Star Trek Guide

Lower Decks Treats Previous Star Trek Crews Like Royalty

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, "Second Contact," now streaming on CBS All Access.

CBS All Access' new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks is the latest entry in the streaming platform's expanding Star Trek universe. The new series takes place one year after the final Star Trek: The Next Generation film, Nemesis, and roughly two decades before the start of Star Trek: Picard, which only recently concluded its first season. Therefore, unlike Star Trek: Discovery, which takes place before the events of The Original Series, the cartoon is able to celebrate the full legacy of the fan-favorite franchise and the characters that chronologically appeared before it.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks is told from the point of view of the support crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos -- they are not the primary Away Team, they are not Chiefs of Security or anything of the sort. They just work on the ship, and they live on the outside of the "main" crew.

And through these Starfleet officers, we learn that the characters from previous Star Trek series are essentially Federation royalty.

The premiere episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, "Second Contact," primarily introduces us to Ensigns Boimler and Mariner, who work on the lower decks of the U.S.S. Cerritos. Boimler dreams of becoming a Starfleet captain, while Mariner is less enthused with the Federation after she was demoted and transferred to the Cerritos. However, that doesn't mean she doesn't know her history.

On multiple occasions, Mariner drops several of the biggest names in Star Trek lore: Picard, Kirk, Worf, Sulu, Troi and others. Given the way she enthusiastically talks about these Starfleet officers, it's clear Mariner is a honest-to-goodness fan.

Of course, every single one of these names is meant to be a nod for longtime fans of the franchise. The crews of Star Trek: The Original Series and The Next Generation are some of the most well-known among fans. They are, essentially, Star Trek royalty. And thanks to Mariner, we now know that these characters are essentially royalty in-universe as well. Both live-action shows chronicled the adventures of Kirk and Picard's crews across the stars, and we saw it all through the lens of those specific crews. It was very rare that we saw how these characters were perceived by the larger Federation.

Now, thanks to Lower Decks and the U.S.S. Cerritos crew, we see that Federation officers knows these fan-favorite characters, too -- and they are fans of them as well. This opens the door for plenty more fun nods as Lower Decks progresses.

And, who knows, perhaps we'll even see the return of a few of these characters in animated form further down the line.

Star Trek: Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman, Jerry O'Connell as Commander Jack Ransom, Gillian Vigman as Doctor T'Ana and Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs. New episodes premiere Thursdays on CBS All Access.