We have already recapped and reviewed “Crisis Point,” the ninth 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.
All the villains
“Crisis Point” was an homage to Star Trek movies, done through Mariner reprogramming the holodeck into the interactive movie Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta. She cast herself as the villain Vindicta, who was described as “vengeance personified.” This describes a number of Star Trek villains, especially Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Mariner gave homage to that film when she yelled out “therapy!” like Kirk’s iconic Khan scream. USS Vengeance was the name Admiral Marcus‘ ship in Star Trek Into Darkness, which is eventually commandeered by the Khan from that universe. Vindicta’s ship evoked various Klingon ships, including the D7 and the Bird of Prey, introduced in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, including her raised throne chair like one used by Commander Kruge.
Vindicta also quoted Shakespeare (“The Tempest”) which was a favorite pastime of General Chang from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Mariner even wrote herself a final villain confrontation on a “rickety catwalk,” which has been seen in a number of films, but most notably with Kirk and Soran in Star Trek: Generations.
Refit for a bigger budget
To drive home the movie theme, Lower Decks presented Mariner’s holodeck creation in cinematic widescreen. And the music also changed within the “movie” on the holodeck, evoking scores from the Star Trek feature films. Composer Chris Westlake told Syfy Wire they were especially leaning into James Horner’s score from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. And just like the USS Enterprise was refit for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Cerritos “went through some upgrades.” The scene revealing the ship went on without dialog for almost 60 seconds, in an homage to the Enterprise in spacedock scene from The Motion Picture.
They picked up on a number of other movie tropes to show the bigger budget from action scenes to lots of explosions. The senior officers were seen riding around on new “hydroscoots.” This could be a mashup of extreme sports and new vehicles like Spock’s flying boots in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the ARGO buggy from Star Trek: Nemesis, and Kirk’s motorcycles from Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Beyond. They even gave Shaxs a phaser bazooka described as a “movie budget gun” in Mariner’s script programmed into the holodeck.” The Cerritos also had a brand new big-budget warp effect.
Trek movies homage-a-rama
And the visual references to the Star Trek movies didn’t end there. Mariner’s whole film was replete with lens flares like those from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and subsequent Kelvin films.
The Cerritos was destroyed via a self-destruct like how the refit USS Enterprise was destroyed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Before the final explosion the Cerritos was damaged in orbit and the remaining saucer section descended to the surface like the USS Enterprise-D saucer crash-landing in Star Trek: Generations, although in this case, the saucer rolled instead of coming down flat.
The Cerritos was destroyed by sim-Mariner sacrificing herself (another Trek movie trope) to kill Vindicta. However, somehow the villain survived, landing in an escape pod in a moment like Spock’s coffin on the Genesis Planet in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
And the “movie” ended with the ensigns’ signatures, just like how the TOS cast signed off at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Even more movies!
And the movie references were not constrained to Star Trek films. Vindicta referred to Freeman as an “errand girl,” like Kurtz calling Willard and “errand boy” in Apocalpyse Now. Sim-Mariner tells Vindicta to get away from the captain by saying “get off my mom, you bitch!” like Ripley telling the Xenomorph Queen to “get away from her, you bitch!” in Aliens. And the Crisis Point movie started with flying credits like the 1978 Superman movie (but with the TNG font, making that typeface part of canon).
There were other visual gags tied to other films. Vindicta rose from her coffin like the vampire from Nosferatu. Rutherford’s character “Bionic-5” had a tattoo that looked like the Mandalorian Mythosaur symbol first seen on Boba Fett in the original Star Wars. And Vindicata defeated sim-Shaxs by throwing him a severed Borg which exploded, like head bomb used in Total Recall.
And it wasn’t just the Trek films that inspired “Crisis Point.” The episode started on an unknown planet populated by some humanoid “lizard men” living under “rat oppression” by some rat-like humanoids who like to eat the lizards. This dynamic is much like the TNG episode “Lonely Among Us” which featured the canine Anticans who liked to eat the Cobra-like Salay While the “lizard men” in “Crisis Point” didn’t look much like the Salay, there was a strong resemblance for the rats and the Anticans, but it’s not entirely clear why these two species would merit a second contact mission a decade after the events of “Lonely Among Us.” But at the very least these two species were inspired by that episode.
Live fast and da Vinci
And core setup premise of “Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta” was essentially the same as the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Live Fast and Prosper,” which featured a group of criminals impersonating the crew and mission USS Voyager for their own profit. But the Voyager nods were not done there. We also saw the ensigns hanging out with a hologram version of Leonard da Vinci, who was featured in a number of Voyager episodes. While we never saw da Vinci skeet shooting in Voyager, the Lower Decks version did replicate the same outfit he wore on Voyager. And “Crisis Point” revealed that Mariner regularly dressed up as Toby the Targ, a fictional hologram character mentioned on a few Voyager episodes.
Getting high in engineering
If you were listening closely in the scene where Rutherford and Billups were trying to save the simulated Cerritos, you may have noticed Sam’s technobabble sounding like it was lifted from an issue of High Times magazine. To fix the plasma filters, Sam suggests they “bypass the indicacontrols and suppress the sativents.” Indica and Sativa are the two primary strains of marijuana. The way the pair collaborated over the engineering table during a crisis may have also been a nod to how Geordi and the real Leah Brahms worked together in the TNG episode “Galaxy’s Child.”
Phase II Stooge
Finally, one of the deeper cuts of the episode is when Brad said he didn’t want to play a part in Mariner’s movie, and she replied, “You were kind of a Xon, to be honest. You probably were not going to make the final cut anyway.” When Paramount was developing the Star Trek II television show in the 70s, the character of Xon was created when Leonard Nimoy declined to return as Spock. When that project transformed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture Xon was cut when Nimoy agreed to appear.
In Mariner’s movie, the role Boimler was to play was Shempo, Vindicta’s sycophantic third henchman. Shemp Howard replaced Curly Howard in the Three Stooges comedy trio. In his first scene, Shempo was vaporized in a moment reminiscent of the Futurama Star Trek-themed episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,” which featured the character Welshie, who had replaced James Doohan’s Scotty, and was also killed off early on.
BONUS UPDATE: Mike talks 109 eggs
In his Sunday update, Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan talks about the Easter eggs from 109, including the hologram da Vinci and the Motion Picture “ship porn” sequence.
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.