Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 finale, "Old Friends, New Planets."
Star Trek: Lower Decks closed out another season, and while we're already guaranteed at least one more season will arrive with our Paramount+ subscription, fans might still be shocked by a surprising development for a major character. Tendi ended up leaving the Cerritos to fulfill a promise she made that helped save the day. Following that big moment, showrunner Mike McMahan spoke to CinemaBlend about all things Tendi.
In exchange for an Orion battleship that the crew used to help thwart Nick Locarno's plans, Tendi agreed to return to her family and resume her place at her sister's request. I asked Mike McMahan about the ending and deciding on sending her off, and learned his thoughts on the emotional final scene of her on the Orion ship:
I love that music cue and her expression at that moment because I think there are ways to play that moment where it feels like she's like–I didn't want to do what we did already with Captain Freeman when she was taken away in handcuffs. Tendi has been a character who is obviously the heart of Starfleet, the heart of science. She's the pure optimism and joy. But she's also been burdened by, ‘Am I an Orion, or am I Starfleet? And I loved this moment at the end because she's choosing to be neither. She's going to be Tendi, who exists in both. . .Chris Westlake turned in this score cue for that moment that was an extension of her battle music on the Deep Space Nine episode. And I just thought it was so affecting and spoke to the emotion behind that moment that I had them extend it for the entire credits. You’ll be seeing Tendi. Tendi next season is Tendi, who we love, but is unburdened about wondering who she is. And it's a really great thing to watch.
So just to make it clear for anyone wondering, this is not the end of Tendi on Star Trek: Lower Decks. She will return for the already confirmed Season 5, though we don't know exactly when she'll reunite with her friends back on the Cerritos.
While Mike McMahan didn't lay out a timeline for how long Tendi will be away, he did offer some advice for fans already eager for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 5. I asked if Tendi's time away will offer a closer look into the lives of Orions, and fans will be pleased to hear that's indeed on the agenda for upcoming episodes:
Yeah, there's some deep-cut Orion stuff. I would highly recommend if you wanna savor every tasting note of the beginning of next season, I would bone up on all the Orion episodes. Even the ones you don't think you need to watch.
Now would be the right time to watch every Orion-centric episode ever, as we have time before the next upcoming Star Trek series arrives. I'm very interested in the "Even the ones you don't think you need to watch" as a cool little tease of something unexpected on the way. After the Strange New Worlds crossover and a surprise love letter to Voyager, I'm not sure I want to rule anything out for Season 5.
We know we can expect more T'Lyn, who is inspired by Enterprise's T'Pol after she deliberately ignored a call that would've likely gotten her former position back. There are also plenty of more adventures to be had with Mariner, Boimler and Rutherford, and undoubtedly more cameos to make happen.
I know I was thrilled to see Wil Wheaton reprise Wesley Crusher two years after Mike McMahan told CinemaBlend in 2021 he had ideas to bring the actor back. Season 4 makes it feel like the future is still bright for Star Trek: Lower Decks, which makes me more excited for Season 5.
Binge all four seasons of Star Trek: Lower Decks right now over on Paramount+. After that, be sure to check out all of the other great Trek content available, or maybe jump into something entirely new.