Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 Finale – “No Small Parts”
Star Trek: Lower Decks‘ season 1 finale revealed that Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Captain William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) was Ensign Beckett Mariner’s (Tawny Newsome) mentor, which could mean that the rebellious Starfleet Officer once served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-E. Riker, his wife Commander Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the U.S.S. Titan rescued the U.S.S. Cerritos from a fleet of marauding Pakleds in Star Trek: Lower Decks‘ finale, “No Small Parts.” In the process, Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) was shocked to learn that Mariner not only knew Captain Riker but that they were extraordinarily close.
Still, Mariner is extraordinarily experienced for a mere Ensign and Boimler couldn’t understand how she could know, have seen, and have done so much since they’re roughly the same age. Some fans theorized that Mariner may have been a time traveler of some sort, but it’s just as likely that, as a Starfleet brat, Beckett’s parents raised her on various starships and she’s been exploring the galaxy from a young age — which is why she thinks Earth is so boring. But the bombshell that Will Riker was Mariner’s cha’DIch (Klingon for “mentor”) not only fits, but it also opens the door for the compelling possibility that Beckett served aboard the Federation flagship under Riker and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) before she landed aboard her mother’s starship.
Questions Surround Ensign Beckett Mariner’s Past
According to Mariner’s best friend at Starfleet Academy, Captain Amilia Ramsey (Toks Olagundoye), Beckett was the best in her class and all of her peers expected Mariner to make Captain first. Instead, Mariner came to despise the idea of being a senior officer and she developed a rebellious style that’s ill-suited for command. Mariner hates serving on the bridge, loathes staff meetings, and couldn’t care less about the admin and adherence to codes and regulations that come with being part of the command crew. Instead, she wants to remain a Lower Decker so that she “fly under the radar” and do whatever she wants, be it solve problems without authorization or accumulate contraband to hide all over the ship.
Mariner appears to be in her mid-20s yet she boasts a lifetime of experiences and know-how. By her own admission, Beckett was once trapped in a sentient cave for weeks, she was almost decapitated by a singing crystal, and she once had to fight a yeti for her shoes in a Klingon prison. Speaking of Klingons, Mariner is blood-bonded with General K’orin (Jess Harnell), and they teamed together for some “off the books, grey-op stuff back in the day.” Beckett also proudly keeps the multiple scars she has accumulated from all of her adventures. Finally, Mariner is an encyclopedia of Starfleet history and she can cite the major historical figures of the last century, no matter how obscure. But how did she gain all of this knowledge?
Riker Must Have Been Mariner’s Mentor Aboard The Enterprise
The fact that Will Riker was Mariner’s mentor makes a lot of sense, and Star Trek: Lower Decks‘ season 1 finale revealed that Riker goes way back with Mariner’s family: Carol Freeman was actually the mentor of the young Riker, so Will paid it forward and became Beckett’s cha’DIch. Given Mariner’s age and visual clues like the type of Starfleet uniforms they wore at the time, Will must have mentored Beckett in the years between Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis, which would span 2375-2379. (Star Trek: Lower Decks season 1 is set in 2380.)
However, Riker likely wouldn’t have left his posting as First Officer of the Enterprise, and his fiancee Deanna Troi, just to mentor a new Ensign; it’s far more likely that Mariner, the most promising young Starfleet Cadet in her class, would have received a plum posting aboard the Enterprise-E, either before or after she served on the U.S.S. Quito. Mariner was supposedly so good already that she probably wouldn’t even have needed her starship captain mother or Admiral father to pull strings to get Beckett a spot on the Federation flagship. And, as “No Small Parts” showed, Mariner and Riker still have a warm relationship where they freely poke fun at with each other. Riker saving the Cerritos was also paying Mariner back for some yet unknown past incident where Beckett bailed Will out of some sort of mess.
Mariner serving on the Enterprise under Riker’s wing would answer a lot of questions about her. The Enterprise‘s holodecks and archives contain all of the histories of all of the past Enterprise legacy starships, so Mariner could have absorbed all of that info. But Picard’s Enterprise was also a disciplined and highly professional starship, and this could be what fanned the flames of Beckett’s rebellious attitude and active dislike of its traditions (which the Cerritos has emulated). It’s possible Riker invited Mariner to their poker games and this is where she decided gambling with the senior staff was lame. Same with the Enterprise‘s traditional classical music concerts. In fact, Mariner seems to delight in thumbing her nose at all of the tropes fans associate with TNG’s Enterprise — probably because she lived them all.
On the other hand, Mariner also learned some off-the-books habits from Riker, who has a rebellious streak himself that he rarely got to indulge when serving under Captain Picard. Riker is, after all, the guy who pranked Worf (Michael Dorn) by making sure he was dunked in the sea during his holodeck promotion in Star Trek Generations. Riker actually taught Mariner her habit of hoarding contraband, and Riker is a prime supplier of Romulan ale and other illicit goods.
Why Mariner Would Have Left The Enterprise
If Ensign Mariner did serve aboard the Enterprise-E, she didn’t stay too long, which isn’t unusual. Many Starfleet Officers serve on multiple starships in their careers, and if Beckett came aboard the flagship fresh from Starfleet Academy, it was likely a temporary posting to “get her feet wet.” Either Mariner left because her time aboard the Enterprise was simply up or it’s also possible Beckett requested a different posting. Regardless, Mariner has served on five starships before she settled aboard the Cerritos, including the U.S.S. Quito, and Beckett has visited Deep Space Nine as well.
Did Mariner Take Part In Star Trek: Nemesis?
However, if Mariner was on the Enterprise at the end of the 2370s, it’s then also possible that she took part in the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, and this might partly explain some of her past trauma. As Beckett once told Boimler when she was panicked that his girlfriend Lt. Barbara Brinson (Gillian Jacobs) may be an enemy alien incognito, “I have seen stuff, man!” Some of the terrible memories Mariner secretly harbors could stem from the tragic catastrophe of Star Trek: Nemesis where Picard’s clone Shinzon (Tom Hardy) tried to destroy the Enterprise and the Federation with a thalaron weapon.
Not only did Commander Data (Brent Spiner) die to save the Enterprise, but Picard’s starship suffered a horrific amount of damage when it rammed into Shinzon’s flagship, the Scimitar. Dozens of the Enterprise‘s officers were killed and some were even blown into the vacuum of space. Riker himself led a Security team and fought Shinzon’s Viceroy (Ron Perlman) and his Reman invaders aboard the Enterprise.
If Beckett survived Star Trek: Nemesis, it might have helped forged her rebellious attitude and she may even believe that she could have handled Shinzon and the Remans differently. Regardless, Ensign Beckett Mariner’s colorful past is one of Star Trek: Lower Decks‘ most fascinating mysteries and it would be logical if season 2 revealed Mariner indeed took part in the voyages of Captain Picard’s Enterprise.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is available to stream on CBS All-Access.