This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.
The title of Strange New Worlds season 2, episode 4 — “Among the Lotus Eaters” — is a reference to Greek Mythology, specifically, the idea of lazy, memory-hazy people called “lotus eaters” from The Odyssey. Star Trek referencing older books and myth is nothing new, but, as Trek approaches its 60th anniversary in just three short years, it now commands its own rich mythology.
In “Among the Lotus Eaters,” Strange New Worlds goes back to the roots of Star Trek, both in style, but also, in its deep cuts. Here are all the best references from Trek canon, which, really, we should all start calling “Star Trek mythology.”
Captain Batel’s ship, the USS Cayuga appears here in another joint mission with the USS Enterprise. This previously happened in the season 1 finale, “A Quality of Mercy.” Whether or not the Cayuga is a Constitution-class ship like the Enterprise or the nearly-identical Sombra-class is up for debate right now.
Batel mentions she picked up the “mariner’s keystone” on the planet Gault. This is probably the same Gault where Worf grew up, which, from the perspective of Strange New Worlds, is in the future.
This episode is all about Rigel VII, first glimpsed in telepathic flashbacks in “The Cage,” the very first Star Trek pilot episode from 1965. Number One mentions “we were there five years ago as a routine exploration of a class-M planet.” That would have happened in the year 2254, because it’s 2259 in the “present.” The entire backstory of “The Cage” occurs just before what Pike called “the fight on Rigel VII.”
Pike mentions that on Rigel VII, “we lost three people, we had to get to Vega colony before Spock’s injuries made it four.” Later he says that “Spock was bleeding out.” In “The Cage,” Spock walks with a limp, which was an intentional choice. At the very beginning of “The Cage,” Pike says that the Enterprise is headed to “…the Vega Colony and take care of our own sick and injured first.”
Pike’s Mistakes on Rigel VII
Pike mentions that “last time we went down there we were in uniform, I am not making that mistake twice.” In “The Cage,” Pike also blames himself saying, “I should have smelled trouble when I saw the swords and the armor.”
Subdermal Universal Translators
In order to communicate with the local Kalar, the landing party has “subdermal” universal translators. One wonders why these might not just be standard issue all the time? In Discovery, we saw the standard communicator working as a universal translator. In The Next Generation, it’s assumed that the combadge is also a built-in universal translator. Also, in “Patterns of Force,” Kirk and Spock had “subdermal transponders” injected into their arms, which were basically like homing beacons.
Is It the Same Castle?
In “The Cage” (and later, again in “The Menagerie”), the Rigel VII castle has a very distinct look. Is this meant to be the same castle? Probably not. In “The Cage,” Pike says, “I let myself get trapped in that deserted fortress and attacked by one of their warriors.” The castle here is certainly not deserted.
Pike Talking About Cages
When the landing party is captured, Pike says, “This is a cage.” More like this is “THE CAGE,” right?
Ortegas teases Uhura about “staying up late and translating Tellarite sonnets.” The Tellarites are the old-school pig-like aliens, first seen in “Journey to Babel.” They are founding members of the Federation.
“I flew the Enterprise before you did.”
Number One takes over the helm from Ortegas and says: “I flew the Enterprise before you did.” This is an implicit reference to “The Cage,” but also, to Discovery season 2 and Short Treks. Prior to Strange New Worlds, Number One was both the flight controller of the Enterprise and the first officer, at the same time.
Spock gives everyone a datapad with their specific personnel files. Later, when Spock loses his memory, he can’t read it. Is this because his native language is Vulcan? Does the
TARDIS universal translator not work on text? Also, a close-up of Ortegas’ data file has this detail: “Lt. Ortegas is a 23rd Century Starfleet Officer.” With all the time travel shenanigans last week, it’s interesting to note here that her CENTURY is specified.
The ship’s computer tells Ortegas that “officer’s quarters are on Deck 6.” This checks out with the TOS episode “The Ultimate Computer” in which we were told crew quarters were on Deck 6.
Follow the Path
Just like in “Encounter at Farpoint,” in TNG, the hallway lights-up to show Ortegas where to go. Riker had the computer guide him in a similar way on his first day on the Enterprise-D, though his memory was fully intact at that point.
Ortegas has two starship models in her room — one that looks like the Enterprise, and another ship that looks like the USS Shenzhou, from Discovery season 1. The Shenzhou was a Walker-class ship, and within Trek canon, was supposed to be older than the Enterprise.
M’Benga and La’an
Although it has not been explained in dialogue, since the very first episode of Strange New Worlds, we’ve seen that M’Benga and La’an have a shorthand. A very specific hand gesture near the eye, lets us know they have some kind of inside understanding. When they both regain these memories, we see this same hand gesture, moving one finger under the eye, just as we did in the first episode of the show in season 1.
Pike’s Phaser Blasts
Number One at Navigation
By the end of the episode, Number One is back up at the front of the bridge, this time, working the navigation station, next to Ortegas. This would seem to indicate that Number One can basically do any job on the bridge when a seat needs to be filled.
The end of this episode finds us zooming out from the windows of Pike’s quarters. And, from the look of it, it seems like that puts his room right near the front of the saucer section, slightly to the “left.” This probably means Pike’s quarters are on a different deck than everyone else’s. And those nice windows seem more than a little bit inspired by Ten Forward in The Next Generation.