With the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery season 2, the various strands of the show’s overarching plot starts to come together. As does our continuing to mission to seek out any and all Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs... be warned, there are Star Trek Discovery spoilers from this point onwards as we continue the hunt!
There’s a lot going on in episode 9, not least the crew discovering the truth behind the mole onboard ship (with tragic repercussions), some revelations about the big, scary threat from the future and the continuing enmity between Spock and Burnham. But Project Daedalus also sneaks in some cute Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs - not least, two visual nods designed to please long term fans, and the confirmation that Nhan is from a species that we’ve seen before.
In case you were wondering, the episode gets its title from greek myth - not the first time this show has gone to that well (see also Lethe and An Obol for Charon). Project Daedalus, we learn towards the end of the episode, is the name of a Section 31 project. It’s also the name of a real world study from the ‘70s which looked into using unmanned scientific probes to prove that deep space travel was possible. Given that the foe from the future has shown an affinity to modifying probes, are we to assume that Section 31’s Project is connected to the real world one?
As ever, we’ll be looking at the episode as a whole, so expect spoilers. But first, a Star Trek Discovery Easter egg that we didn’t spot in last week’s update...
Fancy doing a slingshot around the sun and stepping back in time to Star Trek Discovery season 1? You can take look at all the Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs from the first season from Page 5 onwards.
The voice of Star Trek
We missed this one last week, but If Memory Serves features a Trek milestone. With it, the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry became the only person to feature in every Star Trek series. The actress played both the original Number One and Nurse Chapel in the Original Series as well as Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation. She also provided the voice interface for Starfleet computers in The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise. She appears briefly as Number One in that wonderful “Previously on Star Trek…” at the start of If Memory Serves.
This is a fun sight gag. Our first glimpse of Spock in Project Daedalus comes with, yes, a lingering look at a 3D model of his Vulcan brain as Admiral Cornwell questions him. Fans of the Original Series are usually united on what is the series’ single worst episode: Spock’s Brain, a deeply goofy third season instalment where a race of aliens kidnap Spock, cut open his head and literally steal his brain. Dr McCoy then remote controls Spock’s body around the planet while searching for it. It’s hilarious nonsense, but lovely to see nodded to here.
Hiding in plain sight
This week’s episode states that Nhan is a Barzan. Trek fans have met this race before - one called Bhavani features in the Next Generation episode The Price, but as far as we can tell it’s never been established before what species Nhan is and they look quite different.
"There are others like me…"
In the episode, Spock states: “I am half-human. Unusual, but there are others like me.” This is true, though the subject of humans and Vulcans breeding has been seen as a little contentious in the history of the Trek universe.
Enterprise explores this idea in three episodes. E² featured a half-human, half-vulcan character called Lorian (David Andrews), the son of Commander T’Pol and Charles Tucker from another universe. His final fate is left ambiguous.
More notable is Elizabeth, an infant clone made with the DNA of T’Pol and Tucker in the Enterprise season 4 episodes Demons and Terra Prime. The baby was created by the extremist group Terra Prime, intended to be a way of spreading a hateful message about “genetic pollution”. She’s rescued by the Enterprise crew, but dies shortly after, the Vulcan and human DNA being seemingly incompatible at that time. Clearly that hurdle is overcome in the following decades and it’s no longer a problem in Spock’s time.
"Two pairs of gravity boots…"
Project Daedalus seems to be deliberately channelling Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country at times. The sequence where the Discovery away team board the Section 31 base using gravity boots to find globules of blood floating in the air was straight out of the secret best Trek movie (hush now Wrath of Khan fans!), looking almost exactly like the scene where Kirk and McCoy board the damaged Klingon vessel.
Tilly is a board game nerd, because of course she is…
Towards the end of the episode, Tilly tells Airiam that she’s the best Kadis-kot player she’s ever seen. This is a nod to a fictional board game that’s popular in the 24th century. It’s referenced numerous times on Voyager, but clearly existed long before then.
Hey you, what’s that sound?
It’s the “stupid” singing plants of Talos 4, of course! We discussed the planet in last week’s Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs, but this week we got a really good look at it, complete with the aforementioned plants and a faithfully-recreated underground base for the Talosians that looked like it had come straight out of The Cage. The aliens themselves have a slightly updated look, but are still clearly the trio we see in that episode and again in the Original Series’ Menagerie two-parter.
An old flame
When it became clear that Discovery was heading to Talos 4 we fully expected the big-brained inhabitants to show up. What we didn’t anticipate was for Vina to show her face…
Who is she? To recap, Vina was a crewmember aboard the SS Columbia, a survey ship that crashed on Talos 4 in 2236. The Talosians restored her to health and used their powers of illusion to grant her the appearance and sensations of being completely unharmed. She met and fell in love with Pike when he and Spock arrived on the planet in 2254.
If Memory Serves shows that, while the pair were parted when he left Talos, Vina clearly lingered in his thoughts. There’s a genuine bond there. The romantics among you saddened by the end of this episode will be pleased to know, then, that a few years down the line Vina and Pike are reunited.
As discussed last week, Pike is horribly injured in an accident where he saves the lives of many cadets. Following that, Spock breaks protocol and takes him back to Talos 4 where the Talosians grant him the same treatment they used on Vina and the two live out the rest of their lives together in peace on the planet. Aww...
There’s a forest in the desert
Vulcan’s Forge - where Michael flees as a child - is a vast desert area on the planet, first mentioned on The Animated Series and then later explored in detail in Enterprise’s The Forge and Awakening episodes.
Now, you might see a flaw in this reference - Michael is demonstrably not running into a desert, but a forest. Presumably Vulcan’s Forge, then, is a much larger region that previously thought, one that has several different climates and ecosystems. It’s also more than likely that the production team made this choice as it adds to the fairytale feel of young Michael’s story.
Back of the neck
Michael experiences Spock’s memories of breaking out of Starbase 5 - and sees categorically that he didn’t murder anyone. Phew! In fact, he knocked them out, niftily employing the famous Vulcan nerve pinch - a manoeuvre first seen in the Original Series’ episode The Enemy Within, where it is performed on an evil duplicate of Captain Kirk.
Fun fact: the nerve pinch is thought to be extremely difficult for non-Vulcans to perform, but Captain Picard has mastered it - because he’s the absolute boss.