A giant skeleton in a Starfleet uniform plays a huge role in the latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks while also nodding to the animated series.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 2, “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” streaming now on Paramount +.
Star Trek: Lower Bridges has an open affection for Star Trek: The Animated Series. Its only precursor in the animation wing of the franchise has long remained an outlier, due to its relative obscurity and, at times, its bizarre premise. But it remains canon – despite the dismay of fans who find his Saturday morning concepts beneath the dignity of Star Trek – and its confluence of elements becomes too much of an easy target for Lower decks stay away.
Season 2, Episode 2, “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” centers its climax around an Easter egg from The animated series. The giant skeleton behind which the crew takes shelter during the episode’s big battle is reminiscent of The animated series Season 1, Episode 7, “The Infinite Vulcan”. It’s a smart choice, not only for the ridiculousness of the thing, but also for the way it relates. The animated series to the cannon whether fans like it or not.
The animated series“The Infinite Vulcan” involves a planet whose plant life forms serve a gigantic human named Stavos Keniclius 5: the clone of an infamous participant in the Eugenic Wars who used his cloning techniques to create new versions of himself – even to continue his work. When the Enterprise visits him, he determines that Spock is the “perfect specimen” for his job. After kidnapping the Vulcan, he creates a giant clone of Spock to serve as a precursor to a “peacekeeping” army of similar creatures.
Like many episodes of The animated series, the concept came up as a cost saving option. A giant Spock as a potential enemy meant animators didn’t have to design and design a new character. But beyond that, the episode looks a lot like Star Trek. His main dilemma cannot be simply solved by phasers – Kirk and the crew develop a “weedkiller” to combat their plant-like enemies – and the situation is ultimately resolved without violence.
“Spock 2”, as the giant clone is called, possesses all the wisdom and benevolence of the original model and thus stops the creation of the army simply by refusing to be part of it. Episode was written by Trek alum Walter Koenig, despite the fact that he was not part of the vocal cast, and Chekov never appeared in The animated series. It even includes references to well-established canonical events, such as the eugenic wars. Creatively it belongs inextricably to Star Trek, and like it or not, the overall silliness of Spock 2 accompanies this equation.
Lower decks likes these details in part because it allows them to really laugh at the expense of the franchise without hurting its strengths. It undermines a lot of satire just by waving the things more serious fans would rather forget and reminding them that they are part of this universe as well. These callbacks don’t get any bigger than the still-in-uniform Spock 2 skeleton, which towers over a museum-like bone room on the collector’s ship. Mariner and the rest of the team take cover behind him as the ship’s security drones – which literally float Roombas – try to get them in.
The joke not only works by drawing on the absurdity of a giant Spock roaming the galaxy, but also using it as a real, practical solution to the episode’s main threat. The writers could have put a number of viable things the team could hide behind, and the rest of the episode wouldn’t change. The simple nod to a wacky visual is enough to make you laugh.
But he digs into another favorite too Lower decks target: Starfleet’s lack of follow-up. The original series and The Animated series were written with syndication in mind, which meant that each episode had to be stand-alone and interchangeable in the timeline. The long-term consequences of crew actions have never been explored – not before Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at the earliest – which meant wonders like Spock 2 were virtually ignored after the first encounter. Its presence of a collector’s vessel allows Lower decks target Starfleet’s lack of accountability in certain areas while letting Spock 2 contribute to the safety and well-being of its staff.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 airs now on Paramount +, with new episodes airing every Thursday.
KEEP READING: Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2, Episode 2, “Kayshon Eyes Open” Recap & Spoilers
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