“This episode has a little bit of Avatar, The Last Samurai, and Dances with Wolves in it,” Star Trek: Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan tells us “It’s a super sincere feeling and I think it adds to Star Trek.”
McMahan is referring to Peanut Hamper’s involvement with the avian species known as the Areore, who she lives with after finding her way to the planet. When Mike refers to this episode’s similarity to Avatar, he’s talking about Peanut Hamper’s defense of this new species against the Drookmani Scavengers that threaten the planet.
“It’s even got a Moana vibe in it, to boot,” he adds. In this case, he’s talking about the funny antics Ensign Peanut Hamper gets up to as she gains more awareness about organic life and its value in this episode; kind of similar to how Maui learns a bit of humility in Moana.
“We know who Peanut Hamper is,” McMahan says. “She isn’t like the exocomps from Star Trek: The Next Generation and [she] is such a change of speed from TNG.” Longtime Trek fans remember the original, selfless sentient exocomps we met in the TNG episode “The Quality of Life.”
“Every season I try to do an episode that’s truly my own,” McMahan says. “What can I do in an episode of Lower Decks where we shift the focus to a character we haven’t seen in two years, and tell a long story about her? And oh, she doesn’t even have a face!”
Since Peanut Hamper lacks any sort of human characteristics or features, everything she feels has to be presented by voice and limited body language. After all, an exocomp resembles a 1980s kid’s toy manufactured by Coleco. But in this episode, Peanut Hamper is still the manipulative and cunning robot we met in the first season. What comes out in this episode is her true nature.