The crew of the USS Cerritos returns soon: on Thursday, September 7, 2023, Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 premieres on Paramount+. But before Beta Shift returns for a fourth batch of adventures, you’ll want to recall the exploits they’ve undertaken over the course of the previous thirty episodes. Here’s everything to remember before Lower Decks season 4 arrives.

California Class

The USS Cerritos near a starbase in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3, "The Stars at Night."

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The Cerritos is a California Class starship. Galaxy Class starships like the USS Enterprise-D on Star Trek: The Next Generation undertake auspicious and high-profile First Contact missions. By contrast, the Cali Class are workhouse ships charged with “Second Contact” missions. These missions involve tasks like setting up water filtration systems and power plants. While not glamorous, these missions are an essential component in maintaining the utopia of the Federation.

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All the ships in the Cali Class are named after cities in the State of California. While the Galaxy Class Enterprise-D is obviously built for luxury, ships in the Cali Class are more utilitarian. Furthermore, there are few (if any) architectural design differences among the ships in the Cali Class. Instead, they are differentiated by colored hull designs. These designs match Starfleet uniform colors. Red indicates “command,” blue indicates “science,” and yellow indicates “operations.” As a Cali Class ship that specializes in Engineering-based Second Contact missions, the Cerritos possesses a yellow stripe.

The Cerritos

Jerry O'Conell as Commander Ransom, Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs, Dawn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman and Paul F. Tompkins as Dr. Migleemo. They are all serious as they sit on the bridge of the Cerritos at Red Alert.

Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is the captain of the Cerritos. While Freeman is as competent as any Starfleet captain we’ve met before, she doesn’t always receive a consummate degree of respect. Freeman’s Number One is Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell). Ransom is a confident leader with an understated loyalty to his captain and the crew of the Cerritos. The Chief of Security on the Cerritos is the hulking Bajoran beefstake Lt. Shax (Fred Tatasciore). Shax is a veteran freedom fighter with a loud, rough demeanor that conceals a sensitive and delicate soul. Assisting Shax with security is Lt. Junior Grade Kayshon (Carl Tart), the first Tamarian to serve in Starfleet.

Chief engineer Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups (Paul Scheer) was born to a royal lineage on Hysperia but has abdicated his claim to the throne in favor of the warp core. The ship’s Chief medical officer, Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), is a battered but competent Catian with a foul mouth and outspoken sexual appetite. Rounding out the command crew is the ship’s counselor, Doctor Migleemo (Paul F. Tompkins), an avian with a penchant for culinary metaphors. 

Previous Exploits

The season two finale, the U.S.S. Cerritos is tasked to aid an Excelsior-class starship on a first contact mission

In the season 1 finale, “No Small Parts,” Freeman and her crew responded to a distress call from the USS Solvang in the Kalla System. The Cerritos discovered the Solvang had been destroyed. Further, the Cerritos was soon attacked by those responsible: the Pakleds. During the battle, Shax sacrificed himself to save the Cerritos crew. However, he returned from The Black Mountain in season 2’s “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris.”

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Later in season 2, in “The Spy Humongous,” Freeman took part in diplomatic talks with the Pakleds. These took place as the USS Titan under Captain William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) undertook maneuvers against the Pakleds elsewhere. Later still in season 2, in “wej Duj,” the Cerritos tussled with the Pakled Clumpship Pakled. In the season 2 finale, “First First Contact,” Freeman was accused of sabotaging Big Strong City on Pakled Planet. Fortunately, exonerating evidence presented off-screen during the events of the season 3 premiere, “Grounded,” cleared her of these charges.

During season 3, the Cerritos was unwittingly used as a pawn in the plans of Admiral Les Buenamigo (Carlos Alazraqui). Buenamigo utilized a program previously created by Ensign Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) to automate three Texas Class ships. These crew-free drone ships were meant to replace the Cali Class and take over its functions. However, the poor emotional processing of Rutherford’s program meant the Texas Class ships proved homicidal. Fortunately, the combined efforts of the entire Cali Class were able to destroy all three Texas Class ships in the season 3 finale, “The Stars at Night.”

AI Antagonists

Kether Donohue as Peanut Hamper and Harry Shum Jr. as Rawda in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3's "A Mathematically Perfect Redemption.” Rawda hugs Peanut, who has a Starfleet insignia.

Over the course of Lower Decks seasons 1 through 3, multiple AI antagonists have been introduced. In season 1’s “Terminal Provocations,” Rutherford revealed a holographic training program called Badgey (Jack McBrayer). However, the program was based on the same code as the Texas Class ships and proved patricidal. In “No Small Parts,” Badgey was transferred to Rutherford’s original cybernetic implant. This was left behind in the Kalla system during Shax’s self-sacrifice. In a post-credits scene following “The Stars At Night,” this implant was recovered by an unidentified ship.

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Meanwhile, exocomp Peanut Hamper (Kether Donohue) was introduced in “No Small Parts.” During a key moment in the battle, Peanut abandoned her post and beamed herself off the Cerritos. In “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption,” subsequent reprehensible behavior was revealed. She was ultimately incarcerated in the Self-Aware Megalomaniacle Computer Storage facility at the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa, Japan. AGIMUS (Jeffrey Combs), introduced in season 2’s “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie,” was located in the neighboring cell, hinting the pair will become co-conspirators before Peanut’s commentary-confirmed return in Lower Decks season 4.

Beta Shift

Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner,  Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford,  and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler. They are sitting in the Cerritos cafeteria eating.

Along with Rutherford, Beta Shift is comprised of Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid), and D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells). Mariner is Freeman’s daughter, a fact made public in the season 1 finale. Previously, Mariner has served on many different ships and on Deep Space 9. While she has previously been promoted (including in season 1’s “Moist Vessel”), she has been subsequently demoted. In “Trusted Sources,” a misunderstanding caused Freeman to transfer Mariner to Starbase 80. Mariner subsequently quit Starfleet and became an independent archeologist. However, at the conclusion of “The Stars At Night,” Mariner was welcomed back to the Cerritos crew.

Meanwhile, Boimler is a rule-abiding officer with an eye towards promotion. In “No Small Parts,” he accepted a promotion to the Titan. But in season 2’s “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” Boimler was cloned by a transporter accident. The clone, William Boimler, stayed aboard the Titan, while Bradward returned to the Cerritos as an ensign. In season 3’s “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus,” it was revealed William faked his death and joined Section 31. Meanwhile, Bradward spent season 3 being more “bold.” At the conclusion of “The Stars At Night,” Shax became Bradward’s “bridge buddy.”
During his time at Starfleet Academy, Rutherford worked for Buenamigo on the Texas Class project. During this period, Rutherford badly injured himself while working on an illegal racing ship. This led to Rutherford receiving his implant. However, Buenamigo instructed surgeons to remove many of Rutherford’s memories. Over the course of season 3, Rutherford recovered these memories. In “Reflections,” he mentally met his younger self. In spite of the implant’s involuntary origins, Rutherford elects to retain it in “The Stars At Night.”

Science Officer Training

Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi in the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS.

Tendi joined the crew of the Cerritos in the very first episode of the series, “Second Contact.” During seasons 1 and 2, Tendi worked alongside T’Ana in sick bay. However, in “First First Contact,” T’Ana transferred Tendi to the senior science officer training program. In season 3’s “Mining the Mind’s Mine,” Tendi discovered her assigned mentor for training was Migleemo. One of the first Orion in Starfleet, Tendi has a complicated relationship with her heritage and personal history. But in season 3’s “Hear All, Trust Nothing,” Tendi begins to embrace her extensive Orion pirate abilities. And in “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus,” Tendi realizes she wants to be a captain.

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At the conclusion of “The Stars At Night,” Migleemo revealed that Provisional Ensign T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz) will be joining Tendi in her training on the Cerritos. T’Lyn was introduced in season 2’s “wej Duj.” In that episode, she was assigned to the Vulcan ship Sh’vhal. During a battle against the Pakleds, T’Lyn’s improvements to the ship’s defenses allowed the Sh’vhal to survive. However, in a punitive measure for her “emotional outbursts,” T’Lyn was transferred to Starfleet to serve among humans.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1 through 3 are currently available for streaming on Paramount +.

This article was originally published on 8/29/23.

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