‘Star Trek’s’ Pakleds: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

A Pakled from "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

YouTube A Pakled from "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

The Pakleds are one of “Star Trek’s” lesser-known alien species. The humanoid species was first introduced in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode, “Samaritan Snare.” They are native to either the Alpha Quadrant or the Beta Quadrant, and they frequently conducted business on Deep Space Nine.

Though the Pakleds regularly conducted business in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants and even controlled some sectors, their contact with the Federation was relatively limited in the 2360s and 2370s. In the early 2380s, however, the Pakleds made a power move against the Federation. Starfleet ships including the Cerritos and the Titan engaged the Pakleds, who presented much more of a challenge than expected.

Star Trek: Lower Decks” is giving the Pakleds a much bigger role in the “Star Trek” canon than they’ve had in the past.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Pakleds Aren’t What They Seem

The Pakleds were developed by “The Next Generation” writer Robert McCullough. In an interview with “Starlog Magazine” shortly after “Samaritan Snare” aired, McCullough revealed all the secrets of the Pakleds.

He said that he wanted to come up with something completely different than the other species the crew of the Enterprise had encountered. It dawned on him that all of the species the crew met were highly intelligent and technologically advanced.

“I wanted to do something fun. In all these space shows the aliens are so d**n smart and sophisticated. I thought, ‘How about having them come across like dummies?’ As all the aliens were malevolent and inuitive like Q, I felt it would be find some aliens left out of the loop of development. Third world aliens! They appear to be stupid, but they’re not; they’re just needy. They’re so needy they become desperate.

McCullough also divulged that the name Pakled had a significance that was easy to miss, but so obvious once pointed out. Pakled breaks down to “pack-led,” meaning that the species are simple sheep, looking for another species to lead them.

The concept for the Pakleds was wonderfully executed in “Samaritan Snare.” When the Pakleds first encountered the Enterprise, they appeared to be too dumb to fix their own ship. In reality, their apparent lack of intelligence was a ruse they employed so they could kidnap an engineer to do their work for them.

As McCullough stated, the Pakleds aren’t really a completely unintelligent species. They have the smarts to concoct elaborate schemes, conduct trade, and even run sectors. However, they lean into the perception that they’re unintelligent in order to take advantage of other species they encounter.

2. Pakleds Are Scavengers, Not Innovators

“Samaritan Snare” established two major things about the Pakleds’ ships and technology. First, their native ships and technologies are comparatively primitive. Second, they don’t advance their own ships and technologies through innovation; they scavenge and steal from other species.

When the Enterprise encountered the Pakleds in the 2360s, they hadn’t managed to incorporate many modern or advanced technologies into their ships. However, during their interaction with the Enterprise, the Pakleds managed to convince Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge to install Federation technologies on their ship. This was a massive upgrade to their systems that they never would have come up with on their own or had access to unless they tricked the Enterprise crew.

The season one finale of “Lower Decks,” “No Small Parts,” established that the Pakleds became experts at stealing or scavenging advanced technologies. “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” the second episode of “Lower Decks'” second season, revealed that the Pakleds continued to add technologies to their ships on a regular basis.

Pakled ships were so powerful by the early 2380s that they presented a legitimate challenge for Starfleet vessels, even battlecruisers like the Titan.

3. The Pakleds Want to Be Self-Sufficient, But They’re Too Lazy

Another defining characteristic of the Pakleds is their lack of motivation and work ethic, except when it comes to creating a cunning plan for the purposes of thievery. Pakleds want to be a major force in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, but they don’t want to work to become that force.

So, they steal what they need, including manpower. In “Samaritan Snare,” the Pakelds correctly identified that Geordi would be a major asset. Since they didn’t want to take the time to thoroughly understand the technologies they were stealing, they decided that stealing a person to do all that work for them was a great idea. Of course, the plan failed when the Enterprise outwitted them.

In “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” Captain William Riker revealed that the Pakleds wanted Varuvian ore because it could be weaponized. One of his bridge officers pointed out that “weaponizing Varuvian ore [was] a bit above the Pakleds’ grade level.”

Riker responded that Starfleet suspected the Pakleds were working with another species to take over Varuvian ore mining operations and weaponize the ore. Teaming up with another species to obtain what they can’t or are too lazy to obtain themselves is exactly the Pakleds’ modus operandi.

4. The Pakleds are Major Players in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants

Lower Decks” is revealing that counter to everyone’s expectations, the Pakleds gained significant power in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. For decades, the Federation and Starfleet didn’t pay much attention to the Pakleds because they didn’t consider them a threat. Though the Pakleds occasionally pulled off clever and inconvenient schemes, their efforts to advance their society and become a power player were relatively inconsequential.

That all changed in 2380. In “No Small Parts,” the Cerritos received a distress call from the Solvang. When the crew warped to the ship’s last known coordinates, they discovered that the Solvang had been completely destroyed by an unknown enemy. The bridge crew had no idea what species could have carried out such complete destruction of a Starfleet vessel. They were even more baffled when they discovered that their adversaries were Pakleds.

Scans of the Pakled ship revealed that it contained parts and technologies from more than 30 different alien species. The crew concluded that the Pakleds had become powerful enough to change their tactics. In the decades since Starfleet had encountered the species, they’d shifted from luring in ships to steal their technologies to taking the technologies they wanted by force.

5. The Pakleds Might be Part of Something Big

So far, the Pakleds have been a substantial presence in “Lower Decks” season two. This season, the Titan is currently on a mission to expose the Pakleds’ plot to weaponize Varuvian ore and identify their partners. If the second season continues to follow the crew of the Titan as well as the crew of the Cerritos, then fans will likely see a lot more of the Pakleds this season.

However, the IMDB pages for episodes three, four, and five don’t include any of the actors who voice the Titan crew members in the cast list. This could mean that fans have seen the last of the Titan for a while. Or it could mean that the pages haven’t been completely updated to prevent spoilers. The IMDB pages for episodes six and beyond only include the main voice actors in the cast list. So, it’s very possible that the crew of the Titan will be back later in season two.

As it stands after episode two, the Pakleds have foiled Starfleet yet again. The attempt to infiltrate the Pakled mining operation and plant a tracking device on their ship went awry when Riker’s overzealous bridge crew decided to rush in rather than assess the situation. Though the entire crew, plus an extra clone of Boimler, managed to escape, Starfleet is no closer to understanding what the Pakleds are plotting.

Hopefully, fans will get more info later in the season.

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