Deep Space Nine Comeback Could Solve a Big Star Trek Mystery

Deep Space Nine's return in Lower Decks season 3 could finally give us some answers to a few of Star Trek's big mysteries...

Did Becket Mariner fight in the Dominion War? Could one of her commanding officers have been Captain Benjamin Sisko? Could we see the Defiant in the post-Nemesis era? What exactly happened to the space station after the events of the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? With the release of the Lower Decks season 3 trailer, it seems like all of these questions could be answered, and then some. 

In the season 2 Blu-ray of Lower Decks, during the audio commentary of episode 5, “An Embarrassment of Dopplers,” Jack Quaid and Mike McMahan point out that they have heard the complaints from fans that there is supposedly not enough DS9 love on Lower Decks. Now, as Quaid and McMahan pointed out about Lower Decks season 1 and season 2, there are countless references to DS9 (including a Bajoran as a main character), but just in case that wasn’t enough, season 3 of Lower Decks won’t just have more DS9 references, there will, in fact, be an entire Deep Space Nine episode.

In the new trailer for Lower Decks Season 3, we see the USS Cerritos roll up to the space station as the beloved Denis McCarthy main theme plays in the background. The Bajoran wormhole opens, and Jack Ransom instructs the crew to circle the station as though they’re “in awe of the pylons.” It’s a good joke, referencing the lengthy DS9 opening sequence, in which the space station is viewed from various angles.

During the Star Trek Universe panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, McMahan assured fans that this is more than just a quick easter egg. According to TrekCore, McMahan confirmed that the crew will “go inside, and walk the promenade, and lick some Jumja sticks, and see some familiar faces.” 

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Here’s what this Deep Space Nine comeback in Lower Decks could mean for the Star Trek timeline:

What Happened to Mariner on Deep Space Nine?

This all sounds great for those craving more DS9 nostalgia. But in terms of the timeline and career of Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), the return to DS9 could be very helpful in answering several questions.

In the season 2 Lower Decks episode “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” Mariner made it clear that at some point in her Starfleet career, she was stationed on DS9, specifically between the years 2372 and 2375, because she mentions working with Worf. So, did Mariner also serve on the Defiant? Did she see action in the Dominion War? If so, a lot of Mariner’s angst in Lower Decks might become slightly more explicable. Although LDS is a comedy series first, it feels very possible returning to DS9 could help to really elucidate some of Mariner’s personal demons. Or, at the very least give us an idea of what she actually did on this famous space station.

So far, in Lower Decks, the only flashback we had to DS9 was when Mariner served on the USS Quito, a moment that also dealt with her trauma. As a running joke on the show, Mariner’s complicated and vague Starfleet career is certainly interesting, but what if it’s something deeper?

The trailer also gives us another fan favorite from the DS9era, General Martok, the Klingon badass who basically adopted Worf, and fought side-by-side with Sisko. 

The Status of Deep Space Nine in the 2380s

Because Lower Decks takes place between the end of Nemesis (2379) and the earliest flashbacks of Picard (2385), this gives us the opportunity to learn more about the status of various DS9-era characters. Yes, Prodigy has given us some clues about 2383-era Admiral Janeway, but it’s not like we know a ton about what Ezri Dax or Bashir or Kira is doing in this decade. While the various Star Trek novels have continued those stories within a kind of quasi-canonical framework, at this point we don’t really know who is in charge of DS9. The knee-jerk assumption is that Kira is in charge. But maybe not?

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One thing both Picard and Lower Decks have established is that, sometime in the 2380s, Quark created a franchise of restaurants that are prevalent throughout the galaxy. So, what does that mean for Quark himself? Does he still live on DS9? If so, it seems possible that DS9 might have been transformed into a giant tourist attraction, perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in the history of Star Trek canon.

Obviously, Lower Decks is known for its non-stop barrage of great Star Trek easter eggs, but when the Cerritos visits Deep Space Nine, the references are almost certainly going to tell us something brand new about these characters we left behind decades ago.

Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 hits Paramount+ on Aug. 25.