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.
A Vulcan hello
The episode opens with some stunning shots of Vulcan - probably the most lavish we’ve seen in Star Trek to date - and returns there periodically throughout the episode. The planet is instantly familiar to fans, all burning braziers, dusky skies and gongs.
It’s also on Vulcan that we get our first look at the new Amanda Grayson (and that copy of Alice in Wonderland that was mentioned a few episodes back). Now played by Mia Kershner, Burnham’s foster-mother (and Spock’s biological mum) has previously been played by Jane Wyatt, Majel Barrett and Cynthia Blaise on TV, and Winona Ryder in the Kelvin-verse movies. She’s very much a warm, caring foil to Sarek’s more coolly logical persona.
The Vulcan Xenophobia Division
The episode hinges on Burnham’s unfair rejection from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group - effectively the Vulcan equivalent of Starfleet. The implication that this alien society has a certain inherent xenophobia is a new development, but not entirely surprising. We know from both the original series and the first J.J. Abrams movie that Spock was bullied as a child because of his half-human nature. That same xenophobia leads to the decision to only allow either Burnham or Spock entry into the organisation. Sarek elects to send Spock, after he has completed his training at the Vulcan Science Academy.
Of course, we also know from the original series that Spock, in fact, rejects the Academy, choosing - against Sarek’s wishes - to join Starfleet. Perhaps the way that his half-sister is treated here fed into that decision.
A fundamental Constitution
Yep, Kirk’s ship, the Constitution-class U.S.S. Enterprise gets a shout out - although at this point it’s not Kirk’s ship. Presumably in Discovery’s timeframe it’s being captained by Christopher Pike.
Other ships we know of in this class include the U.S.S. Excalibur, the U.S.S. Exeter, the U.S.S. Hood, the U.S.S. Intrepid, the U.S.S. Potemkin and the U.S.S. Lexington.
Wait… there’s a Holodeck?!
This sure raises a few eyebrows. Here we are in the 23rd Century, decades before Picard’s Enterprise repeatedly proves that hologram simulations are a ludicrous deathtrap, and yet Discovery appears to have its own version of the holodeck.
It’s not quite as anachronistic as it might initially seem, however. In the animated series it’s established that Kirk’s Enterprise has a recreation room that’s capable of projecting holograms. It makes sense that the technology would originate on a scientific ship like the Discovery before being rolled out across the rest of the fleet.
“She died while I was at the Academy, on her way to the moons of Grazer.” - Ash Tyler.
Oof, now this is a deep cut... Grazer has never been mentioned onscreen, as far as we can tell. However, it does have a history in the franchise, appearing in the Star Trek: Star Charts reference book. It’s also established, in the novel Articles of the Federation by Keith R. A. DeCandido, that Severn-Anyar from Deep Space 9’s Homefront originally hails from Grazer.