Star Trek: Lower Decks isn’t the sort of show for big, shocking reveals. But ever since I saw this week’s episode “Temporal Edict,” I have been unable to stop thing about the delightful thing that happens at the end.
As this week’s story wraps up and the day is saved by Ensign Boimler getting Captain Freeman to reinstate buffer time, our hapless rule-lover is rewarded with getting a whole rule named after him. Much to his dismay, the Boimler Effect is specifically a rule about not following rules. But as Rutherford and Tendi reassure him, there are so many Starfleet regulations that everyone will forget the Boimler Effect soon enough.
Hard cut to the far future, where a group of children are being taught, in front of a holographic golden statue of Boimler—being, uh, attacked by an eagle?—about the legend of the laziest, most shortcut-loving Starfleet officer ever. Womp womp! But as quickly as that inevitable gag hits, Lower Decks swaps it with another.
The teacher moves her class on to an even more important Starfleet officer. Perhaps the most important in all history: and the holo-statue flickers out to change over to none other than Colm Meaney’s Chief Miles Goddamn O’Brien, star of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
And that’s it. Your first major Star Trek cameo in Lower Decks. It lasts for all of three seconds.
What I love most about this statue is that it’s specifically O’Brien as he appeared in TNG. So the far future has either completely passed over the fact that he served a crucial role aboard Deep Space Nine (and, like, y’know, was a frontline officer on the Defiant during one of the most important wars in Federation history) or it confirms the theory that Deep Space Nine happened in Miles’ bored imagination on the Enterprise. What I also love about it is that this first big appearance by a familiar Star Trek character isn’t impactful on Lower Decks’ story or a major sea change for its characters, akin to Worf arriving on DS9, Sulu’s flashback appearance in Voyager, or Picard’s nostalgia-laden deployment of Riker and Troi.
It’s just a giant, gold-covered shitpost.
In the run-up to Lower Decks’ release, there was all this talk of “Oh, the potential!” for other Trek characters to make appearances, because it’s animation, and that, like time, heals all wounds. Characters can pop in and out forever, and with it set so close to the events of TNG and Picard, that meant we could see the likes of any of their stars! Big names! Big heroes! The Star Trek people you love! I just love that it was true. And that it was Miles, an unsung hero, so very appropriate for Lower Decks’ nature of putting the little guys and gals of Starfleet in the spotlight.
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