Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 3 Easter Eggs & References

From Scotty’s favorite piece of advice to Data’s song in Star Trek: Generations, the third episode of Lower Decks continues to prove that when this show makes Trek references, it goes deep. Plus, one joke about uniforms might actually be layered. (See what we did there?)

Star Trek: Lower Decks Episode 3
Photo: CBS

This Star Trek: Lower Decks article contains spoilers.

Although the third episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks is called “Temporal Edict,” some of the Easter eggs in the episode might make you think this is as much about sound and music as it is about time management. From a rock and roll opening to some deep nods to TNG and TOS, “Temporal Edict,” is brimming with Trekkie Easter eggs. In fact, the entire plot might come from an Easter egg in Star Trek III: The Search Spock.  As always, it’s very possible we didn’t catch every single reference in the latest Lower Decks, but we certainly did our best to try.

Starship Music recital and starship acoustics 

The episode opens with a night of live music in the bar of the USS Cerritos. This references the idea that musical evenings were a huge feature of both TOS and TNG. Boilmer playing the violin and saying he wrote songs for his mother could reference Data playing the violin with his android mother in the TNG episode “Inheritance.” Meanwhile, when Tendi and Mariner play the drums and guitar respectively, the noise reverberates throughout the entire ship. This may seem like hyperbole, but in the TNG episode “Lessons,” Picard and Neela Darren played music that was also heard in certain parts of Engineering. Starship acoustics are weird!

Classic Klingon Bird-of-Prey

The Cerritos seems to be having some kind of confab with a Klingon Bird-of-Prey at the very beginning of the episode. This style of Bird-of-Prey was first introduced in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. In canon, there are three kinds of ships that look like this, the original B’rel class, and the larger, K’vort class and D-12 clas. All the ships look the same, but the K’vort class is much bigger and is the kind we mostly see in TNG and throughout DS9, too. (The D12 was the kind used by the Duras sisters in Generations.) Not counting the brief appearance of a B’rel class Bird-of-Prey in the Short Treks episode “Empriah and Dot,” this is the first time we’ve seen a classic Klingon Bird-of-Prey in canon since Deep Space Nine

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Cardassia Prime

Briefly, it’s mentioned that Captain Freeman is supposed to facilitate a peace deal on Cardassia Prime. Cardassia Prime is the primary homeworld of (duh) the Cardassians, who, prior to 2380, were the allies of the Dominion. In the finale of DS9, “What You Leave Behind,” Cardassia Prime was liberated from within by freedom fighters led by Damar. This all happened in 2375. It’s not clear if the Cardassians are members of the Federation in 2380 or not, but you never know.

I learned how to do the dance…

Captain Freeman complains that she even learned how to do a specific dance associated with the alien cultures involved in the peace accord. This could reference the various complicated alien procedures Picard had to learn in TNG in order to secure other diplomatic relationships. In “The Big Goodbye,” Picard was required to learn a complicated greeting to pacify the Jarada, and if he made any vocal mistakes, they would have been profoundly offended. 

Creative Estimating and Buffer Time

Most of the conflicts in “Temporal Edict,” stem from the idea that Captain Freeman becomes aware that the junior officers are exaggerating their estimates for how long various tasks take, in order to give themselves “buffer time.” Rutherford puts it like this: “You never admit the amount of time it takes to finish a job, if you did, your days would be packed…It’s creative estimating. You exaggerate how long it’s going to take, and then, you’re a hero when it’s done early.”

This references Scotty in The Search For Spock. Kirk asks Scotty if he “always multiples his repair estimates by a factor of 4.” Scotty replies, “Of course sir, how else could I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?” Basically, the tradition of the Lower Deckers comes straight from Scotty.

What is Boimler humming?

For a nanosecond, toward the beginning of the episode, before Captain Freeman enters the turbolift, it seems like Boimler is humming a few bars of the Jerry Goldsmith-composed theme to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This piece of music is better known as the theme for The Next Generation

The Bayron Sweep

Boimler tells Captain Freeman that he completed “The Bayron Sweep of the warp nacelles.” This references a starship cleaning process called The Bayron Sweep first introduced in the TNG episode “Starship Mine.” In that episode, a large facility was required to do a Baryon Sweep of an entire starship. But, “Starship Mine,” took place in 2369, and this is 2380. Maybe this technology is now more portable? It’s also possible that because Boimler was only sweeping the warp nacelles, and not the whole ship, that everything could be done a little easier.

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Delta Shift is the worst

Tendi mentions that she believes “Delta Shift,” leaked the info about “buffer time” to Captain Freeman. The concept of “Delta Shift,” indicates that the USS Cerritos might be on a four shift rotation inside of three. In the TNG episode “Chain of Command Part 1,” it was explained that the Enterprise used a three-shift rotation consisting of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma shifts. However, when Captain Jellico briefly assumed command of the Enterprise in “Chain of Command,” he made Riker put the crew on a four-shift rotation, which meant a new shift, called “Delta Shift” was created. The reference to “Delta Shift’ in an episode about crew productivity and time management is hilariously layered. Maybe the problem on the Cerritos isn’t “buffer time,” maybe they need a three-shift rotation like the Enterprise.

Boimler’s song about “purging” seems to reference Data

When Boimler delightfully purges information for the computer, he sings a song about how much he loves purging. This is kind of reminiscent of Data singing the “precious little life forms” song in Star Trek: Generations.

The Riker stance

On more than one occasion, we catch Ransom with one leg up, and leaning forward, very much like another “Number One,” Will Riker.

Ransom’s laundry list of zany away missions references Klingon dogs and two TOS episodes

While ticking off all the ways an away mission could go wrong, Ransom mentions the following three things.

  1. Horned Gorillas
  2. Sentient Targs
  3. Spores that Make You Hook Up With Your Best Friend’s Sister

The horned gorilla is probably the Mugato from the TOS episode “A Private Little War.” A sentient Targ, would simply be a sentient Klingon pet, sometimes thought of as Klingon boar or a dog. Worf saw a visage of a Targ in the TOS episode “Where No One Has Gone Before.”

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Finally, the “spores that make you hook up with your best friend’s sister,” probably references the spores from the planet Omicron Ceti III in the TOS episode, “This Side of Paradise.” In that episode, alien spores caused Spock to fall in love and ditch his duties to Kirk and the Enterprise.

Roll down those sleeves 

When Ransom gives Mariner grief about her uniform, he mentions that her having her sleeves-rolled-up is against regulation. The Starfleet crew member we most associate with rolling-up their sleeves is Miles O’Brien in Deep Space Nine. (Who, interestingly, is referenced at the very end of this episode.)

Disengage the autopilot for no reason

Mariner is frustrated that Ransom flies the shuttle on manual because seemingly, the purpose of the autopilot is just never used in Star Trek. In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Sulu reveals he’s never manually landed one of the shuttlecraft on the Enterprise-A. Though, he was probably just referring to the small-time window they had. That said, flying manually is often a status symbol in Trek that comes out of nowhere. In the first episode of TNG, “Encounter at Farpoint,” Picard instructs Riker to re-dock the drive section and saucer section of the Enterprise, manually. Data and O’Brien, at the time, were visibly confused. 

We live on a space ship, nobody is dying from a spear wound! 

When a Bolian officer is hit by a crystal spear, Marnier says that “nobody is dying from a spear wound.” This seems to reference the TOS episode “The Galileo Seven,” in which a stranded shuttlecraft mission resulted in yes, at least one crewmember dying of a spear wound.

Circled by spears

When the crystal spears turn toward Mariner, she says, “Circled by spears. This is a classic! What am I, Kirk? what is this, the 2260s?” This references the shockingly high amount of spears, swords, and other decidedly not futuristic weaponry Kirk faced during TOS. In fact, in the aforementioned “A Private Little War,” Kirk tries to upgrade a native alien population’s spears to rifles, in an attempt to fight the Klingons. In “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” Kirk dodges a spear. In “The Savage Curtain,” Kirk fights alongside Abraham Lincoln and Surak, and Lincoln is eventually killed with a spear. In both “Bread and Circuses,” and “Day of the Dove,” Kirk fights with a sword.

How many decks?

When Tendi and Rutherford are both exhausted, Tendi briefly can’t remember which deck sickbay is on. Rutherford says “26,” and Tendi replies, “Do we have that many?” This is probably a reference to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, in which, during Spock, Bones, and Kirk’s rocket boot escape, that the Enterprise had more decks than it really should.

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Shout-out to the Enterprise

As the crew of the Cerritos is told to repel the invaders, but also, not slack off on their jobs, Captain Freeman says: “It’s called multitasking people, they do on the Enterprise all the time.” This is the second reference to the contemporaneous Enterprise in the Lower Decks timeline. At this point, as far as we know, this is still the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E, and in 2380, Picard is still in command.

Classic fight music, classic Kirk moves

During Ransom’s fight, the music is super reminiscent of fight music from TOS, specifically the score from “Amok Time,” composed by Sol Kaplan and Gerald Fried. Ransom being shirtless, clearly references the number of times Kirk’s shirt ripped during fights, including “Amok Time,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Shore Leave,” and others. Ransom’s fight moves also are very Kirk-esque, including one double-fisted “bop” that Kirk often used to just quickly knock people out.

“So ethical!”

As Ransom is beating the green alien senseless, he also says “I demand a peaceful negotiation,” and “I respect your sovereignty.” While watching, Mariner notes that this is “so ethical.” This mostly references the TOS episode “Arena,” in which Kirk fights the Gorn, but in the end, refuses to kill the Gorn.

Far future classroom features a Borg child

In the episode’s coda, when we flash to the far future and see a classroom full of children learning about Starfleet (and “The Boimler Effect”, at least one of the young students appears to be a Borg. Is this Borg still part of the collective? A former Borg? We don’t know.

The outdoor classroom itself could be a reference to Hoshi’s outdoor school in the Enterprise pilot episode, “Broken Bow.” 

“Great Birds of the Galaxy”

The insta-statue of Boimiler is depicted with “one of the great Birds of the Galaxy.” In canon, Sulu said “May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet,” in “The Man Trap.” But, more famously, “The Great Bird of the Galaxy,” is the nickname given to Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry.

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Chief Miles O’Brien

At the very end, the teacher notes that one member of Starfleet who is truly great is Chief Miles O’Brien. This may be the most meta-reference Lower Decks has made so far. Although a major character on DS9, O’Brien began in Trek canon as a quasi-Lower Decker. He was an unnamed relief helm officer in “Encounter at Farpoint,” and later, throughout TNG, he became a recurring side character, who was mostly relegated to working in the transporter room. In the DS9 episode “Q-Less,” Q snidely called O’Brien, “one of the little people,” on the Enterprise. In almost every way imaginable, the series Lower Decks is about characters who are have been wrongly perceived the way Q perceived O’Brien. Without Miles O’Brien going from B-squad to A-squad, the concept of Lower Decks wouldn’t even exist. 

Star Trek: Lower Decks airs new episodes on Thursdays.