If you’re a defender of one of Star Trek: Voyager’s lowest points, you finally have some vindication. Lower Decks recently referenced ‘Threshold’, a questionable episode of Voyager involving Tom Paris and Janeway becoming mutants who breed and create offspring that’s left to die. Thankfully, Lower Decks actually managed to build on the overall theme and steer it toward something positive.
If you need a refresher, in Star Trek: Voyager, ‘Threshold’ has Tom Paris go to Warp 10. This was part of a bet in the Star Trek series, and his accomplishments warrant celebration, until some pretty serious health ramifications emerge. Tom starts undergoing some weird changes, like becoming allergic to water and being unable to breathe oxygen, and eventually turning into a lizard man.
He kidnaps Janeway and takes the Star Trek captain off on a Warp 10 voyage to a swamp planet where they both become amphibious species. They breed on their new home before being found by their crew, brought back onboard, cured, and everyone agrees never to speak of the incident again.
Now, 27 years later, Lower Decks referenced ‘Threshold’ in a similar story that doesn’t involve leaving younglings to fend for themselves in uncharted space. Four of the Star Trek characters, Boimler, Mariner, Rutherford, and Tendi, get stuck in a cave in season 4, episode 8, ‘Caves’.
They trade stories to pass the time, and Rutherford reveals that he once had some form of baby with Dr T’Ana, who’s from a feline-like species. Everyone’s a bit befuddled until we hear what happened: essentially, their guide during an expedition was killed, but managed to psychically impregnate Rutherford in their final moments.
Ergo, Rutherford was pregnant by the reincarnation of this person (sort of, we aren’t sure on the total logistics). But instead of panicking or spurning their offspring, Rutherford and Dr T’Ana actually start a family until a ship arrives to get them. The whole premise – other species mingling with humans, physiological changes, weird side-effects of exploring the cosmos – harkens back to ‘Threshold’.
The difference is, these Federation recruits weren’t about to abandon their duty to their babies. Maybe the worst thing about ‘Threshold’ is the ending just doesn’t sit right with Trek philosophy. Certainly when I first saw it, I thought the way everything ties together convenient and abrupt, and nowadays I’m more likely to just gloss over it if I’m watching Voyager.
This Lower Decks episodes seems like the ideal substitute. Truly, Trek at its best, but that’s why it remains one of the best sci-fi series ever. Check out our guides on the Star Trek: Legacy release date and the Strange New Worlds season 3 release date for more of what’s coming with the Enterprise and the Federation.