Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 1 Easter Eggs and References
Lower Decks is clearly lovingly crafted with the fans in mind. Here are all of the Star Trek and nerd references we caught in the first episode.
This Star Trek: Lower Decks article contains spoilers for “Second Contact.”
Individual episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks will only be about 30-minutes, sometimes a little bit less. But don’t let that fool you. This series has Trekkie Easter eggs the way the Deep Space Station K-7 has Tribbles. Just when you think you’ve found the last one, there’s another one. The new animated comedy series is clearly lovingly crafted with the fans in mind, and showrunner Mike McMahan has slipped in more than just a few loving nods to the giant Trek canon.
Because Lower Decks is so meta and self-referential, it’s very possible we didn’t catch everything. But, just like Mariner and her buds, we tried to be scrappy underdogs and do our own research. So, at the risk of being wrong, here’s (probably) every Easter egg and reference we spotted in Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 1, “Second Contact.”
The classic Spacedock
The opening shot of Lower Decks shows us a style of Spacedock that should be very familiar to longtime fans. Though this exact Spacedock is not supposed to be the same one that is in orbit of Earth, it looks identical to that specific design of space station. First seen in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, this style of Spacedock would reappear in stock footage for several episodes of The Next Generation and was referenced in the Voyager episode “Non Sequitur.” In the Discovery Season 1 finale, “Will You Take My Hand?” we saw the classic Spacedock under construction above Earth, but it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen this exact design in canon.
This one you know. Mariner is drunk on Romulan Whiskey, which seems to be as potent — if not more potent — than Romulan Ale. Starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Romulan Ale had a reputation for getting you so drunk that it was made illegal. Boimler suggest that Romulan Whiskey is “against regulations,” which is close enough. But, Mariner’s comment that “you’d think it would be green,” might reference all the green Romulan ships, but could also be a reference to Scotty getting drunk in the TOS episode “By Any Other Name.” In that episode, when Scotty found a bottle of booze he couldn’t identify, he just said: “It’s green.”
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Mariner swings a TNG-era bat’leth
Like the old-school Spacedock, it’s actually been a while since we’ve seen the classic version of the bat’leth. First appearing in the TNG 4th season episode “Reunion,” this curved sword became a staple of Klingon culture throughout the franchise. And though we’ve seen bat’leths in both seasons of Discovery, and in the film Star Trek Into Darkness, it’s actually not been since the Voyager era that we’ve seen this classic design.
Klingon with an eyepatch
Mariner says she got her bat’leth from an “Old Guy with an eyepatch.” While this could be a random reference, most fans probably think of the Klingon General Chang, from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Chang, of course, is dead (maybe?) so Mariner can’t be talking about him. General Martok from Deep Space Nine has one eye, so maybe it’s him?
Black hole is from Discovery (and real science)
The opening title sequence of Lower Decks obviously pays homage to the openings of both TNG and Voyager, but that yellow oval-looking spatial disturbance is actually a black hole. In fact, this is how an illusionary black hole looked in the Discovery episode, “If Memory Serves.” The design of this black hole is based on physicist Kip Thorne’s conception of black hole, and the design was first seen in a big sci-fi production in the 2014 movie Interstellar.
The USS Cerritos pulls a Voyager
The moment where the Cerritos skims the surface of an icy planet is very reminiscent of the opening of Voyager. The difference here is that Voyager didn’t actually scrape the ship on the planet.
Space creature is a TNG shout-out
When we see that there’s a little (actually huge!) space critter attached to the back of the Cerritos’ warp nacelles, this feels like a reference to the TNG episode “Galaxy’s Child,” in which a space bourne lifeform attaches itself to the Enterprise because it thinks the starship is its mother.
TNG era font and the name of the episode actually listened in the credits
The blue font is instantly recognizable to most fans as the exact same kind used throughout TNG. But, on top of that, this is the first new Star Trek series since Enterprise to actually put the name of the episode in quotes, and in the on-screen credits. Other than Short Treks, none of the post-Enterprise Trek series have shown the name of the episodes in the opening credits.
Shuttlecraft names reference DS9 and the name of the Cerritos itself
All the shuttlecraft on the Cerritos appear to named after forests in California. We see shuttlecraft with the following names: Redwood, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree. The Cerritos itself is named for the city in California of the same name. Later in the episode, we see that Captain Freeman has the state flag of California in her Ready Room. And, naming small spacecraft after locations comes from a solid Trek tradition: In Deep Space Nine all the runabouts were named for rivers on Earth; i.e the Ganges, Orinoco, and Yangtze Kiang.
Several classic Trek aliens are seen throughout the ship
When Tendi arrives on the Cerritos, we see crewmembers who are Benzite, Andorian, and possibly a Napean. That last one might not be familiar, but there was a Napean named Daniel Kwan who was central to the plot of the TNG episode “Eye of the Beholder.” The Benzites first appeared on TNG in “Coming of Age,” and the Anodrians first appeared on TOS in “Journey to Babel.” And, of course, Tendi is an Orion, who first appeared in “The Cage.”
At least two crewmembers are rocking VISORS
When Tendi first boards the Cerritos we see a crewmember wearing a VISOR just like Geordi’s from TNG. Later in the episode, we see a second, different crewmember also wearing a VISOR.
The replicator malfunction, which is causing it to spit out bananas, seems to reference Picard ordering “Tea, Earl Grey. Hot” in The Next Generation.
“We don’t wash our hands”
Mariner jokes that the ensigns in the “lower decks” “don’t wash our hands…we’re doing kickflips.” This might be a reference to the TOS episode “The Naked Time,” in which a “redshirt” crewmember fails to follow correct decontamination protocols, and, as a result, the entire crew is infected with a virus. So, Mariner’s line could reference both “The Naked Time,” and the rest of the episode, since the entire plot revolves around the ship getting infected by a zombie virus, partially because Commander Ransom didn’t really pay attention to a bug that bit him.
Pattern buffers and Cetacean ops
While Mariner gives Tendi a full tour of the ship, she mentions several things that should be familiar to fans. The “pattern buffer maintenance access,” is connected to how the transporter works. For example, in the TNG episode “Relics,” Scotty was discovered inside of a pattern buffer from a crashed starship.
But, the more hilarious super deep cut here is the phrase “Cetacean ops.” This was heard over the intercom in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” but in the episode “The Perfect Mate,” it was also mentioned that there were dolphins on the Enterprise.
“We sleep in a hallway.”
Mariner points out that the ensigns on the Cerritos don’t have their own quarters, and basically sleep in a row of bunks in a long hallway. While this may seem spartan for the swanky 24th century, there is a precedent for this. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, we saw several young crew members sleeping in bunks in what looked like a hallway.
Boimler mentions that the showers are musty, which shouldn’t make sense since they are “sonic.” The idea that the showers on Starfleet ships use “sonic showers” has existed since Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which the V’Ger probe transformed into Ilia in a sonic shower.
Boimler appears to reference… Anakin Skywalker?
When Tendi, Boimler, and Mariner are on the beach in the holodeck, Boimler complains that sand “just gets everywhere and gives you a rash.” The idea that sand “gets everywhere” feels like a reference to the infamous Anakin Skywalker speech in Attack of the Clones in which he said “I don’t like sand. It’s rough and coarse, and it gets everywhere.” Is Star Trek clowning on the Star Wars prequels?
Freeman’s secret assignment to Boimler is a wink to the OG “Lower Decks”
When Freeman pulls Boimler into her Ready Room to give him a secret assignment, it seems to reference the original TNG episode “Lower Decks” in which Picard gives Ensign Sito a secret assignment in much the same way. The difference, of course, is that Picard wasn’t asking Sito to spy on another crew member.
Freeman stole a hat from… Chris Pine?
In addition to the flag of California in Freeman’s Ready Room, she also has a sword, and what looks like one of the officer caps worn by members of Starfleet in the reboot movies. Did those hats exist in this timeline, too?
Picard’s favorite ride is back
Previously spotted on a map of the ship, it appears that the Cerritos carries several versions of the “Argo” land vehicles driven by Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. In that film (which takes place just one year prior to Lower Decks) the Argo seemed to be a new addition to Starfleet ships. So, by 2380, it seems like they’re fairly common. Either that or the Enterprise got theirs late?
Boimler references regulations 498 and 756. Meanwhile, Mariner counters by alluding to regulations 25, 15, and 348. She also says Boimler is breaking “76 for just pointing that at me!”
As far as we can tell, all of these regulations have never been referenced in Trek canon before. We could be wrong, but it really seems that way.
“I was here for First Contact”
Mariner reveals that the reason she’s aware of the plight of some of the farmer aliens is because she was on the planet for the first contact, a year prior. This is kind of like in “A Private Little War,” when Kirk is familiar with the inhabitants of the planet Neural, having previously visited the planet during a scouting mission, years prior.
Mariner says she’s “been in a Klingon prison where I had to fight a yeti for my own shoes!” This seems to reference the Klingon prison Rura Penthe, made famous in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In that movie, Kirk had to fight a giant blue alien who wanted his coat.
General Order 5
This also does not seem to be one of Starfleet’s rules that we’re already aware of. That said,in the TOS episode “Turnabout Intruder,” General Order 4 says Starfleet “forbids the death penalty.” But then again, General Order 7, says you can get the death penalty if you go to Talos IV, as we learned in “The Menagerie.” So, maybe General Order 5 has something to do with punishments?
First Contact-style spacewalk
When Rutherford and Ensign Barnes take their date outside, their entire journey along the saucer section of the ship’s hull is a direct reference to the film Star Trek: First Contact. This is only appropriate since the episode is called “Second Contact.”
“I’m a believer”
Barnes mentions she’s really into a “classical band” called the Monkees. This, obviously, references the band the Monkees, but the idea that pop or rock music would be called “classical” kind of derives from Star Trek Beyond when Bones asks if the Beastie Boys is “classical music.” And, beyond that, the Monkees reference could be an indirect reference to the character of Chekov in TOS, who was accused on more than one occasion, of having a haircut styled to look like the Monkees. (Who were ripping off the Beatles.)
“Why didn’t the door recognize our com badges?”
Rutherford has a full freak-out over the fact that the automatic doors did not let he and Barnes into a specific area. He also mentions that it seems like the doors have a one 1 in 4 chance of even opening properly. This seems like a giant joke connected to the fact that throughout the entire canon of Trek, the doors never seem to open consistently or with any kind of consistent rules.
For one instant, a Vulcan crewmember on the Cerritos is covered with black goo from the space zombies. This gives him the brief appearance of having a goatee like Spock from the Mirror Universe in the classic TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”
Admiral Mariner… we presume?
At the end of the episode, we learn that Mariner is the daughter of Captain Freeman and this Admiral, who, we have to assume is named Mariner, since Mariner’s last name is not Freeman. Either that or Mariner has a last name that is different from both of her parents for entirely different reasons. In fact, we don’t really have a good sense about how human naming conventions work in the 23rd and 24th centuries, mostly because we tend to meet humans that serve in Starfleet more than “civilians.” Although it’s not actually canon, the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (written by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry himself) features a prologue from James T. Kirk in which he explains that having a surname at all is old fashion in the 23rd Century, and that the idea of having a family last name is something people in Starfleet tend to do because they are old fashioned.
This idea is not supported anywhere in canon. But, the Admiral is not actually named Mariner, then it’s possible people in Trek canon can — and often do – just choose their names for themselves well after birth.
“You’re gonna be Cha’DIch from now on”
When Mariner and Boimler become besties at the end of the episode, Mariner says Boimler will be her “Cha’Dich” from now on. This comes from the TNG episode “Sins of the Father.” A “Cha’Dich” is someone who fights for someone else. It’s an honorable title, but you know, Mariner also is saying that she expects Boimler to fight for her.
Mariner’s rant about famous Star Trek characters
In a metafictional move, Mariner mentions several famous Starfleet officers, presumably to see if Boimler knows his stuff. Here’s a truncated version of what she says:
“Do you know about Spock? Dude came back from being dead? Got the Genesis device to fight Khan and some space whales. Sulu, he rocked a sword. That was his thing. That could be your thing, too. We’re due for a new sword guy. Do you know about Kirk? My man Worf?…Gary Mitchell? Do you know Deanna Troi, She went from a jumpsuit…”
So, in this brief triad, Mariner references Spock’s death in The Wrath of Khan, his rebirth in The Search For Spock, the events of The Voyage Home, Sulu fighting with a sword in “The Naked Time,” Kirk, Worf, and Gary Mitchell from “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” And, before the credits cut her off, Marnier is referencing the fact that Deanna Troi wore a jumpsuit on the Enterprise before switching to a standard uniform after the episode “Chain of Command.”
Something funny about this rant is that Mariner gets some of her history slightly wrong. It sounds like she thinks that Spock fought Khan with the Genesis Device, and that the humpback whales were from space. They were, of course, regular whales! They only talked to space probes! This slight hyperbole feels right though. This is the year 2380. Mariner is mostly talking about stuff from the 2280s and the 2260s, meaning a hundred years plus in the past. She’s a fan of the history of Starfleet. But just like this Easter egg list, she can’t catch everything.
Star Trek: Lower Deck airs on Thursdays on CBS All Access.