Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Takes a Page from The Thing

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

While the Star Trek franchise, including the new animated series Lower Decks, is largely known for providing a hopeful, optimistic view of the future, it has on occasion veered sharply into science-fiction horror. The latest episode of Lower Decks leans into the freakier side of Starfleet, starting with a new science project by junior officer Ensign Tendi. And as the eager medical officer shares her work with the rest of the crew, it appears Tendi's creation takes a cue directly from filmmaker John Carpenter's widely acclaimed horror movie The Thing.

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Tendi reveals that all junior officers in the medical division are tasked with creating their own genetic experiments. Constructed entirely from inert carbon, Tendi creates a genetically engineered dog, virtually indistinguishable from a regular golden retriever... at least at first. Proudly showing off her dog to the other junior officers as they prepare for bed, Tendi leaves the dog with them so they can acquaint themselves with it. As soon as its creator leaves, however, the dog transforms into a grotesque monster resembling the dogs from The Thing, as a terrified Boimler and Rutherford watch it climb the walls.

In the 1982 horror film an all-consuming extraterrestrial life form crashes in the Arctic Circle that's able to emulate any organic being it comes into direct contact with. Sled dogs used by a remote outpost in the frozen landscape are among the first of the monster's victims. It blends in with the rest of the pack before revealing its true disgusting form before turning its attention to the human prey isolated from the rest of civilization.

Fortunately for the crew of the Cerritos, Tendi's creation is far less sinister and ravenous than its horror-movie inspiration. Tendi decides to accompany Boimler with her dog to a secluded Starfleet medical rehabilitation facility known as The Farm after he endures a transporter accident with Rutherford. Upon reaching the paradise planet, Tendi sets her dog free and it bids her farewell, speaking to her fondly before taking flight into the open air. As Tendi and Boimler watch the artificial canine depart, Tendi finally realizes her creation was nowhere near as close to natural dogs as she had originally believed.

Lower Decks has always worn its influences on its sleeve, especially in its nods to past Star Trek television series. With Tendi's dog, the animated series takes surprise inspiration from one of the most iconic horror movies from the '80s, albeit for comedic effect. And with plenty of unknown discoveries to be made in the far reaches of the cosmos, the Cerritos may encounter new terrifying sights directly inspired by other horror movies as the crew boldly goes where most Starfleet personnel have gone before.

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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