Every Star Trek Easter Egg & Reference In Lower Decks Episode 1
Star Trek: Lower Decks gets off to a fresh, irreverent start, while still honoring what's come before with a host of Easter eggs. Focusing on the crew of the USS Cerritos, one of Starfleet's least important ships, Lower Decks follows a band of lowly ensigns instead of the traditional bridge crew and senior staff.
The concept is loosely based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks," though the series goes in a much more comedic direction, with Rick and Morty veteran Mike McMahan at the helm of the new series. It primarily follows four ensigns: the rebellious but brilliant Beckett Mariner, the anxious and eager to please Brad Boimler, the infectiously positive Orion D'Vana Tendi, and the overachieving cyborg Sam Rutherford. Some attention is paid to the senior staff, but they're definitely the secondary characters in this story.
Fans have been unsure of Lower Decks' ability to fit into the tone and philosophy of the franchise, fearing the Rick and Morty influence would lead to cynicism and mean-spiritedness that doesn't belong in Star Trek. But the show works - the characters are all well rounded and believable as Starfleet officers, and while the threats the USS Cerritos tends to face are low level, it all feels like adventures a minor Federation starship would credibly face out in the unknown, even if they meet those threats and encounters with far less dignity than the crews of more prominent ships like the Enterprise or Defiant. It bends the rules of Star Trek, but it never breaks them.
McMahan, a self-professed hardcore fan of the franchise, made sure to pepper his debut installment with callbacks to the past. We're running down every Easter egg in the series' first episode, "Second Contact."
Engisn Mariner makes her debut in the series loaded on Romulan Whiskey, making fun of Boimler for recording a "Captain's log" in his downtime. This is the first time we encounter this particular beverage, but it's an obvious offshoot of the traditional Romulan Ale, which has a long and storied history as an illegal alcoholic in the Federation. Romulan Whiskey has the same blue tint and intense intoxication effects as Romulan Ale.
Mariner accidentally takes a chunk out of Ensign Boimler's leg with an old rusty Bat'leth she finds on Douglas Station, as she drunkenly screams about demanding honor. The Bat'leth is a traditional Klingon weapon, most closely associated with Star Trek: The Next Generation's Worf, who had a Bat'leth prominently displayed in his quarters and took on plenty of enemies with it.
From the musical cues to the opening credits' choice of bright blue font, the show is an aesthetic sequel to TNG, while also serving as an actual sequel, as it takes place two years after Star Trek: Nemesis, the final installment in the TNG film series. Those aesthetic choices make the show seems more authentically Star Trek than an irreverent comedy like this may have come across without them. It also tantalizingly opens up the possibility that TNG cast members could guest star in the series. Who wouldn't want to see Worf or Picard deal with this band of amiable Starfleet losers?
The Romulans and Borg Attack
In the opening credits, a massive battle is shown to be taking place between a handful of Borg cubes and a fleet of Romulan warbirds...which the Cerritos promptly retreats from. The designs of the Borg cubes and Romulan warbirds are lifted directly from Star Trek: The Next Generation, another nice piece of connective tissue to what came before.
An unnamed ensign is seen sporting the VISOR that Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge wore for seven seasons on TNG. Born blind, the VISOR allowed Geordi not only to see, but to process information visually that normal eyes couldn't. He'd eventually ditch the visor for ocular implants in the proceeding TNG films, but those were never quite as iconic as the VISOR.
Mariner uses a version of the all-terrain vehicle to deliver farming equipment to some local natives. The Argo was first glimpsed in Star Trek: Nemesis, when Captain Picard infamously blasted around an alien planet in it, with Worf stationed on a gun turret. It was an immediately unpopular choice for the buttoned-up Picard, but makes more sense with the ramshackle crew of the Cerritos.
After he gets her out of trouble, Mariner tells Boimler she's going to be his cha'DIch, which is a Klingon term for a sort of protective warrior that defends the honor of a fellow Klingon. After his brother Kurn was injured in the classic TNG episode "Sins of the Father," Picard became Worf's cha'DIch, a role that brought the two closer than ever before, when Worf's late father was accused of collaborating with the Romulans.
As Mariner runs down a litany of Star Trek references, she mentions the Genesis device, which was the technology developed for incredibly fast terraforming in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and would also play a role in the resurrection of Spock in the next film, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, which also gets a nod from Mariner.
"Space Whales" is a reference to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where Kirk and company have to time travel to 1980's San Fransisco to recover a pair of Humpback Whales, which are extinct in the 23rd century and the only species able to answer a probe that threatens all life on Earth. That movie was the first in the franchise to lean hard on the inherent comedy of Star Trek, so it's a nice nod for the first blatant, intentionally comedic Star Trek series.
Mariner mentions Sulu being a "sword guy," which is a reference to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Naked Time," where an inhibition-lowering infection brought out the swashbuckler in the Enterprise's beloved helmsman. Sulu also showed off his sword skills in the first Kelvin timeline film, and it's become an iconic aspect of the character across timelines.
Mariner's mention of Gary Mitchell refers to the one-time helmsman and close friend of James T. Kirk on the Enterprise in an early episode of TOS. Mitchell was taken over by an alien entity that forced Kirk to kill him in front of the show's more brutal action sequences.