It wouldn’t be an episode of Star Trek without a host of Easter eggs and winks to the overall Trek canon to deepen the rich tapestry of the franchise, and Star Trek: Discovery is no exception!
It’s those little throwaway references to story elements, characters, or other elements of previous shows that mean little to the casual viewer, but we adore — so let’s take a look back through “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars” and find what we can to connect to the larger Trek universe!
1. “We have engaged…” “…the Klingons!”
At the end of “The Vulcan Hello,” a fleet of 24 Klingon starships arrive to join T’Kuvma’s sarcophagus ship. In response, Captain Phillipa Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou orders Ensign Connor: “Contact Starfleet Command. Tell them we have engaged the Klingons.”
This of course hearkens back to Captain Picard’s ominous request from “The Best of Both Worlds” — “Dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hansen… we have engaged the Borg.”
2. A Klingon of a Different Color
The Klingon Voq, who T’Kuvma elevates to the position of torchbearer, is an albino. Voq is not the first albino Klingon to appear in Star Trek canon; the first was an enemy of Kang, Kor, and Koloth in the Deep Space Nine episode “Blood Oath.”
We’ve seen speculation online that Voq may be the same character that appeared in “Blood Oath,” and given the animosity between Voq and Kol — leader of the House of Kor — it may be a long shot, but we’re not ruling it out!
3. Gamma Hydra, Once More
Captain Georgiou mentions a nearby Andorian colony at Gamma Hydra, a star system mentioned often in the 23rd Century.
Gamma Hydra appears as the colony where Kirk and company are affected by the aging syndrome in “The Deadly Years,” and is referenced in The Wrath of Khan during the opening Kobyashi Maru simulation, when the freighter is located in Gamma Hydra, Section 10 in the Klingon Neutral Zone.
4. The Battle of Donatu V
T’Kuvma refers to the ‘Battle of Donatu V’ during his conversation with representatives of the Klingon houses, a famed Klingon / Federation skirmish first mentioned in “The Trouble with Tribbles.
The planet is later protected from Jem’Hadar raids by Martok and the crew of the IKS Rotarran during the Dominion War (“Sons and Daughters”).
5. They’ve Drafted That Directive
While not mentioned by its much more famous name, Starfleet General Order 1 — aka the Prime Directive — is mentioned as a concern by Burnham and Georgiou as they trek through the desert, avoiding Crepusculan interaction.
This golden rule was not in place during the time of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ (“Dear Doctor”) but clearly has been established by this point in the 23rd Century, dictating lack of interaction with less advanced alien cultures.
6. A Small Klingon Colony Near the Border
According to Sarek, H’atoria is a Klingon colony where Vulcans first encountered the Klingons. That Vulcan ship was destroyed, and as a result the Vulcans adopted a policy of always firing first when encountering a Klingon ship – something Burnham describes as a ‘Vulcan hello.’
This “small Klingon colony” was first mentioned in the alternate future seen in “All Good Things,” where Worf was stationed as governor during the ‘Next Generation’ series finale.
7. The Great Houses
T’Kuvma worked to gain the trust and cooperation of the 24 great Klingon houses during the events of the premiere, convincing members of the House of D’Ghor and Hose of Mo’Kai to join his side against the Federation.
‘Deep Space Nine’ fans may remember D’Ghor as the treacherous Klingon in “The House of Quark” who attempts to bankrupt Grilka and take her lands – leading her to marry Quark; those who remember ‘Voyager’ adventure “The Killing Game” may recall Captain Janeway — in the guise of a Klingon warrior — defiantly telling her Hirogen adversary that “The House of Mo’Kai will never yield”!
8. The Fab Four
The founding races of the Federation — Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and those ‘filthy’ Andorians — are all called out by by T’Kuvma as he promotes Klingon purity against impending Federation encroachment against the Empire.
9. Kahless the Unforgettable
Kahless is totally entwined with the history and culture of the Klingon Empire. Kahless first appeared in the Original Series episode “The Savage Curtain,” but appeared more prominently in the ‘Next Generation’ episode “Rightful Heir,” where a clone of Kahless is created by the monks at the monastery at Boreth.
T’Kuvma’s cries for Klingon unity also echo Kahless’ words of self-reliance: “You are Klingons. You need no one but yourselves.” (“Rightful Heir”)
10. Phase Cannons Armed
Both Burnham and Georgiou refer to the Shenzhou’s weapons as phase cannons, familiar nomenclature to fans of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ who remember the energy weapons of the NX-01.
The use of the term — they also use the term phasers in other contexts — implies that the USS Shenzhou is an older starship at this point in the timeline; the downed starship Franklin from ‘Star Trek Beyond’ was also armed with pulsed phase cannons.
11. Qo’onS: Unwelcoming to the Federation
Homeworld of the Klingon Empire; seen in a hologram during Burnham’s studies, rendered in the same green and blue hues as its appearance in TNG’s “Redemption.”. T’Kuvma instructs his followers to return to Qo’Nos and unite the rest of the houses, shortly before his ship is boarded and he is killed.
Qo’Nos has been visited a number of time in previous series, most prominently in ‘Next Generation’ and ‘Enterprise.’
12. Red Alert!
The ‘red alert’ warning graphic seen on various Shenzhou bridge panels – as well as the helmet of Lt. Narwani, echoes the same imagery used during the Original Series feature films.
Along with the graphic, many of the Shenzhou’s bridge sound effects – from computer noises to the Red Alert klaxon – are nearly identical to those used in both the Original Series and TNG eras of Starfleet.
13. The Black Fleet
T’Kuvma makes several references to how the warriors entombed on the hull of his ship join the Black Fleet. This is not a televised Star Trek reference, but a reference to one of the novels –- in this case, ‘The Final Reflection’ by John M. Ford — discussed often by the series’ Klingon cast members.
14. Starships of Many Names
While a number of Federation starships that arrived to back up the USS Shenzhou were named after notable Earth figures of flight — Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yaeager, Sally Ride — there were also a few nods to notable Trek history as well.
The starship Shran, named for the Andorian ally of Jonathan Archer’s NX-01, stands out, as well as the T’Plana-Hath: named for the matron of Vulcan philosphy, as well as the first Vulcan starship to make contact with humanity.
Also arriving was the starship Edison: a reference to the inventor of the light bulb, or to famed 22nd Century MACO Captain Balthazar Edison who commanded the lost USS Franklin… rediscovered in Star Trek: Beyond.
In the Prime Timeline, we do not know whether Edison and the Franklin have been discovered yet, so the ship could very well be named for the hero of the Xindi crisis and Romulan War.
15. Logic at the Vulcan Learning Center
Young Michael Burnham is shown being tested in holographic pods at the Vulcan Learning Center, first brought to life in the 2009 ‘Star Trek’ film where young Spock was bullied by his full-Vulcan peers.
In the 2009 film, the learning pods are presented as sunken domes with backlit display screens; in “The Vulcan Hello,” the sunken pods have holographic domes displaying educational content.
16. The Vulcan Science Academy
We learn in “Battle at the Binary Stars” that Burnham is a graduate of the prestigious Vulcan Science Academy, a center of education well known to the Trek universe.
Most notably, Spock turned down the opportunity to attend, instead choosing to enroll at Starfleet Academy on Earth; T’Pol’s mother T’Les also taught at the Academy until the Syrranite crisis in 2154.
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In addition to these more obvious connections to Star Trek‘s past, there were also several not-so-visible Easter eggs hidden in Captain Georgiou’s ready room.
Made known by the show’s production team through shared photographs of the set, these include a bottle of 2249 Château Picard wine, Starfleet medals previously awarded to Jonathan Archer and James T. Kirk, a collection of recognizably-named books on her shelf, and a diploma from an Andorian military academy.
— Bo Yeon Kim (@extspace) September 25, 2017
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— Ted Sullivan (@karterhol) September 26, 2017
We can’t wait to see what else Star Trek: Discovery‘s writers bring to the table in this weekend’s new episode, “Context is for Kings.” Keep your eyes out for more canon connections in the future!