“Not every cage is a prison, nor every loss eternal.” It’ll be interesting to see how the little paper proverb in Pike’s ready room plays into the rest of the season, but aside from the message, there’s a direct nod there to The Cage, the first ever episode of Star Trek, which introduced Pike. Loss comes to define the character later in his life when he is paralysed after saving the lives of several cadets.
We end where we began, sort of, with a scene in Spock’s room - this time on the Enterprise. As well as the previously-noted three-dimensional chess set, there’s a clear shot of some Vulcan bells, first seen in the original series’ episode Amok Time.
The holographic globe of Qo’noS is seen again this episode. As well as the locations mentioned in episode 13, we picked out Skral River and the Mekro’vak region, both spoken of by Worf in Deep Space 9. Skral River is referenced in a Klingon drinking song that he sings in The Way of the Warrior, and Worf namechecks the latter in Looking For Par’Mach in All the Wrong Places.
Fun times with Pippa and Killy
Mirror Georgiou initially shows a surprising amount of affection for Tilly, rather deftly assuming that she will be like the ruthless “Captain Killy” of her reality. Pippa fondly reminisces about the two of them “subjugating the Betazoids, wiping out Mintaka III” the same way that we’d talk about a holiday in the Maldives.
We’ve discussed the Betazoids - Deanna Troi’s people - before. Mintaka III, meanwhile, appeared in The Next Generation’s Who Watches the Watchers. In that episode, the Federation was secretly studying the development of the Mintakans, a proto-Vulcan race, from a hidden outpost, concerned that they might adversely affect their natural development. Interestingly, it’s implied that the Federation have only been aware of the species for a few years. The Terran Empire, on the other hand, has met them far sooner - perhaps due to their focus on ruthless military expansion.
“We’re not here for bread and circuses,” says Georgiou on Qo’noS, quoting Roman poet Juvenal, who once wrote, “Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses”. More pertinently, Bread and Circuses is the name of a rather good original series Star Trek episode, set on planet 892-IV - a world that closely resembles the Roman Empire.
Klingon food has a reputation for looking unpleasant, but did you spot the dish being cooked up by the Orions on Qo’noS? Yep, that’s Ceti eel, the nasty critters infamously inserted into Chekov’s ear in The Wrath of Khan.
Green guys and dolls
The Orion outpost on Qo’noS gives us a prolonged look at the race of green-skinned horndogs. Introduced in Trek’s first episode, The Cage, the Orion people exude pheromones which most humans find almost irresistible. They appeared in several original series episodes, the animated series, Enterprise and Star Trek Into Darkness, where an Orion is serving as a cadet in Starfleet.
Guns and money
While on Qo’noS, Georgiou and Tilly pose as arms dealers selling Nausicaan disruptors. The Nausicaans are a feared race of Predator-faced pirates, but their most famous achievement is almost killing Jean-Luc Picard. The recently graduated cadet got into a brawl with a number of them and was left fighting for his life when one of the aliens stabbed him in the heart. He had an artificial replacement implanted.
Incidentally, the price for these weapons is 2000 darseks. Darseks are the prime currency on Qo’noS, as established in The Next Generation episode Firstborn.
To boldly go
As Michael gives her noble (if faintly whiffy) speech at Starfleet HQ, she talks of Starfleet’s continuing mission to discover “new worlds and new civilisations”. That is, of course, a nod to the original series’ famous opening monologue. Also, keep an eye out in this scene for the old school Federation icon, as seen in the Kirk and co movies.
There she is!
Discovery completes its steady journey towards the original series by ending with the biggest callback yet: the reveal of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, under the control of Captain Christopher Pike (we’re still a few years off Kirk taking command).
Excitingly, if executive producer Alex Kurtzman is to be believed (and you’d imagine that he is), then the Enterprise will play a major role in the next season. If that wasn’t enough, the season closes out by crashing into a very groovy arrangement of Alexander Courage’s iconic original series’ theme tune. The statement is clear: stuff that haters, this is Star Trek.