Star Trek fans just received a surprise gift. Paramount+ dropped the seventh episode of season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds early, after a Comic-Con premiere. And this wasn’t just any episode either. In “Those Old Scientists,” we saw the 2D animated lead characters of Star Trek: Lower Decks, Ensigns Brad Boimler and Beckett Mariner, not only go back in time to meet the Enterprise crew, but also move from animation into live-action. And played by their actual voice actors, Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome, respectively. Luckily, they both look pretty close to their animated counterparts in real life. Here’s how the first epic (but also low-key) crossover between live-action and animated Star Trek shook out.
How Did the Lower Decks Characters End Up in the Strange New Worlds Timeline?
This crossover episode actually began in the animated world of the late 24th century, on board the U.S.S. Cerritos. For the uninitiated, that’s the main starship on Lower Decks. The ship arrives at Krometh B, where an ancient time travel portal was first discovered by the Enterprise 120 years prior. They task the away team with checking if the portal is still functioning, simply because there’s no record of it working for over a century. Ensign Tendi, an Orion, insists however that her people actually discovered the portal, not the Enterprise. Despite what any historical records might say.
The portal has not worked in over a century. However, Boimler is excited to interact with anything discovered by the crew of the original Enterprise. Well, original Federation Enterprise, as he later points out. (This will matter later). While analyzing the portal, he realizes that there are traces of a rare alloy called Heronium. Boimler’s fumbling around then results in the machine activating, sending him back in time to the 23rd century. Right into the era of Strange New Worlds. And right away, he meets the Enterprise away team of Spock, Una, and La’an. They’ve just arrived on the planet too.
What Happened In This Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds Crossover Episode?
Now onboard the Enterprise NCC-1701, time-tossed Boimler, who worships the heroes of Starfleet history, is star-struck in meeting them. Especially Captain Pike and Number One. Boimler constantly almost breaks the temporal Prime Directive. Accidentally, he gives way too much information about the future to people in the past. Boimler nevertheless befriends Enterprise crew members, and tries to set up a surprise birthday party for Captain Pike. Orion scientists, who actually discovered the portal, then beam it onto their ship. Boimler helps to provide information for Pike’s crew to get it back. But when they attempt to send him back to his proper time, things go awry yet again. Boimler’s friend Beckett Mariner then appears in the past too.
With two future people on board his ship, Pike doesn’t know quite what to do with them. Mariner fangirls over meeting Uhura. But Boimler worries they will both become stranded in the past. In a moment of bonding with Pike, Boimler realizes they both idolize Captain Archer of the NX-01 Enterprise (famously of Star Trek: Enterprise). Then it hits him. Starfleet actually plated the first Enterprise with a Heronium alloy. The exact metal needed to make the portal work and send them back home. And since tradition demands that one piece of an old ship needs to be incorporated into the namesake version, some Heronium alloy exists on board the current Enterprise. And with that discovery, Boimler and Mariner can use the portal to go home. But not before Spock gives them a “Live long a prosper” salute. One final moment for Brad Boimler to geek out about.
Is It Likely That the Lower Decks Characters Will Return Again to Strange New Worlds?
Time travel happens pretty much all the time in the Star Trek universe. Someone sneezes and they are in another century it seems. So while there’s nothing suggesting that the Cerritos crewmembers will ever encounter Pike and company again, there’s nothing really stopping them from having another encounter either. After all, there are other crewmembers of the Cerritos who still could appear in live-action. Of course, the Enterprise from Strange New Worlds could also travel forward in time, arriving in the 24th century, becoming animated themselves on Lower Decks.
Other crossovers that involve time travel could see the Enterprise crew meet a live-action version of the crew of the Protostar from Star Trek: Prodigy. Or, the Enterprise encounters the crew of a future namesake, the Enterprise-G. That was the starship under the command of Captain Seven of Nine seen in the Picard series finale, and which has Jean Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher’s son Jack as a crewmember. Fans are clamoring for a spin-off series from Picard called Star Trek: Legacy, but in the meantime, it sure would be fun to see the NCC-1701 come across the NCC-1701-G out in space. In the Star Trek universe, anything can happen as long as portals, wormholes, or a warp-speed slingshot around a star are part of Trek lore.