Have fans seriously been waiting since last October for the return of Star Trek: Lower Decks? We’ve been waiting (im)patiently to catch up with Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford along with the rest of the U.S.S. Cerritos crew, and yesterday’s second season premiere episode, “Strange Energies,” did not disappoint! Picking up where the first season left off, the show continues at breakneck pace with its wonderful blend of humor and clever twists on classic Star Trek tropes, infusing everything with an obvious and undeniable love for the franchise. Those with sharp eyes (and ears!) caught numerous references and Easter eggs from across the Star Trek universe, and the biggest callback ends up driving the events of this episode!
During a routine “second contact” mission with the people of the planet Apergos, a mysterious energy beam strikes Commander Ransom and affects his cerebral cortex, unlocking and enhancing parts of his brain to imbue him with godlike powers. Sound familiar? In case it doesn’t, Doctor T’Ana helpfully informs Captain Freeman (and us) that this is very much like what happened more than a century earlier to Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, helmsman of the U.S.S. Enterprise and close friend of Captain James T. Kirk.
As depicted in the second pilot for the original Star Trek series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Mitchell, along with another crewmember, Doctor Elizabeth Dehner, was struck by an energy burst when the Enterprise attempted to traverse a mysterious “barrier” at the edge of the galaxy. Mitchell quickly began to demonstrate enhanced intellect along with telepathic and telekinetic abilities (and an ego to match!), eventually growing so powerful and removed from his own humanity that he posed a serious threat to the Enterprise crew.
As Doctor T’Ana describes it, Mitchell’s condition “got real weird real fast,” and the same is true here. With Commander Ransom’s emerging abilities endangering the Cerritos as well as the Apergosians, Captain Freeman finds herself confronting her first officer and friend just as Captain Kirk did all those years ago:
Captain Freeman: “Doc! How did they deal with Gary Mitchell?”
Doctor T'Ana: “Kirk smooshed him with a boulder.”
Commander Ransom: “Gary Mitchell was an ant, and I am a lion!”
So, yeah. It’s pretty serious. Leave it to the Lower Decks crew to make it even weirder, even faster!
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 and Latin America on Paramount+, 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.