While Star Trek: Discovery’s first season has been a divisive one (like literally every new addition to the Star Trek franchise), there’s one thing every Trekker can agree on — this show is chalk full of deep cuts. Every episode so far includes Easter Eggs and references that celebrate Star Trek’s extensive canon, and shows that the showrunners are committed to honoring a fictional world that’s been around for 50 years. There are design decisions that have left fans scratching their heads — the uniforms are pretty drastically different than the way they’ll appear in the universe ten years later, and there’s been no shortage of discussion about nearly every aspect of the Klingons.
There have also been some ambitious additions to canon that almost appear like retcons — Michael Burnham being a member of Spock’s family and Discovery’s Spore Drive stick out. Considering the show takes place a mere ten years before the events of the Original Series, and Spock and Sarek are such prominent characters, it seems odd we haven’t heard of either. However, the showrunners have repeatedly promised that all the apparent inconsistencies will be explained, and given their attention to detail and considerable effort to include even the most minute references to the franchise’s history, we’re prepared to believe them. So until we get the full picture, here’s a list of some of our favorite Easter Eggs and references from Disco so far.
15. TELLING SCARS
In the TOS episode, “Mirror, Mirror,” Kirk, Uhura, Dr. McCoy and Scott attempt to transport back from an away mission, but due to an accident, wind up in a parallel universe. In this alternate reality, the United Federation of Planets is instead the Terran Empire, and Starfleet’s mission isn’t one of exploration, but of conquest. That attitude permeates the ranks of the military — officers value personal advancement over all else and typically advance through the ranks by sabotaging their superiors.
Necessarily, harsh punishments have evolved to keep order whenever possible — enter the personal agonizer. The personal agonizer is a fun little device that induces extreme pain whenever attached to a victim. It’s the little sister of the agony chamber, and given its triangular shape, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it would leave a triangular scar — much like the one Admiral Cornwell discovers on Lorca’s back while they’re in bed. Coincidence…?
14. THE CAPTAINS LIST
In Episode 1.5, “Choose Your Pain,” Saru finds himself in command of the Discovery after Captain Lorca is captured by the Klingons. It’s his first time in the captain’s chair, and he’s understandably nervous, so he consults the records of Starfleet’s most decorated captains for some guidance. The list the computer provides, which includes Phillipa Georgiou (RIP), is far from random.
Jonathan Archer, captain of the first starship Enterprise tops it, followed by other Enterprise captains Robert April, Christopher Pike and Matt Decker. Robert April was the first captain of the Enterprise we saw in the Original Series, but only appeared on the Animated Series, and he was succeeded by Christopher Pike who appeared in the Original Series’ unaired pilot, “The Cage.” Matt Decker helmed the U.S.S. Constitution and famously killed himself in an effort to destroy the Doomsday Machine in the Original Series episode of the same name.
13. THE GORN
Captain Lorca has quite the mancave aboard the Discovery. He’s populated it with personal research equipment, a large collection of weapons and various aliens, alive and dead. The human/dinosaur mashup skeleton seen in the background during “Context is for Kings,” is that of a Gorn, a reptilian species introduced in the Original Series episode, “The Arena.”
The funny thing is, that episode took place ten years after the events of Discovery, and it supposedly represented the Federation’s first contact with the species. If that’s true, how does Lorca have one in his menagerie? It’s possible he discovered the skeleton on some away mission and brought it back for funsies, or maybe there’s a more insidious explanation — either fit with the character. Anyone who keeps dissected Tribble around is rocking a serious dark side.
Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz play Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber respectively. The characters are lovers and represent Star Trek’s first homosexual couple to appear as series regulars. In Episode 9, “Into the Forest I Go,” Stamets tells Culber that once the mission is over, he’ll take the doctor to a Kasseelian opera performance of La Bohème — a choice that was far from random.
Both Rapp and Cruz are Broadway veterans and, adorably, have both appeared in cast of Jonathan Larson’s mega-hit, Rent, a modern musical based upon Puccini’s opera. Rapp played Mark, a struggling filmmaker documenting the lives of his Bohemian friends in the East Village, and Cruz played Angel, a transgender woman living with AIDS. It makes Culber’s recent demise all the more heartbreaking.
11. HOUSE D’GHOR
Dennas of House D’Ghor was one of the few Klingon representatives who didn’t scoff at T’Kuvma’s plan to unite against the Federation. So when she wound up being a part of the double-cross negotiations that resulted in Admiral Cornwell’s capture, it made for a genuine (and disheartening) twist. Though, to avid Deep Space Nine fans, her eventual betrayal might not have come as much of a surprise. A member of House D’Ghor also appears in the DS9 episode, “The House of Quark.”
Another titular head named D’Ghor attempts to eliminate an enemy house by bleeding them dry financially and then marrying into it. This dishonorable action is thwarted by Quark who almost marries a Klingon woman named Grilka in an effort to help her maintain her house’s independence.
10. HOUSE KOR
The Klingon house Kor is an historically aristocratic Klingon house that is invited by T’Kuvma to unite against the Federation in “The Battle at the Binary Stars.” Kol of House Kor is initially dismissive of T’Kuvma’s plan to unite the houses in an effort to crush Starfleet, but then double-crosses Voq and steals the coffin ship (and her cloaking technology) in an effort to win the war and rule the now united Klingon houses.
One of Kol’s descendants, Kor (another head of House Kor), appears in a TOS episode, “Errand of Mercy,” and then again in an episode of DS9 “Blood Oath,” in which he seeks vengeance for the murder of his son… by an albino Klingon. The average lifespan of a Klingon is longer than that of a human’s, so it’s possible that Voq could live long enough to exact revenge on the house that betrayed him.
9. RED TRANSPORTERS
Like universal translator technology, transporter technology appears to be pretty common across all species, and it also appears to follow the same basic principles. However, its appearance varies from race to race, with the colors of the transporter beam reflecting the design of each culture. Romulan transporters are green, Cardassians brown, Federation blue and Klingons red. While in Discovery, Federation transporters are gold, not blue as they are in TNG, DS9 and Voyager, the Klingon transporters are red.
Even though many aspects of Klingon culture have been redesigned, much to the annoyance of some fans, the general color scheme we’ve come to associate with the Klingon military remains consistent across the series. The transporters are no different. We’re still waiting for an explanation for why these Klingons have no hair, but supposedly that’ll be forthcoming — another symptom of the Augment Virus, perhaps?
8. THE U.S.S. GAGARIN
In Episode 8, “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum,” the Discovery responds to a distress signal from the U.S.S. Gagarin, one of three ships ambushed by six Klingon Birds-of-Prey. The Discovery arrived and tried to help, but unfortunately the Gagarin was destroyed with all hands, along with the U.S.S. Hoover and the U.S.S. Muroc. As is true of many Starfleet vessels, the ship’s name carries a deeper significance.
Yuri Gagarin was a Russian cosmonaut and the first human to travel to space, and the U.S.S. Gagarin was one of two ships named after him — the U.S.S. Yuri Gagarin was mentioned in The Next Generation episode “The Measure of a Man.” There’s also a solar system named after him, and it appears in another TNG episode, “Unnatural Selection.”
7. ZAPHOD WHO?
In Episode 4, “The Butcher Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry,” the Discovery receives word that the mining colony on Corvan II is under attack, severely endangering the lives of the colonists and the Federation’s Dilithium supply. Captain Lorca presses Stamets to get the Spore Drive up and running so Discovery can come to the rescue, and the episode ends with the ship using the tardigrade to successfully operate the new navigation system.
One of the miners killed in the attacks before the Discovery’s arrival was named Zaphod (may he rest in peace), a clear homage to Zaphod Beeblebrox, the ex-Galactic President from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We checked the subtitles and it is spelled that way, so you can rest assured it wasn’t a coincidence.
6. GABRIEL LORCA AND MILES O’BRIEN DRINK THE SAME SCOTCH
In Episode 6, “Lethe,” Admiral Cornwell pays a personal visit to the Discovery to check out the mental state of her friend and former lover, Captain Lorca. Worried that he came back to work so soon after the destruction of his last command, the Buran, and his recent time as a Klingon captive. It’s a concern to her that he’d send a former mutineer (Burnham) and a recently rescued prisoner-of-war (Ash Tyler) on a dangerous mission to rescue a high-ranking diplomat (Sarek) gives her serious pause.
Sensing her mistrust of him, Lorca attempts to reassure her of his competency (or just distract her) by breaking open a bottle of Wee Bairns Scotch and hopping into bed. The Scotch itself is a killer deep cut from Deep Space Nine — Jadzia Dax gives a bottle to Miles O’Brien in the fifth season episode, “The Assignment.”
5. SCIENCE BLUES
While puttering around in Sarek’s memories in Episode 6, “Lethe,” Burnham witnesses him forced to choose which of his children will be granted admission to the Vulcan Science Expedition. Sarek ultimately chooses Spock over Burnham, but lets Michael believe her denial was based on her performance. This decision had far-reaching consequences and actually links Discovery all the way back to Sarek’s first appearance in the Original Series.
In “Journey to Babel,” Sarek is introduced as Spock’s father, and the two meet after ten years of not speaking. This was apparently due to the fact that Spock opted to join Starfleet Academy instead of the Science Expedition. At that point, it was assumed that Sarek was upset with his son’s seeming abandonment of his Vulcan heritage, but “Lethe” added extra context to one of Star Trek’s oldest conflicts.
In Episode 7, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” Harry Mudd hijacks the Discovery in an attempt to figure out what’s so special about the ship, and subsequently sell it to the Klingons. He traps the ship in a time loop, but Stamets’ connection with the mycelial network allows him to exist outside normal space time and recognize what’s going on.
He enlists the help of Burnham and Tyler, and between the three of them, they manage to turn the tables on Mudd and eventually deliver him back into the arms of his devoted wife, Stella. Mudd’s an Original Series creation, and in the episode, “Mudd’s Women,” we meet an android version of Stella and the Discovery version is very, very faithful to her. She’s as loud as her fashion, but considerably less enamored with Mudd than she is on Discovery.
3. HARRY MUDD’S HOMETOWN
In “Choose Your Pain,” Harry Mudd is introduced as an embittered entrepreneur who’s down on his luck since the Federation/Klingon War disrupted his business. Mudd’s really more of a conman/smuggler than a legitimate businessman, clearly evidenced by the fact that he supposedly blames the breakup of his marriage on the war instead of being truthful about the fact that the marriage was sham and he absconded with his wife’s dowry as soon as the ceremony was over.
However, according to a deleted scene from the Original Series episode, Mudd’s Women, he was truthful about his origins. In “Choose Your Pain,” he mentions he’s just come from a resort on Antares Minor, and in the “Mudd’s Women” deleted scene, it’s revealed he hails from Antares Pi IV. Maybe he felt like a staycation after robbing that Betazoid bank.
2. RURA PENTHE
Discovery has been extremely faithful to the physical universe Star Trek’s been carefully constructing for 50 years. Nearly every star and system name has appeared in some form in the franchise, and those of you with the time to zoom in on screenshots of any of the starmaps that appear on the show will be rewarded with a bevy of familiar locations. One of the most recognizable references pops up in Episode 5, “Choose Your Pain.”
Rura Penthe can clearly be seen on a map, and that name should be familiar if you’ve seen Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. After having been found guilty of murdering the Klingon Chancellor, Kirk and McCoy are sentenced to hard labor in a penal colony on Rura Penthe. The two didn’t remain on the ice planet for long — after escaping their own assassination attempt (by Iman), Spock beams them back to safety.
1. RENAISSANCE FLOWER
When it becomes clear that it’s not practical (or at all moral) to continue to use the tardigrade to operate the Spore Drive, Lieutenant Stamets starts investigating other species that would have tardigrade-compatible DNA in an effort to find a different solution. We all know that it’s Stamets who eventually becomes his own Guinea pig and subsequent Spore pilot, but there’s a fun Easter Egg hidden in one of the species he experiments with before that happens.
He checks the floral species, Zan Periculi, for compatibility, and the flower, native to a planet called Lappa IV. In the TNG episode, “Ménage a Troi,” Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana Troi, attracts the unwanted attention of a Ferengi. In a lame attempt to seduce her after she’s repeatedly expressed disinterest, he offers her a bouquet of pericules before kidnapping her after she rebuffs him again.
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