If there’s one reason people love Star Trek — beyond social commentary and endless optimism — it’s almost certainly the super-sweet spaceships. Just seeing a certain ship design in any given incarnation of Trek can start sorts of chills.. In 2018 it was the return in the classic USS Enterprise NCC-1701 in the Series 1 finale of Discovery. For some fans, seeing a Borg cube in Picard was awesome.. And it was equally interesting for discerning fans to see a retro-style Romulan ship in Picard Season 1..
But from where did this retro Romulan bird-of-prey come? Rios described it in Picard Season 1 as an “old heap.” Accordingly, a ship like that shouldn’t even have been flying around.. How did it get there? The latest episode of Lower Decks may have just answered this question!. Here’s how episode 8 “Veritas” might have given us a clue as to how this 100-year-old starship ended up fighting Jean-Luc and the La Sirena in 2399. Spoilers and speculation ahead..
In the episode Lower Decks “Veritas” a large part of the hilarious plot involves a complicated covert mission in which the crew of the USS Cerritos is to steal an antique Romulan bird of prey from a Vulcan museum.. Presumably this is because the Bird-of-Prey has a cloaking device which allows them to infiltrate Romulan space, but for Rutherford’s sake, why not simply ask the Vulcans to borrow it? Or why not get a ship with a newer cloaking device?.
The answer is yes. The joke is there’s no good answer, and that’s because the Lower Deckers will never have all the information the Senior Staff have when it comes to unstructured Starfleet missions.. But this means for fans we got to see a lot of old-school Star Trek ships, including a Vulcan shuttle from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as several TOS ships in the museum scene.. But the ship that’s the star of this episode is easily the retro Romulan Bird of Prey stolen by Jax and Rutherford and later floated in Romulan space by Tendi and Ransom.. This is the same design of a Romulan ship from the classic episode of The Original Series called the Balance of Terror.
The retro bird of prey as it appears in ‘Lower Decks’ CBS.
Although many fans remember having a model or toy version of this ship, it strangely appeared only in one episode of the original run of TOS and then retroactively inserted into the digitally remastered version of the TOS episode “The Enterprise Incident”.. That meant that his ship, which the Romulans used in the 2260s, was seen in two canonical Trek episodes – ever and one of them was a retcon -. The prologue series Enterprise featured some ships that were similar in design, but not to be the exact same ships..
The Scarcity of the Bird-of-Prey remained limited to those two TOS appearances until 2020 when one of these ships appeared in Star Trek: Picard season 1, specifically in Episode 4, “Absolute Candor.”. Because that episode took place in 2399, the Bird-of-Prey was totally outdated relative to other ships we saw on that series. The explanation for its appearance was this: Rios said that a local warlord named Kar Kantar had obtained an “antique” bird of prey and was causing problems near the planet Vashti in what used to be the Romulan Neutral Zone.. I don’t know how or why Kar Kantar got a hold of this vessel.. One has to assume that Kantar came from other Romulans (assuming that Kantar is a Romulan), but maybe that’s not the case..
In fact, in the new episode of Lower Decks, it seems very possible that Ransom’s team abandoned this bird of prey in Romulan space after they completed their mission..
The “antique” bird of prey in the card.
In 2399 is taken place “Absolute Candor”. This episode of Lower Decks, “Veritas” probably still takes place in 2380. This means that if Ransom and Tendi ran away with their stolen Bird of Prey in 2380, it stands to reason that 19 years later, a warlord would have picked it up and used it for their own purposes.. If there weren’t a lot of working ships of this design in the Romulan space — which, let’s face it, appears like the case since the ship is about 120 years old at the time of the lower decks — then there would be no real reason why the Romulans would have one in working order.. The Romulans also don’t seem like the kind of people who would keep old ships in museums like people of the Federation do..
That said, it’s not entirely clear why the Vulcans had an antique bird of prey in a museum as well.. Is it one they captured? Was it on loan? Was it a gift part of Spock’s secret peace deals during The Next Generation? If Bird of Prey is the same in Lower Decks as Picard, we may have solved a part of this small Starship mystery. But still we kind of don’t know where it came from.. We probably will never know, but now solving Romulan mysteries is a part-time job of any Star Trek show so if we are lucky, we may see a classic Romulan bird-of-prey again.. Let’s just hope that this time it doesn’t take 30 years for it to cloak..
Star Trek: Lower Decks airs on CBS All Access Thursdays.