Ever since the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 finale, the crew of the Cerritos have been menaced by the Pakleds, a dimwitted but formidable spacefaring race first introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Boasting a surprisingly threatening arsenal, the Pakleds nearly destroyed the Cerritos before they were driven back by Captain Will Riker and the Titan, but have remained an underlying threat as the animated series progressed into its second season. And as Lower Decks nears the end of Season 2, the mysterious benefactor behind the Pakleds’ effective, renewed wave of aggression has been revealed: The Klingons.
Season 2’s penultimate episode “wej Duj” showcased the junior officers daily lives on different starships among various Star Trek civilizations. Among the starships featured is the Klingon Bird of Prey Che’Ta, from the perspective of command-aspiring junior officer Mach under the captaincy of Dorg. After impressing Dorg sufficiently, Mach discovers that his commanding officer has been secretly supplying the Pakleds with weapons all along, though he remains frustrated by how carelessly the Pakleds utilize the weaponry as they strike out at the Federation.
Dorg’s decision to betray the Klingon Empire’s presumed allies is due to his perception that the Klingons lost their way and formidable drive when they joined the Federation. To that end, Dorg has armed the Pakleds to destabilize the Federation, so the Klingon Empire can exploit this to regain its former glory. Based on Dorg’s comments, it appears that the Klingon High Command is unaware of what he is up to and Mach chafes at the realization that Dorg is allowing someone else to do the fighting for him, a decidedly underhanded tactic that stands completely opposite the strict Klingon Code of Honor.
The tenuous peace between the Klingon Empire has always been a fragile one, even before Lower Decks. A civil war during TNG jeopardized the Klingon High Command and its standing with the Federation. The tension between the Klingons and the Federation would erupt into a violent conflict seen as one of the first prolonged wars in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This was revealed to be manipulation by the Dominion as part of their insidious plan to balkanize the Federation ahead of the Dominion War that would dominate much of DS9. Peace was restored against the common enemy, but it’s clear by Lower Decks‘ example that there are still powerful figures in the Klingon Empire deeply unhappy with the renewed alliance.
Dorg’s plan has been exposed by the Cerritos, with the Pakleds once again driven into full retreat and hopefully without their supply line of advanced weaponry to pester the Federation. Dorg himself is brutally overthrown and killed by Mach, with the junior officer reminding his crew of the importance of honor as he goes to report Dorg’s actions back to the Klingon High Command.
Peace between the Federation and Klingon Empire has been maintained for now, but the entire incident with the Pakleds demonstrates that this alliance remains a fragile one and there are Klingons in prominent positions of power that would use their office to completely upend the peace. The Cerritos was able to stumble into the right situation this time but next time, Starfleet may not be so lucky.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is streaming now on Paramount+, with new episodes released on Thursdays.
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