In the Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 premiere, “Twovix,” the crew of the USS Cerritos visits the USS Voyager from Star Trek: Voyager. Naturally, Beta Shift encounters a rotating roster of bizarre VOY-inspired challenges. For this week’s Trek Tuesday, we’re exploring six Voyager episodes that inspired some of these challenges. Be sure to bring some crackers for the Neelix cheese.
In “Twovix,” Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) is inspired to “break” Voyager using a tried-and-true method: cheese made by Neelix (Ethan Phillips). Neelix was the ship’s morale officer and chef. The former position was essential given the limited resources available for running Voy‘s replicators. However, while attempting to fulfill an ensign’s request for macaroni and cheese, things get a little “kooky.” Neelix uses bacteria to make Brill cheese. Unfortunately, the bacteria infect the ship’s bio-neural gel packs, leading to system malfunctions.
It isn’t only the Neelix cheese that’s relevant to Lower Decks season 4 in “Learning Curve.” This episode also demonstrates how Tuvok (Tim Russ) deals with insubordinate ex-Maquis officers. Compare and contrast with the methods Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) utilizes with the often insubordinate Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) in the second episode of Lower Decks season 4, “I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee.” And finally, the writers of “Learning Curve,” Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias, also wrote the story for the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 7 episode “Lower Decks.”
In this episode, Voyager encounters a society devastated by a solar flare. While three individuals have survived the intervening 19 years in status pods, they cannot be awoken. Upon discovering their brains are connected through a supercomputer, B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) and Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) volunteer to enter the simulation.
Within the simulation, they find a “fear circus.” Soon, they discover this nightmare is run by the Clown (Michael McKean). But as noted by Mariner in “Twovix,” unlike Michael and Chaotica, the Clown isn’t a hologram. However, it’s probably better to encounter this Clown as a hologram than within a simulation he’s controlling, based on how mean he is to Harry in “The Thaw.”
Naturally, Voyager season 2’s “Tuvix” must be included on this list. In this episode, Tuvok and Neelix are away from the ship, gathering botanical samples. These include the orchid seen in “Tuvix.” When beaming back to Voyager with the flower, Tuvok and Neelix are “Tuvix’d” or combined into the new entity, Tuvix.
In “Twovix,” Shax (Fred Tatasciore) expresses awe at how “hardcore” the actions of Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) were regarding Tuvix. However, nothing is more hardcore than what she did to the Borg Queen, who is still licking her wounds nearly two decades later in Star Trek: Picard season 3’s “The Last Generation.”
What could be weirder than having two crewmembers mashed together? How about having two crewmembers cross the transwarp threshold and undergo rapid cellular transformation to become salamander-like creatures? Because that’s what happens in “Threshold,” the Voyager season 2 episode that follows “Tuvix.”
After traveling faster than Warp 10, Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) begins undergoing evolution at a hugely accelerated rate. This causes him to transform into an unrecognizable form of life. He subsequently kidnaps Janeway and subjects her to the same rate of travel, inducing the evolution in her, as well. Eventually, the Voyager crew can locate the pair and return them to their normal forms. But before that happens, the duo does mate. However, Chakotay (Robert Beltran) elects to leave their offspring on the planet in the Delta Quadrant.
“Bride of Chaotica!”
Returning from the Delta Quadrant means lots of time for the holodeck. This makes sense, given the long journey back to Earth and that leaving the ship was frequently impossible. However, it also means there are even more opportunities for something related to the holodeck to go wrong.
In Voyager season 5’s “Bride of Chaotica!,” trans-dimensional lifeforms mistake the action on the Voyager holodeck for reality. Soon, the aliens have become entangled in the program’s narrative, entrapping Voyager in a “subspace sandbar.” To free the ship, the Voyager crew must enter the holodeck and join the aliens in seeing the story through to its conclusion. And to do that, Janeway must play the titular Queen Arachnia.
The third hologram who terrorizes Beta Shift in “Twovix” is Michael Sullivan. Fintan McKeown played Sullivan in the Voyager season 6 episodes “Fair Haven” and “Spirit Folk.” In these episodes, a long-running holodeck program created by Paris depicts an idealized 19th-century Irish village. Among the simulated residents is Sullivan, who becomes something of a romantic interest for Janeway.
However, as demonstrated by Voyager‘s Emergency Medical Hologram (Robert Picardo), leaving holograms running for an extended period can have some complicated consequences. In “Spirit Folk,” the episode that follows “Fair Haven,” the holographic citizens of Fair Haven begin suspecting Voyager crew members of possessing supernatural abilities.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks are available for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays. Meanwhile, all of Star Trek: Voyager is also available for streaming.
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