We have already recapped and reviewed Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4, episode 6, “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place,” and discussed it on the All Access Star Trek podcast. The visit to Ferenginar gave the show a chance to have a lot of fun with Ferengi references, and there many Trek nods 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]
The Uncle Quark Experience
There is no bigger figure in Ferengi lore than Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In modern Trek, we have already seen how Quark has franchised station Deep Space 9’s Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade to locations around the quadrant, but his influence is even greater on the homeworld. The first sign of this is when the lower deckers arrive on the planet; one of the many businesses that can be spotted immediately is “Uncle Quark’s Youth Casino.”
Ferenginar (which is sort of like Space Las Vegas) also featured another Quark business, “Quark’s Federation Experience.” The Starfleet-themed restaurant was an homage to Star Trek: The Experience, a themed attraction that operated inside the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998-2008 which happened to include a restaurant styled like Quark’s from DS9. After the episode aired, showrunner Mike McMahan said on Twitter ,”I only [got] to go to the Star Trek: Experience in Vegas once, but man did it make an impression.”
Those old velour uniforms
Quark’s Federation Experience itself contained quite a few nods, starting with Tendi pointing out the TOS uniforms on the wait staff with “The waiter’s wearing one of those old velour uniforms that used to catch fire all the time.” The main restaurant also featured the aesthetic of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series, with other TOS nods around the restaurant depicting a Mugato, the Guardian of Forever, a Vulcan gong, and the giant spear-throwing aliens of Taurus II.
Other TOS touches include a conjugal suite styled like a Class-F shuttle and a kiosk that sold red shirts.
Rom and Leeta and the new Ferenginar
In the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark’s brother Rom was made Grand Nagus, leader of the Ferengi Alliance. This episode picks up on that story six years later, showing (and discussing) the “progressive change of Ferengi society” brought in by Rom and his wife Leeta, a former DS9 dabo girl, now First Clerk on Ferenginar. Max Grodénchik returns as Rom along with Chase Masterson as Leeta. To illustrate how he thought the first couple changed things, Admiral Vassery used a deep cut, telling Captain Freeman, “We’re not dealing with the old Ferenginar anymore. Rom and Leeta have brought so much progressive change, it makes Moab IV inside the dome look like Moab IV outside the dome.” Moab IV was from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Masterpiece Society,” which featured a barren planet with a domed colony.
While things have changed, Rom still held the Nagus staff as his symbol of office and the episode wrapped up with Rom in the same Nagus’ throne used by Grand Nagus Zek, who also broke tradition by being advised by Ishka, a female—who happened to be Quark and Rom’s mother.
Still all about the latinum
Rom and Leeta may have ushered in a new era for Ferenginar, but the Ferengi still value profit above all else. The episode made it clear that their society still lived by their code based on the Rules of Acquisition; a number of rules were referenced during the episode, including Freeman’s mention of a rule that’s not been said on screen before, Rule #8: “Small print leads to large risk.” (This rule originally came from the book The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition by Ira Steven Behr). Rom’s throne room also featured a Ferengi Market Exchange display like those seen on DS9.
Boimler also witnessed the for-profit model, just as he expected. As he checked into his hotel room, his checklist included the “for-profit minibar, the for-profit toilet, the machine that charges you to pay for the toilet and the minibar.” Machines to accept the strips of latinum for each of these transactions are similar to those seen in previous visits to Ferenginar on Deep Space Nine.
The profit-centric society can also be seen in the Ferengi version of a Dominion War Memorial. On DS9, the casualty list posted on the station became a bit of a makeshift memorial as seen in the classic episode “In the Pale Moonligiht.” But Ferengi do things differently, as their Dominion War Memorial was there to mourn lost profits, which Mariner noted, “I got to give it to you, Ferengi keep it on-brand.”
Enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of a Slug-o Cola with your grubs
On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we learned that the favorite beverage for Ferengi is Slug-o-Cola, which contains “forty-three percent live algae.” Slug-o could be seen from the start of the visit to Ferenginar, like the boxing arena branded as the “Slug-o-nasium.” Boimler was also taken in by a Slug-o commercial, which he called a “commer-se-al” for Slug-o, laughing at how “They just lie to you?” The ad featured a Ferengi drinking Slug-o, whose ears grew, then an attractive womaned push away another Ferengi to be with the Slug-o drinker, with the announcer promising “Slug-o Cola. This happens to everyone who drinks it.”
As Boimler binge-watched the Ferengi show Pog & Dar: Cop Landlords, he noticed one character stop the drama to say “I just need to enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of a Slug-o Cola.” The product placement particularly amused Boimler, who said “Oh, they put commercials in the shows? It’s like mind control.” Things got meta here as he said that while sitting in front of a painting styled like the logo of Paramount+, the streaming home of Lower Decks. Getting even more meta, the Ferengi TV he was watching was shaped like a CBS logo.
Ferengi need all that Slug-o Cola to wash down the tube grubs, a favorite delicacy of Ferengi who eat the larval creatures live as well as minced or fried. When Admiral Vassery prepared for Ferengi visitors on board the USS Toronto, he included a bowl of tube grubs, along with a cheese plate shaped like a starship.
Speaking of drinks, Mariner began her bar crawl on Ferenginar with an impressive order of “two shots of Cardassian tequila and a Dagger of the Mind on the rocks,” then immediately upped that to 3 shots. Who knew that Cardassians made tequila? They are best known for drinking Kanar. As for that mixed drink she ordered, it is a reference to the TOS episode “Dagger of the Mind” about a penal colony where the prisoners were being managed (and tortured) by a “neural neutralizer.” It’s unknown what she was drinking when she moved on to the Library Casino and was seen in a drinking hat shaped like a Ferengi head.
That Unicorn Dog violates the lease
Another familiar creature showed up on in Pog & Dar: Cop Landlords. A tenant was busted for having a pet over 25 pounds, and the adorable thing was an Alfa 177 canine (aka Unicorn Dog) from the TOS episode “The Enemy Within.”
Work that bolt
There was another, more subtle, homage on the Cerritos as Mariner could be seen working on a self-sealing stem bolt, which was a bit of a running gag on DS9. Boimler was worried that Mariner was overdoing it, saying, “You’ve been weathering that stem bolt for so long, it probably can’t even self-seal anymore.”
What did you see?
Spot any new Trek references we missed on Lower Decks? Have a favorite? Sound off in the comments below.
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