The first Star Trek: Lower Decks finale featured a few surprise returns from past Star Trek characters, and it also paid a visit to a classic Star Trek planet. Things on that planet were not going as they should have been. SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Lower Decks season finale episode, "No Small Parts," follows. "No Small Parts" begins with the USS Cerritos making the second contact on a familiar Star Trek planet. Beta III is the planet that the USS Enterprise visited in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Return of the Archons." Based on this episode, the civilization on Beta III didn't learn its lesson very well in that episode.
In "The Return of the Archons," Kirk's crew's visit revealed that Beta III was under the control of an intelligent computer. The people on Beta III had worshipped this computer, called Landru, for at least 6,000 years. Landru's soulless nature led it to stifle all creativity and inspiration from the planet's people. Landru also implemented some savage customs, included the "Red Hour" that began "Festival," a period of The Purge-like lawlessness.
Kirk's crew teamed with the resistance on Beta III to free the people from Landru's control. But when the Cerritos shows up at the planet, they find that the people of Beta III have regressed. They've chosen to let Landru control their lives and want to reinstitute the Red Hour and Festival. Freeman talks some sense into them to get them back on track. This incident is a look at how things can go wrong once Starfleet leaves its planet of the week behind. As a bonus, the episode also offers a visual cameo of Kirk and Spock.
The episode shows that second contact missions may not be as glamorous as first contact missions that precede them but that they are still essential to Starfleet's mission. If not for the Cerritos' arrival, Starfleet may never have known about the regression on Beta III. Similarly, no one kept tabs on the Pakleds long enough to notice when they became a legitimate threat in the galaxy. Maybe Starfleet will start giving these missions a higher priority from here on out.
What do you think of this return trip to Beta III in Lower Decks? Let us know in the comments section. The full first season fo Star Trek: Lower Decks is streaming now on CBS All Access. The second season is already in the works.