Star Trek Guide

How Star Trek: Lower Decks' TNG Cameo Sets up Season 2

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

Star Trek: Lower Decks is a love letter to the series that have come before it, most prominently The Next Generation. Through ten episodes, the show has made its analogs of favorite characters, mentioned off-the-wall plots and even saw the return of some notable characters. However, Lower Decks saved its biggest TNG reference for last, as William Riker and Deanna Troi drop in to save the day in the season finale.

At the climax of "Small Parts," the Cerritos is surrounded by menacing Pakled ships, which are sporting firepower from over 30 different species. All looks lost for the plucky crew, until the Titan arrives just in time. The score soars with the iconic TNG theme as Captain Riker shows up on screen. He strikes up a conversation with Mariner, and she indicates he assisted her with acquiring contraband weapons she's stashed all over the ship.

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In the film Star Trek: Nemesis, it's revealed that Riker would be leaving the Enterprise-E to finally captain his own ship, which would be the Titan. He would be joined by his new wife and promoted Commander, Troi. When fans next see them, prior to this episode, it is in Star Trek: Picard, where the two have retired from Starfleet and settled down on the rustic planet of Nepenthe. Ironically, the Picard season finale also features a Riker-helmed Titan sweeping in out of nowhere to save the day.

Though seeing the Lower Decks versions of Riker and Troi is initially shocking, it's no surprise that Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis would be game to reprise their roles. The animated aspect also allows their characters to look as they did post-TNG. The duo hang around for the rest of the episode, rubbing elbows with the Cerritos crew, including Captain Freeman and Commander Ransom.

Their biggest impact is with Ensign Boimler. When Riker pays a compliment to the eager lad, Boimler's ambition hits its max. In the final scene of the episode, it's revealed that he takes a promotion and transfers to the Titan, now serving as a Lieutenant. The anxious eagerness of Boimler has been replaced with a calm confidence, impressing himself to the bridge crew, including Riker and Troi. The last shot of the season gives us a peek at what life is like on the Titan, as Riker brings them to warp in a jazzy fashion.

The circumstances of these events means there's a large chance Riker and Troi will not just make cameos. Boimler has served as a main character for the entire series so far, so it would make sense for the show to continue to follow him and divide our time between the Cerritos and the Titan. Depending on how much it wants to dedicate itself, Season 2 of Lower Decks could actually see a fair amount of Troi and Riker, as Boimler navigates being at the bottom of a different crew.

Of course, there is no reason to believe that Boimler would spend the rest of his Starfleet career on the Titan, given the initial concept of the show. Whether it be Episode 2 or 10 of next season, he'll most likely wind up back on the Cerritos in some fashion. Until then, William Riker and Deanna Troi may be here to stay on Star Trek: Lower Decks.

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.