There will be spoilers for “Star Trek: Lower Decks” below.
In Season 4 of “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” an unknown ship has been killing ships from all the alien races in the Alpha Quadrant, from the Klingons to the Romulans. Or has it? The most recent episode, “A Few Badgeys More,” showed that the ships are actually being torpedoed and crippled, which took one more suspect off the list. But the episode’s cold start showed us yet another scene of a ship being attacked. This one was from the Bynars, an alien race we haven’t seen in “Star Trek” since “The Next Generation.”
They are shy, have purple skin, and don’t have genders. The word “binary code” is also in their name. When they speak English, the Bynars work together in pairs and finish each other’s statements. But their favorite way to talk is a high-pitched cooing that sounds like words being sped up on a tape recorder and is impossible for humans to understand.
What makes the Bynars work this way? Computers and the like. They have processors put in their parietal lobe soon after birth, which lets them handle information very quickly. They also carry “buffers,” which are like external hard drives, to store that information. To show that they are cyborgs, small chips stick out from the side of their bald heads.
These people are from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The bad guys in the first season of “Next Generation” are a group of four Bynars. People bring them on board the Enterprise to improve the computers, but they take it over instead. It turns out that a star close to their homeworld, Bynaus, just went supernova. Because the Bynars depend on computers for everything, the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would happen would be so strong that it would wipe them out. They only wanted to use the Enterprise to back up the main computer on their planet and would have given it back when the emergency was over. The funny thing is that Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) would have helped the Bynars if they had asked.
In the end, the Bynars were a one-time alien race. They never came back on “TNG,” and “11001001,” which aired in 1987, was their last showing before “A Few Badgeys More.” But Maurice Hurley, who helped write “11001001,” went on to write “Q Who” in season 2.
The show also introduced the Borg, a much better-known “Star Trek” race. When Hurley wrote that episode, did the Bynars cross his mind? The Borg have a hive mind and cybernetic upgrades, but they use them for much worse things than the Bynars do. In fact, Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) says that the Bynar is like the Borg in the “Star Trek: Enterprise” episode “Regeneration.”
As an early test run in “The Next Generation,” the Bynars didn’t quite work out (see also: the Ferengi). But on “Lower Decks,” no part of “Star Trek” past is too obscure to talk about.
You can watch “Star Trek: Lower Decks” online at Paramount+.