Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 Builds A New Dream Team Crew – Entirely Offscreen

This article contains spoilers for the "Star Trek: Lower Decks" season 3 premiere, "Grounded."

At the conclusion of the second season of "Star Trek: Lower Decks," called "First First Contact," Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is placed under arrest for a war crime. Evidence has come forth that she, acting alone, planted a bomb in the core of the Pakled home world, and exploded a massive chunk of the entire planet into space. The show's third season opens with an episode called "Grounded," wherein Captain Freeman's daughter, Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome), goes on a quest to find evidence to the contrary. She, stranded on Earth, rounds up her closest compatriots, ensigns Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford (Jack Quaid, Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero) and attempt to find the means to break into the U.S.S. Cerritos while the ship remains in impound. 

In true "Lower Decks" fashion, however, the main characters find that they are not the heroes of the story. "Lower Decks" is very much about how the lowest-ranking officers on a Starfleet vessel are rarely granted the opportunity to be heroic. If they do get to be heroic, then they most certainly won't be recognized. Even in Starfleet, there are crappy, only fitfully satisfying jobs. 

Indeed, the day is saved off-screen by an elite squad of Starfleet black-ops types. Certain members of this squad, decked out in black and seen briefly carrying out a covert mission, will look familiar to Trekkies. 

Captain Morgan Bateson

The squad is led by no one less than Captain Morgan Bateson, a character played by Kelsey Grammar in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode "Cause and Effect" (March 23, 1992). In that episode, the Enterprise finds itself trapped in a time loop. At the beginning of the day, the ship sails along its merry way. At the end of the day, a second ship suddenly appears from a mysterious spatial rift, crashes into the Enterprise, and destroys them both. Then time resets and the day starts over. It is only a vague sense of déjà vu that has the Enterprise crew sensing that something is amiss. 

By the end of the episode, the Enterprise is able to break out of the time loop and avoid being crushed by the second ship. Upon escape, the Enterprise learns that they have been trapped in the loop for 17 days. The other ship in question is the U.S.S. Bozeman, captained by Morgan Bateson. In talking to Captain Bateson, the Enterprise finds that they have been trapped in the same time loop ... for over 90 years. That would certainly explain the dated design of the ship and the previous-generation uniforms they wear. 

Captain Bateson never has a scene where he reacts to the big news that he was essentially thrown forward in time 90 years without warning. No doubt, climatizing to life in a new century would prove to be quite an ordeal; imagine suddenly waking up in the year 2112. "Cause and Effect" takes place in 2369. "Grounded," in about 2382. Evidently, in that 13 years, Bateston not only learned to live in the future, but carved out a nice career as a black ops leader.


Namechecked in "Grounded" is no one less than Tuvok, the security officer of the U.S.S. Voyager. 

When audiences last saw Tuvok, he was being spared a horrible fate. In "Endgame" (May 23, 2001), the final episode of "Star Trek: Voyager," the ship does indeed make it home after decades of travel. However, Voyager's trip takes so long that Tuvok (Tim Russ) succumbs to a rare neurological condition that he was unable to get treated while lost in the Delta Quadrant. Had the Voyager made it back to Earth just a few years earlier, Tuvok could have sought treatment. Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) takes it upon herself to travel back in time to the "present" of "Voyager"  and give her younger self access to Borg technology that can carry the ship home sooner. The two Janeways bicker over the ethics of accepting help from your future self.

Ultimately, the present day Janeway accepts the help — Janeway never passes up an opportunity to do the unethical thing! — and makes it back to Earth. Tuvok, presumably, is able to seek help for his condition. 

As "Grounded" points out, not only is Tuvok alive and well, but still working in security, aiding Captain Bateson in covert infiltration missions. Since "Endgame" takes place only about four or five years prior to "Grounded," it stands to reason that Tuvok would simply have the same career path.

If I were Tuvok, however, I would probably wait a good decade before getting on another starship.