“Just keep circling…” — Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Hear All, Trust Nothing”

Since 2020, the Secret Hideout Trek shows on Paramount+ have shown us the fates several of the characters from the twenty-fourth-century spinoffs: TNG’s Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, Deanna Troi, Wes Crusher, and Data and Voyager’s Seven of Nine on Picard (with TNG’s Worf, Beverly Crusher, and Geordi La Forge to be seen in the upcoming third season); Voyager’s Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay on Prodigy; Riker and Troi again and Voyager’s Tom Paris on Lower Decks.

Conspicuously absent from that list is anyone from DS9 (though Quark has been mentioned more than once on both Picard and LD), but this week’s LD makes up for that lack in spades, and it’s my favorite episode of LD so far. (Note, this doesn’t mean it’s the best. Just that it’s my favorite, which is as much my love for DS9 as anything…)


Mind you, the only characters we see are Kira Nerys and Quark, voiced by Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman. There’s no indication one way or the other of who else might be serving on the station or elsewhere, which is good, as it leaves things open for future productions to do what they want.

I like the fact that Colonel Kira is still in charge, and of course Quark is still running the bar. Picard and LD both established that Quark’s has franchises all over the Alpha Quadrant, which provides one of the funnier jokes in the episode, as Mariner gives Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford a hard time for wanting to visit Quark’s, as it’s just a chain restaurant, but they retort that it’s the original

In general, the show does an excellent job of mining humor from what is actually a perfectly reasonable Trek plot. I mean, if you just describe the plot straight-up, it would make a normal Trek episode: The Karemma are coming through the wormhole to try to normalize trade with the Alpha Quadrant following the Dominion War. Originally intended to support the Vancouver, whose captain was going to negotiate, Freeman instead has to step in and conduct the negotiations. The Karemma are outraged to learn that Quark is using Karemma tech for his shiny new “Quark 2000” replicator, and they kidnap him. However, Tendi, Rutherford, and a DS9 officer named Masc (more on him in a bit) are on the Karemma ship delivering gifts from the Federation, and have to save Quark’s life.

In the end, once they discover that Quark was being arrested rather than kidnapped, they make a deal where the Karemma get a percentage of Quark’s profits and everyone’s happy. Well, except for Quark, who has to share profits, but it beats being put in a Dominion prison…

On its own, that’s not funny, but this is still LD and still a comedy, and so a great deal of it is played for laughs, starting with Freeman’s frustration with the whole thing. First she’s annoyed by having to step in at the last minute and with no prep time, and then everything goes sideways. Boimler, meanwhile, is cleaning up at dabo, and Quark is always good for a laugh.

They even manage to come up with a running gag for Kira and Shaxs that works. Kira and Shaxs know each other from their days in the Bajoran Resistance, because of course they do, and the running gag is each of them insisting that they owe the other one for saving their life, with a constant stream of reminding each other of life-saving events while fighting the Cardassians. (“That one didn’t count, we were both locked up!”) It’s still true to both characters, without diminishing their lives as terrorists or what they were fighting for, and still funny as hell.

Masc is also a lovely take on what TNG established about Worf: that he was raised by humans rather than in the Klingon Empire, and knows what he knows about being Klingon from study. Masc, though, flips that on its ear: he, too was raised by humans, in Cincinnati, Ohio, but the only studying he’s done of Orion culture is from holonovels. (“The bad ones, too—the ones with boobs on the cover.”) We don’t find this out until after he’s spent the entire episode talking—endlessly—about being a pirate and doing piratical things and such like. He goes on at appalling length about it. The routine actually wears thin pretty quickly, but the payoff works, because he’s gone on so damn much that when the Karemma ship heads to the wormhole, Rutherford immediately suggests that Masc take over the ship, pirate-style.

Which Masc absolutely cannot do because he’s a faker. Luckily, as we learned in “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” Tendi is a total badass, and she takes over the ship in very short order, delaying their entry into the wormhole long enough for DS9 (which has been hit with a Karemma EMP) to recover and tractor them back.

The other end of the plot is showing more of the growing relationship between Mariner and Jennifer the Andorian. Jennifer takes Mariner to meet her friends at their salon. Mariner’s teeth already hurt because they call their little party a “salon,” which is a kind of weird talent show-cum-slumber party type thingie. Mariner is struggling to get through this pretentious nightmare, and then when the power goes out, everyone panics. Mariner wants to take charge and kick ass, but she’s worried that Jennifer will get upset if she yells at her friends. Except, it turns out, Jennifer finds her friends to be just as super-annoying as Mariner does, and was looking forward to watching Mariner tear them apart. So she cuts loose, giving orders and stunning everyone to conserve oxygen. (They made candles, and with the power out, the candles are sucking all the oxygen out of the room…)

I keep going back and forth about this plotline, because I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I had to seriously examine why. After all, just two episodes ago I ripped “Room for Growth” because Delta Shift didn’t act like what people in Star Trek’s future should act like. Yet here I am loving the absurdity of the salon and sharing Mariner’s eye-rolling reaction to it.

After a while, though, I figured it out. Delta Shift were being selfish and mean-spirited. Jennifer’s friends were just being pretentious. I don’t have a problem with people in Star Trek’s future being pretentious, because it’s a harmless quality, and one that doesn’t come across as nasty.

It’s a little extreme for Mariner to stun them all and enjoy it so much, but we already know that Mariner’s damaged, and we’re kind of stuck with that.

Ultimately, what we’ve got here is a fun story that’s also a nice little love letter to DS9. It starts with the opening, where Freeman order Ransom to delay their docking at the station so she can read up on her mission, and Ransom orders the conn officer to fly slowly around the station—thus enabling them to re-create DS9’s opening credits. The sets are all nicely re-created in animation, and the music and sound effects are all right out of the show. It’s a beautiful thing.

Screenshot: CBS / Paramount+

Random thoughts

  • The title of the episode is one of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, which were first seen on DS9. In this case, “Hear all, trust nothing” is Rule #190, first cited in “Call to Arms.”
  • The Karemma were introduced in DS9’s “The Search, Part I” when the Deep Space 9 crew was trying to learn more about the Dominion. Quark did several deals with them, including a very profitable tulaberry wine deal.
  • Interestingly, even though DS9 is supposed to be a joint Starfleet/Bajoran station (and Masc is definitely assigned to the station), all of the officers in Ops are wearing Bajoran Militia uniforms.
  • Pursuant to that, one thing this episode establishes is that Bajor has yet to join the Federation in 2382, which is ridiculous. Mike McMahan and the gang are likely taking their cue from the show-runner of DS9’s latter era, Ira Steven Behr, who didn’t want Bajor to join the Federation for reasons passing understanding. (See my rant on that subject in my rewatch of the DS9 finale “What You Leave Behind.”) It’s also likely that Sisko is still with the Prophets (also mentioned during conversations last week between Mariner and the conspiracy theorists).
  • Speaking of Sisko, his baseball still lives on the station commander’s desk. That baseball was given to him by an entity posing as baseball player Buck Bokai in DS9’s “If Wishes were Horses,” and it became an important symbol of Sisko’s presence on the station in “Call to Arms,” “Sacrifice of Angels,” and “Tears of the Prophets.” Kira grabs the ball and tosses it around at one point in this episode.
  • The Karemma mentions a tailor shop, which is meant to be a reference to Garak’s shop, though Garak was back on Cardassia at the end of the Dominion War. Maybe he sold it to someone….
  • We see Morn sitting at the end of the bar in Quark’s. Which is as it should be.
  • Mariner blackmails Quark with a copy of the holo-recording of Kira’s body with Quark’s head, from DS9’s “Meridian.”
  • I was dreading some manner of comeuppance or reversal for Boimler after he kept winning at dabo, but no, he just wins a crapton of money because he’s Bold Boimler now, and Bold Boimler is awesome.
  • Visitor and Shimerman both do superlative work reprising their iconic roles. I especially love how effortlessly Visitor gives us a Kira who’s unquestioningly in charge of the station. And Shimerman’s comic timing remains perfect.


Keith R.A. DeCandido urges folks to support the Kickstarter for Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups. Co-edited by Keith and New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry, this anthology from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers will feature classic characters banding together: Captain Nemo with Frankenstein’s monster; Ace Harlem with the Conjure-Man; Marian of Sherwood with Annie Oakley; Prospero with Don Quixote; Lydia Bennet with Lord Ruthven; and tons more, including stories by Trek scribes Greg Cox, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Kevin J. Anderson, Rigel Ailur, and Derek Tyler Attico, and TNG screenwriter Diana Dru Botsford. Click here to support it.


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