Because Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel to the original series, it also serves as a prequel to pretty much all of Star Trek, excluding the earlier prequel series, Enterprise. Because of that fact, it makes sense to expect an Easter egg or two in every single episode of Discovery.
World War III – 600 million dead
Early in the episode, when Discovery realizes the people on the planet are from 2053, Burnham talks about World War III, and mentions 600 million dead. The time period for World War III and the number dead come from various sources, but most notably, from Star Trek: First Contact.
In that film, the Enterprise travels back in time to 2063, which Riker mentions is ten years after World War III. He also mentions the fact that 600 million people died in that war. Riker, of course, is played by Jonathan Frakes, who also directed this episode of Discovery.
General Order One
Though the words “Prime Directive” are never spoken in the episode, the rule that Pike talks about — General Order One — is the Prime Directive. It’s the most important rule in Star Trek, and is often broken more than it is upheld.
In some ways, the plot of the episode echoes the Next Generation episode “Who Watches the Watchers,” in which Picard has to convince a race of pre-industrial proto-Vulcans that he is not a god. It sees like at this point in Star Trek history, people hadn’t started calling General Order One, “the Prime Directive” yet.
Shakespeare Quote from Hamlet
When Pike, Saru and Burnham are discussing the problem on the planet below, Pike says: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio..” Burnham says “I know my Shakespeare, Captain.” So does the rest of Star Trek.
Though Picard quotes Shakespeare a lot in The Next Generation, Trek’s first big Shakespeare episode is the original series episode “The Conscience of the King,” in which a group of traveling players is actually performing Hamlet on the Enterprise. Hamlet is also quoted extensively in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which was directed by Nicholas Meyer, a creative consultant on season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery.
Clarke’s Third Law
In the same scene, Burnham, Pike and Suru talk about the Arthur C. Clarke maxim which states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” They don’t however, mention that Clarke was a science fiction author!
What’s funny about this is that in real life, Arthur C. Clarke new Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, through their mutual friend Isaac Asimov. In fact, Roddenberry even wrote to Arthur C. Clarke in 1987 because he wanted support from a noted science fiction author to prevent the storyline for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier from ever happening.
Clarke didn’t write Roddenberry a letter of support, but Isaac Asimov did. Ironically or not, the story of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier focuses on questions about God, faith, and features, as a main character, a sibling of Mr. Spock.
So, unless Star Trek exists in the Star Trek universe, the Arthur C. Clarke everyone talks about in this episode exists in a parallel dimension, where he never met Gene Roddenberry at a Star Trek convention in 1972, and never corresponded with him well into the ‘80s.
Away Team Beams Down to a Planet
Believe it or not, this is only the second time in all of Star Trek: Discovery that we see the crew go on a traditional away team mission. The first time was in the season one episode, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.”
An Earth-Like Planet Full of Legit Humans
The idea that the crew encounters an Earth-Like planet full of people who seem to be human happened all the time in the original Star Trek, most notably in the episodes “Miri” and “Bread and Circuses.” But, the idea that an entire group of humans was taken away from Earth in the past also kind of references the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, “North Star,” when Captain Archer and the NX-01 find a colony of humans deep in the Xindi expanse who basically have set-up an Old West planet in space.
Three-Note-Whistle (Mr. Saru to the bridge!)
When Saru is called to the bridge, the famous three-note-whistle nautical can be heard. This was often how Kirk was called to the bridge in the original series.
Classic distress call
When Pike finds Jacob’s distress beacon, the sound effect is taken straight from the original series. Specifically, the episode “Balance of Terror,” in which Starfleet first finds out what the Romulans look like. You can hear it at the 36:00 minute mark in “Balance of Terror” right here.
Tilly mentions she wishes she had a “Risian Mai-tai.” This, of course, references the pleasure planet Risa, which was first seen in The Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday.” For those who have forgotten, that’s the one where Picard wears swim trunks and sunbathes.
Precision Spore-Drive Jump
When Stamets offers to jump the Discovery into the rings of the planet’s surface, this recalls a version of what he did in the mid-season finale of Discovery’s first season; “Into the Forest I Go.” In that scenario, Stamets had to jump the ship even more precisely — around the Klingon Ship of the Dead — meaning, this was probably easy by comparison.
Pike Gives Jacob An Awesome Battery
The final moments of the episode find Pike giving Jacob an awesome battery to help power the lights in the church. Clearly, Pike is kind of violating General Order One, but this moment seems to specifically recall the original series episode “A Piece of the Action,” in which Bones realizes he accidently left his communicator on the mobster planet Sigma Iotia II. Kirk and Spock point out that the communicator has something in it called “the Transtator” which is like the rosetta stone of all Starfleet tech. Surely, when Pike gave Jacob this batter, it contains a transtator, too.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 airs on Thursdays at 8:30 pm ET on CBS All-Access. Read more about Season 2 here.