Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Brings Back THIS TNG-Era Alien

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 7, "Much Ado About Boimler," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Every episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks has been packed with references to previous television series and films from the iconic science-fiction franchise, from the original live-action and animated series to Voyager and Deep Space Nine. The latest episode of Lower Decks features another nod to The Next Generation, with the surprise return of an alien species that hasn't been seen since the fan-favorite series' premiere episode "Encounter at Farpoint;" a space jellyfish that feeds directly on raw energy.

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While Captain Freeman leads a crack team away from the ship on a top-secret agricultural mission of vital importance to Starfleet, Amina Ramsey takes over as the acting captain of the Cerritos, leading her own interim senior officer team. An old friend of Ensign Mariner's from back at Starfleet Academy, Ramsey has risen through the ranks to lead her own Starfleet vessels while Mariner is content remaining a junior officer despite her outstanding service record during her Academy years. While disappointed in Mariner's lack of ambition, the two women leap into action when they rendezvous with fellow Starfleet vessel the Rubidoux.

Finding the vessel adrift and internal systems, including artificial gravity, nonfunctional, Ramsey and Mariner lead an away team to board the vessel and investigate. The two officers learn from the Rubidoux's crew that the starship has been infiltrated by a creature that consumes raw energy and they turned off the power to keep it from growing stronger. However, another team separate from Ramsey and Mariner are unaware of this and restore vital ship systems, reawakening the creature. So, Mariner takes point to coordinate a rescue of the Rubidoux's crew by bringing them back to the Cerritos as a space jellyfish bursts from the starship and departs into the cosmos.

The massive, cosmic jellyfish is nearly identical to a similar creatures seen when Captain Jean-Luc Picard first took command of the Enterprise in The Next Generation. The omnipotent being Q  selected Picard to serve as a representative for humanity, upon which he was levying judgment. Picard decided that Farpoint Station was actually built on a dormant jellyfish and that an attacking alien was actually its mate. Reviving the grounded jellyfish with energy directly from the Enterprise, the two aliens were reunited and departed with a begrudgingly satisfied Q deciding to spare humanity... for now.

The jellyfish is yet another deep cut from the vast Star Trek mythos and continues to demonstrate that Lower Decks is a love letter to the series that came before it. Normally, references like this are little more than small allusions and gags but, with John de Lancie confirmed to reprise his role as Q in an upcoming episode of Lower Decks, perhaps Mariner completing a similar task to the Q Continuum's longtime frenemy may be the inciting incident that puts the Cerritos on their radar. And with the crew of the Cerritos less capable than the Enterprise's, Q may judge humanity as lacking this time around.

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.

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