We have already recapped and reviewed the Star Trek: Lower Decks season two finale “First First Contact” and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast. Now it’s time to take our weekly deep dive into all the canon references, nods, and Easter eggs that caught our eyes. In some cases the connections are clear, with others it may just be our Trek interpretations; art is in the eye of the beholder.
Obviously… SPOILERS ahead.
Cetacean Ops: There be whales here
For the first time, we visit the Cetacean Ops section of the USS Cerritos, even though it has been mentioned several times. There we meet two Beluga whale navigators, Lt. Matt and Lt. Kimolu. Cetacean Ops on the Cerritos included a large pool, buckets of fish, and some balls for the whales to play with. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home established that whales had complex language that could even be communicated through space. Through some lines of dialog on Star Trek: The Next Generation it was established a century later that Starfleet had cetaceans (whales and dolphins) on board some ships, including the Enterprise-D which had a “Cetacean Ops” section, which was never seen, but was featured in the 1996 book Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints.
Rubber Ducky Room
When Rutherford was suggesting special places to visit on the ship, Tendi asked, “The rubber ducky room?” This is a very deep cut referring to a production joke that showed a rubber duck on the master systems display for the USS Enterprise-D on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The rubber duck room is also seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual.
We also got to see the Captain’s Yacht for the USS Cerritos for the first time, and this was only the second franchise appearance of a captain’s yacht, which are large support craft on Starships. The USS Enterprise-D had one named Calypso, but only the underside of it was seen on the ship’s saucer. Star Trek: Insurrection featured the deployment of the Cousteau captain’s yacht from the USS Enterprise-E.
Gomez: From drink-spilling ensign to captain
The character of Sonya Gomez returned as Captain of the USS Archimedes, voiced by Actress Lycia Naff, who played Ensign Gomez in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Q Who” and “Samaritan Snare”). She is probably best remembered for spilling hot chocolate on Captain Picard. In “First First Contact” Gomez references that moment obliquely when she consoles an ensign who tripped on the bridge saying, “I’ve done way worse.”
Excelsior: TOS movie moments
The USS Archimedes was clarified to be an “Obena class” ship after initially being identified as an Excelsior Class, a ship that was first featured in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Showrunner Mike McMahan said it was “inspired by” the Excelsior, but there are some design differences and it is larger. However “First First Contact” had the Archimedes in some moments that evoked the original USS Excelsior in Star Trek III, including first seeing it in Spacedock. And when considering a new captain taking over the Cerritos, Mariner lamented, “We could end up with some weirdo with a riding crop.” This appears to be a reference to Captain Styles who commanded Excelsior in Star Trek III, and carried a swagger stick.
Later when struck by the energy and debris from the exploding Laap system planetoid, the Archimedes is thrown about in a moment reminiscent of the USS Excelsior being struck by the wave emitted from the destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Going manual: TNG movie moments
The USS Cerritos also saw a couple of TNG-era movie moments. The external manual release clamps for the hull plates were the same as the maglocks seen on the USS Enterprise-E to release the deflector dish in Star Trek: First Contact.
And the first officer of the Cerritos also got to emulate the first officer of the Enterprise-E when Ransom used a manual steering column to guide the ship through the debris field, much like Riker did in the Briar Patch in Star Trek: Insurrection.
Like Kirk and Spock… and Jadzia
Star Trek’s James T. Kirk and Spock got mentioned yet again on Lower Decks, identifying them as major historic figures. When arguing with her mother, Mariner claimed she was a “Kirk-style free spirit who kicks butt and it super intimidates people,” but her mother disagreed saying she didn’t have Kirk’s confidence. Later when Dr. T’Ana tells Tendi she is being moved to senior science officer training, Tendi exclaims, “To work on the bridge? Like Jadzia Dax?” To which T’Ana says “Who the f**k is that? I don’t know who that is. No, like Spock.” So Deep Space Nine‘s Jadzia Dax also gets another Lower Decks shoutout, but she is apparently not as well known.
Captian First Contact Day
Boimler makes a banner to celebrate Captain Freeman Day in a style like the banner made for Captain Picard Day in the TNG episode “The Pegasus.” Like it was on the Enterprise, Captain Freeman Day is seen as something for the kids (or “calves”) onboard, but Boimler was undeterred.
Later after Captain Freeman was allowed to make first contact with the people of Laap, Boimler repurposed the banner to say “Happy First Contact Day.” First Contact Day is the day celebrated throughout the federation to commemorate the first contact between humans and Vulcans, as depicted in the film Star Trek: First Contact.
With Captain Freeman expected to be getting a promotion to leave the ship Boimler was excited for the crew to “line up in the hallway” where they could “applaud while the captain walks off the ship for the last time.” The crew later lined up to do exactly this (although Freeman was instead being arrested). This kind of crew lineup for departing members of the crew has been seen before including Worf leaving the Enterprise in the TNG episode “Redemption,” and Neelix leaving the USS Voyager in “Homestead.”
To Be Continued…
“First First Contact” ended on that cliffhanger of Freeman being arrested and taken off the ship. This lead to a title card with “To Be Continued…” in the exact style as the first cliffhanger in Star Trek history, the TNG season three finale, “Best of Both Worlds” with Captain Picard captured and taken off the ship by the Borg. Lower Decks used the exact same style title card as that episode to end the season.
After two seasons, Lower Decks is building up a substantial bit of it’s own canon. In addition to picking up on the previous mention of Cetacean Ops, there were some other quick callbacks to previous episodes…
- Captain Freeman reminds Mariner she holds the hydroscoot record at Starfleet Academy, something first mentioned in last season’s “Crisis Point.”
- After Brad was revived from almost drowning he says, “I saw a Koala.” In “Moist Vessel” Lt. O’Connor saw a Koala as he was ascending to become an energy being.
Bonus Video: Mike talks Gomez
In his weekly eggs update, showrunner Mike McMahan is joined by Tawny Newsome to talk about the return of Sonja Gomez.
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.