The Paramount+ streaming platform’s First Contact Day last month was a non-stop, thrill-a-minute “Star Trek” spectacle, a veritable piñata packed with news and nostalgia that certainly gave us a lot to absorb and unpack. In addition to season two of “Star Trek: Picard,” we got tantalizing glimpses of season 4 of “Star Trek: Discovery” and the sophomore season of the animated comedy “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” to boot!
We’ve scrutinized and analyzed every conceivable detail to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 4
The teaser trailer for the fourth season of “Discovery” isn’t quite so cram-packed with Easter eggs as the “Picard” Season 2 teaser, but there’s still quite a lot to unpack.
Sadly, this teaser for “Discovery” doesn’t sell the next season quite as much as the return of the character Q in Season 2 of “Picard.” It looks like the courageous crew of the USS Discovery NCC-1031-A face … er, another anomaly threatening the galaxy, but instead of an evil artificial intelligence, or spontaneously combusting dilithium, this time it’s a giant gravity field of some kind.
“We’re all living in uncertainty, even for a crew as familiar with it as this one. The stress is taking its toll. But we are not in this alone. None of us are,” Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) says over a montage of debris and very serious looking faces.
Without a doubt the most significant change is the uniforms; it looks like the tunic style has been retained, although with a slightly better cut, from what we saw at the end of the Season 3 finale “That Hope is You — part II.” The color scheme has also been tweaked and the bland blue-steel grey, that was used for both the trousers and tunic has been replaced by the Starfleet department color, (red for command, yellow for operations, blue for science and white for medical — a nod to the 24th century-set shows with new addition of separating science and medical into two departments now) for the tunic, with a black stripe that nicely complements the new black trousers. In short, it’s a vast improvement and will look significantly more dynamic on screen.
Are these new uniforms the result of a time jump at some point early in Season 4, or are they just the result of a change of mind within the wardrobe department? Se suspect it’s simply the latter.
Last season saw the very first reference in a “Star Trek” television show to the Kelvin Timeline in the episode “Terra Firma, part I” and we see another, very subtle one in the teaser trailer with the fleeting appearance of a Shlerm in the new teaser, albeit with what looks like a tweaked design.
The Kelvin Timeline is a terrible idea that was created by JJ Abrams in 2009 in order to be able to churn out three “Star Trek” movies — each one more appalling than the last — that weren’t restrained by any form of existing canon whatsoever. The acknowledgement in Season 3 is part of Alex Kurtzman’s grand plan to make everything in the “Star Trek” universe connected, in one form or another, which now means that the events in those three monumentally bad movies are officially canon.
Kurtzman said in a recent interview to Variety that, “It’s impossible not to accept the reality that the line between movies and television is gone.”
We also get a glimpse of a Lurian, a species made famous by the “Deep Space Nine” equivalent of Norm from “Cheers,” Morn — it’s even an anagram. Since then, Lurians have been spotted a couple of times in Season 3 of “Discovery, as a gun-for-hire from Sanctuary city in “That Hope is You, part I” (S03, E01) and in the background as a merchant in “People of Earth” (S03, E03).
It looks like Burnham has to don what appears to be an armor-reinforced environment suit in order to pilot an already badly damaged Discovery and we see her doing the slow, purposeful walk to the bridge.
Then we hear the voice of Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) explaining that some gravitational anomaly is five light years across. (That’s over three times the diameter of the Solar System.)
“Where is it headed next?” a concerned Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr) asks. “It could go anywhere,” an equally concerned Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) replies. “And we may not have any kind of warning at all,” she adds.
“Federation or non-Federation, this anomaly threatens us equally,” a Cardassian woman says, adding her own anxiety to the rapidly rising levels of alarm. This woman could be the new President of the Federation and she looks like she might be half human, half Cardassian. President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) of Ni’var (the planet formally known as Vulcan) confirms her cooperation.
“Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together,” Dr. Hugh Culber’s (Wilson Cruz) says reassuringly.
Lest we forget that Burnham is now captain of the USS Discovery — finally. However, it looked like Saru (Doug Jones) had, at the very least, taken a sabbatical from Starfleet at the end of the last season to help Su’Kal rehabilitate on Kaminar. (Learning you’re responsible for the death of many millions of innocent people is probably quite hard to recover from.) Yet we see him in one of the new uniforms, or is it another Kelpien? We assume those are the hands of Saru holding the hands of Burnham at the end of the teaser…
The fourth season of “Star Trek: Discovery” will premiere later in 2021, but it’s not yet known exactly when or how many episodes will make up the season.
Star Trek: Lower Decks, Season 2
Despite being less than 30 seconds long, the teaser trailer for the second season of “The Lower Decks” promises more madness and mayhem in space. And there are several notable Easter eggs to talk about.
Probably the first, big “wow” moment was the surprise appearance of a Miranda class starship — first introduced to the “Star Trek” universe in “The Wrath of Khan.” She’s the USS Macduff and bears the registry NCC-1877, she also features blue warp field grills and red-glowing bussard collectors, seen on later Miranda class vessels in the “Deep Space Nine” episode “Favor the Bold” (S06, E05) for example. The Miranda class operated from the 2280s to at least the 2380s and this one has clearly had a 24th century refit, despite having a very old registry number (the USS Reliant’s registry was NCC-1864) and one without an additional suffix, which means it’s the same 100-year old.
The name however, is puzzling. There was an Enterprise-D first officer named Kieran MacDuff (played by Erich Anderson) in the “The Next Generation” episode “Conundrum” (S05, E14). He was in fact a Satarran disguised as a human and he attempted to covertly commander the Enterprise to assist in his race’s ongoing war against the Lysians. But let’s face facts, it’s unlikely to be named after him. Macduff is also the legendary hero who plays a pivotal role in the Shakespeare play “Macbeth.” He suspects Macbeth of regicide and eventually kills him in the final act. He can be seen as the avenging hero who helps save Scotland from Macbeth’s tyranny in the play.
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A Mugato also makes an appearance in the new teaser trailer, albeit a much bigger and nastier one than we’ve seen before. This infamous “white, horned ape” first appeared in “The Original Series” episode “A Private Little War” (S02, E19) but has already been referenced in “The Lower Decks” episode “Temporal Edict” (S01 E03) when Commander Jack Ransom (voiced by Jerry O’Connell) listed “horned gorillas” as one of the many threats he’d encountered during away missions.
The Mugato seems to be towering over two Denobulans, the same species as Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) in “Enterprise” and despite several Denobulans making appearances in that vastly underrated series of “Star Trek,” they sadly haven’t been seen since. However, the “Denobulan flesh-eating bacteria” was referenced in the last season of “The Lower Decks” in the episode “Veritas” (S01, E08).
Next up is a shot of Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) in full, traditional red Anbo-jyutsu gear. This was a classic example of late 80s pop-culture influence on “The Next Generation” writing and appeared in the episode “The Icarus Factor” (S02, E14) where Riker (Jonathan Frakes) used this game in 2365 as a means to settle long-held grudges against his father, Kyle (Mitchell Ryan), who considered it to be the “ultimate form” of human martial arts.
Then we see an underground facility of some sort with cables, catwalks and a giant plasma thingamajig. It’s tricky to make out, but that’s actually Ensign Boimler (voiced by Jack Quaid) at a control terminal on the right-hand side of the image, while three others attempt to fend off a group of Pakleds with phaser fire. They first appeared in “The Next Generation” episode “Samaritan Snare” (S02, E17) and then made numerous appearances in “Deep Space Nine.”
The Pakleds — who look a bit like the Underminors from “The Incredibles” had offspring with the Vogons from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — were revealed to be the bad guys in “The Lower Decks” first season finale and to the casual observer they appeared to be simpletons-of-sorts. However, despite the apparent inabilities, they proved to be far more cunning than they appeared, and used their innocuous appearance to deceive other races. It would seem that despite the intervention of the USS Titan in the Season one finale, the Pakleds are destined to return, something creator Mike McMahan hinted at last year.
Next up we see as throwback to one of the most well-known episodes of “The Next Generation” entitled “Chain of Command” (S06, E10 & 11). This is where Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) gets caught while on a secret mission and tortured by the Cardassian Gul Madred (played deliciously by David Warner). In an attempt to break the captain, Madred shines four, bright lights at Picard and tries to convince him to doubt his own mind and acknowledge there are falsely five instead. The torture room has been recreated and we see Mariner — dressed like an extra from Jane Fonda’s “Let’s get Physical” — holding a Cardassian hostage, while fighting off several other Cardassians.
We get a super-quick snippet of Ensign D’Vana Tendi (voiced by Noël Wells) looking terrified with fear at a multi-tentacled, Lernaean Hydra-like alien monster. Ben Robinson, who heads up the “Star Trek” unit of Eaglemoss speculated on Twitter that his might be a Kelvan. The Kelvans appeared in humanoid form in “The Original Series” episode “By Any Other Name” (S02, E22), but were said to have a hundred tentacles in their natural state. Worf even mentions them in the “Deep Space Nine” episode “Time’s Orphan” (S06, E24). However, McMahan replied to Robinson’s tweet and said, “Unfortunately this is more ‘a bunch of snakey things’ and not “one thing with lots of tentacles — but Kelvans were a good guess!”
Finally we see Boimler aboard the USS Titan as a lieutenant (junior grade) and during the heat of battle, Captain Riker (voiced by Jonathan Frakes) is acting more like a crazy old sea captain in space, spouting out remarks about jazz music, “This jam session has too many licks and not enough counts!”
Frakes said, during the First Contact Day panel looking at comedy in “Star Trek” that this looser, wilder Riker is entirely a creation of McMahan’s for the show, “I hate to give Mike more credit than he’s already gotten, but he created the Lower Decks Riker out of whole cloth. I never thought of that character being quite that nuts…” We think Riker would make a suburb crazy old sea captain — think Willem Dafoe in “The Lighthouse.”
The second season of “Lower Decks” will premiere on Aug. 12, 2021 and will consist of 10, half-hour episodes, just like Season one. Plus it’s already been renewed for a third season! Season 1 will be available on Blu-ray on May 18.
All the panels from the First Contact Day and teaser trailers are available to watch on the Paramount+ YouTube channel.
In other Trek news, Deadline reported Paramount had added a slot to its 2023 release slate for a new, top-secret “Star Trek” movie, but there little more information than that. However, last month
Deadline also reported that “Discovery” writer Kalinda Vazquez was working on a “Star Trek” movie project — were these the same? io9 reported a source told them that they were two different projects, so it seems that there might be two “Star Trek” movies in the pipeline.