Star Trek: Lower Decks premiered this week on CBS All Access and was far from the disaster many predicted. Despite the comedic tone, it had a seriousness at its core and, as promised, didn’t make fun of the principles at the heart of the Star Trek. It also contained a lot of references to tickle the knowledgeable fans. There’s obvious stuff like the Klingon bat’leth, but less-known stuff like the appearance of little-seen alien species the Benzites and the notorious ‘skant.’ However, there’s one reference that will surely have seasoned Trek fans shuddering.
Yes, Jean-Luc Picard’s dune buggy is back! Officially known as the Argo, the vehicle was the star of a chase sequence in the notoriously terrible Star Trek: Nemesis. In a ludicrous scene, Picard, Data and Worf land on a desert planet and explode out the back of a shuttle in a dune buggy, all three wearing futuristic Ray-Bans. Picard pulls some sick drifts around the desert and has a giant grin on his face as he floors it. What soon follows is a dune buggy chase where Worf is firing the buggy’s mounted gun that looks like Halo cosplay.
Audiences were puzzled as to why the usually pretty stoic Picard is so into dune buggies. The answer came, though, when Nemesis’ difficult production was revealed. Patrick Stewart was unsure about returning to play Picard so, knowing that he’s a big fan of off-road vehicles, the screenwriters conceived a dune buggy scene to tempt him back. From Stewart’s perspective this was great – he got a fat paycheque and got to zip around in the desert on a space ATV. It was a win-win. It also explains why Picard is possibly happier than he’s ever looked when behind the wheel of the Argo.
Seeing it pop up in Star Trek: Lower Decks at least proves that the show’s writers know some obscure and fun details. And now, I can’t wait to see what else they bring back.