As indicated by the title, the third episode of the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks brought in a legacy Voyager character, but the references went well beyond the Delta Quadrant. We have already recapped and reviewed “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris” and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast; now we take a deep dive into all the Easter eggs that caught our eyes. 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 about the VOY
The return of Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Duncan McNeill to voice Tom Paris was telegraphed by the show a month ago in both the Comic-Con trailer and the announcement of a Tom Paris commemorative plate. But when Boimler learned that Paris himself was coming aboard the Cerritos, the Starfleet fanboy rattled off some of Tom’s accomplishments, including his holodeck programs Fair Haven and Captain Proton. Mariner snarked back asking if Paris was “still a salamander,” referring to the notorious episode “Threshold” when Paris broke the warp 10 barrier and de-evolved. Later Jet jokes with Boimler that he can help get him into a turbolift by carrying him “across the threshold.”
Boimler even used the real-world official acronym “VOY”—to save time!—while talking about the USS Voyager and his collection of collectible plates featuring the full bridge crew “from Janeway all the way down to Kim.” Mariner later jokes, “Did Chakotay sign your bowl?” referencing the ship’s first officer. Boimler also hummed part of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme to Star Trek: Voyager, officially making it canon in-universe.
In addition to playing a plate, the real Tom Paris was visiting the USS Cerritos on his “handshake tour” to boost morale around the fleet. The bridge crew had fun with Tom, joking with him to be careful not to get them lost in the Delta Quadrant, the primary location for Voyager. But Tom wears his history proudly. When Boimler accidentally falls into the bridge completely spikey-haired and disheveled, Paris jumps into action, mistaking him for a Kazon, Voyager’s primary villain in the early seasons. As he takes on Boimler, Paris proclaims: “This is how we kick ass in the Delta quadrant!”
Play dom-jot, human
Of course, Voyager didn’t get all the love in the episode; this is Lower Decks, after all, so there had to be some for Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the destinations visited by Tendi and Mariner was Starbase Earhart, named for real-world aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart who appeared in the Voyager‘s “The 37s.” But Starbase Earhart is also The location of a pivotal moment in Jean-Luc Picard’s life, as seen in the TNG episode “Tapestry.”
At Starbase Earhart, when Mariner needs money, she looks for “the biggest, dumbest guys” in the bar. Her wishes are answered in the form of Nausicaans, and just like a young Picard in that episode, she ends up getting into a bar knife fight with the aliens over a game of dom-jot. Unlike Picard, they escape without getting knifed through the heart.
Come to Quark’s, Quark’s is fun!
Tendi and Mariner visit Qualor II, first seen in the two-part TNG episode “Unification.” As the pair enters the city, you can see a promotion for the four-armed piano player Amarie, whom Riker met in that episode. Also performing was Vic Fontaine, the hologram lounge singer first installed by Dr. Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In another DS9 reference, Qualor II has a Quark’s Bar, which appears to be a franchise now as there is also one on Freecloud as seen in Star Trek: Picard. But the references in the signage aren’t done yet: A club headliner includes the Zebulon Sisters, who performed their famous Chu Chu dance on the USS Cerritos in the Lower Decks episode “Terminal Provocations.”
Deep Space Mariner
Speaking of DS9, Mainer revealed that she once served on station Deep Space 9 at the same time as Worf, which would have to be at least six years earlier. The station was seen in “Cupid’s Errant Arrow” during Mariner’s flashback to her time on the USS Quito, which we now learn was one of her five previous ship postings. Mariner also name-dropped the station’s chief of security with, “I thought it was Tendi with no last name, like Odo.” She also revealed that when she was on DS9, she broke Worf’s Klingon Mek’leth knife, but got it fixed without him realizing it.
While Worf was fond of Klingon opera, we learn there is more than one genre of Klingon music. In one of the many character reveals for Tendi, we learn she is a huge fan of Klingon “acid punk” music, saying “Why even listen to Klingon if it isn’t punky or acidic?” One of her favorite songs is named “Gik’Tal,” a reference to a fake form of Klingon martial arts Worf used in the TNG episode “Lower Decks.” She is also a fan of the song “Gre’thor Paradise”: Gre’thor Is Klingon hell. But her favorite song is “all about the caves of No’Mat”—No’Mat is an important ritual location on the Klingon homeworld Qo’noS first mentioned in the TNG episode “Birthright, Part I,” and also referenced on Deep Space Nine and Discovery. Mariner commented, “Acid punkers love singing about caves.”
Not that kind of Orion
The episode also delved into Tendi’s past as an Orion. The green-skinned humanoid race has been part of Star Trek since the first pilot “The Cage” featured an Orion slave girl. The Original Series also established that Orions were well-known pirates, as did The Animated Series in “The Pirates of Orion.” In this episode, Tendi revealed her connection to this past with: “A lot of humans think we’re all thieves and pirates… wait. My cousin works in a thieves’ den in a pirate outpost.”
The reputation of Orions is well-known, so much so that those Nausicaans accused Tendi of planning to “use her pheromones to cheat us.” The Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Bound” revealed female Orions were capable of emitting powerful pheromones to control others, but Tendi said she “was not even that kind of Orion.” We also learn that Tendi’s past includes some kind of leadership position within the Orion Syndicate, where she held the title “Mistress of the Winter Constellations.” Thanks to Enterprise, we know that the notion of the sexy Orion slavegirl was in fact part of a ruse, as Orion females controlled the Syndicate. Tendi doesn’t elaborate much regarding her time with the Syndicate, saying, “It’s an Orion thing” and it actually makes her “really uncomfortable.”
Is that a sex thing?
Tendi’s whole mission for Dr. T’Ana was to retrieve a “family heirloom,” revealed to be a Caitian libido post. We learn that Caitians have to be intimate yearly or “hormones make them crazy.” She says it’s “like a Vulcan on Pon Farr,” referring to the seven-year Vulcan mating cycle that affected Spock, first appearing in the TOS episode “Amok Time.”
Speaking of sex, Mariner revealed she is very flexible: She dates “bad boys, bad girls, bad gender nonbinary babes, ruthless alien masterminds, bad Bynars.” Not only does this show flexibility for gender and gender identity, but also a genderless species, the Bynars, first introduced in the TNG episode “11001001.” Bynars always lived together in pairs and were all connected to a master computer, so a relationship with a Bynar could get complicated. Seems fitting.
Bridge crew always comes back
“We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” also featured the return of security chief Shaxs, who sacrificed his life to save Rutherford in the season one finale. Rutherford was obsessed with how and why Shaxs was back, but the rest of his friends just took it in stride as commonplace. Mariner and Boimler also rattled off a number of possible ways Shaxs could have come back, referencing quite a few (but actually not complete) list of Star Trek resurrections:
- “Transporter pattern buffer thing” – Scotty in TNG’s “Relics“
- “Restored katra” – Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- “Mirror Universe switcheroo” – Georgiou in Discovery‘s “The War Without, The War Within“
- “Borg rebuilt him” – Neelix in VOY’s “Mortal Coil” (resurrected by The Doctor using Borg tech)
- “Future son from an alternate timeline” – Alexander Roshenko in TNG’s “Firstborn“
- “Maybe he got Genesis-deviced” – The Search for Spock again
- “Or time-ribboned” “Or trapped in the Nexus” “Nexus, time-ribbon, same thing” – Kirk in Star Trek: Generations
Later Rutherford has a terrifying vision of multiple alternate versions of Shaxs referring to various Star Trek characters, races, and locations:
- In NX-01 uniform from Enterprise saying, “What was the deal with T’Pol’s hair for that one year?”
- In 23rd century Terran Empire uniform saying, “I fought my way out of the multiverse” and “Mirror, Mirror, Mirror“
- As a Borg saying, “The Borg put my body into the collective” and “Resistance is futile.”
- In a sphere saying, “A microscopic civilization brought me back to life to harness the powers of my body with a tiny Dyson sphere.”
- In a Neelix outfit saying, “It was no transporter accident,” again referring to “Mortal Coil” or possibly to Tuvix, who was created from a transporter accident fusing Nelix and Tuvok.
- Saying, “In the Nexus, it’s always Christmas,” referring to Picard’s Christmas vision in Generations.
- In costume as James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes nemesis who was made sentient on the holodeck in TNG’s “Elementary, Dear Data.”
- Wearing a “red shirt” 23rd-century Starfleet uniform.
Here are a handful of other little references and Easter eggs:
- Tendi mentions Captain Freeman had Terellian Death Syndrome, a disease Reginald Barclay thought he had in the TNG episode “Genesis.”
- One of the aliens in the bar on Earhart was an Ariolo, first seen in Star Trek IV, then in season one of Lower Decks.
- On Qualor II, you can see Galardonian, the first aliens from the Lower Decks series premiere “Second Contact.”
UPDATE: Showrunner talks Shaxs variants
On Sunday Paramount+ released a video featuring showrunner Mike McMahan talking about the various versions of Shaxs seen in the episode.
And on Monday they released an image on social media showing off some of the different Shaxs outfits.
— Star Trek on Paramount+ (@StarTrekOnPPlus) August 30, 2021
What did you see?
Spot any new Trek references we missed on Lower Decks? Have a favorite? Sound off in the comments below.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. It is available on Amazon Prime Video internationally on Fridays. It will debut in Latin America on Paramount+ in September.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.