We have already recapped and reviewed “Cupid’s Errant Arrow,” the fifth 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.
Body problems: from Ceti Alpha to Praxis
The sci-fi plot for “Cupid’s Errant Arrow” involved Starfleet imploding an unstable moon around the planet Mixtus III. The moon in question looked a lot like Praxis, a moon of the Klingon homeworld, after a devastating accident seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. When Captain Freeman is coming up with solutions to help various factions in the system, she tells those who are currently living on the moon that their ancestral homes will be relocated to the sixth moon, “which will now technically be the fifth, anyway.” In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Ceti Alpha V was mistaken for Ceti Alpha VI, which had been destroyed, unbeknownst to Starfleet. Freeman’s final diplomatic challenge was presented to her when she learned that destroying the moon would save Mixtus III, but doom Mixtus II. This conundrum of how to deal with these three celestial bodies was presented to her as an “impossible problem,” which is possibly a nod to the “three-body problem” of celestial mechanics.
Speaking of planets, when Freeman decided to implode the moon, to the detriment to the couple of aliens who lived on Mixtus II, one of them fell to his knees and decried, “You maniacs! We just put in new floors!” This was an homage to the iconic end of the classic 1968 sci-fi film Planet of the Apes.
Oh, Vancouver Canada
This episode introduced a new ship, the USS Vancouver, which is a Parliament-class ship. The Vancouver was presented as a cooler and higher-tech version of the USS Cerritos, a California-class vessel. Vancouver is named in honor of Vancouver, BC, Canada, which happens to be the home to the Titmouse Animation studio which does work on Lower Decks. The shuttles on board the Vancouver were also named for neighborhoods in Vancouver, BC, including Marpole, Fairview, and Kitsilano. You could also see some quintessential Canadian food being served in the mess, including poutine, and California rolls, which one Vancouver sushi chef claims he invented.
Reversing the Super Hitler
The USS Vancouver was said to be designed to take on Starfleet’s most challenging engineering tasks. This included a mention of recalibrating a Dyson Sphere. The only time one of these star system-sized objects was ever seen was in the TNG episode “Relics,” featuring Star Trek’s legendary engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Doing “epic” feats of engineering appears to be everyday events on the Vancouver, which includes Lt. Barbara Brinson’s offhand mention of deploying the ultimate engineering trope to “reverse the polarity” in order to “reboot the timestream” when the Vancouver had traveled back in time to 1920s Chicago—which could also be a reference to the gangster-themed TOS episode “A Piece of the Action.” To drive home the point of routine time travel, Vancouver engineer Lt. Cmdr. Docent mentioned a twist on a classic time travel trope, saying the ship once went back in time to “kill the guy worse than Hitler.”
That 2370s show
A flashback in this episode showed us Mariner back when she served on the USS Quito, which was revealed to be an Olympic-class ship, like the USS Pasteur commanded by Beverly Crusher in an alternate future in the TNG series finale. The Quito was docked at Station Deep Space 9, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s not clear when the flashback was set, but the crew of the Quito was seen wearing the uniforms introduced in Star Trek: First Contact (set in 2373, or seven years before Lower Decks). Mariner and her crewmates gossip about how Data’s brother Lore was working with the Borg, which is a reference to the TNG episode “Descent,” set in 2369. As they were in First Contact uniforms, this flashback discussion was at least four years later, so perhaps news travels slowly to the crew of the Quito. The flashback also included a meta-joke about the weekly episodic adventures of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the crew of USS Enterprise-D: “Man, it’s like a new thing every week with those guys.”
How many shapeshifters and infiltrators does Star Trek have?
Having someone as cool as Barb head over heels for Brad Boimler has Mariner convinced Barb isn’t who she seems to be. This leads her to create a conspiracy board that would impress Homeland’s Carrie Mathison. In addition to some obvious suspects like a Romulan spy, a secret android, a changeling, and a Sulliban, Mariner goes deeper, suggesting a “salt succubus” (like the M-113 creature also known as the Salt Vampire from the TOS episode “The Man Trap”), “sexy people in rompers who murders just for going on the grass” (like the Edo from TNG “Justice”), a surgically altered Cardassian (like Voyager’s Seksa), and a transporter clone (like TNG’s Thomas Riker). Her conspiracy board also included images of whales, like the ones in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Bynars, Data’s child Lal, the Klingon Duras sisters, and a Vendorian. And to drive home the conspiracy theme, the board also included the classic Bigfoot shot.
NITPICK ALERT: Mariner also mentioned that she ruled Barb out for being a “Dauphin,” which is actually a bit of a goof. She is referring to the shapeshifting Allasomorphs featured in the episode titled “The Dauphin,” and the board included an image of one of the forms of the Allasomorph Anya. However “Dauphin” is a title description of the Allasomorph Salia, meaning the crown princess, which was never actually used in the episode.
For her part, Barb had some her own theories about Mariner, suspecting she was a rogue holodeck character (like TNG’s Minuet), and a Breen infiltrator. In the end, it turns out it was Brad who had the problem, having being infected by a parasite that gave off irresistible pheromones. This is a bit friendlier than the parasites that took over members of Starfleet in the TNG episode “Conspiracy“, and perhaps was a nod the brain slugs in Futurama.
Finally, in a shout-out to the TAS episode “The Infinite Vulcan,” Mariner also mentioned the USS Cerritos has a Phylosian on board, who she described as “a nice plant person.”
Starfleet’s coolest, from Kirk (again) to Riker
Brad describes Jet—whom Mariner thinks is the second coolest person on the USS Cerritos—as a “Kirk sundae with Trip Tucker sprinkles.” This brings us yet another Lower Decks reference to Captain James T. Kirk from TOS, and the first reference to Charles “Trip” Tucker III from Star Trek: Enterprise. A couple of cool TNG characters also got name-dropped: Boimler said that his girlfriend was as real as “a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day” referencing the famed obsession the god-like being Q has with Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (Captain Picard Day was featured in the TNG episode “Pegasus.”) Also, Docent’s PADD password was revealed to be “Riker,” presumably for William T. Riker, who at this point in history is the captain of the USS Titan, so that is a bit creepy.
…and Geordi too
“Cupid’s Errant Arrow” also had a visual gag that referenced a TNG character who is also pretty cool, but notoriously less lucky when it came to his success with dating. When Brad meets up with Barb he brings a teddy bear wearing a VISOR and uniform like Geordi La Forge.
Bonus video update: Mike talks episode 5 eggs
On Sunday CBS released a video with Mike McMahan talking about some of the Easter eggs outlined above.
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.