What You Need To Remember From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine To Enjoy This Week's Star Trek: Lower Decks

This post contains minor spoilers for the latest episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks."

It was only a matter of time. "Star Trek: Lower Decks" has gotten tons of mileage out of its seemingly never-ending cascade of loving callbacks, references, and even actual crossovers with several beloved "Trek" series of years gone by. Recently, season 3 brought us right back to the distinct pleasures of "Voyager," but the series hasn't been shy about tying together the crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," either (although there remains a few more items on that bucket list). And if that weren't enough, there's also the upcoming crossover between "Lower Decks" and "Strange New Worlds," the franchise's other new and highly acclaimed series. So with all that in mind, it feels only natural that this animated series would set its sights on the grandest prize of them all: "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

The premise is a simple one: the USS Cerritos has been tasked with providing gifts to help reopen diplomatic relations with an alien species post-Dominion War, one of the bloodiest conflicts the galaxy ever saw (as depicted in "Deep Space Nine"), until Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is suddenly thrown into the spotlight to take the lead on negotiations directly. The rendezvous point? Just a space station that fans, of course, know by the name Deep Space Nine.

But given how many hundreds of hours of "Star Trek" that "Lower Decks" expects fans to be familiar with, perhaps some out there don't quite get the hype surrounding this episode. Well, consider this a refresher and an introductory course to everything you need to know about "Deep Space Nine" in order to enjoy this episode of "Lower Decks."

Deep Space Nine

"Tacky Cardassian fascist eyesore."

The jokes begin flying fast and furious once the Cerritos drops out of warp early in the latest episode of "Lower Decks," as the original theme song from "Deep Space Nine" kicks in and the familiar locale comes into view ... until Security Chief Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) hilariously ruins the mood by spitting venom at the space station's design. That and the opening gag featuring the Cerritos slowly circling around the space station for an unbearable amount of time — a crack at the opening title sequence of "Deep Space Nine," which received a certain amount of lighthearted pushback for its ponderous and rather solemn credits — help set the tone for what's to come in this episode of "Lower Decks."

But for those in need of context, some background information couldn't hurt!

Deep Space Nine was originally commanded by the hated Cardassians (who named it Terok Nor, at the time) and built by enslaved Bajorans while their nearby home world Bajor was under occupation, neatly explaining the Bajoran Shaxs' lingering feelings of ill will at the mere sight of it. After the ceasing of hostilities (officially, at least) and the Cardassian withdrawal, "Deep Space Nine" (the series, not the station) began proper with Starfleet stepping in and becoming a complicated presence on the station — Bajor retained territorial rights over the station through its Bajoran first officer, Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor, who returns to voice her fan-favorite character), while Starfleet sent Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) to take on the role of station commander.

By the time our "Lower Decks" crew arrives, Kira has since been promoted to the top role and has acclimated well to the rigors of overseeing the day-to-day routines of the station, giving fans a welcome sense of closure.

The Wormhole

When "Deep Space Nine" first aired, purists recoiled in horror at the idea of a "Trek" series set on something other than a constantly moving spaceship, focused on religious and political aspects of newly-introduced alien species instead of exploring the galaxy, and taking a more morally grey approach — see: the money-grubbing Ferengi Quark (Armin Shimerman, who also returns to reprise his role) – that dared to suggest that this franchise still hadn't achieved the utopia that Gene Roddenberry envisioned. But as much as these aspects were criticized in the early going, one key addition to the series would ultimately prove to be its secret weapon: the Bajoran wormhole.

The series premiere of "Deep Space Nine" introduced the concept of a stable wormhole discovered in close proximity to the space station, allowing instant passage between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants and turning this relatively unknown corner of the galaxy into the most important strategic location in two separate quadrants. Worshipped by the Bajorans for hosting their holy "prophets" (in reality, extradimensional aliens residing within the cosmic structure), the wormhole allowed the writers of the series to insert their own fresh twist on time-honored "Trek" traditions like first contact, time travel, exploring unknown parts of the galaxy, and much, much more.

In "Lower Decks," the phenomenon of the wormhole and the now-famous space station is treated almost like a tourist destination, but it ultimately becomes a climactic plot point that ties together the various storylines in the episode. Our young "Lower Decks" protagonists may only barely grasp the significance of this space station, but returning "Trek" legends Kira and Quark have (very literal) war stories that speak to their hard-earned victories and experiences with the wormhole throughout the course of "Deep Space Nine."