s ridiculous, and is kiddie cartoon fantasy…and you should just admit that instead of conveniently ignoring that part of my comment?
I think you’re insulting your own intelligence with those kinds of posts. How do YOU know how tractor beams are supposed to work? As far as the shaking from the music, you do know this is a cartoon right?
See, here is the problem. CBS has insisted the entire Lower Decks series in canon. Thus, the entire ship shaking from music needs essentially “really happened” in the Star Trek universe.
The Klingons heard the music too because of the open comm channel.
Please address my other comment on that scene — why would the entire Cerritos starship be shaking from a simple crew lounge musical act?
Oh so you are an expert on the subject of the physics of tractor beams, please do tell where you found the research describing the properties of magical attraction beams. I suppose all those times tractor beams were used in a similar manner in all previous iterations of Star Trek must have been wrong as well, oh well, better start hating on those now.
Seriously, listen to yourself.
Not an expert, but I can look at a silly cartoon and tell where the application of it defies common physical sense.
And why would you want to do that? You said it yourself, “silly cartoon”. Who cares? Move along, move along…
Pot calling the kettle black. Why not just ignore my comment then given 90% of the people here like the series and are willing to give it free passes?
All I said was that I personally didn’t like the series and that I was not buying into the way the tractor beams were applied…now 20 people are piling on me for just having that rather minor opinion here.
It’s not my fault CBS insisted this show was canon — given it’s canon, why can’t I make technical comments with not getting picked on here?
Why are my comments such a threat to so many of you here?
Get over yourself. You don’t sound like fun at parties.
Yet I am able to write a sentence that makes sense. ;-)
You’re the one complaining here ^_^
You are the tractor beam expert!
You’re assuming that Methusalah gets invited to parties.
You all just wrote the dialogue for the best SNL skit ever…
LOL — agreed!
It’s a joke. Obviously you didn’t get it.
Georgiou’s Sass is pretty much agreeing with you there, Einstein. LOL
Beg to differ.
I think it is reasonable to infer that, like other real-world emissions of radiation and energy, beam strength is in relationship to both distance of projection as well as the width of the angle of emission. See gain and directional antennas for reference. We have countless examples of tractor-beams in TNG not encompassing the entire surface of an object in tractor. One has to assume it is as a result of distance and the angle of the field of emission present. Furthermore, when the Merced close in, both the area covered and the distance decrease, resulting in the beam being overly concentrated in a specific area of hull. It is likely that the area targetted is not the whole structure of the ship, but rather likely that it targets a “hard point” that includes significant load-bearing structures. When you tow a tractor-trailer, you don’t tow the entire vehicle. Instead, you attach to hardened tow-hooks that transfer the load to the frame of the vehicle. It is similarly not unheard of for these tow points to become over-stressed and rip off the front bumper or entire forward frame when too much force is applied.
You don’t have to like the show. But don’t bastardize physics in an attempt to further disparage the show.
“When you tow a tractor-trailer, you don’t tow the entire vehicle. Instead, you attach to hardened tow-hooks that transfer the load to the frame of the vehicle. It is similarly not unheard of for these tow points to become over-stressed and rip off the front bumper or entire forward frame when too much force is applied.”
That’s exactly what I am saying. And if you look at the where the beam is hitting on the ships in the ep, that is exactly the problem. That’s for unintentionally proving my point.
Get over yourself. It is alright to not like things, but choosing to nitpick over something as trivial as the portrayal of tractor beams is nothing but childish. You must have a very irrational hatred of this show if that is the best you can come up with.
Sorry. What was I thinking to comment on a Star Trek fan website on a technical aspect of the series and to note that I simply don’t like this series? Thank goodness 20 people piled on me to correct my faulty thinking.
My new opinion: I am loving this series, the characters are great, and the use of science is just perfect. This is Star Trek at it’s canon-best!
I wonder what the studio suits will say on Monday morning…
Suit 1: “What are the fans saying on the interwebs?”
Suit 2: “Well, they aren’t happy with the-ahem- inaccuracies of the tractor beam, the loud music going through the vacuum of space.”
Suit 1 and 2 (in unison do a facepalm) “Nerds”
No they won’t be looking at that. What they will be looking at are the abysmal reviews and audience rankings for this series across the internet and media.
PS: Funny how on a Trek fan website I am made fun of for being a nerd. I will wear that badge proudly — thanks!
You need to have some fun.
That’s what Star Wars and Marvel is for.
What a ridiculous comment, Methusalah. You’re embarrassing.
I find Methuselah’s comment worthwhile, and think that what is embarrassing is how posters here seem to be rushing to pile on when it comes to challenging a seemingly considered post that has to do with representing science in an honest fashion. You’d figure in this godawful year of all years, there’d be a renewed and massive interest in science and facts.
As somebody who pitched to TNG, and had one of my stories with a story point revolving around how the tractor beam worked — specifically, how it could be altered to shove rather than pull, something that I didn’t see addressed in the tech section of the writer’s guide they had sent me prior to my going in to pitch — I think Methuselah’s got a solid basis for his comments, especially how it relates to what I find to be good elements in good TREK. (For my story, it DID involve targeting the beam to just a specific area to ‘shove’ but I thought that required a special modification to focus it in that fashion, because unlike WARWULF, I don’t recall tractor beams that failed to encompass the vessels being tractored.)
NOTE: I’m specifically not commenting on the new show because I haven’t seen the series.
My little post being critical has resulting in tons of people piling on me just because I do not agree with the “group-think” that I am seeing on this site that we have to accept everything we see on this show, hook, line and sinker. If CBS hadn’t insisted this series was canon, and said it was a comedy-cartoon spoof of Trek, I wouldn’t be raising these issues.
I wondered when the responses to my rather mild technical comment on this series would devolve into somebody name-calling me like a middle-school bully.
How dare I be critical of a science fiction element of Lower Decks and voice that publicly. What was I thinking?
This thread has they centered into personal attacks and trolling. Closed
You forgot the fruit bowl in Mariner’s quarters. The bowl holds no apple. Reference to Encounter at Farpoint? I think so.
A show that depends on people recognizing trivia like this is bound for failure.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
The show in no way depends on people recognizing any of this trivia or Easter eggs. They are just there for fun.
This has nothing to do with recognizing trivia, we’re talking about easter eggs. Fun little tidbits that are put in for fans to look for, only if they want too. Not finding them, or even looking for them, does not preclude you from enjoying the show. If it does, that’s on you, not the show.
What a fun episode.
Generic Vulcan also on the Merced. Tumblr has been referring to the one on the Cerritos’s as ‘Buddy’. He has a standard Vulcan hairstyle. The Merced’s Vulcan has a parted hairstyle.
This may be a long shot, but I wonder if the cosmic koala was a nod to Petey from the long-running webcomic Schlock Mercenary.
Computer, colourful sand, room temperature.
OK… So did no one see the resemblance to Haley Joel Osment’s IMDB pic and his character? Not the Tellerite species but his beard coloribg?
But Osment played Lt O’Connor who ascended.
I see the resemblance there too, but no beard.
I sm curious about why the handed Mariner an Ops gold uniform instead of just leaving her in her command red uniform.
Probably just to mess with her daughter even more. I’m loving the small Dysfunctional Family things that come up.
That’s a good question and we now have an answer thanks to a video posted today If you look at the article above we’ve added it.
So, the universe on the back of a koala is now canon? Discuss.
What we know is that he saw a koala carrying the universe. Whether that represents anything in the sidereal Prime Universe is unknown.
Perception vs reality is a large theme in Trek, and the multiverse is canon.
Exactly. Until the writers bother to explain HOW exactly O’Conner “ascended” (which they probably won’t ever mention it again, I reckon) then we have to take that whole sequence with a grain of salt.
The Koala is Q
Good one Ninja!
The bits about the pronunciation of the word “sensors” is quite funny. I never noticed how that sounded in the live action shows. I’ll never be able to look at Star Trek’s past usage of that word again. That’s an original joke here in lower decks that works.
Not sure if anyone noticed this yet, but the inner walls of the observation lounge on the Cerritos have an identical pattern to the Enterprise-D in the later seasons of TNG. The colors are different, but this definitely wasn’t a coincidence. From the design of the main deflector you this, it’s clear they want us to know this is a derivative of the Galaxy class.
There are a lot of commonalities in 24th century design on the ship and in the props. We’ve decided stuff like that is so prevalent that it’s not really Easter egg although it’s fun to see little details like that
Got it! They definitely did their homework.
Another fun episode. I’m finding that Lowers Decks provides a much-needed weekly giggle. I’ve grown to really look forward to it. Some of the self-serious posters really need to lighten up!
The chair debate poked fawn -er, fun- at TNG and Voyager, with calling the strip of leather down the chairs “ostentatious,” and Ransom telling Shaxs he “wasn’t sitting on [barstools] right” because they made his back hurt… while the Riker maneuver (flipping his leg over the back of a chair) was born because Frakes developed back problems from bending over to pull the chairs out during repeated takes.
Great article as usual TM!!!
This show is killing it for me! I just love being back in this era! I didn’t love this episode but it definitely had a lot of great moments in it. Felt very TNG in so many ways! I never noticed Spock or Tuvok saying sensors differently before. I mean its stuff like this that proves these people are really on top of their game with this show.
Oh and one thing you missed was Ransom doing the famous Riker pose putting his foot up on every object available lol.I didn’t notice it at first until I saw the Ketwolski Youtube review who pointed it out. But yes its hilarious seeing it now. McMahan said Ransom is part Kirk and Riker and in two episodes we got him ripping his shirt off and now throwing his leg up on everything, so those two are now covered. ;)
Thanks. We have mentioned the riker thing with Ransom in previous review, eggs article, and podcast. Once we cover it we kind of feel like we don’t need to keep on repeating it.
Ah, I see! Makes sense.
I’m going to assume Durango is an homage to the Mexican state of Durango or the Colorado city, and not to the terrible episode “For a Few Datas More.”
Correction: the episode was titled, “The Good, the Bad, and the Data” (ll Buono, Il Cattivo, e I Dati).
Ahem, it was Fistful of Datas, a play on Fistful of Dollars.
I believe The Good The Bad and the Data May have been the title in early drafts.
Ahem, I was joking, Todd.
I never understood why the 48HRS sequel wasn’t called FOR A FEW HRS MORE. It even has a Leone tribute in the opening, tho for ONCE UPONA TIME.
Was the pronunciation of “sensors” unique to Nimoy or did others pronounce it this way in the olden times of yesteryear?
Tuvok said it with a voiced and stressed second syllable like Spock. So did Worf.
I started rewatching TNG the other day and seem to be noticing that pronunciation a lot. I think that some of it may be because so many Trek actors were classically trained. It might also be an artifact of the Queen’s English also used by Canadian actors.
I have this image, however, of some Assistant Director having to remind people, “The word is pronounced ‘sens-OARS’, not ‘SEN-surs’. This is a starship; we’re not waving burning incense at them!”.
Hi John, I can definitely confirm that a long O and stressed second syllable isn’t a typical Canadian pronunciation, although it’s evolved since the 1960s.
Classical theatre training makes sense though. Trek has leaned to classical training in its casting, and we need to remember that the 1960s were only a decade into the television era. Actors were still adapting to the medium. Star Trek and I Love Lucy were among the early syndicated reruns because many television series were live and film was not retained.
We also have to remember that 1960s audio technology on television sound stages wasn’t the same as today, but wasn’t at the same level as cinematic productions. Not sure there was much scope for voice overs in post, so they have to be intelligible in the take.
It’s also possible they were trying to avoid saying something like “censors”, since Spock was almost deleted because censors said he looked too satanic. Maybe, like, don’t say Beetlejuice three times or he shows up?
I was asking if film/tv actors pronounced it this way, outside of Trek, pre Trek. E.g. I could imagine 1950s sci-fi movies featuring a “sensors” pronunciation similar to Nimoy’s, though I can cite no specific examples.
To those struggling with this show, or simply “not getting it,” I suggest one of two things:
1.) Stop watching the show. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not liking a show, even a Star Trek show.
2.) Try to relax and enjoy the show. Star Trek doesn’t always have to take itself so seriously, sometimes it’s okay just to have fun.
Most important though, you can dislike the show, you can even hate it, but don’t go denigrating others for liking it. That’s about as anti-Trek as you can get.
I disagree about your entire premise of the ascension aspect of this episode. I am pretty sure it is a parody of the TNG episode “Transfigurations”. There were references to other similar events in other episodes as you mentioned, but the whole transformation was a play on S3-E25.