The second season of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” is finally here! Like each of the episodes from season one, the premiere was jam-packed with references to previous “Star Trek” shows. In fact, the episode was essentially an elaborate parody of the “Star Trek: The Original Series” episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Here’s a breakdown of the Easter eggs from “Lower Decks” season two, episode one, “Strange Energies.”
Mariner’s ‘Chain of Command’ Holodeck Program
The episode opened with Beckett Mariner being interrogated by a Cardassian operative. The interrogation room and the set of scary torture tools were eerily similar to the setting where Captain Jean-Luc Picard was tortured in the classic “Star Trek: The Next Generation” two-parter, “Chain of Command.”
As Mariner fought off her interrogator, all while processing her complicated relationship with her mother, Captain Freeman, she encountered Brad Boimler. He was also being tortured by the Cardassians, and he begged her to help him escape. Boimler told her that the Cardassians kept “showing him lights,” an obvious reference to the iconic “There are four lights” scene from “Chain of Command.”
Beckett left Boimler to deal with the Cardassians on his own, saying that she was still mad at him for transferring to the Titan. This seemed like a heartless move, even for Mariner, until Boimler revealed that he was just a hologram. The scenario was revealed to be a holodeck program that Beckett used for cardio, leg day, and combat training.
Fans were expecting a “Chain of Command” homage as soon as they saw the first trailer for the second season, and the scene delivered in typical “Lower Decks” fashion.
References to “Roddenberry’s Rules”
Beckett’s holodeck session was interrupted by an Andorian crewmate. After a tense exchange, Mariner commented, “I know we’re not supposed to have interpersonal conflict, but I really hate that Andorian!”
Trekkers will probably catch that this is a reference to the infamous “Roddenberry’s Rules.” The franchise’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, had an elaborate set of rules about the future he’d created in “Star Trek.” Some of the rules were about the culture and society he envisioned for the future, others were specific details about how his imagined technologies worked.
One of the most infamous of Roddenberry’s rules was that the crew members on Starfleet ships weren’t supposed to have any interpersonal squabbles. Roddenberry imagined that in the future, people would have evolved past “petty conflict.” So, he was adamantly against drama between his crewmates. According to “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” this rule was vehemently disliked by many of “Star Trek’s” writers because it put hard limits on the stories they could tell.
Later in the episode, Captain Freeman referenced another one of Roddenberry’s rules — the rule banning overt religiosity from the Trekverse. When Dr. T’Ana used the word “God-like,” Freeman commented, “Humanity has a complicated relationship with organized religion.”
‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ Parody
The episode’s main storyline was a spoof on a classic season one episode of “The Original Series.” In “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, discovered the disaster recorder from the SS Valiant. During the recovery mission, the Enterprise passed through a barrier of “strange energy.”
Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, a close friend of Kirk’s, took a direct hit from these “strange energies,” but he seemed to recover quickly. However, he soon developed multiple psionic abilities, which transformed him into a God-like entity. Convinced he was dangerous to the crew, Kirk decided to maroon him on a planet the Enterprise would pass on their journey.
However, the plan didn’t go very well. Mitchell killed one crew member and kidnapped another. On the planet, Kirk confronted Mitchell, trying to stun him with a phaser. Unfortunately, the phaser just made him stronger. Eventually, Kirk realized the only option was to kill Mitchell. He dropped a boulder on him, crushing him to death.
“Strange Energies” followed the same basic storyline as “Where No Man Has Gone Before” with Commander Ransom taking the role of Lieutenant Commander Mitchell. During a Second Contact mission with Apergosians, Mariner uncovered an ancient monument that conducted “strange energies.” The monument powered up and zapped Ransom, immediately imbuing him with God-like powers.
When Dr. T’Ana examined him on the surface of the planet, she confirmed that he’d been hit with “strange energies,” and explained that yes, that was the technical term for the phenomenon. The doctor contacted the ship, and as she explained what was going on to the captain, she pulled up the Starfleet file on Mitchell.
Though the episode didn’t go into all the events that occurred in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” there were several obvious nods to the episode, executed with a “Lower Decks” twist, of course.
In an attempt to disable Ransom, Mariner tried “blasting him” with a phaser. Unfortunately, the effect was the same as it was when Kirk tried to stun Mitchell. Ransom’s power increased exponentially.
Dr. T’Ana suggested that hitting Ransom with the ship’s energy weapons might overload his power. Clearly, she didn’t look closely enough at Mitchell’s file. Though Mariner protested, Captain Freeman took the recommendation and blasted Ransom. Again, powers increased exponentially.
In the end, Mariner dealt with Ransom just as Kirk dealt with Mitchell — by crushing him with a boulder. Though, she took her own approach before resorting to the boulder. She repeatedly attacked a sensitive area on Ransom’s body so the pain would distract him. Then she dropped a boulder on him.
Unlike Lieutenant Commander Mitchell, Commander Ransom survived his ordeal. He returned to normal after treatment aboard the Cerritos.
A ‘Who Mourns For Adonis’ Nod
As Commander Ransom’s powers grew, he began to project himself into space to confront the Cerritos directly. First his giant, disembodied head floated in front of the ship. Then, both of his giant hands appeared to grab the ship.
These sequences seemed to be a nod to the classic TOS episode, “Who Mourns for Adonais.” That episode is infamous for the sequences in which an alien entity’s giant, disembodied hand grabs onto the Enterprise and threatens to crush the ship if the crew doesn’t comply.
Though the reference was much subtler than the other references in the episode, diehard Trekkers got the nod.
The Return of the Pakleds
The final sequence of the episode showed Boimler aboard his new ship, the Titan, Commanded by Captain William Riker. The ship was engaged in a major battle with the Pakleds, an alien species introduced in TNG that “Lower Decks” reimagined for their first season.
So, it looks like the Pakleds will play a role in the second season as well.
Episode two of “Lower Decks” season two drops at midnight Pacific Time/3 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, August 19. Heavy will be breaking down the Easter eggs in each episode, so check back each Thursday!
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