Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 9 – « Trusted Sources »In a big surprise, Star Trek: Lower Decks brought back a villainous alien race feared by the United Federation of Planets: the Breen! 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 the California-class starships. To prove the viability of Project Swing By, the Cerritos made Second Contact with the planets Ornara and Brekka, only to find the latter had been attacked by the Breen.
The Breen originated as a bit of a running joke that was repeatedly mentioned 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 the alien killers. The Breen returned during 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 always 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 late in the war swung the pendulum back towards the invaders from the Gamma Quadrant. In Star Trek: Lower Decks, the Cerritos was completely outmatched by the Breen, and Captain Freeman nearly lost her ship before the terrifying aliens were destroyed by the USS Almeda, a new A.I.-controlled Texas-class Starfleet ship.
The Breen Confederacy’s involvement in the Dominion War almost led to the defeat of the Federation 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 numerous Klingon and Starfleet ships, including the USS Defiant. The Breen’s presence countermanded the advantage the Federation gained after Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) tricked the Romulans into joining the war on Starfleet’s side. In the Dominion’s war council, the Breen became a stabilizing influence for the Female Changeling (Salome Jens) while Cardassia’s Legate Damar (Casey Biggs) bickered with the Dominion’s Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs).
Worst of all, the Breen did the unthinkable when they attacked Earth during the Dominion War. The Breen devastated San Francisco, home of Starfleet Headquarters, and they even destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge before Starfleet’s retaliation destroyed the invaders. But by striking at the Terran homeworld, the Breen struck a blow that few of the Federation’s enemies have ever managed.
The Breen’s surprise return in Star Trek: Lower Decks means they are still aggressive enemies of the Federation. Although the Breen were part of the Dominion’s surrender, and they were present during the signing of the Treaty of Bajor at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Breen Confederacy was not actually mentioned in the treaty document itself. The Dominion had to lay down their arms and return to the Gamma Quadrant, but the Breen are from the Alpha Quadrant and presumably returned to their own territories.
However, by attacking Brekka and the USS Cerritos, the Breen just proved that they are still extremely violent and hostile to Starfleet. The mysterious aliens have resumed invading non-Federation worlds to expanding their influence within 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 villainous alien species. Hopefully, the animated series will continue to explore the Breen as a scary counterpoint to the humorous adventures of the USS Cerritos.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.