The Star Trek universe is about to go full Space Jam. On July 23 at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, it was revealed that the first Star Trek crossover episode in 30 years is finally happening, and it’s unlike anything the Star Trek franchise has attempted before. The details seem to push the Final Frontier into a wild and totally unexpected canon-altering territory. Nobody saw this coming!
Mild spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2.
A Strange New Worlds x Lower Decks crossover
As revealed at the SDCC 2022 Hall H “Star Trek Universe” panel, Strange New Worlds Season 2 will feature a crossover episode in which characters from the animated comedy series Lower Decks show up on the live-action Enterprise. The official announcement from Paramount+ confirmed the crossover just after Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome crashed Anson Mount’s Strange New Worlds segment of the Trek panel. Both Mariner (Newsome) and Boimler (Quaid) will be “joining the U.S.S. Enterprise in Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”
The last time two concurrently airing Star Trek TV shows had a crossover episode was in the 1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Birthright Part 1,” in which the Enterprise visited Deep Space Nine. While several subsequent Star Trek films and episodes have referenced the various previous series or featured cameos from guest characters, this upcoming crossover is the first time in three decades that two new Trek shows will formally interact with each other.
A Star Trek crossover, Space Jam-style
As if a Star Trek crossover between two series wasn’t enough, the promised style of the crossover is something Trek has never done before. According to Paramount, this special crossover episode will feature “both live-action and animation.” That’s right, Star Trek is doing some kind of Space Jam-esque episode, in which Mariner and Boimler will appear as their cartoon selves alongside live-action characters from Strange New Worlds. This kind of Roger Rabbit device has never been attempted on Star Trek before, and seems to fulfill the promise of showrunner Akiva Goldsman when he told Inverse that Strange New Worlds Season 2 would do something that has “literally never been done on Star Trek before.”
This news also seems to suggest that Tawny Newsome’s campaign for live-action versions of some of the Lower Decks gang might actually happen. In March 2022, Newsome told Inverse that she was “on the case” to make live-action versions of the Lower Decks characters appear. So will that actually happen?
Right now it’s unclear if Boimler and Mariner will remain animated in the crossover episode. But it seems if live-action versions of them were to appear, now would be the time. The episode will be directed by Trek legend Jonathan Frakes, and his directorial style would seem to indicate he would want Newsome and Quaid on set even if their characters were animated the entire time.
On the SDCC Strange New Worlds panel, SNW showrunner Henry Alonso Myers said the origin of the crossover happened organically as “An ongoing discussion inside the writers' room and then, unsolicited, a call from Alex Kurtzman suggesting the idea, too.”
Lower Decks Season 3 and Strange New Worlds
Although we don’t know the details of the crossover, it seems almost guaranteed that time travel will be required to make it happen. Lower Decks takes place in 2381 with Strange New Worlds happening over a century prior, in 2259. If time travel isn’t used, it seems possible that, perhaps, some kind of hologram situation might happen, too. Could Mariner and Boimler appear as time-traveling holograms? Could a Strange New Worlds episode be happening on the holodeck of the USS Cerritos in the far future?
Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan has said many times that “people on Star Trek watch Star Trek,” which could be a clue to the crossover. Because the lower deckers are such super-fans of Starfleet’s history, it’s possible the crossover occurs in some kind of meta-fictional way involving the holodeck or other simulations.
Then again, Season 3 of Lower Decks premieres on August 25, 2022, and it’s possible within that new season, a Lower Decks episode could tee up the 2023 Strange New Worlds crossover episode. Either way, one thing is for sure, once animated Trek and live-action Trek collide in the same episode in 2023, canon will never be the same.
Do we know the Lower Decks-Strange New Worlds crossover release date?
Although Lower Decks Season 3 is confirmed for August 25, the exact timing of Strange New Worlds Season 2 hasn’t been confirmed. As of this writing, Strange New Worlds Season 2 — including the crossover episode — will hit Paramount+ sometime in 2023.
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