Wow! Star Trek: Discovery rushed back onto our screens last weekend with a barnstormer of an episode filled with surprising twists, turns, and quite a lot of fun as our crew discovered their final jump at the end of “Into the Forest I Go” landed them in the deadly Mirror Universe, home to the Terran Empire.
I’m excited to see where things go next, but before we do let’s take a look at the connections between “Despite Yourself” and the wider Star Trek canon!
1. Quantum Signature
The crew of the Discovery figure out that they have traveled to an alternate reality by comparing their quantum signature with that of the space around them, and finding they are different.
The idea of quantum signatures being a way of determining whether you have traveled to an alternate reality is a key plot point of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Parallels,” when Worf finds himself randomly shifting between realities.
Early in the episode, while trying to determine where the USS Discovery has jumped to, the crew discuss Federation fleet activity around Organia.
Ten years after the events of this episode, Organia will be hotly contested between the Federation and the Klingon Empire as part of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Errand of Mercy” when growing tensions between the two powers threaten to reignite into war.
3. Alien Rebels
Shortly after arriving in the Mirror Universe, the Discovery is attacked by a Vulcan ship — identified as being Vulcan rebels — by the nearby Terran starship ISS Cooper. In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror Darkly” we see a rebellion against the Empire being conducted by Vulcans, Andorians, Orions, and Tellarites, including a scene in which the ISS Avenger is under attack from a Vulcan starship.
Apparently, the still rebellion continues nearly a century later — now including members of the Klingon race.
4. Isik For Your Thoughts?
Burnham approaches Tyler in the mess hall following his encounter with L’Rell, and asks him “Isik for your thoughts?” She claims it is an old Vulcan saying.
An isik is a unit of currency used by the Vlugtans, first mentioned in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Rivals.”
5. The Terran Empire
The Terran Empire has ruled supreme for centuries in the Mirror Universe.
The brutal, fascistic power seen in the Enterprise two-parter “In a Mirror Darkly” and the classic Original Series episode “Mirror, Mirror” has all the hallmarks of those earlier appearances – including the Nazi-like salute, “Long live the Empire!”, using murder as a means of advancement, and familiar characters in surprising roles.
While the majority of Terrans live under the rule of the Klingon-Cardiassian Alliance by the 24th century, Earth remains a Terran stronghold, as depicted in the recent “Star Trek: TNG – Mirror Broken” comic series.
6. ISS Discovery
As part of concealing themselves in the Mirror Universe, the Discovery crew even take the step of removing the “U” — for ‘United ‘– from the USS Discovery registry on the outer hull, and replacing it with an “I” for ‘Imperial.’
As as a vessel of the Terran Empire, all ships carry the ISS designation, dating back to the days before Empress Sato took command of the Empire in the 22nd century.
7. USS Defiant
One of the biggest — and in my opinion, the coolest — callbacks in the episode to previous Star Trek canon was the identification by the crew of the Discovery of the existence of the Constitution-class USS Defiant, a ship from their future, somehow made its way to the Mirror Universe’s past — an event we learned about in the Enterprise “In a Mirror, Darkly” two-parter back in 2005.
Lorca suggests that if they can learn how the Defiant arrived in the Mirror Universe, they can find a way back home without the Discovery’s spore drive. In “In a Mirror, Darkly,” it is revealed that Tholians “detonated a tricobalt warhead inside the gravity well of a dead star” to open an interphasic rift between dimensions.
“Star Trek: Discovery” writer/producer Ted Sullivan confirmed on Twitter that the Defiant seen in this episode was its current state, after a century of Terran Empire modifications.
8. Agony Booth
The final shot of the episode shows Captain Gabriel Lorca locked inside an agony booth, screaming in pain as it attacked the various nerve clusters in his body.
Agonizer technolgoy has appeared in previous Mirror Universe episodes as a tool of oppression and discipline by the Terran Empire, designed to keep starship crews and subjugated species in line.
“The booth” was developed by Malcolm Reed and Phlox’s mirror counterparts in the 22nd century, and handheld agonizers were seen in use aboard the ISS Enterprise in “Mirror, Mirror.”
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We can’t wait to see what else Star Trek: Discovery’s writers bring to the table in this weekend’s new episode, “The Wolf Inside.” Keep your eyes peeled for more canon connections in the future!