Will the crossover between Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Lower Decks be able to overcome the obvious obstacle? The Star Trek SDCC 2022 panel has mapped out the franchise’s near future (i.e. on TV) with all the fanfare and hype you’d expect after the resounding success of “Strange New Worlds.” Despite the nostalgic teaser of the 3rd season of “Star Trek: Picard” and the inspiring rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the new Captain Kirk, Paul Wesley, perhaps the biggest news of the day about “Star Trek” was the confirmation of the crossover between Captain Pike’s Enterprise and the animated “Star”. Path: Gang of lower decks.
The showdown between the shows is scheduled for season 2 of Strange New Worlds, and it will be directed by William T. Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes. This ambitious mashup should include live and animated elements, and most importantly, it will feature the live debuts of Beckett Mariner from Star Trek: Lower Decks (Tony Newsom) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid). No additional plot details were provided at SDCC 2022, but Mariner and Boimler feel perfectly suited to the lighter tone of Strange New Worlds, with its alien role-playing games and pirate experiences. The cameo of the Cerritos crew in real time would be much more difficult to perform, say, in Star Trek: Discovery.
However, transporting Mariner and Boimler to Strange New Worlds creates a problem in itself. Captain Pike’s Star Trek story takes place in the year 2259, shortly before Kirk’s adventures in the “Original Series”. The action of Star Trek: Lower Decks takes place after The Next Generation (with Riker as Captain Titan) and takes place around the year 2380, that is, more than a century passes between the two shows. Strange new worlds must somehow fill this gap in order to convincingly explain how two unfortunate Cerritos crew members from the future stick their noses into the history of Starfleet.
How Mariner and Boimler may appear in the second season of “Strange New Worlds”
Let’s face it, Star Trek is hardly in unfamiliar territory when it comes to mixing characters from conflicting timelines. The time travel option is very relevant here, and the SDCC trailer footage of the third season of Star Trek: Lower Decks actually shows Cerritos approaching the wormhole, admiring the pylons of Deep Space Nine. The upcoming Strange New Worlds crossover could be as simple as one of the ships (probably Cerritos, given its track record) making its way through a portal to another era.
Of course, the slingshot maneuver is also always available. The second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks ended with Captain Freeman no longer being a free woman arrested by Starfleet for a crime she didn’t commit. Mariner and Boimler— perhaps with the help of Rutherford’s computer brain—could have fired into the past to save their captain, but they made a mistake in calculating the distance by about 100 years. From red matter to the Nexus, Star Trek is full of possibilities for time travel. All of them are risky, but does it really matter in the crazy world of “Star Trek: Lower Decks”?
Time travel isn’t necessarily to blame for the Strange New Worlds Star Trek: Lower Decks crossover. The landmark episode may take on a format similar to the Menagerie, where Cerritos’ team encounters a planet/villain/cosmic oddity that, according to Starfleet records, Pike’s Enterprise team dealt with more than a century ago. The episode can play both timelines at the same time, perhaps when Mariner and Boimler will work with the clues left by their predecessors from the Enterprise, sending messages in time to solve the same problem in different eras. Or maybe it’s just a holodeck…