The only thing Trekkies like doing more than nitpicking continuity errors -- and re-writing scenes in our heads because "Tuvok was a little out of character in that one scene" -- is hunting for inter-Trek references. Given the expansive, 56-year lifespan of "Star Trek," not to mention and its current, rapidly increasing volume, there will always be a new piece of mythology to lock into the giant puzzle. Every new story is, in the mind of a Trekkie, going to be information that can be used later. Data gathering is a sport. Typically, the game is played in good fun, but if winning is not important then, Commander, why keep score?
"Star Trek: Lower Decks," generally speaking, is a glorious opportunity for the nerdier Trekkies to earn a few Brownie points among their fellow fans. The series is so lousy with references, one must watch each episode multiple times with a pen and notepad in order to catch even 75% of them. Indeed, several of the show's references may not have anything to do with extant canon, and refer instead to decades of "Trek" merchandise; the Tom Paris collector's plate seen in season 2 of "Lower Decks" is a reference to actual tchotchkes Trekkies were encouraged by buy from the Franklin Mint. The showrunners on "Lower Decks" are clearly deep-cut Trekkies themselves, or at least have a Trekkie's disembodied brain hooked up to a computer somewhere to feed them all the in-jokes and clever winks that are the series' raisons d'être.
Here are a few of the more notable references that /Film spotted in the second episode of the show's third season, called "The Least Dangerous Game."
Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
At the start of "The Least Dangerous Game," the show's four protagonists have gathered to play an elaborate, Klingon-themed board game called "Bat'leths & bIHnuchs." A bat'leth is the long, curved, multi-handled Klingon swords seen periodically throughout "Trek." "BIHnuch" is the Klingon word for coward. Cowardice, even casual Trekkies might now, is anathema to the Klingon ethos; death in battle is preferable to a long, peaceful life.
The four main "Lower Decks" character are, to get into the spirit of the game, dressed in Klingon accoutrements and drink from Klingon flagons. Their game is accompanied by a tabletop video screen of the Klingon Chancellor Martok (J.G. Herztler) who dictates the rules of the game and berates players when they fail. Trekkies who were collecting merch in 1993 will instantly recognize "Bat'leths & bIHnuchs" as a reference to the real-world "Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive VCR Board Game -- A Klingon Challenge" put out my Milton Bradley. The premise of the game put players -- each of them ensigns -- on a near-abandoned Enterprise-D when a Klingon bad guy named Kavok invaded and took over the ship.
Notably, the game came with a 60-miunte VHS cassette that was meant to be played alongside the board game. The tape would occasionally stop and Kavok would instruct players to respond (the game came with adhesive comm badges you could stick to your shirt), and then draw from a particular deck of cards. Confusingly, Kavok was played by actor Robert O'Reilly, who was already better known as the Klingon character Gowron on "Next Generation."
To acknowledge that historical confusion, Boimler (Jack Quaid) mentions his desire to get the Gowron Expansion.
The A-plot of "The Least Dangerous Game" involves the hubris of Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O'Connell). In order to prove a point to Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome), he deliberately mis-delegates the officers on a particular away mission he commands. The engineers on the mission are sent to the planet below to conduct diplomatic relations while he and Mariner remain on a massive orbital lift to conduct repairs. By the end of the episode, Ransom has to confess his hubris when both teams prove ill-equipped to tackle the task in front of them.
The notion of an orbital lift is not new to "Trek." An orbital lift is, as it sounds, an impossibly tall, free-standing elevator shaft that reaches just out of a planet's upper atmosphere. In "Trek" lore, these are used in places where the ship's transporters are scrambled for one reason or another. An orbital lift is also the setting for a third season episode of "Star Trek: Voyager" called "Rise" (February 26, 1997). In that episode, a very, very long ride up an orbital lift gives Tuvok (Tim Russ) and Neelix (Ethan Phillips) a chance to announce how much they annoy one another, all while figuring out which of the aliens they're sharing the lift with is a potential saboteur. "Rise" is, to put it politely, not a terribly notable episode of television.
Later in "The Least Dangerous Game," Mariner finds herself skydiving alongside the orbital lift. No doubt, viewers will also see a parallel to Kirk's skydiving shenanigans in the 2009 reboot film "Star Trek." But that is mere visual quotation. Or ... and hear me out ... it was a reference to Kirk (William Shatner) skydiving from orbit in a deleted scene from "Star Trek: Generations."
The B-plot of "The Least Dangerous Game" finds Boimler lamenting that he never gets any attention from his superior officers, leading Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells) to posit that it's Boimler's timidity that is preventing him from getting the promotion he aggressively thirsts for. Boimler resolves to say "yes" to every invitation he receives that day. His first activity under his new decree is a game of springball with the muscly Sherwins who needs "a wiry guy who's hard to hit."
Springball was first introduced as a Bajoran, full-contact version of raquetball mentioned multiple times throughout "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Uniforms were slim-fitting velour bodysuits, and racquets looked like enlarged spatulas. A springball court is an enclosed area covered with multiple targets that, when hit, score points for your team. A game was first dramatized on "Deep Space Nine" in the episode "For the Cause" (May 6, 1996), and many of the officers on the station claimed to be enthusiasts, including the station's first officer Major Kira (Nana Visitor). Later in the series, Kira finds her old springball racquet among the belongings of Nog (Aron Eisenberg), who had stolen it years earlier.
Boimler, naturally, has his buttocks handed to him during the ensuing springball match.
When it came to sex and sexuality in "Star Trek," series creator Gene Roddenberry was most certainly a proponent of Free Love. Although "Trek" has never been explicitly stated as some sort of polyamorous, open-sexuality utopia, Trekkies might be able to sense that's something Roddenberry always wanted to say out loud. Multiple episodes of "Trek" have been devoted to planets that are populated exclusively by scantily dressed, horny Bohemians who throw themselves at every visiting Starfleet officer.
On "Lower Decks," Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Lt. Billups (Paul Scheer) happily lounge by a swimming pool next to some swimsuit-clad men and women wearing bikinis. Later in the episode, the two will unwittingly instigate a diplomatic incident when they accidentally break one of the planet's laws.
The light hair and crimson skin of the sexy aliens is most definitely evoking the "Star Trek" episode "The Apple" (October 13, 1967) from the original show's second season. In "The Apple," an all-powerful computer called Vaal oversees an Eden of childlike aliens who are forbidden to touch one another. By the end of the episode, Kirk (William Shatner) will, natch, destroy Vaal. The locals, it is implied, must now learn how to copulate. This is a Roddenberrian sex fantasy writ large.
The "unwittingly violating the law" aspect of the episode is a reference to the first-season "Next Generation" episode "Justice" (November 9, 1987). In that episode, the Enterprise finds a planet of sexed-up Bohemians -- and wow, those outfits barely stay on -- who maintain order by periodically executing its citizens via on-the-spot lethal injection for any minor infraction. When Wesley (Wil Wheaton) falls into a small flower garden, he's immediately apprehended. As "Lower Decks" points out, there's always a catch with sex worlds.
Read this next: Every Star Trek Show And Movie In Chronological Order
The post The 4 Best Easter Eggs and References in Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 2 appeared first on /Film.