Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3's Opening Credits Now Feature Another Classic Star Trek Enemy

The opening credits of "Star Trek: Lower Decks" establish what kind of a show audiences can expect. Most classic Trek shows feature a bold, adventurous orchestral fanfare paired with gorgeous shots of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, or the U.S.S. Voyager inspirationally trekking through vast and awe-inspiring spatial phenomena. Star trekking, if you will. "Lower Decks" features a similar Jerry Goldsmith-inspired piece (composed by Chris Westlake), and depicts similarly inspiring spatial scenes of the U.S.S. Cerritos boldly encountering vast and dangerous situations. In a humorous twist, however, the Cerritos doesn't fare well in said encounters. It looks out over an ineffably large black hole ... and then is sucked in. It soars over a rocky heavenly body of some kind, only to clip its engine against an outcropping and begin to crash. It bravely faces a battle between several Borg craft and a fleet of Romulan vessels, and enthusiastically nopes out and flies away from the action. 

The U.S.S. Cerritos, in other words, is not the same kind of noble, heroic ship Trekkies are used to seeing. Indeed, the ship's name will be a tip-off to anyone who lives in California. Cerritos, California is a somewhat dumpy town outside of Los Angeles best known to L.A. denizens for its auto square. This ship takes on smaller, less exciting tasks in the "Trek" universe, handling the bureaucratic nonsense following First Contact with an alien species. The main characters are the lowest-ranking officers on the ship, and have to handle the grunt work on this unglamorous ship. It's a show about how, even in "Star Trek," there are jobs that can really suck. 

Oh yes, and to make matters worse, the crew now has to face the Crystalline Entity in those opening credits.


The third season of "Lower Decks" features a fun new twist in the opening sequence: More recognizable baddies to flee from. In previous seasons, the Cerritos flew away from a Borg/Romulan scuffle. In season 3, the ship now flees from Pakled vessels (the Pakled have been recurring antagonists throughout "Lower Decks") as well as another familiar face. Er, faceless crystalline lattice system.

The Crystalline Entity was notably featured in two episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Its intelligence levels were unknown, as the Enterprise never learned how to communicate with it, but it was immensely powerful and immensely destructive. It fed itself by eating living organic life by the planet load. It wasn't so much a villainous presence as an uncontrolled animal. Think of a much, much larger version of the flying saucer from Jordan Peele's "Nope." 

In its first appearance, "Datalore" (January 18, 1988), Data's evil twin Lore (Brent Spiner) was able to communicate with the Entity and lure it to a colony of settlers that Lore happily fed to it. Lore's next plan was to feed the Enterprise to his new ally/pet. The android's kinship with the Crystalline Entity was weirdly intense and never fully explained; Perhaps Lore admired another non-organic lifeform like himself, and had a secret resentment of his fleshy forebears. Trekkies do know Lore to be a bit of a psychopath (he threatened to vaporize Wesley with a phaser) and his emotions were never properly balanced by his creator. The emotionless Data was constructed later and was a more refined model.

Silicon Avatar

The Crystalline Entity would appear again in the fifth season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," in the episode "Silicon Avatar" (October 14, 1991). In that episode, a visiting xenologist named Dr. Marr (Ellen Geer) was brought aboard to study the Entity after a brutal attack that Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) barely survived. While Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) assumed Dr. Marr was interested — as he was — in merely knowing more about this destructive animal, he eventually learned that she had more insidious motives. She had previously lost loved ones to the Entity and was keen on finding a way to exterminate it. 

Picard, in true "Star Trek" fashion, argued that the Entity had just as much a right to live as anyone. It was merely doing what was in its nature. Dr. Marr disagrees and ends up taking matters into her own hands. The moral dilemma presented by the Crystalline Entity was how one treats a destructive force that may not have knowledge of the destruction it is doing. One can no more blame the Crystalline Entity for eating up whole planets any more than one can blame a wild cat for eating a nest of baby birds. Perhaps brutal, but not something that a predator should be expected to eschew. 

Given its animal-like nature, a "Lower Decks" battle involving the Borg, the Romulans, the Pakled, and the Crystalline Entity would likely be a massively complicated combat/disaster scenario that the imagination couldn't possibly fathom. How did these species all come to be in the same place at the same time, only to start wailing on each other with energy weapons? 

Perhaps one shouldn't blame the Cerritos for turning tail and running. No sane Starfleet captain would heartily enter that fray.