This Star Trek: Lower Decks article contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 1 finale.
In terms of references, if “No Small Parts” was the only episode of Star Trek you’d ever seen, you would have been given a crash course on the entire franchise. Seriously, if you wanted to explain to someone, very quickly, what Star Trek was about, it would probably be easier to just have them watch the 26-minutes of the Star Trek: Lower Decks finale, “No Small Parts.” The Easter eggs and references start with The Original Series and end up with a big shout-out to the TNG movies, the infamous Enterprise finale, and one officially licensed Star Trek toy that is somehow now canon.
Beta III and Landru
The episode opens with the USS Cerritos in orbit of Beta III, the planet from the TOS episode “The Return of the Archons.” In that episode, people all worshiped a bizarre god called Landru, but Kirk and Spock determined that Landru was a computer. Landru encouraged people to go nuts once a day during something called “The Red Hour,” which is kind of like the Trek version of The Purge. Ben Stiller also named his production company “The Red Hour,” a fact which he discussed at length in the first episode of the new Star Trek podcast, The Pod Directive, which is co-hosted by Tawny Newsome, better known to Lower Decks fans as the voice of Beckett Mariner.
Wondering about the word “return” in the episode “Return of the Archons?” Well, the titular Archons were actually humans from an Earth ship called the Archon. The people of Beta III were actually waiting for “the return of the Archons,” meaning, humans from Earth. So, with the Cerritos back at this planet, this is the third time the “Archons” have returned.
Kirk and Spock from TAS
On Ransom’s padd, when he’s talking about Kirk and Spock figuring out that Landru “was a computer,” we see an image of Kirk and Spock, exactly as they appeared in Star Trek: The Animated Series in 1973 and 1974. This is the first time that exact animated series depictions of Trek characters have appeared in another Trek series.
Don’t make me paradox you into destroying yourself!
Captain Freeman’s threat to Landru references one of Kirk’s famous talking-a-computer-to-death speeches at the end of the same episode, “Return of the Archons.” Kirk also famously talked other AIs to death in “The Changeling” and “I, Mudd.”
Ransom says it’s “always weird visiting planets from the TOS era.” Freeman naturally questions him on this, and he explains it’s what he calls the 2260s because it was filled with “Those Old Scientists,” or TOS. Obviously, the joke here is that “TOS” is what fans have been calling Star Trek: The Original Series, since, well, there’s been a Next Generation or TNG.
“A Gamester of Triskelion or whatever”
Freeman says she never wants people to get taken advantage of by “a gamester of triskelion.” This references the TOS episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” who are revealed to be talking brains who make bets using a currency known as “quatloos.”
Captain Freeman Day
Boimler mentions that the Cerritos has a “Captain Freeman Day,” which references Captain Picard Day from the TNG episode, “The Pegasus.” This is the third time in 2020 that a new Trek series has referenced Captain Picard Day. In the first episode of Picard — “Remembrance” — Jean-Luc revisited the Captain Picard Day banner. And, in Episode 5 of Lower Decks, Captain Picard Day was also referenced outright.
The robot named Peanut Hamper is an Excocomp, a type of sentient artificial life first seen in the TNG episode “The Quality of Life.” In that episode, the Exocomps were recognized as being sentient in 2369. Lower Decks happens in 2380, so it seems like a lot has happened since then. “The Quality of Life” was also directed by Jonathan Frakes, who, spoiler alert, appears in this episode of Lower Decks.
Wesley Crusher worked with his mom!
Mariner tries to deflect accusations of nepotism by pointing out that “Wesley Crusher worked with his mom!” This is true! In TNG, Wesley Crusher became an acting ensign on the Enterprise while his mother was a member of the senior staff. Both Crushers were often in staff meetings together! Notably, this episode also ends with Riker and Troi and the USS Titan. Riker and Troi are married and serve together as Captain and ship’s Counselor.
Wolf 359 was an inside job
Mariner’s bad one-time-date tells her “Wolf 359 was an inside job.” This joke is hilarious, but you can also kind of see why people in Starfleet might believe it. After all, the guy who destroyed most of the Starfleet ships at Wolf 359 was Picard, who had been assimilated by the Borg in “The Best of Both Worlds.” Semantically, because the Borg stole knowledge from Picard’s mind and used him to take down Starfleet, they had inside information.
As he’s leaving, Conspiracy Theory Guy says “Changelings aren’t real, the Dominion War didn’t happen!” This references the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine, which was mostly perpetrated by the shape-shifting race of aliens called The Founders but more commonly called, Changelings.
Kalla system and the Pakleds
The faked distress call in this episode comes from the Kalla system. This references the TNG episode “Firstborn,” in which the Kalla system is mentioned as a place the Pakleds hang out.
However, the Pakleds themselves only appeared in one TNG episode ever, “The Samaritan Snare.” As Boimler and Freeman point out, people thought they were a joke back then, too, but it turns out, they’re not anymore!
Apparently, people eat salmon on First Contact Day
Ransom says the Pakled ship is carving up the Cerritos like a “First Contact Day salmon.” First Contact Day references the First Contact, where the Vulcans first formally landed on Earth and met humans. Why would people eat salmon on First Contact Day? Well, First Contact happened in Montana, so maybe, just maybe, there were salmon there?
We knew in Lower Decks episode 1, that Mariner had hidden various outlawed items throughout the ship. But, in this scene, we see way more of it. Here’s a breakdown of Mariner’s stuff.
- A Tribble from “The Trouble With Tribbles” et al. Mariner later says she uses it for “personal reasons.”
- A fencing foil. This references Sulu fighting with a sword like this in “The Naked Time.” It also references Mariner telling Boimler that he could become a “sword guy” in the first Lower Decks episode, “Second Contact.”
- A bottle of Klingon Bloodwine
- A Klingon Bat’leth
- And…a “Spock” helmet. This helmet is based on a toy from the ‘70s produced by AHI. For years, fans have pointed out the helmet has nothing to do with Spock or Star Trek, despite the fact that it was sold as a real Star Trek toy. Ethan Peck jokingly unboxed one of these vintage Spock helmets in December 2019 on StarTrek.com. The fact that Marnier has one of these helmets as “contraband,” seems to imply the Spock helmet is canon. Other than Xon, this Easter egg might be Lower Deck’s deepest, deepest cut.
Peanut Hamper’s Refusal to Help
When Peanut Hamper the Exocomp says she’ll “pass” on helping save the ship, Tendi says “What about the needs of the many?” This references Spock’s famous axiom from The Wrath of Khan: “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”
USS Titan entrance
Although Riker’s USS Titan has been referenced several times on Lower Decks, and one officer even found himself transferred there in Episode 6, this is the first time we actually get to see Riker’s Luna-class starship in action. The way the Titan looks matches with its appearance on the covers of non-canon novels, as does its register number: NCC-80102. In 2379, Riker became the captain of the Titan and Troi, the ship’s counselor.
Riker says RED ALERT twice in these Titan scenes. Once when the ship makes its big entrance, and again when he says “We’re still at Red Alert!” This references Riker’s habit for saying “RED ALERT” really, really loud on TNG.
Riker’s first officer seems to be the same species as Linus from Star Trek: Discovery
The alien in the First Officer’s chair looks very much like the Saurian (lizard person) Linus from Star Trek: Discovery. In theory, “Saurians” have been in canon for a long time — Bones and Kirk drank Saurian brandy in TOS, and a Saurian was a prominent background character in The Motion Picture.
Mariner says that Riker is “flush with Romulan Ale.” Although Lower Decks referenced Romulan Whiskey in its first episode, this is the first reference to Romulan Ale. In Nemesis, Riker and Troi had Romulan Ale served at their wedding. So, Troi saying “We’ll talk about this,” might reference the idea that she had assumed that all the Romulan Ale had already been drunk.
Captain Freeman insists that she doesn’t want the Cerritos to have cosmetic changes, saying “I hate it when a ship gets repaired and comes out looking all-Sovereign-class.” This references the idea that the original TOS Enterprise looked very different after its refit in The Motion Picture. But, more specifically, it references the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise-E, the ship that replaced the Enterprise-D in Star Trek: First Contact.
Jax is the security chief of the USS Cerritos and unexpectedly dies in the first season of a new Star Trek show. This could reference Tasha Yar — the security chief of the Enterprise — who died in the first season of TNG. Jax’s funeral echo’s Spock’s funeral in The Wrath of Khan, but also, Airiam’s funeral in the Star Trek: Discovery episode “The Red Angel.”
Riker calls Carol Freeman his cha’dich
Like Mariner calling Boimler his “cha’dich,” in “Second Contact,” Riker calls Freeman — Mariner’s mom — the same thing. “Cha’dich” is a Klingon term that means someone is basically someone’s loyal assistant, who does their fighting for them. Picard was Worf’s “cha’dich” in the TNG episode “Sins of the Father.”
We don’t use money anymore
Riker tells Mariner “Why don’t you buy me a drink!” Mariner replies “We don’t use money anymore.” This references the fact that most people in the Federation don’t use money. Kirk says something very similar in The Voyage Home when Dr. Taylor says: “Don’t tell me you don’t use money in the 23rd century,” to which Kirk replies, “Well, we don’t!”
The planet the Titan is headed for at the very end of the episode is Tulgana IV. This is the same planet Boimler and Mariner visited in the second Lower Decks episode, “Envoys.”
Boimler has a picture of Jack Ransom in his new quarters?
It really looks like that Boimler has a round photo of Ransom in a place of honor in his new quarters. This is hilarious and weird. Does Boimler think Ransom actually was his friend?
Mariner is so angry that Boimler left the ship without telling her that she says: “I’m going to feed you to an Armus!” This references the oil-slick alien Armus from the TNG episode “Skin of Evil.” Again, this is the creature who killed Tasha Yar.
Riker is still obsessed with the NX-01 Enterprise
Riker says he is late to the bridge because “I was watching the first Enterprise on the holodeck, You know Archer and those guys.” This references the infamous finale of Enterprise called “These Are the Voyages…” which is framed as Riker interacting in a holodeck simulation that recreates the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise.
Little Risa and the Little Horga’hn
Riker and Troi talk about visiting “Little Risa” on Tulgana IV, which prompts Troi to ask if “we should bring the little Horga’hn.” This references a statue called the Horga’hn which you’re supposed to display openly on Risa if you want to well…get busy. In TNG’s “Captain’s Holiday,” Riker tricked Picard into picking up a statue.
Oh the Jazz
Riker’s warp speed catchphrase is: “Give me warp in the factor of 5, 6, 7, 8!” He snaps and counts down to this like he’s getting ready to play jazz. Troi says “Oh the Jazz,” which seems to reference her annoyance with this obsession. In “Second Chances,” Troi mocks Riker for being unable to play a certain trombone solo correctly on a song called “Nightbird.” Riker’s interest in playing jazz, specifically the trombone, started with the episode “11001001.” Most recently, Riker was listening to jazz in the Picard episode “Nepenthe,” when Jean-Luc showed up at his house.
And now that Lower Decks has put Boimler on the USS Titan, it seems very, very likely that we’ll be hearing more of Riker’s jazz trombone playing in season 2. Hit it!