Welcome back to The Lower Decks Connection, where we curate an episode list of legacy Star Trek shows based on the latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks! Let’s face it, it’s rough running a starship. You’ve got the pressures of making a good First or Second Contact and navigating alien diplomacy all while dealing with anomalies, strange energies, and all manner of strange scientific phenomenon. No wonder Captain Freeman and the engineers needed a break.
The U.S.S. Cerritos crew isn’t the first that needs some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Throughout Starfleet history, every crew has needed a break from exploring strange new worlds and boldly going. So, if you’re looking to unwind, here are a few episodes where the crew gets some much-needed down time (or at least tries to).
Star Trek: The Original Series - “Shore Leave”
This is cheating, in a way, as this episode was also included on last week’s list. James Kirk is a wonderful captain in many respects, but he is not good about taking shore leave. When the Enterprise’s crew all need a break, Kirk visits a planet that translates whatever you’re thinking into reality. However, even though McCoy “dies” due to these fantasies come to life, it turns out that they can’t hurt you! Therefore, Kirk orders the entire crew to beam down for some much-needed time off.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - “Data’s Day”
While this episode isn’t relaxing for the crew — what with the O’Brien wedding, a crew member going into labor, and the usual intergalactic drama — it is one of the episodes that will relax the viewer. We follow Data through an average day in his life, which he records for Dr. Bruce Maddox. In one particularly wonderful scene, Dr. Crusher teaches Data how to dance, specifically, how to tap. When she discovers it’s for a dance with Keiko at her wedding, Crusher then teaches Data how to waltz. It’s a sweet scene that embodies the wonderful relationship between the crew of the Enterprise-D.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - “Captain’s Holiday”
Poor Captain Picard. It must be difficult leading Starfleet’s flagship, facing off against the Borg and Romulans, and finding time to occasionally engage in some reading. When pressured into taking a reprieve, Picard heads to Risa, a world known for being a tropical paradise on which many Starfleet officers vacation. While some use Risa as a way to get up to some fun that’s more than a little unsanctioned, Picard just wanted to catch up on his book. Still, he winds up meeting archaeologist Vash and getting roped into an adventure. I guess his book will have to wait.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - “In the Cards”
Rest and relaxation come in many forms. Sometimes, the best self-care is taking care of others. Jake Sisko and Nog, watching their friends and family grow weary due to the ongoing Dominion War, set out to purchase a vintage baseball card for Captain Sisko. Along the way, they wind up helping most of the crew as well, from writing a speech for Kira to delivering and rescuing Bashir’s missing teddy bear, Kukalaka. Ultimately, Jake is able to gives his father the gift he needs to lift his spirits and, in doing so, lifts the spirits of the viewers as well.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - “Take Me Out to the Holosuite”
What’s the best way to distract from a quadrant-spanning conflict? A competitive game of baseball, of course! When Sisko’s Vulcan rival from the Academy comes calling, it’s time for the captain to get his team assembled and give the Vulcans the game of the century. This episode also served as a wonderful break for the viewers from the grim nature of the overarching storyline. While the Dominion War is still raging, the crew can take a moment to celebrate their family with a little game.
Star Trek: Voyager - “Fair Haven”
Being stuck in the Delta Quadrant is stressful. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself. The Fair Haven program, written by Tom Paris, is designed for use by the Voyager crew to relax during a storm. As the crew finds themselves spending time in this holographic village, Janeway falls in love with a villager named Sullivan. She even rewrites the program to delete Sullivan’s wife so she can continue to romance him. This is one of the few times we see Janeway in a romantic relationship, and shows the humor of any good holodeck episode.
Star Trek: Voyager - “Spirit Folk”
The Fair Haven story comes to an end in this episode following Janeway's order that it can run continuously. Now running 24/7, the people of Fair Haven come to realize that the crew are able to change the world at will, and accuse them of being spirit folk who’ve come to destroy their town. Ultimately, Janeway and her crew are able to convince the town that they have no hostile intentions, but it takes a few shenanigans — and Janeway’s former paramour Sullivan transporting to the Bridge — for things to settle down.
Star Trek: Enterprise - “Two Days and Two Nights”
What happens on Risa stays on Risa. The crew of the NX-01 arrive on the planet for some rest and relaxation, and proceed to have a variety of adventures. Archer’s adventures doesn't end in romance, Trip and Reed wind up getting robbed and having to make a quick escape, and Hoshi Sato has the vacation of her life. Thus begins the storied history of Starfleet crews heading to Risa for their shore leaves.
What is your favorite relaxing episode of Star Trek? Let us know on social!
Julian Gardner (they/them) is on the editorial team for StarTrek.com
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