This STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS review contains spoilers.
Because Star Trek: Lower Decks happens right after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, we know a few things about the TNG crew of the USS Enterprise at this time. For one thing, Picard is still in command of the USS Enterprise-E—at least he will be for the next few years. But, in the latest episode of Lower Decks—“Terminal Provocations”—we also got one roundabout reference to Will Riker, Deanna Troi, and the starship USS Titan. Here’s what the Titan Easter egg at the end of “Terminal Provocations” means, and why it might create yet another teensy-tiny question about our ongoing questions about Starfleet uniform canon in the era of Lower Decks…
Echoing a joke in Episode 4, the ending of Episode 6 of Lower Decks finds an incompetent Starfleet Officer named Fletcher promoted instead of reprimanded. After Mariner and Boimler decide to cover-up Fletcher’s egregious behavior (dude created a rogue AI because he was trying to cut corners, and then lied about it), he’s then rewarded for heroic actions he never really did. This results in Fletcher getting shipped-off to the USS Titan. Now, although we’ve never actually seen the USS Titan in canon, we know this ship is commanded by none other than Captain William T. Riker. In Star Trek: Nemesis, we’re told Riker was given command of this ship, and just after their marriage and the events of Nemesis, both Riker and Deanna Troi transferred to that ship.
Almost everything else we know about the Titan is apocryphal or borderline non-canon. Starting in 2005, a series of novels called Star Trek: Titan chronicled Will and Deanna’s adventures aboard the Titan. During that time, book publisher Pocket Books created a fan-competition to determine what the Titan actually looked like. The winning design ended up featuring on the covers of several books, and is considered, loosely, to be what the ship actually looks like. That said, the USS Titan didn’t actually appear in this episode (unless you count the inside of Fletcher’s quarters) meaning, we still don’t know what it looks like. In the Star Trek: Picard episode “Nepenthe,” it’s heavily implied that the photograph of Picard with the infant Thad Riker is taken aboard the Titan. Baby Thad was born sometime in 2381, so the photo of Admiral Picard and the baby is probably from late in that year or 2382, since Thad doesn’t quite look a full year old, yet.
Relative to Fletcher’s transfer to the Titan in Lower Decks (2380), all of these events are fairly close. Which brings us to an inevitable conclusion about all our questions about who wore which Starfleet uniforms in the early 2380s. In the ending of “Terminal Provocations,” Fletcher is very clearly wearing his Lower Decks-style uniform, which seems to prove that this style of uniform was adopted fleet-wide by several starships beyond just the crew of the USS Cerritos and other ships we’ve seen on the show. Now, granted, this brief flash-forward is only six days after Fletcher leaves the Cerritos, so, it’s possible he never changed out of his first uniform, but that seems really unlikely. Clearly, Fletcher wearing the Lower Decks uniform on the USS Titan means everyone on the Titan wears this style of uniform, too. This means, if you’re a fan artist, you can draw Riker and Troi in this uniform style while they’re on the Titan if you want.
It also means that if Lower Decks ends-up in the year 2381, at any point (maybe Season 2), then they’ll have to account for the early 2380s Starfleet uniforms we see in all the Picard flashbacks, including the one photograph we got of Picard on the USS Titan holding baby Thad. In that photo, Picard is clearly in the same uniform he wears in the majority of the flashbacks in that series, which seems to imply that everyone else on the Titan wears that “new” uniform, too. Then again, as mentioned in the uniform questions raised by episode 5, it’s possible there is more than one uniform style in use at the same time in the year 2381.
We may never see the USS Titan on screen, in Lower Decks or another Trek series. But, talking about it, and thinking about what everyone is wearing on that ship just makes one thing very, very clear. Lower Decks either needs to do an entire episode about uniform canon or, we need an animated spin-off that just features a bunch of TNG characters right after the events of Nemesis. Who wouldn’t watch that?
Lower Decks has four episodes left in season 1. Those air on CBS All-Access on Thursdays.