From Springball To Space Dive, The ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Easter Eggs In “The Least Dangerous Game”

We have already recapped and reviewed “The Least Dangerous Game” and discussed the second episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 on the All Access Star Trek podcast; now we take a deep dive into all the Easter eggs and references that caught our eyes.

[NOTE: In some cases, the Trek connections are clear, with others it may just be our Trek interpretations; art is in the eye of the beholder. And, obviously… SPOILERS ahead]

On the hunt

The titular game was for the hunt being conducted by K’ranch (named as a combination of Ketchup and Ranch), a Kromsapiod whose culture demands hunting. Finding himself stuck on the USS Cerritos, he sought out new prey, and luckily Brad Boimler decided to say “yes” to all opportunities that came his way. While a hunt-based culture (as well as marking prey) is reminiscent of the Hirogen from Star Trek: Voyager, showrunner Mike McMahan has said that the original inspiration for K’Ranch came from the DS9 episode “Captive Pursuit,” which featured Hunters pursuing Tosk, a sentient prey species.

Interactive Klingon gaming

Another game played in this episode was “Bat’leths & BIHnuchs,” a tabletop Klingon roleplaying game akin to “Dungeons & Dragons”. But this game had a special video feature that was reminiscent of 1990s VCR games, specifically one called Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Klingon Challenge, which featured Gowron actor Robert O’Reilly playing a different Klingon character and Jonathan Frakes as Riker.

Anyone up for a game of springball? (or racquetball)?

Before being hunted, Boimler said yes to a different game, specifically participating in the USS Cerritos Springball tournament, which he initially rejected as “sweaty muscle-heads drilling balls at my head.” Springball was a 2-person Bajoran game, first seen in the DS9 episode “For the Cause.” However, that game closely resembled handball. The rackets, court, and outfits seen on Lower Decks more closely resembled racquetball, seen played on TNG and DS9, notably in the episode “Rivals.”

EDIT: Confirmed to be raquetball by showrunner Mike McMahan on Twitter.

Little rascal

Boimler’s whole new “say yes” thing started off due to him finding out a former Cerritos ensign (Vendome) had been promoted to captain of another ship. He was told this happened because Vendome got a field promotion after a temporal rift turned the previous captain “into a baby.” This is similar to the plotline of the TNG episode “Rascals,” when Captain Picard and three other crew members were turned into teenagers due to an energy anomaly. It could also be another nod to The Animated Series; in the episode “The Counter-Clock Incident,” the Enterprise travels to a negative universe where everyone starts aging in reverse, and at one point most of the crew become babies. Captain Vendome went on to staff his bridge crew with fellow Bolians.

Orbital lifts Space elevators

The mission of the week was to repair the “orbital lifts” at the planet Dulaine, which had an atmosphere that didn’t allow beaming. Mariner pointed out (and Ransom acquiesced) these were space elevators. While space elevators have been talked about for decades as a real solution for getting into space and have been included in a lot of science fiction, they are quite rare in Star Trek, featuring prominently only in the Voyager episode “Rise.”

Space dive!

Mariner (and later Mariner and Ransom) took a quick way down from the elevator by using Dulainian orbital skydiving suits which were fashioned very much like those seen in the 2009 Star Trek movie when Kirk, Sulu, and Olsen dove from a shuttle to the Narada drilling platform.

Led by a trio

When they arrived at the surface of Dulaine, Mariner quipped it was “one of those cultures that run everywhere and kiss hello, right?” referencing the TNG episode “Justice” and the Edo who did like to run everywhere and greeted everyone with great affection. The culture ended up resembling some classic Trek societies due to how they were ruled by a triumvirate described by Mariner as a “psychic baby, evil computer, and a volcano” which could be seen as a bit of a TOS mashup, with nods to the Oracle from “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and Vaal from “The Apple.”

Getting Ripped

The ripped shirt is an old trope seen on classic Star Trek, with Kirk often ripping his tunic during action sequences, something we have seen before with Commander Ransom. For this episode, Lower Decks really leaned into it by having Ransom rip off his shirt dramatically to create common ground with the fitness-crazed Dulainians. Hey, it worked!

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 Latin America, 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.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.

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Not sure if this was intentional but Sam Richardson (who voiced Vendome) had a similar meteoric rise on Veep.

K’ranch was basically a Predator even down to the Alan Silvestri-like theme playing throughout.

Bolian photo was based on TNG Season 6 publicity?

Yes, very likely, right?!

Also, a correction to the claim that the “whole crew” was made up of Bolians; the dialog mentioned only the _bridge_ crew IIRC.

You’re right, that was a mistake. I fixed it.

That’s a sharp eye. It certainly seems like it was inspired by it.

Bolian makeup changed over the years; here we see two types together.

I really like having different versions of aliens appear, it’s more credible than having everyone on a planet looking so alike.

Sooo . . . When Boimler gets advice from VHS Martok, the Klingon Chancellor’s inspirational conclusion is “Never back down! Never cower!!” A Klingonesque nod to Galaxy Quest, perhaps?

Yeah I caught that too. I was sure for a sec there he was going to end it with surrender.

The design of the Dulainians is quite certainly another reference to the aliens in “The Apple”.

With Ransom slipping up on “space elevators”, Lt. Broccoli came to mind – instilled in me forever the dangers of using secret nicknames.
Also, I’m quite sure the “Are you gonna say yes to…” was a reference, either to that show where they dress brides (“Are you gonna say yes to the dress???”), or maybe some song.