Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Kills off a Major Character

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 10, "Small Parts," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Thus far, Star Trek: Lower Decks has paid homage to the beloved Next Generation series on several occasions. Not only has the Enterprise and its crew been oft-mentioned, but characters have even made surprise cameos throughout the first season. And Lower Decks continues the TNG homage in its finale when, much like its predecessor, it kills off its security officer Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore).

Up until "Small Parts," the Season 1 finale, Shaxs was the aggressive, hot-tempered tactical officer. His temperment channels the Bajoran terrorists that previously appeared in Deep Space Nine, constantly looking for action and the chance to get blood on himself, even if it's his own. His intensity has been highlighted in several Lower Decks moments, including temporarily welcoming Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) into his intense "bear pack" of officers, and spending an episode begging Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) to fire upon an enemy ship's warp core.

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It was Shaxs' dream come true, then, when "Small Parts" threw him and the rest of the crew into the line of fire. Using repurposed technology, a group of Pakleds got the Cerritos in their clutches, attempting to destroy the ship to mount another head on their wall. The crew keeps the enemy at bay as they beam on board, aided by Mariner's (Tawny Newsome) contraband weaponry. But their mission to stop the Pakleds once and for all becomes clear: Get onto their ship, upload a virus and disable them.

When Rutherford steps up to deliver the virus, Shaxs immediately and literally jumps into action. In the blink of an eye, he has the two of them in a runabout that crashes into the Pakled ship. As the Bajoran fights off the enemies single-handedly, Rutherford uploads the virus, only to find he had been betrayed by his holodeck creation Badgey (Jack McBrayer). The malevolent helper sets the ship to explode, hoping to get revenge on his father for his previous death.

It's in that moment that Shaxs turns from bloodthirsty officer into hero. Seeing the situation has changed, he graphically rips out Rutherford's Vulcan implant (which turns out to cause some memory loss). He tosses the unconscious ensign back in the runabout and pushes it off, simultaneously saving Rutherford and sacrificing himself. His broad chest beaming with pride, he says, "Hang in there, Baby Bear," as Badgey's plan completes and the Pakled ship explodes. While Shaxs previously boasted about this being the best day of his life, evidently it was his last.

Killing a security officer in the first season is not new for Star TrekThe Next Generation's "Skin of Evil" shockingly killed off Tasha Yar, after actor Denise Crosby expressed interest in leaving the show. It served as a seminal moment for the then-young series, reminding the crew of the stakes involved in their day-to-day missions, but also leaving an opening for Worf to fill, boosting the importance for a character who would span multiple Trek shows.

Once the action settles down, the episode sends off Shaxs with a short funeral, as well as a not-so-photogenic picture to remember him by. Afterwards, Freeman mourns the crew's loss, saying his position will be tough to fill. Indeed, one of the major questions going into Lower Decks Season 2 will be who takes Shaxs' spot at tactical. While this may be the opportunity to bring in a brand-new character for the sophomore season, it could also serve as a promotion for the many characters who make up the lower rung of the Cerritos. No matter what happens, Shaxs will likely be watching the action alongside the Prophets from now on.

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. The show premiered on CBS All Access on Aug. 6.