We have already recapped and reviewed Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode 9, “Trusted Sources,” and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast. Now we take a deep dive to look at the Trek (and other) connections that caught our eye.
[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]
Carol Freeman’s “Project Swing By” was a plan to visit planets the Federation hasn’t checked in on for years, and a perfect example of that was Ornara, a civilization that was entirely addicted to a drug (Felicium) provided by a neighboring planet, from the TNG episode “Symbiosis.” 17 years prior, Picard cited the Prime Directive when he chose not to intervene to help the delivery of the drugs, or as Captain Freeman noted, Picard made them all go “cold turkey.” The Ornarans went through a rough spot as depicted on their mural, but they ended up okay.
After Ornara was a bust, Freeman decided to swing by Brekka, the neighboring planet and home of the “pushers” Picard had cut off from their sole customers. We only met one Brekkan, who was quickly vaporized, so perhaps this was some delayed karmic payback for keeping the Ornarans hooked on their drugs for so long.
Revenge served cold
That Brekkan was vaporized by one of the many Breen occupying Brekka—much to the surprise of the crew of the Cerritos. The Breen were introduced in season 4 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and featured prominently in the final season after joining the Dominion during the Dominion War. The Breen wear refrigeration suits and their unintelligible distorted speech comes through devices on their helmets; even after reappearing in Lower Decks, they still remain a mystery.
Devil in the details
When Project Swing By came up empty on Ornara, Freeman called Admiral Buenamigo for advice, who suggested they dig deeper “just in case it’s secretly run by kids or somebody pretending to be the devil.” The devil bit is referencing the TNG episode “Devil’s Due” when a con artist posed as Ardra, a devil-like mythological figure to the people of Ventax II. She also used her tricks to show herself as the more familiar Devil.
Back to Beta
Freeman suggested they could return to Beta III because there’s “a pretty good chance they’ve fallen for Landru again.” This is a double reference as the Cerritos previously checked in on Beta III in the season one Lower Decks episode “No Small Parts,” where they found out the inhabitants were once again worshipping the supercomputer Landru, which originally appeared in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Return of the Archons.”
Losing frame of mind
Mariner gets (falsely) blamed for leaking all the chaos on the ship to the reporter and gets confused after everyone turns against her—including her own girlfriend, who gives her back the candle they made together in “Hear All, Trust Nothing.” Not understanding why everyone suddenly hates her, Mariner asks: “Is this a frame of mind thing? Am I gonna wake up with a neural drain on my head?” This is a meta callout to the actual episode title from TNG’s “Frame of Mind,” where Riker thought he was losing his mind through a series of visions before waking up in an alien psychiatric hospital with a neural drain in his head.
This episode featured the return of Steve Levy, the resident conspiracy theorist on board the USS Cerritos. He joined in with everyone else on board the ship in shunning Mariner; however, he had an alternate theory (of course): “I know that this is all part of some Temporal Cold War shenanigans.” This refers to the recurring arc of the Temporal Cold War that ran through Star Trek: Enterprise during an era when most people (including the Vulcans) dismissed time travel and Archer’s talk of a big conspiracy.
More TNG leftovers
Believing Mariner betrayed her, Captain Freeman assigns her to the worst posting in Starfleet, Starbase 80. And in this episode, we finally see how it is an old smelly gross starbase crewed by personnel to match. And being the worst of Starfleet, they also get hand-me-downs. The crew uniforms were like the old jumpsuits from early on in Star Trek: The Next Generation and they were still using old combadges. They also were flying an old Type 15 shuttlepod from TNG.
When Captain Freeman calls Starbase 80 the crew were distracted by “a Pyrithian bat flying around.” Pyrithian bats were first introduced on Star Trek: Enterprise as part of Dr. Phlox’s sickbay menagerie. One got loose in the episode “A Night in Sickbay,” so Captain Archer and Phlox tried to capture it with a net and a lure (with more success than the Starbase 80 crew using a broom).
Mariner wasn’t on Starbase 80 because she had taken up the offer from archeologist Petra Aberdeen (“Reflections“). On her ship, Petra told Mariner she had “a hot tip on some Vedalan mummies,” noting they should be “pretty ancient.” The Vedala are a feline species seen in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “The Jihad,” at that time the oldest surviving spacefaring race known to the Federation.
Kayshon the caveman
When he was doing his interview Kayshon dropped a very deep cut saying: “For me, the Cerritos is life in the cave of Garanoga.” This is a reference to the Garanog a species only mentioned in The Dominion War Sourcebook: The Fires of Armageddon an unpublished supplement to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Roleplaying Game.
Badger’s pie pitch
Before Captain Freeman started making changes for the reporter coming on board, the ship was set for the annual pie eating contest. The ensigns were prepping themselves and Mariner was excited because this year the flavor was going to be blueberry. This is another deep cut, but not to Star Trek. It is actually a reference to AMC’s series Breaking Bad. In the episode “Blood Money,” the character Badger outlines his own Star Trek pitch which was for a replicated pie eating contest on the original USS Enterprise. His pitch started with tulaberry pies, but Skinny Pete objected, saying those were from Voyager (while tulaberry was first mentioned on DS9, there was also a mention on Voyager), so Badger switched his pitch to blueberry pies. [Bonus fun: Someone animated Badger’s pitch on YouTube]
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.
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