Star Trek: Lower Decks has always been a full-on celebration of the Star Trek franchise, revisiting classic moments from previous television series and films while not afraid to good-naturedly poke fun at some of the more questionable moments and tropes from the franchise’s history. In a rare quiet moment for the Cerritos, as the Starfleet vessel enjoys some much needed time off from carrying out some of the most tedious tasks the Federation has to offer, an odd opening from the most notorious film in the franchise resurfaces, complete with questionable fashion and tech to boot.
To the crew’s surprise Captain Freeman decides to give the officers of the Cerritos some time off to rest and recuperate between the various menial tasks they carry out throughout the Alpha Quadrant. While Ensign Brad Boimler plans to take the opportunity to befriend some of the senior officers and help advance his career in Starfleet, he is dismayed to learn that many of his friends and the bridge crew have already made plans to relax together around the ship without him. Among these is Chief Medical Officer T’Ana and junior medical officer Ensign D’Vana Tendi, who decide to spend time together on the Holodeck. And when Boimler finds the two medical officers enjoying their free time, it serves as a direct callback to 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Directed and co-written by William Shatner, The Final Frontier is a film regarded by many as one that nearly killed Star Trek‘s cinematic future and certainly helped usher the end of the Star Trek: The Original Series era’s adventures. Featuring the Enterprise facing Spock’s long-lost half-brother Sybok, a Vulcan obsessed with finding God at the heart of the galaxy, the film opened with Captain Kirk climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park back on Earth during a vacation with Spock and Doctor McCoy. Attempting to climb the rocky summit without any safety gear, it was only the timely intervention of Spock wearing a handy pair of rocket boots that saved Kirk from a mortal fall when he lost his grip.
Boimler finds T’Ana and Tendi using the Holodeck to recreate El Capitan and are similarly climbing it without safety gear, with the implication that the simulation appeals to T’Ana’s feline tendencies to want to climb things. Boimler approaches his fellow officers not only wearing the same kind of rocket boots that Spock was sporting in Yosemite but also the “Go Climb a Rock” shirt that Kirk wore when he returned to the Enterprise after an emergency on the other side of the cosmos cut his vacation shorter than anticipated. And while speaking with his friends, Boimler discovers firsthand that T’Ana has temporarily disabled the Holodeck’s safety parameters as Boimler’s rocket boots malfunction and he painfully crashes into a tree.
With Star Trek V criticized for some clunky humor, Kirk’s vacation in Yosemite is one of the head-scratching moments from The Final Frontier, with Spock and McCoy both chiding their captain for being even more needlessly reckless than usual. T’Ana is similarly reckless, as she recreates the Star Trek V opening scene, though her folly is one based on oversight rather than deliberate action. And while Boimler avoided serious injury in visiting this facsimile of Yosemite, the sequence is a reminder of one of Star Trek‘s more painfully awkward cinematic openers.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is streaming now on Paramount+, with new episodes released on Thursdays.
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