The latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks sees Captain Freeman offering her crew some well-deserved downtime while the Cerritos makes a long-haul transit on its way toward a routine planetary survey. With twelve hours to kill and no pressing duties, rest and recreation is the order of the day!
While each of the other Lower Deckers succeeds in finding ways to spend time with a “bridge buddy,” a member of the ship’s bridge crew, Ensign Boimler sets his sights on cozying up to one of these senior officers. He’s looking to forge some sort of bond and make a good impression that will be remembered when the time comes for the command staff to recommend ensigns for promotion.
Now remember: This is Boimler, which means things start off like a total train wreck before they get better.
After a couple of false starts with Lieutenants Kayshon and Shaxs, Boimler attempts to join Dr. T’Ana and Ensign Tendi on the holodeck. There, the pair is immersed in a simulation of climbing El Capitan, the imposing mountain at Yosemite National Park on Earth that is a favorite challenge for rock climbers. Instead of making his own climb, Boimler opts for a pair of anti-gravity boots to make his ascent.
If this sounds at all familiar to you, that’s because you’ve seen or at least heard about a comparable scene from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In the film, it’s Captain Spock rocking the rocket boots while Captain Kirk is climbing the mountain the old-fashioned way. You know, “Because it’s there,” and all that.
In another nod to Star Trek V, Boimler is also wearing a white sweatshirt emblazoned with the caption, “Go Climb A Rock.” Climbing enthusiasts likely know the slogan predates Star Trek’s usage, as it’s a trademark of the National Park Service and has long emblazoned shirts advertising the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service.
That said, it’s entirely possible the phrase is cursed when it comes to Star Trek characters.
In Star Trek V, while attempting to climb El Capitan without ropes or other safety equipment, Captain Kirk slips and falls from the mountain, plunging toward what would’ve been certain death if not for Mr. Spock and his arguably very distracting rocket boots. A century later, and in the finest Boimler-esque tradition, the ensign’s own anti-grav boots give out, leaving him to plummet from the mountain only to be saved by the holodeck’s safety features (and a pretty massive tree). While we see Boimler wearing his “Go Climb A Rock” shirt during his mishap, we actually don’t know for sure whether Kirk was wearing his at the time. What do you think? Yes or no on the shirt? I’m betting on, “Yes,” because I’ve never started a wacky “unexplained” theory about a mysterious curse before and I really feel like I’m overdue for something like this.
Meanwhile, safety tip for all the climbers out there: Be one with the rock…but also just be really careful when climbing it.
Dayton Ward (he/him) is a New York Times bestselling author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often collaborating with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. As he’s still a big ol' geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States on Paramount+ and in Canada, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more and in Canada, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.