The second episode of the sophomore season of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” dropped on August 19, and like the season’s premiere, it was an Easter egg-packed adventure. Though the previews for the episode suggested that it would be a parody of the classic “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Darmok,” the main storyline was actually focused on another classic TNG episode.
Here’s a breakdown of the major Easter eggs from the episode.
There were two main storylines in “Kayshon, His Eyes Open.” One followed the crew of the Titan on an undercover mission to investigate the Pakled’s involvement in taking over a mining operation. The other followed the ensigns of the Cerritos as they helped clean out the storage ship of a member of the Collector’s Guild who passed away.
The concept of the “Collectors” was a throwback to the classic TNG episode “The Most Toys.” In that episode, a trader named Kivas Fajo (Saul Rubinek) turned out to be a collector of rare items from every corner of the universe. He lured the Enterprise into a transaction so he could capture Data and add him to his collection.
“Kayshon, His Eyes Open” drew on and expanded on many of the story threads in “The Most Toys.” The episode established the fact that Collectors exist all over the known universe and that they compare collections with each other. It also established the existence of a Collectors Guild, a trade organization for Collectors.
Of course, the episode was filled with references to “The Most Toys.” At one point, Commander Ransom asked Captain Freeman if the Collector who died was the same one who tried “to collect Data.” Captain Freeman replied that “they all tried to collect Data.”
When the ensigns were late to their assignment, another Collector, with whom the ensigns were working to clean out the ship, joked that they’d stopped along the way “to debate the human rights of a robot.” This was a clear reference to the TNG episode “The Measure of a Man,” in which Starfleet established that Data did have the same rights as any other Starfleet officer even though he was an android.
That ruling was an essential part of the plot of “The Most Toys” since Fajo didn’t believe Data had human rights. He saw him only as an object to collect. Throughout that episode, Data referenced the violations of the rights that he’d been granted by Starfleet.
Of course, the Collector’s ship was packed full of artifacts referencing previous Trek as well. The helmet that Tendi and Kayshon stood in front of in the preview pictures was identified as “Kahless’ Helmet of Fornication.” Other prominent Easter egg items in the collection were a “Star Trek: The Original Series” female officer’s ops uniform and a headset from the TNG episode, “The Game.”
One Reddit user broke down all the artifacts they saw, along with the timestamps. Some of the highlights included a Betazed Bonding gift box, a desiccated Salt Vampire, Khan Noonien Singh’s Delta Shield trophy, a Terran Empire banner, Giant Spock skeleton from Phylos, and Odo’s regeneration bucket.
Though “Kayshon, His Eyes Open” wasn’t as direct a parody as the first episode, “Strange Energies,” it was just as clear that the episode was an homage to legacy Trek.
‘Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra’
The title of the second episode was an obvious reference to the beloved TNG episode “Darmok.” The episode introduced the first Tamarian Starfleet officer, Lieutenant Kayshon. He came aboard the Cerritos as the new Chief of Security and accompanied the ensigns on their away mission.
One of the big questions fans had after the previews revealed a Tamarian Starfleet officer was whether the communication issues between Tamarians and humans would be resolved. As established in “Darmok,” the Tamarians only speak in metaphors that relate to their culture’s mythology. The meaning of their communications can only be picked up by understanding the context clues in their phrasing. Though the universal translators were able to decipher the actual words Dathon was saying to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, they weren’t able to convey the meaning of the words.
“Lower Decks” played with this concept in a brilliant and hilarious way. Though Kayshon mostly spoke in “Federation Standard,” every once in a while, he slipped into Tamarian. When he did speak in Tamarian, the words but not the context were translated, much like in “Darmok.”
The first time this happened, he apologized that the universal translators still didn’t always decipher the context of his words correctly. Kayshon’s dialogue with other characters indicated that the universal translators had gotten better at deciphering Tamarian, but they weren’t quite there yet. Kayshon compensated for this by speaking Federation Standard instead of Tamarian most of the time.
However, the ensigns’ dialogue with Kayshon confirmed that Starfleet had made significant progress in understanding Tamarian mythology and culture. At several points throughout the episode, the ensigns spoke to Kayshon using Tamarian context clues. They also correctly deciphered Kayshon’s context clues when he slipped into Tamarian and the translators didn’t quite compensate. There was even a Tamarian pickup line built into the episode!
Overall, the writers of “Lower Decks” managed to take a difficult Trek concept and adapt it for their comedic purposes. The distinctions between Kayshon speaking Federation Standard and Tamarian were handled well, as was the explanation that the universal translators haven’t quite caught up.
So Many References to the Enterprise-D
Since the crew of the Titan was heavily featured in the second episode, there were a plethora of references to William Riker’s time on the Enterprise-D. Through these references, “Lower Decks” introduced a really interesting question about Starfleet — is Starfleet really about exploration, or is it about the really cool space battles?
“Lower Decks” has introduced a very different version of William Riker than fans knew in TNG. Captain Riker is funnier, more irreverent, and less cautious than Commander Riker. He’s more interested in a cool space battle than in exploration or diplomatic missions.
Riker’s “playing it safe” time on the Enterprise was the subject of many loving jibes from his Titan crew. They joked about how “boring” the Enterprise-D must have been. They commented that, yeah, the Enterprise-D was involved in all sorts of historic missions, but they also had multiple daycare centers, regular dramatic productions, and a string quartet. The bridge crew of the Titan envisioned everyday life on the Enterprise-D as pretty boring.
However, Boimler made it clear that he thought that the Enterprise-D represented everything that Starfleet is about. He emphasized that at its core, Starfleet would always be about exploration, not cool space battles.
Boimler also rattled off an epic list of Riker’s adventures on the Enterprise-D that referenced several episodes.
“I love that when Riker was on the Enterprise he was out there jammin’ on the trombone and catching love disease and acting in plays and meeting his identical transporter clone Thomas.”
Speaking of Transporter Clones
That reference of Riker’s transporter clone, Thomas Riker, led Boimler to a solution to the Titan away team’s dire situation. He adjusted the transporters to deal with the distortion field, the same way Riker had on the mission that ended up creating his transporter clone.
Of course, this created a transporter clone of Boimler. So, now there are two canon Boimlers. At the end of the episode, Captain Riker said that he couldn’t keep both Boimlers on the Titan. So, one of the Boimlers had to head back to the Cerritos. The original Boimler ended up back on the Cerritos while the clone Boimler stayed on the Titan.
Episode two was another excellent tribute to legacy Trek, like much of “Lower Decks.”
Episode three drops on Thursday, August 26 at midnight Pacific Time/3 a.m. Eastern Time. Heavy will be breaking down the Easter Eggs from each episode, so make sure to check back every Thursday!
Follow the Heavy on Star Trek Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!