Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 12, “Through The Valley of Shadows.”
It seems hard to believe, but with its latest episode, the second season of Star Trek: Discovery is almost over. After Episode 12, there are only two episodes left in the season, which leaves very little time for all sorts of mysteries of the Red Signals, Control, and the future of the ship to be wrapped up.
In the meantime, though, “Through the Valley of Shadows,” had some pretty hardcore Easter eggs and references. And if even if you caught the obvious ones about a certain Captain’s future, there were some more subtle nods you might have missed. Here’s everything we noticed on the Easter egg front for “Through the Valley of Shadows.”
The most recent of the Red Signals has appeared over the Klingon planet of Boreth. This is a callback not only to the earlier Discovery episode “Point of Light,” but also to The Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir,” in which the monks of Boreth cloned the Klingon messiah, Kahless. In The Next Generation, the monastery on Boreth is portrayed in high elevation, and covered in snow. This is true for this episode, too. When Captain Pike beams down, he’s in snow gear.
When L’Rell shows up in meet with Tyler and Pike, we’re told that the “D7 has arrived.” This references the D-7 style Klingon ship seen throughout the original series. Tyler also talked about building a fleet of these ships for L’Rell in “Point of Light,” before he was forced to fake his own death and leave the Klingon homeworld.
Interestingly, this D-7 appears to be complete, and functioning… which actually checks out with a short piece of dialogue in Season 1 of Discovery. When Captain Lorca was kidnapped by L’Rell in the episode “Choose Your Pain,” Lorca’s shuttle warned him of a “Klingon D-7 battlecruiser.” In that episode, we only saw a tiny bit of that ship.
So, what’s the deal? At this point in time, does L’Rell have the only functioning D-7? Right now, that seems to be the best explanation. Maybe her ship was a prototype, which she and Voq had developed in secret, prior to his transformation into Tyler. Make sense, right?
The earliest twist in the episode reveals that the Klingons are sitting on a giant stockpile of Time Crystals, which, they apparently have opted not to use for several generations. This seems to suggest that Leland may have been wrong about the Klingon Empire trying to develop time travel, or that if they were, that the monks on Boreth told the other Klingons to cut it out. In both “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” and “The Escape Artist,” Harry Mudd talks about his Time Crystals, which begs the question: did those originate on Boreth?
Captain Pike’s Fashion Sense in the Present… and Future
When Captain Pike beams down to Boreth, he’s wearing a Starfleet cold-weather coat. The idea that Starfleet officers wear big coats checks out with what Pike wore in “The Cage” on the surface of Talos IV. But, the coat itself is vaguely reminiscent of what Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk wore in the 2009 reboot when he was stranded on Delta Vega.
And, speaking of the reboot movies… when Captain Pike flashes forward into his own future, his uniform looks very similar to the formal dress uniforms worn by the Enterprise crew in Star Trek Into Darkness. In fact, the all-grey uniform, complete with military-style epaulets is exactly what Bruce Greenwood’s Captain Pike wore when he died in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Pike’s Vision of His Future in “The Menagerie.”
Obviously, the huge news in the episode is that Captain Pike sees his own tragic future, which, we know must happen for The Original Series to make sense. The interesting thing here, is that Pike’s vision actually depicts an event that is only described in quick dialogue in “The Menagerie, Part 1.” In that episode, when Kirk, Spock, and Bones meet the disabled Captain Pike, Commodore Mendez describes Pike’s accident like this…
“He was on an inspection tour of a cadet vessel. Old Class-J starship. One of the baffle plates ruptured… he went in, bringing out all those kids who were still alive.”
In the same scene in “The Menagerie, Part 1,” Bones mentions “the delta rays,” implying some kind of radiation leak was responsible for Pike’s disfigurement. Basically, all of this is depicted pretty faithfully in the new flash forward in this episode of Discovery.
Pike looks a little bit older in the scene, and is clearly on the bridge of a smaller starship, surrounded by Starfleet cadets. We hear the computer say: “Radiation leak detected, Training exercise aborted.” And, the crewmembers Pike is saving all have the same Starfleet cadet badges that Tilly wore in Season 1 of Discovery when she was still a cadet!
(Note: for those who think “baffle plates” is a typo, it’s not. Baffle plates are an old nautical term, referring to plates that might insulate a ship from certain types of fluids. So, in the new flash-forward, when we hear the computer say “radiation leak detected,” that’s the baffle plate rupturing right there.)
Class- J Starship
The set for the ship in Pike’s flash forward also has the vibe of the engine room of the NX-01 from Star Trek: Enterprise, which could be a visual reconciliation with Mendez’s line about an “old class-J” ship. Maybe the design aesthetic of these ships were based off-of even older Starfleet ships from the 22nd Century?
Plus, Pike is not the only person to be on a class-J starship in the original series. Harry Mudd’s ship in “Mudd’s Women,” was a class-J starship. And, in “Operation: Annihilate!” one of the colonists fleeing Deneva was in a class-J starship. (Deneva has been mentioned a lot in this season of Discovery, too.)
In the final part of Pike’s flash-forward, he sees himself in the famous wheelchair from “The Menagerie.” At this point in Pike’s life, he’s totally cut-off from his body. He has a functioning mind, but cannot express himself in anyway through this body. The design of the chair is slightly scarier than the one from The Original Series, but for the most part, this is the real deal.
Kol is… Tyler and L’Rell’s Son in IRL!
In a great time travel twist, the mysterious Klingon “Time Keeper,” turns out to be Tyler and L’Rell’s son! Pike is a little confused by this wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey action, but what’s even more confusing is that the “Time Keeper” is played by Kenneth Mitchell!
This is the third different Klingon Mitchell has played on Discovery. The first was Kol in Season 1 of Discovery, and the second was Kol’s relative Kol-sha this season in “Point of Light.” Ironically, Kol-sha was trying to mess with L’Rell and Tyler’s baby, and now, Kenneth Mitchell is playing that baby all grown-up.
Last seen in the series premiere of Star Trek: Discovery in 2017, actor Ali Momen has returned as Karaman Gant. In “The Vulcan Hello” and “The Battle of the Binary Stars,” Gant didn’t have a huge role, so you’ll be forgiven if you had to do a double-take with this character. Still, this is some great continuity, and proves that voyages of the USS Shenzhou are still a huge part of the story of Discovery.
“Even when you have doubt”…
Gant mentions that “Starfleet teaches to act even when you have doubt.” This references a test that Wesley Crusher endures in The Next Generation episode “Coming of Age.” In that episode, Wesley was in a simulation that made him believe a disaster had happened, which forced him to rely on his instincts. On some level, this could also be a reference to the Kobayashi Maru, famously featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Was Burnham almost assimilated?
When it’s revealed that Gant is really Control, the whole scene takes on a very Borg-ish vibe. Gant says that Burnham will be “reconstructed,” which seems very similar to saying “you will be assimilated.” And, the needle that Control tries to jab in Burnham’s eye is also super-reminiscent of the same kind of needle we see the Borg put in Picard’s face in “The Best of Both Worlds,” and First Contact.
The insignia of the Torchbearer is given back to Tyler in this episode. This obviously references his time as Voq, but, it’s also slightly ironic, since the only reason why Tyler/Voq became the Torchbearer in the first place is because Burnham accidentally killed the first Torchbearer — Rejac — in “The Vulcan Hello.”
Emergency passages for full crew complement
In the final moments of the episode, Pike tells Saru to contact the Enterprise and prepare for “Emergency passages for full crew complement.” This seems to imply that Discovery’s crew will physically walk in passages between the two ships in order to evacuate.
More tellingly, though, is that at this point in time, the USS Enterprise only has 203 crew members aboard, which is about half of the crew complement in Kirk’s time. So, basically, according to The Original Series canon, the Enterprise totally has room for the 134 crewmembers aboard Discovery.
In the final moments of the episode, Pike and Burnham decide they are going to blow up the ship! The self-destruct sequence for Starfleet vessels has been seen in a lot of episodes of the various shows, and most famously, in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, when Admiral Kirk destroys the Enterprise.
That exact sequence for how you blow up the ship was established in the original series episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” Meaning, if Pike does really activate the auto-destruct sequence in the next episode, you can bet good quatloos that it will all happen exactly as it did in that TOS episode, and in Search For Spock.