Easter Eggs From ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 2, Episode 3: ‘We’ll Always Have Tom Paris’

Screenshots from the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes "Tapestry" and "Unification"

YouTube Screenshots from the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes "Tapestry" and "Unification."

The third episode of the “Star Trek: Lower Decks” second season dropped on August 26, 2021, and it was another Easter egg-filled adventure. However, it wasn’t a direct parody like episode one or heavily based on previous Trek episodes like episode two.

Episode three, “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” demonstrated the show’s ability to create new Trek stories while effortlessly referencing classic Trek in ways that only true Trekkers can appreciate. Here’s a breakdown of the big Easter eggs from the episode:


Tom Paris Is Really Back!


Star Trek: Lower Decks pays tribute to Voyager!Check out Ensign Boimler fangirl over Voyager and Tom Paris in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 2 episode 3, "We'll Always Have Tom Paris".2021-08-27T07:00:39Z

Though fans were led to believe that “Star Trek: Voyager” Lieutenant Tom Paris would only be back as a hallucination, this was very much not the case. Paris himself was aboard the Cerritos for most of the episode. According to Boimler, Paris was going around to all the active-duty Starfleet ships to share inspirational stories about his time serving on Voyager.

Of course, this led to a plethora of references to classic “Voyager” moments. When Boimler first revealed that Paris was on board, he said that he would get to meet “the creator of Fair-Haven, Captain Proton himself.” Voyager fans know that Paris was a holodeck junkie and that he spent much of his time creating new holodeck programs for himself and the crew. Two of the programs frequently featured in the show were his holo-novel about sci-fi hero Captain Proton and his recreation of a 19th-century Irish town called Fair-Haven.

Mariner responded to Boimler’s revelation by asking if Paris was “still a salamander.” This is a jab at the second-season “Voyager” episode “Threshold,” which is widely considered one of the show’s worst episodes. In that episode, Paris attempted to break the warp 10 barrier. When he did, he mutated somehow and turned into a lizard-like creature. He then attacked Janeway, who also turned into a lizard-like creature. The Doctor devised an anti-proton treatment that reverted them to their human forms.

When Paris finally arrived on the ship, he asked if he could take the helm and try out the Cerritos. Captain Freeman agreed but joked, “as long as you don’t send us to the Delta Quadrant!” Of course, Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker.

Later in the episode, a very disheveled Boimler burst onto the bridge after being trapped in a Jeffries tube for several hours. His wild hair and dirty skin led Paris to believe that a Kazon warrior had infiltrated the ship. The Kazons were a frequent adversary of the Voyager crew while they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Paris instinctively leaped into action and pounded Boimler into the ground.

Paris’ presence in the episode was a tender tribute to “Voyager” that let fans know it’s okay to love the oft-criticized Trek series.


How They Come Back From the Dead


Rutherford: Shaxs back from the dead – Star Trek Lower Decks 2×32021-08-26T18:33:17Z

Episode three brought Lieutenant Shaxs back from the dead. Rutherford, who blamed himself for Shaxs’ death, was rattled by the resurrection. However, none of the other ensigns seemed bothered. Both Mariner and Boimler pointed out that “bridge crew always come back,” referencing the myriad times that characters in the Trek-verse have miraculously come back from being dead.

When Rutherford wondered how Shaxs’ resurrection had occurred, Boimler and Mariner launched into a lengthy list of all the different ways that Trekverse characters can come back from the dead:

Boimler: It’s probably just a transporter pattern buffer thing.

Mariner: Yeah or a restored Katra, or a Mirror Universe switcheroo, or the Borg rebuilt him.

Boimler: Or he could be a future son from an alternate timeline or maybe he got Genesis-deviced, or time-ribboned.

Mariner: Or he was trapped in the Nexus.

Boimler: Nexus, time ribbon, it’s the same thing.

This brilliant bit of dialogue is a perfect demonstration of the writers’ ability to pack an incredible amount of Easter eggs into a quick portion of an episode.

Boimler’s “transport pattern buffer” explanation is a reference to a few different Trek-isodes, including the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Relics.” In that episode, the Enterprise’s first chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, was discovered in the transporter buffer on the U.S.S. Jenolan after he was presumed dead.

Mariner’s explanations covered several previous Trek resurrections. Restoring a “katra,” or a Vulcan’s soul, was the method by which Spock was resurrected in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” In “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn,” Spock transferred his katra to Dr. McCoy before he sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise. In “Star Trek III,” the crew found Spock’s body on the Genesis planet and took it back to Vulcan so his katra could be transferred back into his body, resulting in his resurrection.

Boimler’s comment about the Genesis device also tied into Spock’s resurrection. The Genesis device created the planet on which Spock’s body was found. The device’s ability to create life where it didn’t exist before allowed Spock’s body to stay somewhat alive, which allowed for the restoration of his katra.

Mariner’s “Mirror Universe switcheroo” comment was a clear reference to “Star Trek: Discovery.” In the Prime universe, Captain Phillipa Georgiou died at the Battle of the Binary Stars. However, the Mirror Universe Georgiou managed to sneak into the Prime Universe when the Discovery returned. Instead of publically revealing that Discovery had been to an alternate universe and brought back an alternate version of a dead person, Starfleet decided to pretend that Mirror Georgiou was Prime Georgiou.

The “rebuilt by the Borg” explanation might have gone straight over some fans’ heads unless they’re huge fans of “Voyager.” The Borg never took a dead Trek character and brought them back to life. However, Borg technology was used to bring Neelix back to life after he was dead for more than 18 hours. In the episode “Mortal Coil,” Seven of Nine revealed that the Borg assimilated a species that had the technology to bring their people back from the dead and that the Borg often used this technology on drones. Seven instructed the Doctor in the procedure and donated some of her nanoprobes.

Boimler’s “future son from an alternate timeline” statement is a clear reference to the TNG character Sela. Tasha Yar died in the first season of TNG. However, an alternate timeline version of her appeared in the classic episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” Later in the series, a half-Romulan, half-human who looked just like Yar revealed that she was Alternate Yar’s daughter. So, Boimler was implying that Shaxs might not actually be Shaxs at all, but his alternate timeline future son.

The time-ribbon and Nexus explanations are both references to the first TNG movieStar Trek: Generations.” Captain James Kirk was presumed dead after the Enterprise-B passed through an unidentified energy ribbon. However, he was actually sent to a place called the Nexus, which was suspended in time.


The ‘Girls Trip’ Mission


Star Trek: Lower Decks – S2E3 – We'll Always Have Tom Paris – Trailer #1Girls trip!! Get a sneak peek at tomorrow's new episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Stream it in a few hours at 12AM PT on ParamountPlus. #StarTrek #LowerDecks #StarTrekLowerDecks2021-08-26T07:47:15Z

One of the subplots in “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris” followed Mariner and Tendi as they went on their first-ever “Girls Trip” mission. Dr. T’Ana asked Tendi to go to Qualor II to get a “family heirloom,” and told Tendi she could bring a colleague. This prompted Tendi’s realization that she and Mariner had never done a solo mission together, so she invited her along.

Many fans (and us here at Heavy) assumed that the casino town shown in the preview images for the episode was Stardust City, from “Star Trek: Picard.” However, the planet turned out to be Qualor II. TNG fans might recognize Qualor II as the planet central to the Romulans’ plot to invade Vulcan. The plot was foiled by the Enterprise crew with the help of Ambassador Spock.

The scenes on Qualor II included several nods to classic Trek. A wide shot of the city’s skyline revealed Quark’s Bar and Casino and marquees for Vic Fontaine and the Zebulon Sisters. Both Quark and Vic Fontaine are characters from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” while the Zebulon Sisters were introduced in the first season of “Lower Decks.” Quark ran the bar on Deep Space Nine and Vic Fontaine was a sentient hologram in Dr. Julian Bashir’s Vegas nightclub program.

While on Qualor II, Mariner and Tendi ran into some trouble that required a “fixer.” So, they headed to Starbase Earhart. This “fixer” cost quite a bit more than they were expecting, so they found a Dom-jot table. Mariner began to hustle some Nausicaans, who accused her of cheating. Mariner insisted that Tendi make the last play for her so they could ensure she wasn’t cheating. Tendi won on a lucky shot, which enraged the Nausicaans and incited a fight.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because the chain of events is based on a previous “Star Trek” episode. In the TNG episode “Tapestry,” a young Jean-Luc Picard was stabbed through the heart by some Nausicaans who thought his friend was cheating at Dom-jot on Starbase Earhart.


Mariner’s Work History

Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS

Paramount+

As their girls trip progressed, Mariner and Tendi realized that they didn’t actually know much about each other. After revealing that she once ran over Lieutenant Worf’s mek’leth, Mariner told Tendi that she’d served on Deep Space Nine before she served on the Cerritos. This is a big deal for classic “Star Trek” fans because it means that Mariner has canon ties to “Deep Space Nine” characters. The reveal could suggest that DS9 characters could make an appearance in season two or the upcoming season three.

Mariner also revealed that she’d served on several Starfleet vessels before the Cerritos. She didn’t name any of the other ships, but knowing “Lower Decks,” she’ll likely reveal that she’s served with other fan-favorite Trek characters.


Other Quick References

Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi and Gillian Vigman as Dr. T'Ana of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS.

Paramount+

Of course, there were multiple quick references to the “Star Trek” canon made throughout the episode as well.

Early on in the episode, Rutherford revealed that Captain Freeman had come down with a case of Terellian Death Syndrome. Superfans of TNG might recognize this disease as one of the many incorrect diagnoses chronic hypochondriac Lieutenant Reginald Barclay gave himself in TNG.

The mission Dr. T’Ana sent Tendi on involved a Caitian mating ritual, much like the Vulcan’s Pon Farr. While Vulcans had to mate every seven years, Caitians went through their mating process once per year. The hormonal urges of the process could be quelled with a Caitian Libido Post, the “heirloom” T’Ana sent Tendi to retrieve.

When Mariner was talking to Tendi about her taste in romantic partners she said that she had a thing for “bad boys, bad girls, bad gender non-binary babes, ruthless alien masterminds, [and] bad Bynars.” Her inclusion of bad Bynars is a reference to the Bynar species that was introduced in the TNG episode “11001001.” The Bynars are genderless, humanoid aliens whose brains are linked to a master computer on their homeworld. Side note: This bit of dialogue confirms that Mariner is pansexual, making her one of the Trekverse’s few queer characters.

While Rutherford daydreamed about Shaxs’ death and resurrection, his dream Shaxs’ appearance referenced several Trek episodes. Dream Shaxs also asked some pointed questions about Trek canon.

First, Shaxs appeared as a TOS-era Mirror Universe Shax. Another Shaxs materialized as a Borg. Several more manifestations of Shaxs appeared including a Bajoran military officer and an 18th or 19th-century human, which could be a reference to the TNG two-parter “Time’s Arrow.”

Shaxs then began to say random things about the Trekverse. He asked, “What was the deal with T’Pol’s hair for that one year?” This was a reference to T’Pol’s abrupt hairstyle change in season three. Shaxs then stated, “In the Nexus it’s always Christmas,” a reference to Picard’s experience in the Nexus.

“Lower Decks” continues to deliver clever, hilarious stories that only a real Trek fan can truly appreciate.

The next episode drops on Thursday, September 2, at midnight Pacific time/3 a.m. Eastern time. Check back for a preview of that episode before it airs and coverage of all the new Easter eggs.

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