The big meta quote
While trying to gee Stamets up, Lorca declares “You chose to go where no one has gone before.” I don't have to explain where that one comes from, do I?
So, they're in the mirror universe now, right? Stamets talks about seeing “infinite permutations”. At a guess he's talking about realities and the Discovery is now in a different universe. That would explain Saru's inability to determine where they are – and possibly why we've never encountered a ship with this technology before...
RIP in peace, U.S.S. Gagarin
The episode opens with a fantastic battle sequence featuring a new Federation starship, the U.S.S. Gagarin. The Shepard class starship (the same model as the U.S.S. Kerala from episode 2 Battle at the Binary Stars) is, of course, named after Yuri Gagarin - the Russian cosmonaut who was the first human to enter outer space.
This isn’t the only Trek starship to be named in honour of the great man. The U.S.S. Yuri Gagarin is listed in the Next Generation episode The Measure of a Man as a Federation starship, patrolling the Neutral Zone. There’s also the VK Yuri Gagarin, an early human DY-732-class starship that served in the early 22nd century.
Gagarin also has at least one planet (and presumably several more) named after him in Trek lore. Gagarin IV is named-checked in the Next Generation’s Unnatural Selection as the home of the Darwin Genetic Research Station.
There’s a lot of talk about the Klingons’ cloaking technology in this episode. At this point in galactic history, the Romulans are well-versed in cloaking tech, but it’s still something of a novelty to Klingons. Except, this episode establishes a rather interesting wrinkle in the continuity. Now, Klingon cloaking tech is derived from T’Kuvma’s Sarchophagus ship - ancient technology that seems to have been lost to the modern-day Klingons. By the time of the Kirk films, Birds of Prey with cloaking tech will be commonplace. It seems we have Kol to thank for that.
"The needs of the many…"
In The Wrath of Khan, Spock espouses Vulcan logic, stating “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. By the end of the film it will have taken on a tragic meaning, as he sacrifices his life for the Enterprise crew. In the next film, The Search for Spock, Kirk flips this statement on its head, risking everything to save the life of one man - his newly-resurrected Vulcan pal.
This episode echoes and - technically - foreshadows those scenes. Burnham says, “The needs of the many...” only for Tyler to interject with “...Are worth fighting for. Are worth dying for. But so are the needs of the few.” It’s a nice moment, but you have to wonder if it’s subtly hinting that one or both of these people may end up sacrificing their lives for the greater good.
A map of the stars
As if making up for the fact that the rest of the episode has comparatively little in the way of callbacks, we get our best look yet at the Discovery’s star map. On top of the already spotted Khitomer, Rura Penthe, and Morska, it’s crammed with names that have wider significance.
Ramatis: Ramatis III is the home of the annoyingly smug alien mediator Reva from The Next Generation’s Loud as a Whisper.
Starbase 24: Worf’s nursemaid Khalest was transported here to have her injuries tended to after the Romulans massacred the Klingon colony on Khitomer.
Paulson Nebula: The Enterprise D hides in this nebula from the Borg cube in The Best of Both Worlds.
H’Atoria: In the alternate timeline visited in The Next Generation’s final episode, All Good Things..., Worf has become the Governor of H’Atoria.
The Hromi Cluster and Gamma Hromi: In The Next Generation’s The Vengeance Factor, the Enterprise D enters the Hromi Cluster and encounters the Gatherers on Hromi III.
Starbase 343: Also in The Vengeance Factor, several Enterprise crew members take shore leave on this starbase.
Beta Thoridor and Mempa: The Klingon House of Duras are said to have gathered a fleet near Beta Thoridor in The Next Generation’s Redemption two-parter, while Captain Kurn’s forces gather at Mempa in the same story.
Azure Nebula: This one’s a wee bit complicated… Captain Sulu takes the U.S.S. Excelsior into the Azure Nebula in an effort to rescue Kirk and Dr McCoy after they have been arrested by the Klingons in The Undiscovered Country. Except… none of that’s in the film. Instead, we see it in the season 3 Voyager episode, Flashback, which details Tuvok’s early Starfleet career serving under Sulu.
Xarantine: The Xarantine race, introduced in Enterprise’s Sleeping Dogs, presumably hail from this star of the same name.
Narendra III: Jonathan Archer was put on trial on Narendra III in the Enterprise episode Judgment. In The Next Generation classic, Yesterday’s Enterprise, it’s the destruction of the outpost at Narendra III that leads to a new war between the Federation and the Klingons.
Pure speculation this one, but we have to assume that the oddly-designed space helmet that Mudd wears while inside the Gormagander is Andorian in origin - it looks perfectly designed to fit their antennae. The show keeps teasing this race. Are we going to see them in the second half of the season?
Evidence that Betazoids are rubbish psychics, part 152
According to Tyler, Mudd used to brag about having robbed a Betazoid prison. The Betazoids, of course, are introduced in The Next Generation, with the half-human Deanna Troi hailing from the planet Betazed. You may ask quite how Mudd scammed a planet of telepaths, but then they always were notoriously a bit rubbish.
Convinced that he’s finally defeated Lorca, Mudd gloatingly shouts out, “Adieu mon capitaine!” It’s a deliberate callback to Q - the omnipotent being played by John de Lancie, who continually pesters Picard and pals, and was known to refer to Picard in such a manner. It’s apt in this context, as Mudd - with his future knowledge - initially seems all powerful, until Burnham, Stamets and Tyler get the best of him.
The oft-invoked Stella appears at the end of the episode (played by Katherine Barrell), alongside her father, Barron Grimes (Peter MacNeill). It’s a neat way of tying Discovery into the original series. When Kirk’s Enterprise crew first meet Mudd, Stella has finally tired of his conning ways and left him. He makes up for that by constructing an android replica of his love (played by Kay Elliot) in I, Mudd.