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Mike McMahan On The Inspiration To Use The Pakleds For Star Trek: Lower Decks - Exclusive

The great thing about a comedy like "Star Trek: Lower Decks" is that there's already an entire galaxy out there of alien races and references to draw upon. Much of the humor from the animated series draws upon "Star Trek" lore. Subject matter and species audiences have seen previously are put into an entirely different context. Aliens who were once feared are now a laughing stock. As long as it doesn't break the canon of what's come before, anything can be on the table.

That's the lowdown of what the show's creator, Mike McMahan, said during his exclusive interview with Looper. When asked about ensuring continuity between "Star Trek" properties, he said it was all a matter of keeping the lines of communication open and making sure they weren't stepping on any other show's toes. 

One alien race the show managed to go to town on was the Pakleds. Prior to "Lower Decks," the Pakleds were featured prominently on "Deep Space Nine" throughout Seasons 2 through 5. It makes one wonder why the creative forces behind the scenes chose a relatively obscure alien race to make such a prominent feature of "Lower Decks" Season 2. McMahan shed a light on why the Pakleds were the perfect stand-in for the story he wanted to tell.

McMahan wanted the Pakleds to stand in for the rise of fascism in the real world

"Lower Decks" takes "Star Trek" into humorous territory, but at its core, the franchise has always served as a reflection of modern-day issues. The series may always be set hundreds of years into the future, but it has the characters deal with political or thematic issues people at home deal with today. There's no reason for "Lower Decks" to be any different, and as Mike McMahan told Looper, he wanted to use the Pakleds to shine a light on a prominent issue the world currently faces.

"It was back when there was a lot of news about fascism and strong men rising around the world," McMahan explained. "Obviously, that's a huge problem. At the time, we had done so many episodes of 'Lower Decks' [that] had been inspired by previous 'Star Treks,' like a trial episode or a big ship action episode and what have you. But what we hadn't done yet is an episode that was directly tied to something that meant something. And 'Star Trek' has to mean something for it to be 'Star Trek,' right? Otherwise, it's just people hanging out on a Starship."

He went on to discuss how the Pakleds could directly tie into fascism because no one ever really takes them seriously. They're seen as this goofy presence, so as they start accumulating power, no one pays them any mind. Therefore, McMahan wanted to bring awareness to an ever-increasing problem: "It's almost like the sinister way it comes back is by not shining a light on it or making a joke about it. You don't have to be smart or capable to be fascist." As the political realm becomes more stratified, it's all the more important to know what's going on around us — and it's great to have comedies like "Lower Decks" remind us of the dangers lurking in our political systems.

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on July 12 with over an hour of bonus features, including exclusive featurettes, animatics, and Easter eggs.