This article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 5.
This episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks pays tribute to the oldest Trek monster of them all, slips in a few overt references to Enterprise, and even gives us a Geordi La Forge teddy bear.
Although Star Trek Day isn’t until next week, on September 8, Star Trek: Lower Decks is paying tribute to the first aired Trek episode of all time by stuffing its latest episode with more references to the franchise than its ever done before. Yes, somehow, “Cupid’s Errant Arrow,” seems to have more shout-outs and callbacks than all the other episodes of Lower Decks combined. We’re not sure if this is true, or whether some clever spacetime compression is at work, but this episode seemed a lot like a Captain Kirk sundae, with Trip Tucker sprinkles, and a side helping of a Will Riker burger. Yeah, two of those jokes are actually from this episode!
Here are all the Easter eggs, references, and shout-outs we caught in Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 5, “Cupid’s Errant Arrow.”
As real as a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day
Boimler says his new girlfriend Barb is “as real as a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day.” This references Q, of course, both the character played by John De Lancie in TNG, DS9, and Voyager. But, it also references the species of the Q Continuum in general.
“Captain Picard Day,” comes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus,” and is generally agreed to be June 16th on our calendar. This is the second Captain Picard Day reference in from a new Trek series in 2020. In the first episode of Picard, “Remembrance,” Jean-Luc saw his Captain Picard Day banner — made by children on the Enterprise 1701-D, in his personal archive.
Love on the holodeck
When Mariner accuses Boimler of having holodeck girlfriends, he protests, saying “I don’t do that anymore.” Characters on Star Trek, specifically The Next Generation, have a long history of falling in love with holograms.
Reginald Barclay was probably the biggest offender here, and, in “Hollow Pursuits,” he made two holographic recreations of Deanna Troi.
Geordi fell in love with a hologram of Dr. Leah Brahams in the episode “Booby Trap,” and Riker nearly fell in love with Minuet in “11001001.”
Later in the episode, Barb says she believed the Mariner was a “rogue holodeck character,” which could also be a reference to “11001001,” since Minuet’s job was to keep Picard and Riker distracted while the Bynars messed with the Enterprise.
But, when we think of rogue holodeck characters, we generally think of Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes episodes “Elementary, My Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle.” Boimler referenced the holographic Moriarty just last week in the Lower Decks episode “Moist Vessel.”
Geordi La Forge Teddy Bear
While waiting to meet Barb, Boimler is clearly holding a teddy bear meant to remind us of Geordi La Forge. Does the bear’s uniform match the TNG era? Or should we not worry about the teddy bear’s uniform?
Mariner offers to set-up Boimler with a “Phylosian,” who works on the Cerritos, and mentions
“she seems like a nice plant person.” Phylosians are plant people. This race of plant-based aliens originated an episode of The Animated Series called “The Infinite Vulcan.”
Is Barb a Time Lord?
While catching up with Boimler, Barb says that in a previous mission she had to “reverse the polarity and reboot the time stream.” Variants of the phrase “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” is a catchphrase usually associated with the Doctor from Doctor Who. It (mostly) originates during the 1970s Third Doctor era of Jon Pertwee, specifically the episodes “The Terror of the Autons,” “The Daemons,” and “The Sea Devils.”
That said, the phrase “reverse the polarity,” exists throughout all eras of Trek, starting with the TOS episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” all the way through the Enterprise episode “Harbinger.”
Barb claiming she “rebooted the time stream,” is also a common Trek trope, and can be traced all the way back to TOS episodes like “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” and “City On the Edge Of Forever.”
Barb’s reference to being stuck in 1920’s Chicago references the TOS episode “A Piece of the Action,” where the crew encounters an entire planet of 1920’s mobsters. However, in that episode, there was zero time travel, just a planet of alien mobster imitators.
Hunky Trek dudes
Intimidated the “hot hunk” named Jet, Boimler says “That guy is like a Kirk sundae with Trip Tucker sprinkles.” Obviously, this references Captain James T. Kirk and the chief engineer of the Enterprise NX-01, Charles “Trip” Tucker.
Starfleet relationships ending very badly.
Mariner says that “When a Starfleet relationship seems too good to be true, then RED ALERT, it probably is.” Then she launches into a litany of examples.
- “She’s an alien who is going to eat you” Most aliens in Trek don’t actually eat people, but aliens who suck out the life force of people they’re pretending to date are fairly common. For example, in the DS9 episode “The Muse,” Jake Sisko is having his energy drained by a creature who is pretending to be an older woman who loves him but is really draining his life force.
- “Or a Romulan Spy” This probably references the Romulan spy T’Pel from the episode “Data’s Day,” though nobody was trying to date her. In Picard, Agnes Jurati was an unwitting Romulan spy, though it’s unclear if the Lower Decks writing team knew about that when this episode was completed.
- “Or a Salt Succubus” Ha! This is the big one. In the first aired Trek episode ever, “The Man Trap,” the shapeshifting M-113 lifeform pretends to be McCoy’s old girlfriend Nancy Crater but also turns into a variety of other attractive people and attempts to seduce several crewmembers, and even, in the guise of a hunky dude, makes a pass at Uhura. (Note: Uhura is the only person who didn’t fall for the salt vampire’s bullshit.)
- “Or an Android” In TOS, Nurse Chapel falls in love with a secret android duplicate of her old boyfriend Roger Korby in the episode, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” And, in the TOS episode “Requiem for Methuselah,” Kirk falls in love with Rayna, who is also a secret android.
- “Or a Changeling” There are a lot of people who fall in love with shapeshifters in Star Trek, but saying “a Changeling,” probably refers to the actual species of “Changelings” from Deep Space Nine, of which, Odo is the most famous.
- “Or one of those sexy people in rompers who murder you just for going on the grass” This references the episode “Justice,” in which Wesley falls in some grass and is nearly murdered by scantily clad people who were previously flirting with everyone.
DS9/ old uniform flashback
Mariner’s flashback to her time on the USS Quito seems to take place while the ship is docked at Deep Space Nine. Notably, the crew does not appear to actually be drinking on the space station, but rather, on their own ship. Because this flashback takes place prior to 2280, Mariner and her shipmates are wearing the later-era Starfleet uniforms with the grey shoulders, first introduced in Star Trek: First Contact. For more about what this all might mean, read our deep dive into this flashback scene here.
Mariner’s conspiracy chart
There are probably more Easter eggs in this scene than the entire show combined, but let’s do our best! Mariner has several pictures of several Trek aliens displayed, and she mentions some of them, but others are just kind of there. Here’s what we spotted.
- “Barb’s not a Dauphin!” Mariner points to a picture of a furry alien called a Dauphin, which comes from the TNG episode “The Dauphin,” in which Wesley Crusher’s new girlfriend is revealed to be a furry shape-shifting monster with claws.
- A picture of Lal, Data’s first daughter. In one corner, there seems to be an image of the android Lal, before she had decided on her gender and species. This version of Lal exists in the teaser of the TNG episode “The Offspring,”
- “She could be a Suliban!” Mariner mentions the Suliban, which are time-traveling shapeshifting aliens that plagued the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise, starting with “Broken Bow.”
- The Bynars: The purple-headed Bynars from “11001001,” are also pictured. This means that Mariner is entertaining the theory that Barb is a holodeck character, too. Just like the aforementioned, Minuet.
- Seska: Mariner talks about undercover Cardassians for a second, and we see a picture of someone who looks like Seska. In Star Trek: Voyager, Seska was a Bajoran crewmember who turned out to really be a Cardassian spy. Her goal was to get close to Chakotay and to send secrets about the Maquis to the Cardassians. Seska was revealed to be a spy in the episode “State of Flux.”
- Duras sisters: The Klingon traitors Lursa and B’Etor seem to be pictured here, too. At this point, in 2380, the Duras sisters have been dead for nine years. They died in Star Trek Generations when the Enterprise destroyed their Bird-of-Prey. That said, maybe they managed to escape?
- Transporter clone: Mariner has a picture of two Barbs standing next to each other in the transporter. This references various transporter duplicates throughout Star Trek. The most famous examples are Kirks’ transporter duplicate in the TOS episode “The Enemy Within,” and Riker’s transporter duplicate in the TNG episode “Second Chances.”
- M-113 Salt Vampire: Mariner has a very prominent picture of the M-113 creature in its natural state. This is actually the second time this creature from “The Man Trap,” has appeared in animated form. Very briefly, the M-113 creature was depicted at the beginning of the animated Short Treks episode “Empriah and Dot.”
- Humpback Whales: Mariner has a huge picture of a humpback whale. This must reference Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which the crew goes back in time to bring whales into the future. What does that have to do with Mariner’s theory? She’s worried about time travel? Does she think Barb is actually Dr. Gillian Taylor? Well, considering that Barb is voiced by actress Gillian Jacobs, it seems possible that this is a reference to Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), the marine biologist who traveled from the 20th century and into the 23rd.
An Andorian named Jennifer
While running through the corridors, Mariner pushes an Andorian out of her way and says dismissively, “Jennifer!” Is it weird that an Andorian has the name, Jennifer? Well, maybe not. In Voyager, a young Ktarians girl, Naomi Wildman, had the name, well “Naomi.”
Barb says she briefly thought Mariner was a Breen Infiltrator. The Breen were a rarely-seen, but often mentioned alien enemy of the Federation in TNG and DS9. During the Dominion War, the Breen actually were the ones who led the Dominion attack on Earth.
The Breen weren’t seen in canon until the fourth season DS9 episode “Indiscretion.” Throughout all their appearances, the Breen appeared entirely inside of “refrigeration suits,” and no one has ever seen what they actually look like. Meaning, the idea of a Breen Infiltrator is inherently hilarious because they could, in theory, look like anything under those helmets.
Parasite and Pheromones
When it is eventually revealed that there is a parasite connected to Boimler, there could be a small reference here to the TNG episode “Conspiracy,” in which Picard discovers several members of Starfleet Command have little bug parasites controlling them.
At the same time, the idea that an alien could have pheromones so strong that other humanoids find them irresistible vaguely recalls Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The backstory Ilia is that she is a Deltan, a species of humanoids who produce pheromones so strong that most people can’t resist. This is why she says “my oath of celibacy is on record.” She’s letting Kirk know that she’s not going to seduce everyone for her own gain, even though she totally could.
Calibrate the Dyson’s Sphere
Ron Docent (played by Matt Walsh) bemoans his various responsibilities on the USS Vancouver, specifically having to “calibrate the Dyson’s Sphere.” In Trek canon, as far as we know, there is only one Dyson’s Sphere, the one discovered by the Enterprise in the TNG episode “Relics.”
The password was “Riker”
Tendi correctly guesses that Docent uses the password “Riker.” This seems to imply that Riker is famous and well-liked enough in 2380, that he’s a common password. In canon, Riker is in command of the USS Titan during the events of Lower Decks.
Interestingly, if we go by the Picard timeline, Thad Riker, Will, and Deanna’s first child, will be born in 2381, which means, there’s a good chance that during the events of this episode, Deanna Troi is pregnant. Could the Troi-Rikers be buddies with Ron Docent? Is that why he choose “Riker” as his password?
We may or may not see the Troi-Rikers in a future episode of Lower Decks, but for now, you’ll have to excuse me. I need to change my password.