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Star Trek: Lower Decks Finale Reveals Huge TNG Surprise Cameos

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Finale - "No Small Parts"

Star Trek: Lower Decks' season 1 finale featured the biggest guest stars from Star Trek: The Next Generation yet: Captain Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and his wife, Commander Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Just as exciting for Trekkers, Star Trek: Lower Decks' finale was the first time fans got to see Riker and Troi in command of their new starship the U.S.S. Titan. TNG's First Couple came to the rescue of the U.S.S. Cerritos and fans learned just how deep the roots between Riker and Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) go.

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Not only is Star Trek: Lower Decks the first half-hour animated series set in the Star Trek universe, but it's also the first Star Trek series continuing the fan-favorite 24th-century era of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. (Star Trek: Picard jumped forward 20 years and season 1 happened in 2399.) Star Trek: Lower Decks is set in 2380, just one year after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, which ended with the death of Commander Data (Brent Spiner) and Riker and Troi leaving the U.S.S. Enterprise-E to take command of the Titan. The Titan was already referenced in Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 7, "Terminal Provocations", when the Cerritos transferred their worst Ensign to the Titan, who was quickly fired.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is about the Ensigns of the Cerritos' misadventures but Mariner, Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), D'Vana Tendi (Noel Wells), and Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) are all hyper-aware of the past exploits of Starfleet's greatest heroes, especially the crew of the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). And while the animated comedy drops constant, rapid-fire references to all aspects of Star Trek, Lower Decks was careful to establish itself for several episodes before its first big-name TNG guest star, Q (John de Lancie), dropped by in episode 8, "Veritas". Riker and Troi are the biggest Star Trek names yet to cameo on Lower Decks and it's a historic appearance in some fascinating ways.

Why Riker Became Captain Of The Titan Instead Of The Enterprise

Commander Will Riker was the First Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D and E for 15 years, spanning 7 seasons of TNG and all four feature films starring The Next Generation's cast. But despite his remarkably long tenure as Captain Picard's Number One, Riker never got to take over the big chair of the flagship of the United Federation of Planets. Starfleet Command offered Riker a Captaincy and his own starship a handful of times but the bearded XO turned down every promotion. Of course, the real-world reason for Riker staying up on the Enterprise was that he was a lead TNG character, and becoming Captain would have meant leaving the main cast of the show.

But by Star Trek: Nemesis' timeframe of 2379, Picard was still entrenched as Captain of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Riker's life had changed significantly: In Star Trek Insurrection, Will and Deanna Troi had finally reignited their youthful romance on her homeworld of Betazed that ended years before they both found themselves serving on the Enterprise-D. Star Trek: Nemesis opened with Riker and Troi's long-awaited wedding (with a second ceremony scheduled on Betazed) and Will also accepted a promotion to Captain at last. The Troi-Rikers were planning to leave the Enterprise so Will could become Captain of the Titan and Deanna would become ship's counselor.

Despite Commander Data's (Brent Spiner) death at the conclusion of Star Trek: NemesisRiker and Troi still left Picard behind and moved on to the Titan - but Trekkers never got to canonically see the Luna-class starship or Riker take command of her. All fans knew was Captain Riker's first orders as commander of the Titan was to head up a Federation task force to Romulus.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Finally Showed Captain Riker, Commander Troi, And The U.S.S. Titan

In Star Trek: Lower Decks' season 1 finale, Riker and the Titan came to the rescue of theCerritos, which was being destroyed by a fleet of hybrid starships controlled by Pakleds. This was the first time Trekkers canonically got to see Riker, Troi, and the Titan in action and they didn't disappoint; swooping in like the cavalry just in the nick of time, the Titan easily dispatched the marauding aliens and sent them packing.

Even more fun was to see was how Captain Riker was energized and upbeat while Troi was bemused at her husband's infectious enthusiasm. Trekkers got the impression that Riker comported himself in accordance with Captain Picard's stateliness aboard the Enterprise, but now that he had his own command, Riker was more relaxed, confident, and funny. Amusingly, Will has gotten in the habit of relaxing by watching Captain Jonathan Archer's (Scott Bakula) Star Trek: Enterprise crew on the holodeck and he likes to drop jazz beats when he orders the Titan to jump to warp. The Titan was also an incredibly powerful vessel that lived up for fans' expectations.

Riker's Relationship With Beckett Mariner And Captain Carol Freeman

Even more shocking (especially to Boimler) was how Star Trek: Lower Decks revealed the longtime relationship between Beckett Mariner and her mother, Captain Carol Freeman. Riker and Carol are close because Captain Freeman was the mentor to the young Riker, and Will returned the favor by mentoring Beckett (or becoming her cha'DIch in Klingon), just as Mariner styled herself as Boimler's cha'DIch. Although Captain Freeman somewhat blames Riker for how reckless and insubordinate her daughter is, Will is also clearly a role model for Mariner's wit, innovative thinking, and sheer daring.

Given Mariner's age, she probably became Riker's student in the years between Star Trek Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis. However, it turns out Riker wasn't always a positive role model to Mariner. Beckett revealed that she learned her penchant for secretly hoarding contraband like Klingon Bat'leths and Romulan whiskey from Will (something Troi didn't even know about). In a final surprise, Will promoted Boimler to Lieutenant and transferred him to the Titan, essentially poaching Mariner's best friend from the Cerritos.

Riker And Troi's Star Trek: Picard Future

As much fun as it is to see Captain Riker and Commander Troi riding high aboard the Titan on Star Trek: Lower Decks, Trekkers also know these good times won't last. As Star Trek: Picard season 1 established, the Troi-Rikers will celebrate the birth of their son, Thad, in 2381, just a year from their appearance on Star Trek: Lower Decks. Their daughter, Kestra (Lulu Wilson), will be born a few years later. Tragically, Thad will be diagnosed with a fatal disease, mendaxic neurosclerosis, which had no available treatment or cure after synthetic beings with positronic technology were banned by the Federation in 2385.

In the early 2390s, Will gave up command of the Titan to move to the planet Nepenthe with Deanna and their children. The Troi-Rikers hoped that the regenerative properties on Nepenthe would help Thad, but sadly, their son died at a young age. The Riker-Trois remained on leave from Starfleet and continued to make their home on Nepenthe, which is where Jean-Luc Picard and Soji (Isa Briones) found them when they sought the Troi-Rikers' help in Star Trek: Picard season 1. Finally, Captain Riker went back to space and commanded the U.S.S. Zheng He to save Picard and the synthetics living on the planet Coppelius from a Romulan invasion. However, all of that is 19 years in the future from Star Trek: Lower Decks and there's a good chance Captain Riker, Commander Troi, and the U.S.S. Titan will reappear in Star Trek: Lower Decksseason 2.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Ending & TNG Crossover Explained

Star Trek: Lower Decksis available to stream on CBS All-Access.

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