Sadly this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was another virtual one as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc with large-scale in-person events. But that’s not to say there wasn’t some great stuff going, and one of the highlights was the “Star Trek” Universe panel, where a brand new trailer for the second season of “Lower Decks” was shown.
We open with a rapid-fire, pre-credit-like sequence and we’re given a fleeting glimpse of Ensigns Beckett Mariner (voice of Tawny Newsome) and D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells), a giant green scorpion wearing a Starfleet uniform — that might actually be Ensign Tendi — a giant robot attacking everyone and the USS Macduff under fire in an asteroid field. The “Lower Decks” logo appears after just a few seconds and we start the trailer proper.
Mariner, Tendi, Ensign Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and even Lieutenant Junior Grade Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) are outside, in space once again wearing “First Contact”-style environment suits that we saw in the first season.
They’re standing on a vintage-looking satellite that has been noted to bear a slight resemblance to the cryogenic capsule in the “The Next Generation” episode “The Neutral Zone” (Season 1, Episode 26), but that may be purely a coincidence. The four of them are staring into the stars, gazing at what looks like a comet streaking through a nebula gas cloud.
“A view like this makes you realize that it doesn’t matter what deck you work on, we’re all in this together,” Mariner says. And then the USS Cerritos jumps to warp and leaves them behind, stranded.
The California-class starship herself looks like she’s had a little bit of a design tweak, with more details added to the Bussard collectors, main deflector and the sides of the saucer section, seemingly keeping with the wishes of Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and not making it “all Sovereign class.”
Next up, we’re on the observation/crew deck and an extremely enthusiastic female member of the Pandronian species, a race not seen since “Star Trek: The Animated Series” episode “Bem” (Season 2, Episode 2) seems to be energizing the crew for some reason or another.
Pandronians were particularly unusual in the sense that they could voluntarily dismember themselves and those were separate, sentient organisms. As such, they could reassemble those disconnected body parts with other Pandronians to form new Pandronians. A little bit like swapping the bits of a Lego minifig.
Mariner and Tendi appear to be walking the streets of Stardust City on Freecloud. This is the Alpha Doradus system’s equivalent to Las Vegas and we were first introduced to this neon-lit, epicenter of extravagance in the “Star Trek: Picard” episode “Stardust City Rag” (Season 1, Episode 5).
Naturally, we see Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade, established by the Ferengi entrepreneur extraordinaire presumably post-“Deep Space Nine.”
Following Lieutenant Shax’s ultimate sacrifice to save the USS Cerritos from the Pakled attack in the Season 1 finale “No Small Parts,” we are introduced to what we assume is his replacement at the tactical station, Lieutenant Kayshon (voiced by Carl Tart) and he’s a Tamarian.
A popular race in the “Star Trek” universe, Tamarians were memorably introduced in “The Next Generation” episode “Darmok” (Season 5, Episode 2). However, if you look closely in the earlier scene on the observation/crew deck with the extremely enthusiastic Pandronian, you can see Shax and Kayshon together, possibly suggesting the return of the bold Bajoran (it’s unlikely his body was ever actually recovered) or alternatively it could just be a flashback.
Next up we get another glimpse — as we did in the First Contact Day teaser — of a throwback to one of the most well-known episodes of “The Next Generation” entitled “Chain of Command” (Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11). This is where Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) gets apprehended while on a secret mission and tortured by the Cardassian Gul Madred (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.
Just like the first season of “Lower Decks” that was cram-packed with “Star Trek” Easter eggs, callbacks, references and in-jokes, this trailer promises even more of the same in Season 2. Orders like, “Prepare for ramming speed” — a nod to “First Contact” plus Rutherford is covered with medical devices similar to the multifunctional neocortical monitor often seen in “Voyager.”
We get a glimpse of the USS Titan’s transporter room that’s almost certainly had some design inspiration from the USS Enterprise-E from “Star Trek: Insurrection,” which is understandable since the Sovereign Class represents the crème de la crème of Starfleet in the late 24th century.
We also see a little more of the USS Macduff, a magnificent Miranda class starship, first introduced to the “Star Trek” universe in “The Wrath of Khan.” The Miranda class operated from the 2280s to at least the 2380s, and this one has a very old registry number (NCC-1877) and one without an additional suffix, which means it must be the same 100-year old ship with a 24th-century refit.
The crew of the Cerritos beams down into a museum containing all manner of antiques and artifacts and naturally it’s a spot-the-Easter-egg challenge.
There’s a bat’leth and mek’leth (Klingon double and single-handed blades), an Andorian ushaan-tor blade from the “Enterprise” episode “United” (Season 4, Episode 13), a Vulcan lirpa from “The Original Series” episode “Amok Time” (Season 2, Episode 5) and the Enterprise episode “The Forge” (Season 4, Episode 7), and a Jem’Hadar kar’takin sword seen in the “Deep Space Nine” episode “To The Death” (Season 4, Episode 23).
Finally, there’s an obscure painting next to this impressive display of ancient armaments. This is the portrait Captain Picard painted in “The Next Generation” episode, “A Matter of Perspective” (Season 3, Episode 14). As Data quite rightly pointed out, while suggesting the free treatment of form usually attributed to fauvism, this painting inappropriately attempts to juxtapose the disparate cubistic style of Picasso and Léger. Moreover, the use of color suggests a haphazard mélange of clashing styles, together with unsettling overtones of proto-Vulcan influences. (Also, for some strange reason, it’s been flipped horizontally.)
Next up is another titanic throwback to “The Next Generation” as we see Mariner and Tendi fleeing from a very angry looking group of Nausicaans in a setting that looks almost identical to the one in “Tapestry” (Season 6, Episode 15). The dimly-lit bar is just like the one at the Bonestell Recreation Facility where a young Cadet Jean-Luc Picard was stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan over some alleged cheating in a dom-jot game. In the background is a Benzite and two “tailheads” — an alien race that was never given an official name but appeared in that episode and was frequently spotted around the promenade of “Deep Space Nine.”
Together with existing aliens, we’re promised new species — and new enemies — as well, as we see Tendi being pulled out of a blob of extraterrestrial ectoplasm, while Mariner exclaims, “I mean who among us hasn’t been pooped out by an alien creature?”
Possibly serving as a replacement of sorts to the thoroughly entertaining “Badgey” from the first season — the “Star Trek” equivalent of Microsoft’s infamous paperclip character “Clippy” — we see another Evil Computer, voiced by “Star Trek” veteran Jeffrey Combs.
I think the old commemorative plates from TNG are funny, so we put one in season two of Lower Decks, and now they’re going to sell the actual plate. Chase your dreams, people. pic.twitter.com/d9YPW4Daz0July 23, 2021
And then we get to probably the most bizarre part of the trailer; Boimler is in a Jefferies tube, swapping out some isolinear chips while trying desperately not to succumb to toxic fumes, which are causing him to hallucinate. As such, he’s having a conversation with talking Tom Paris commemorative collector’s plate, voiced by Robert Duncan McNeill himself.
Paramount has even announced that the very same plate will be available to preorder in August. It’s based on a similar “Voyager” commemorative plate featuring Captain Janeway from the Hamilton Collection’s “The Power of Command” series, which is no longer available.
As the trailer winds up, the montage becomes more rapid and we see Boimler and Mariner racing through a crowded street, possibly Stardust City once again, in an Argo-style off-road vehicle (introduced in “Nemesis” and seen again in the Season 1 premiere episode “Second Contact”) and wearing dress uniforms that look like a combination of the “Lower Decks” design and the formal wear from “Insurrection” and “Deep Space Nine.” In another clip, Boimler appears to have been assimilated by the Borg and has a Locutus-like head laser from “The Next Generation” two-part cliffhanger “The Best of Both Worlds” (Season 3, Episode 26; Season 4, Episode 1).
We get a glimpse of the USS Titan once again taking on the Pakleds after having saved the USS Cerritos from certain destruction in the first season finale. Thought to poise no threat whatsoever, we learned that the Pakled’s vessel — first seen in “The Next Generation” episode “Samaritan Snare” (Season 2, Episode 17) — has been heavily modified with the stolen technology of other races. “Lower Decks” creator Mike McMahan hinted at the Pakeld’s return in an interview with Ketwolski last year and this trailer suggests they are still a danger that Starfleet must deal with.
It looks like the Crystalline Entity has a cameo as the Cerritos is seen speeding away from it. First seen in “The Next Generation” episode “Datalore” (Season 1, Episode 13), it was a strange and deadly alien lifeform that existed in space and annihilated all life on planets it came into contact with. Despite being finally destroyed in “Silicon Avatar” (Season 5, Episode 4), there’s no reason why there wouldn’t be more of these floating around the cosmos.
Finally, the Ferengi show their faces and the esoteric alien appearances continue as we also see an Antaran for the first time since the “Enterprise” episode “The Breach” (Season 2, Episode 21), but that’s what “Lower Decks” is all about, it displays a deep love for the galaxy’s longest-running sci-fi franchise. There’s even a Kzinti from “The Animated Series” episodes “The Slaver Weapon” (Season 1, Episode 14) and “Time Trap” (Season 1, Episode 12).
The second season of “Lower Decks” will premiere on Aug. 12 and will consist of 10, half-hour episodes, just like Season 1. Plus it’s already been renewed for a third season. Season 1 is now available on Blu-ray. With “Prodigy” coming “this Fall” it will run as the second series for 2021 after “Lower Decks,” which means “Discovery” Season 4 will most likely follow in early 2022 and that in turn means that the earliest we will see “Picard” Season 2 of “Strange New Worlds” will be next Spring.
International audiences will be able to see Lower Decks within a day of the North American release as the second season is set to beam down to Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 13.
And that’s a season 1 main unit WRAP. We owe some pickup shots, most of which will be tackled this fall, but the lion’s share of our work is in the can. Thx to our phenomenal crew, thx to Toronto, & thx to our fans for being so patient. We will see you soon! @startrek #StarTrekJuly 24, 2021
In other “Star Trek” news, Anson Mount recently tweeted that principal photography on the inaugural season of “Strange New Worlds” had wrapped saying, ” And that’s a Season 1 main unit WRAP. We owe some pickup shots, most of which will be tackled this fall, but the lion’s share of our work is in the can. Thx to our phenomenal crew, thx to Toronto, & thx to our fans for being so patient. We will see you soon!”
Finally, The New York Times reports that Alex Kurtzman has just signed a new five-year contract extension with CBS Studios that will earn him a massive $160 million. Regardless of what you think about the creative decisions he has made regarding “Star Trek,” he’s clearly good for business. The praise for his work continued in the official press release from CBS Studios, “Under the new pact, Kurtzman will remain at the helm of the growing “Star Trek” franchise for the next six years.”