A visit to the venerable station brings Captain Freeman, Tendi, and the audience in line with the seminal series.
“Hear All, Trust Nothing” is a love letter to Deep Space Nine. From the moment the admiral mentions post-Dominion War negotiations with a Gamma Quadrant species, to the instant Shax (Fred Tatasciore) refers to Terok Nor as a “Cardassian eyesore,” to a hilarious yet endearing sequence where the Cerritos’ helmsman languidly scoots around the station in a self-conscious homage to DS9’s slow-spun intro, this episode is a valentine to fans of Ira Steven Behr’s seminal corner of the Star Trek universe.
That goes double when two of the show’s cast members guest star on Lower Decks, the first main characters from DS9 to reappear in the post-Discovery era of Star Trek. Colonel Kira (Nana Visitor) runs the station now. She gets into upside-down arguments with Shax over who saved who during the ol’ resistance days and tosses around Sisko’s trusty baseball in her office. And Quark himself (Armin Shimerman) is still manning his now iconic bar, as he presides over his franchised empire and takes selfies with tourists before shepherding them through the gift shop. Seeing major figures from the franchise’s past return to the fold is an unparalleled treat for Trekkies and Niners of all stripes.
But “Hear All, Trust Nothing”’s tribute to Deep Space Nine goes beyond Easter eggs and cameos. It extends to the sorts of stories Lower Decks chooses to tell as its characters walk the hallowed halls of the promenade.
Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) finds herself enmeshed in one of those classic “The officers try to conduct some important business when Quark’s skullduggery throws a monkey wrench into the proceedings” plots. Carol’s called upon to conduct trade negotiations with the reluctant Karemma, who doubt the financial opportunities of the Alpha Quadrant are quite so promising. With Kira in tow, however, the Captain tries to convince them that none other than Quark’s exemplifies the raft of marketable opportunities aboard the station. But when shifty Quark causes trouble with the visitors instead of playing along, the whole thing devolves into a dramatic power outage and kidnapping.
That wild escalation will ring familiar to anyone who watched Deep Space Nine. The rhythms are especially familiar when it turns out the Karemma weren’t kidnapping Quark for his financial prowess, but rather arresting him for stealing their replicator technology—which just so happened to have fueled his success.
Lower Decks honors the series that inspired this adventure with a fun twist.
If a devoted viewer earned a strip of gold-pressed latinum every time one of the Ferengi’s shady dealings turned into a mixed-up problem for the Starfleet and Bajoran officers aboard DS9, they’d have enough cash to open up their own shop on the promenade. The resolution, where Captain Freeman secures peace by forcing Quark to give up three-quarters of the profits from his franchise to the Karemma (a fate only mildly worse than Gamma Quadrant imprisonment) also fits perfectly with the “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it” solutions Sisko and Kira would impose upon the scheming Ferengi.
Kira would never have caught the Karemma ship, though, were it not for the heroics of Tendi (Noël Wells). While touring the station, she and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) run into Mesk, the only other Orion the duo have met in Starfleet. Unfortunately, the experience is awkward, not exciting, for Tendi. Mesk is an enthusiastic admirer of the Orions’ less-than-reputable pirate culture, egging her on to join in shanties and reminisce about interstellar ship theft. Tendi, for her part, is on record as wanting to distance herself from such unsavoriness, hoping to establish an upstanding record in Starfleet far away from her people’s reputation as underhanded scallywags.
Appropriately enough, Tendi’s issues mirror those of Quark’s nephew, Nog, the first Ferengi to join Starfleet. He similarly had to balance the expectations and responsibilities of his culture and heritage, while also finding his own, distinctive way in an organization that might not look kindly on his people’s ways and values. More than any other series, Deep Space Nine spurred viewers to confront outsiders’ views of Starfleet, and Starfleet’s views of outsiders. Tendi’s uneasy efforts to reconcile both her heritage and her calling, pay tribute to Nog’s struggles in similar terms.
Lower Decks honors the series that inspired this adventure with a fun twist. Despite Mesk’s boasts and enthusiasm, it turns out that he’s more like another former DS9 denizen, Worf, in that he’s actually an adoptee from Earth (specifically, Cincinnati) who developed a caricatured view of his people from afar (read: pulpy holo-novels).
And despite Tendi’s chipper, do-right attitude, it turns out she comes from a family of buccaneers. So when absolutely necessary, she can deploy her talents for piracy in thrilling and impressive fashion to stop the Karemma ship from escaping. The irony of the brash ensign being a poser, while the reluctant one has the skills, is of a piece with Deep Space Nine’s spirit of resolutely refusing to paint any species, or individual, with such a broad brush.
Of course, not every subplot in the episode can be a DS9 homage. Mariner’s (Tawny Newsome) subplot sees her reluctantly attending a “salon” held by her girlfriend’s pals. The pretentious, new-agey fluff at the shindig rubs Mariner the wrong way, but she tries mightily to stay polite and yielding after her friends dub her “bossy.” When crisis strikes thanks to the Karemma, Jen convinces Mariner to drop the courtesy and become the take-charge, unfiltered person she loves, not some shrinking violet. It’s nice to see Mariner feel vulnerable, even in a social situation, only to find that despite her worries over how her girlfriend will react to her unvarnished self, it turns out that’s what Jen appreciates most.
Beyond the episode’s main stories, there’s plenty of other nods tailor-made for longtime fans. Boimler’s (Jack Quaid) subplot involves the lucky stiff hitting it big at the good ol’ dabo table and walking away with armfuls of gift shop merch. Morn occupies his usual seat at the bar. Quark unleashes his trademark shriek. And Rutherford even dangles his legs from the second floor of the promenade a la Jake Sisko.
Still, the beautiful thing about “Hear All, Trust Nothing” is that you don’t need to have to know the ins and outs of Deep Space Nine to appreciate it. It’s undeniably stirring for longtime Trekkies to witness the main players walking down these hallowed halls once more. But what made that series so indelible in the hearts and minds of longtime fans is that the kinds of stories DS9 told were timeless, as endearing now as they were twenty-five years ago. Lower Decks understands that and gives that show’s spirit new life by sharing it with Tendi, Captain Freeman, and everyone else who comes to visit the station one more time.