Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 9 – “Trusted Sources”In great surprise, Star Trek: Lower Decks brought back an evil alien race feared by the United Federation of Planets: the Breens! Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 Episode 9 introduced Project Swing By, Captain Carol Freeman’s (Dawnn Lewis) pet project for the USS Cerritos and California-class starships. To prove the viability of the Swing By project, the Cerritos made a second contact with the planets Ornara and Brekka, only to discover that the latter had been attacked by the Breen.
The Breen originated as a running joke that has been mentioned many times but never seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation. When the Breen finally appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4, there was nothing funny about alien killers. The Breen came back in the final DS9 seasons as major players in the Dominion War. Little is known about the Breen compared to other species in the Alpha Quadrant; the Breen still wear refrigeration suits and helmets, and no one has seen what a Breen looks like underneath and lived to tell the tale. But the Breen joining the Dominion at the end of the war swung the pendulum towards the invaders of the Gamma Quadrant. In Star Trek: Lower Decksthe Cerritos was completely overtaken by the Breen, and Captain Freeman nearly lost his ship before the terrifying aliens were destroyed by the USS Almeda, a new AI-controlled Texas-class Starfleet ship.
The Breen nearly beat the Federation in the Dominion War
The Breen Confederacy’s involvement in the Dominion War nearly led to the Federation’s defeat in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Breen technology enhanced the Jem’Hadar’s starships, and the Breen’s energy-dampening weapon led to the destruction of many Klingon and Starfleet ships, including the USS Defiant. The presence of the Breen negated the advantage the Federation had gained after Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) tricked the Romulans into joining the war alongside Starfleet. On the Dominion War Council, the Breen became a stabilizing influence for the Changeling Woman (Salome Jens) while Cardassia’s Legate Damar (Casey Biggs) bickered with the Dominion Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs).
Worst of all, the Breen did the unthinkable by attacking Earth during the Dominion War. The Breen devastated San Francisco, home of Starfleet headquarters, and they even destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge before Starfleet retaliation destroyed the invaders. But in striking the Terran homeworld, the Breen have struck a blow few enemies of the Federation have ever managed.
What Breen’s Return Means for Star Trek
The surprise return of the Breen in Star Trek: Lower Decks means they are still aggressive enemies of the Federation. Although the Breen were part of the surrender of the Dominion and were present at the signing of the Treaty of Bajor at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Confederacy of Breen was not actually mentioned in the treaty document itself. The Dominion must have laid down their arms and returned to the Gamma Quadrant, but the Breen are from the Alpha Quadrant and have presumably returned to their own territories.
However, by attacking Brekka and the USS Cerritos, the Breen have just proven that they are still extremely violent and hostile to Starfleet. The mysterious aliens have begun invading the Unfederated worlds again to expand their influence in the Alpha Quadrant. Like the Gorn in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks renewed interest in one of the franchise’s most underrated alien species. Hopefully the animated series will continue to explore the Breen as a chilling counterpoint to the humorous adventures of the USS Cerritos.
Next: Star Trek Confirms Picard Made Best First Contact
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 airs Thursdays on Paramount+.