This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 2 Episode 10.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 10 boasts some of the biggest twists in the series to date, which, considering everything that’s happened this season, is really saying something. It also hits the ground running with references and deep-cuts to existing Star Trek lore. From TNG time travel tech, to unused scripts for old-school Trek movies, and even one slick shout-out to Jodie Foster in Contact, “The Red Angel” is jammed with Easter eggs to Trek, science fiction, and a little bit of actual science.
Here are all the Easter eggs and references we spotted in Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 10, “The Red Angel.”
Airiam’s funeral references The Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness
The opening of the episode is mostly a tribute not only to Airiam, but to the famous funeral of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Tilly’s facial expression when she says “she was my friend,” is vaguely reminiscent of Kirk in The Wrath.
Saru singing song representative of his culture parallels Scotty playing the bagpipes at Spock’s funeral. Plus, the launch of Airiam’s casket into space is nearly identical to a similar scene in The Wrath. Finally, the folding of the flag of the United Federation of Planets is reminiscent of a funeral scene in Star Trek Into Darkness.
DISCO on Autopilot
During Airiam’s funeral, one shot briefly establishes the ship is on “autopilot.” This seems to imply that literally the entire crew is present for the funeral. The last time we saw an automated Discovery was in the Short Treks episode “Calypso.”
Doors open right on their own most of the time!
When Tilly busts into the briefing at the beginning of the episode, she apologizes for not knocking, but then says that the “doors usually open right on their own most of the time.” This joke references the idea that the sliding doors on Star Trek often are super inconsistent in terms of when and how they open. In several episodes of The Next Generation and the original series, doors will slide open waybefore someone needs them, too, as though the doors themselves are reading the script.
Thanks to the new intel, Stamets now knows the Red Angel uses “micro-wormwholes” to travel through time. Wormholes are obviously a huge part of Star Trek, specifically the TNG episode “The Price,” and the entirety of Deep Space Nine. However, those wormholes mostly kept the users in the same time period. These wormholes feel more like an Einstein-Rosen bridge, a real life theory for traversing space and time. So, the Red Angel’s tech is a little more Jodie Foster in Contact than old school Trek stuff.
In describing the possibility of time travel destroying all of human life, Leland says the Klingons would have destroyed humanity before we walked out of the “primordial soup.” In The Next Generation series finale, “All Good Things…” Captain Picard accidentally creates an anti-time paradox which directly prevents life from forming in the primordial soup on Earth in the distant past.
Temporal arms race
After Leland reveals the Klingons were trying to develop time travel, he talks about a “temporal arms race.” This could be vague reference to the temporal cold war in Star Trek: Enterprise. But, the idea that the Klingons would wage a war via time travel is oddly an abandoned concept for a an insane sequel to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Naturally, this movie was never made. Or, if it was, Klingons went back in time and prevented it from being filmed.
Stamets in “my universe”
When Georgiou briefly flirts with Stamets, she mentions his Mirror Universe counterpart. Technically, the Mirror Stamets was a huge part of the first season of Discovery, starting the episode “Choose Your Pain.” Eventually, though Mirror Stamets was killed by Lorca in the episode “What’s Past is Prologue,” though apparently he had some “defcon level fun” before that!
Technological leaps are the result of time travel
The idea that futuristic Star Trek-tech could actually be created by a bootstraps time travel paradox is briefly floated as a motivation for creating the Red Angel. But, this idea has a precedent in Star Trek canon before. In fact, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this exact thing does happen. When Scotty and Bones need a lightweight alloy to construct a whale tank, they give the formula for “transparent aluminum” to a 20th century engineer. Bones tells Scotty that they might be screwing up the timeline, to which Scotty flippantly replies, “how do we know he didn’t invent the thing?”
Time crystal near an Orion outpost
Leland tells Burnham that the time travel suit needed a “time crystal” in order to make it function. This references “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” in the first season of Discovery. In that episode, Harry Mudd used time crystals to put the USS Discoveryinto a never-ending time loop. Plus, as seen in the Short Treks episode, “The Escape Artist,” Harry Mudd had a lot of dealings with Orions, which is where Leland says he got info about the time crystal. Depending on how old Harry Mudd was 20 years prior to this episode, it’s not crazy to think these things are connected.
Lt. Nilsson is actually the first Airiam actress
Dramatically, Lt. Airiam’s station is taken-up by a crew member named Lt. Nilsson, played by actress Sara Mitich. This isn’t the first time Nilsson has been seen this season. In the first episode, “Brother,” she was standing next to Tilly in the shuttlebay when they wrangled that giant asteroid. But, it gets better than that. Before playing Nilsson, Sara Mitich actually played Airiam in nearly episode of Discovery Season 1. In season 2, Airiam has been played exclusively by Hannah Cheesman, up until Airiam’s death in the previous episode, “Project Daedalus.” So, now, Airiam has been replaced by…Airiam!
In setting the trap for the Red Angel, Stamets mentions “phase discriminators.” This weird tech has popped-up in Star Trek in nearly every single incarnation, from Enterprise to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. What do “phase discriminators” do? Usually, the idea is that they prevent you from phasing out of the temporal location you’re supposed to exist in. In The Next Generation, episodes “Time’s Arrow,” and “Timescape,” the crew use phase discriminators to prevent themselves from getting unstuck in time.
Sound effect for Burnham’s heartbeat
As Dr. Culber monitors Burnham’s vitals in the climactic final scene, the sound effect of his heartbeat monitor matches what Bones uses in the original series, notably in the episodes “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and “Space Seed.” This isn’t the first time Discovery has used this sound effect, but it’s probably the most prominent and affecting.
When Spock holds the away team hostage to buy more time for the Red Angel to appear, Pike gets super-pissed and barks “Dammit Spock!” In the original series, the number of times Bones or Kirk said “Dammit Spock!” isn’t as high as you might think it is, but Bones did say “Dammit, man!” in relation to Spock in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Either way, Pike’s “dammit Spock” feels classic as hell.
In the final scene, the Red Angel is revealed to be Michael Burnham’s mother, played by actress Sonja Sohn. At this point in Trek canon, we don’t know Burnham’s mom’s name, but it stand to reason we’re about to find out!