Do you have questions about the ending of Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4’s penultimate episode, “The Inner Fight”? You’ve come to the right place. But be forewarned: this article is filled with spoilers for the latest episode of Lower Decks, which is now available for streaming on Paramount+. 

Gabrielle Ruiz as T'Lyn and Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 episode 9, "The Inner Fight."

Lieutenant Junior Grade Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) has been captured by Nick Locarno (Robert Duncan McNeill). But who is Locarno? And why does he sound so much like Tom Paris? Geek Girl Authority is here to catch you up on Locarno’s history, explain who Mariner’s friend Sito was, and highlight some of the episodes of Lower Decks that have foreshadowed “The Inner Fight.” And to get us started: the title “The Inner Fight” is an allusion to Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5’s “The Inner Light.”

Who is Nick Locarno?

Locarno was introduced in the TNG season 5 episode “The First Duty.” In this episode, Locarno is a Starfleet cadet and a peer to Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Along with Sito Jaxa (Shannon Fill), they are members of Nova Squadron. The catalyst for the episode is a fatal incident during a Starfleet Academy training exercise being undertaken by Nova Squadron. This leads to an inquiry. During the inquiry, Locarno favors lying about the incident. Eventually, Wesley admits the truth. Ultimately, Locarno is expelled from Starfleet Academy. However, Crusher and Sito remain enrolled.

Nick Locarno (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Wesley Crusher *(Wil Wheaton). They are both wearing red TNG-era Starfleet uniforms.

Many Trekkies note the strong similarity between Locarno and Star Trek: Voyager‘s Paris, who is also played by McNeill. At one point, Locarno was going to be part of Voyager‘s bridge crew. However, Locarno’s actions were considered to be irredeemable. For this reason, the character of Paris was created instead. Previously, Paris appeared in Lower Decks season 2’s “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris.”

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There are three other ex-Starfleet officers mentioned during the mission briefing near the beginning of “The Inner Fight.” Seven of Nine’s status during this time period is revealed in Star Trek: Picard season 1’s “Stardust City Rag.” For Beverly Crusher’s status during this time period, see Picard season 3’s “The Next Generation.”

Finally, Thomas Riker is William Riker’s transporter clone. After being first introduced in TNG season 6’s “Second Chances,” he next appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3’s “Defiant.” Thomas’ existence (but not his current status) was previously alluded to in Lower Decks season 2’s “Kayshon, His Eyes Open.”

Who is Sito Jaxa?

After having been introduced in “The First Duty,” Sito reappears to play a significant role in TNG season 7’s “Lower Decks.” The major events of this episode are briefly recounted by Mariner in “The Inner Fight.” While Sito faces challenges in Starfleet Academy after the events of “The First Duty,” she successfully graduates and is assigned to the USS Enterprise-D

Sito Jaxa (Shannon Fill) beside Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in TNG's "Lower Decks." They are in uniform and riding the Enterprise-D's turbolift.

The episode “Lower Decks” shifts TNG‘s standard perspective on the bridge crew over to the Enterprise-D‘s Lower Deckers. Trekkies watch as several ensigns attempt to chase promotions and navigate relationships with senior officers. 

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Meanwhile, Sito works towards being assigned to a critical mission. She faces resistance from Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) because of her role in the events of “The First Duty.” But eventually, she is indeed assigned to the sensitive mission. This mission is revealed to involve escorting a Cardassian spy past enemy lines. While her fate is not shown on-screen, it is heavily implied that she is killed in action during the mission.

What is Mudd’s and why does it have a special on jippers?

On New Axton, Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and an away team visit a drinking establishment called Mudd’s. From our perspective, Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) first appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series season 1’s “Mudd’s Women.” In this episode, Mudd ran a con involving a drug meant to make women appear beautiful. He returned in the TOS season 2 episode “I, Mudd.” In this episode, Mudd is revealed to be ruling a planet full of androids.

Mudd faced off against the crew of the USS Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) one more time. This was in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “Mudd’s Passion.” As you might predict, this story once again saw Mudd attempting (and failing) to swindle Kirk & Co.

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Earlier in the canonical chronology, Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) appeared in Star Trek: Discovery season 1’s “Choose Your Pain.” He next returned to seek his revenge on the crew of the USS Discovery just a few episodes later, in Discovery season 1’s “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.” 

Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode "The Escape Artist."

“The Escape Artist.” Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive.

Finally, Mudd appeared in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “The Escape Artist,” written by Mike McMahan. In this episode, Mudd – and several android replicas of Mudd – make references to a drink called a “jipper.” In “The Inner Fight,” it is revealed that either Mudd eventually established a restaurant or restaurant chain, or someone else used his likeness and reputation to do the same. Dialogue from the bouncer reveals that this establishment serves “jippers,” with deals for tripedal customers. 

Why did Freeman think the Information Broker was a puppet?

Balok's puppet from TOS season 1's "The Corbomite Maneuver."

Balok’s puppet.

Inside Mudd’s, Freeman believes the Information Broker is a puppet. This is because his size, movements and appearance all closely resemble Balok’s puppet from the TOS episode “The Corbomite Maneuver.” In this episode, the Enterprise encounters an alien race with extremely powerful technology. When they attempt to communicate, the puppet who appears on their viewscreen is surly and unhelpful.

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However, at the climax of the episode, Kirk discovers that the alien is actually a puppet. The puppeteer, Balok (played by Clint Howard and voiced by Walker Edmiston), explains that the puppet is the “Mr. Hyde” to his “Doctor Jekyll.” However, with the puppet subterfuge unveiled, the Enterprise and Balok are able to make peace.

Who is Ma’ah?

Ma’ah (Jon Curry) was first introduced in the Lower Decks season 2 episode “wej Duj.” Among other things, this episode is notable for also introducing T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz). Over the course of the episode, Ma’ah goes from Lower Decker to the captain of his ship, the IKS Che’Ta’. Both Ma’ah and the Che’Ta’ play a significant role in “The Inner Fight.”

The ;lower decks of the Che'Ta' in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 2 episode 9, "wej Duj."

“wej Duj”

In the third act of “wej Duj,” the USS Cerritos became embroiled in a battle that also included the Che’Ta’, the VCF Sh’vhal (T’Lyn’s ship at the time), and the Pakled Clumpship Pakled. In “The Inner Fight,” Mariner and T’Lyn nearly realize both the Cerritos and Sh’vhal were present at this battle. However, the conversation is interrupted before the matter can be further discussed.

How has Lower Decks foreshadowed “The Inner Fight”?

The events of “The Inner Fight” are heavily foreshadowed by many Lower Decks episodes, especially those written by McMahan. In the Lower Decks season 2 finale “First First Contact,” Mariner begins telling a story about her time at the Academy. This may be related to her friendship with Sito. In Lower Decks season 3’s “Reflections,” Mariner gets particularly upset when Petra Aberdeen (Georgia King) suggests Starfleet is a military organization. This foreshadows her reaction when Ma’ah makes a similar assertion.

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner  and Georgia King as Petra Aberdeen. From Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3's "Reflections."


At another point in “The Inner Fight,” Lieutenant Junior Grade Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) uses the X-ray functionality of his cybernetic implant to determine that the Information Broker is not a puppet. This functionality was teased in the final moments of the Lower Decks season 3 finale, “The Stars At Night.” To see why the stranded Orions defer to Lieutenant Junior Grade D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) and her authority as Mistress of the Winter Constellations in “The Inner Fight,” see Lower Decks season 2’s “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” season 3’s “Hear All, Trust Nothing” and season 4’s “Something Borrowed, Something Green.” 

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Finally, for some clues as to why Andy Billups (Paul Scheer) is so effective at pretending to be an armored bounty hunter, check out Lower Decks season 2’s “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie.” Plus, the armored disguise strategy calls to mind a subterfuge used by Mudd Prime in the aforementioned Short Treks episode, “The Escape Artist.”

Each of these episodes is currently available for streaming on Paramount+.

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