Published Sep 22, 2023
Below Deck with Lower Decks: The Scent of Love
Some (not all!) Orion women emit their stink in order to manipulate others.
By Dayton Ward
SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season 4, Episode 4 "Something Borrowed, Something Green" to follow!
It’s time to sound the wedding bells on this week’s all-new episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks!
Specifically, it’s D’Erika, Tendi’s sister, who’s getting married. Even though Tendi really, really doesn’t want to travel to the Orion home world for the ceremony, Captain Freeman grants her leave to do just that. The Cerritos’ new Vulcan officer, T’Lyn, asks to accompany Tendi so that she might observe Orion culture firsthand and report that information to her Vulcan superiors. Then Mariner invites herself along for the ride, because Mariner. Girls trip!
Once they arrive on the Orion home world, Mariner and T’Lyn get a firsthand look at what all the fuss is about. T’Lyn is intrigued to learn that some (not all!) Orion women are able to control men through the use of pheromones they emit, which so affects the men that they’re basically placed under a spell, susceptible to the woman’s wishes. Example:
“Get your nasty gym clothes off the floor.”
“On it, my queen!”
“And go to therapy, while you’re at it.”
And so on.
The Orion species has been an interesting if mysterious part of the Star Trek mythos from the very beginning of the whole thing. Fans of the Original Series know we got our first look at an Orion woman in the original 1964 pilot, “The Cage,” which featured Captain Christopher Pike and a somewhat different crew of the Starship Enterprise than we’d end up seeing every week.
While captured and under the influence of the enigmatic Talosians, Pike is manipulated via illusion to see another prisoner, Vina, appear in many forms, including an Orion slave woman. We didn’t know this at the time the pilot was produced, or even when footage from the film was incorporated into the original Star Trek series’ first-season episode, “The Menagerie.” However, looking at that episode now in light of what’s come along since then? Yeah, Vina — or the Talosian illusion of her, at least — was totally putting the pheromones to Pike.
It was a whole mood, y’all.
(We pause here to wonder if Captain Pike and his crew might get their own TV show, one day. Nah. It’s been almost 60 years. That’ll never happen. Ever. Right?)
“The Pirates of Orion,” the second-season premiere episode of the animated Star Trek series from 1974, featured our favorite green aliens, but they came off as fairly generic bad guys facing off against Kirk and the Enterprise.
Another Orion woman, Devna, appeared in an earlier animated episode, “The Time Trap.” However, she was not portrayed in a manner anything like what we saw with Vina. Saturday morning cartoon, folks. Impressionable young minds, and all that.
It wasn’t until 2004 that we got our first deep dive into Orion culture. In the fourth-season Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Bound,” we learn that Orion women aren’t actually slaves, but instead use that ruse as a way of making adversaries underestimate them by thinking it’s the men who are in charge of Orion society. What fiends! They had us fooled this whole time!
As for Tendi, we learn in this week’s episode that she doesn’t possess the ability to emit the pheromones; though, it hasn’t seemed to have affected her dating game back home. Not only that, but she knows how to whip up a snappy compound which can canter the pheromones effects! Needless to say, that sort of thing doesn’t go over well everywhere on the Orion home world. Say it, don’t spray it. Know what I mean?