We have already recapped and reviewed “I, Excretus” and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast. Playing like a greatest hits of Star Trek, this episode had wall-to-wall references, so we will be highlighting some favorites in our weekly 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.
The episode kicks off with the four ensigns doing a spacewalk to work on a space module that looks a lot like the SS Birdseye from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Neutral Zone.” This is fitting as that module was a time capsule with people from the past and this episode is a time capsule of Trek past.
Season two of Lower Decks has been dipping into Star Trek: The Animated series for references, especially obscure alien races. This episode follows that pattern with drill instructor Shari Yn Yem, who was a Pandronian the colony species with a distinctive style of dress and speech, only seen before in the TAS episode “Bem.”
Shari Yn Yem was on the USS Cerritos to put the crew through individualized drills, based on “situations other Starfleet crews have experienced,” so of course they were based on various moments in Star Trek history. Things kicked off with Mariner doing “Mirror Universe Encounter,” where she was tasked to infiltrate the Terran Empire and find her way back home, which is essentially the plot for the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror,” which introduced Trek’s iconic Mirror Universe. The encounter was full of MU tropes including overt sexuality, goatees, and torture. While it was presented as a Mirror version of the Cerritos, the style was more akin to the TOS episode, including props like the agonizer.
Mariner out west
Mariner was next faced with an “Old West Planet” scenario where she was to survive a lawless frontier town in Earth’s 19th century as a wanted man. She noted this was a “Starfleet classic,” as Star Trek has often done Western-themed episodes, however, the scenario along with the look of the planet was most like the TOS episode “Spectre of the Gun.”
Mariner gets Naked
Mariner’s third and last solo test was called “Naked Time,” where she was to save the crew who are “under the influence of a virus that reduces their inhibitions.” This describes both the TOS episode “The Naked Time” and the TNG episode “The Naked Now” and Mariner’s brief simulation had elements of both episodes including the same graffiti from the TOS episode. Mariner finding the Cerritos crew naked was akin to the TNG episode when Geordi found the crew of the USS Tsiolkovsky naked, although in that case they were all frozen to death. To drive home the point, a naked Shaxs exclaimed “it’s naked time!” shortly before Mariner fails herself by exiting via an airlock. One subtle touch, naked Stevens was holding a tiny horga’hn statue as he rode the naked Ransom.
Tendi’s Klingon ethics
As chief medical officer, Tendi’s “Medical Ethics” drill was to navigate a paralyzed Klingon’s request for an honorable death after he had broken his back, which is essentially the plot of the TNG episode “Ethics,” with Dr. Crusher facing the same dilemma after Worf broke his back. The Cerritos simulation included a number of elements of that TNG episode including a mention of redundant Klingon organs, a Klingon Hegh’bat ceremonial knife, and the red surgical scrubs.
Rutherford’s core encounter
Rutherford was drilled as chief engineer in a scenario titled “The Good Of The Many,” where he had to enter the radioactive dilithium chamber to stop a warp core breach on board the original USS Enterprise. This scenario was taken straight out of a moment when Commander Scott and Captain Spock were facing the same situation in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Rutherford was wearing the same style engineering suit for the era and he was also faced with the same dilemma as Spock who needed to get into the chamber and fix the problem without starting with gloves. Unlike Spock, Rutherford never figured it out and the ship exploded. The title of the scenario is taken from the fundamental Vulcan philosophy axiom that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
Bridge crew gets stacked
The bridge crew had to learn what life is like as ensigns so for their “Klingon Encounter” drill they were tasked to support their commanders by stacking crates while the ship was under attack. This was especially challenging due to the unusual shape of the hexagonal crates which we’ve seen on Lower Decks before, similar to the octagonal crates seen in cargo bays during the TNG era shows.
While stacking they learn what it’s like to be kept out of the loop as an officer runs in to ask, “Have you seen a Q come through here?” The commander was wearing a mix of a World War I uniform with a Robin Hood hat. Encounters with Q often involved historical costumes, including the TNG crew being put into a Robin Hood scenario in the episode “Qpid.”
Stealing the Cerritos
The bridge crew and ensigns held a drill on the bridge called “Escape From Spacedock” where they were to steal the Cerritos to save Spock on the Genesis Planet, which is a moment taken right out of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The longest scenario drill was Boimler’s “Borg Encounter” where he simply had to resist the Borg. His first time through included elements seen in TNG’s “Q Who,” the first episode featuring the Borg, including a Borg cube, and cube interior, Borg adapting to phaser fire, and a drawer incubator with Borg babies.
After Boimler was told to stay in the simulation he was eventually captured by the Borg Queen, who was first featured in Star Trek: First Contact. She was introduced with the same iconic shot of her head and spine descending to be integrated with the rest of her body, and actress Alice Krige returning to voice the Queen as she tormented Boimler, just like she did with Data in First Contact. In the film, the Borg Queen tells Data he is a contradiction being “a machine who wishes to be human,” and she tempts him by giving the android some real skin. In Lower Decks, the Queen mistakes Boimler for an android, saying, “Your design very nearly passes as human,” until realizing he is human but he has very dry skin. One of Boimler’s runs through the scenario also had him escaping via a Borg Sphere, also introduced in First Contact.
There were elements from subsequent Borg episodes including “Best of Both Worlds,” including the music, iconic Borg dialog like “resistance is futile” and variations on “you will be assimilated.” Eventually, Boimler is assimilated, becoming “Excretus of Borg” like Picard becoming Locutus of Borg. This included a version of the iconic shot of Locutus being revealed, with the laser pointer eyepiece. The Lower Decks episode ends with Boimler freed from the simulation, but still dealing with the memory of it. The final line was “They took everything that I was,” almost word for word what Picard says in the follow-up TNG episode “Family,” telling his brother “They took everything I was.”
Even more drills
There were also a number of drills we never saw but were listed on various information screens. Most of these had some direct connection to a Star Trek episode or film, in many cases using the same name. Here are the various drills… [NOTE: We have guessed at names that were incomplete]
- “Kobaya[shi Maru]” – Classic Starfleet no-win scenario first introduced Star Trek II.
- “Time Trap” – from TAS “The Time Trap.”
- “Tribble Troubles” and “Tribble Infestation” – from TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles” and other episodes featuring Tribbles
- “From Q to Q” – Something to do with Q
- “Cause and Effect” and “Time Loop” – TNG “Cause and Effect“
- “Natural Selection” – possibly related to TNG “Unnatural Selection“
- “Evolution” – TNG “Evolution“
- “Chain of Command” – TNG “Chain of Command“
- “Hero Worship” – TNG “Hero Worship“
- “Carbon Based Units” – Ilia Probe’s term for humans in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- “Whale Rescue” – Kirk’s crew went back in time to get some whales in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- “Extreme Engineering” – ?
- “Teleportation Death Tag” – ?
- “Escape the Void” – Possibly VOY “The Void” (trapped in blank space)
- “The Tholian Web” – TOS “The Tholian Web“
- “EMH Tak[es Over] ” – The Doctor becomes Emergency Command Hologram in VOY “Workforce“
Getting frisky with crystalline entities
After all the drills are done the Captain needs to scare Shari Yn Yem into giving them a good score so she has her crew look for dangerous anomalies. The search for anomalies reveals a whole lot of familiar technobabble, including a “Tetryon wormhole” and a “Chronitron Radiation stream.” They also detect a number of Crystalline Entities. The Crystalline Entity was first encountered in the TNG episode “Datalore.” Once the Cerritos travels to where a Crystalline Entity is consuming a rogue planet they detect Transphasic energy and use a Graviton Pulse to escape the system, which is the same kind of thing used to communicate and destroy the original Crystalline Entity in TNG’s “Silicon Avatar.”
They next head to a black hole feeding on a temporal rift. The resulting “timequakes” had a similar effect as the wormhole from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it turns out they were just faking that part.
- The ensigns were left behind on the module because they didn’t sign out their gravity boots, a possible nod to the search for gravity boots subplot in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- Mirror Boimler calls out Mariner as not belonging by shrieking just like Donald Sutherland in the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
- T’Ana says her first drill was to wait “in the back of the transporter bay in case anybody needed to be transported,” a possible nod to the popular webcomic Chief O’Brien At Work.
BONUS VIDEO: Mike talks “ridiculous” Pandronian
For this week Mike’s egg update focused on bringing back the TAS Pandronian, which he described as a “super ridiculous design.”
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.