This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 11.
Of all the episodes in Discovery Season 3, the episode “Su’Kal,” easily had the fewest overt callbacks to the nostalgic past of Trekkie lore. Then again, after you bust-out the Mirror Universe and a reference to the most famous episode in Star Trek history, it’s hard to top that with even deeper cuts. That said, there were some surprising connections to The Wrath of Khan, the history of Starfleet, and even a little wave to Soji’s favorite way of getting around the galaxy. Here’s all the Easter eggs and references we caught in Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 11, “Su’Kal.”
Radiation poisoning- that’s what killed Spock!
The ticking clock in this episode is 100 percent connected to the idea that prolonged radiation exposure will kill Saru, Burnham and Culber. This may seem like a fairly generic sci-fi plot device, but Trek lore has long established that a bunch of exposure to raw dilithium leads to radiation poisoning. Basically, Spock died in The Wrath of Khan because of his exposure to the dilithium crystals on the Enterprise.
Cycles of DNA recombination
Both book and the cat Grudge, are required to undergo DNA recombination to make sure they don’t die. Michael Burnham had to do this exact same thing in the Discovery Season 1 debut, “Battle at the Binary Stars.”
Planet made of dilithium
Looking for dilithium is a huge problem throughout the history of Star Trek. The entire plot of the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror” happened because Kirk was trying to negotiate with the Halkens for mining rights to their crystals. If Kirk had found a planet like this in TOS, the Federation would have been set.
First time Georgiou left me in charge…
Tilly and Burnham have a heart to heart about what it’s like to take command, and Burnham mentions a time when Captain Georgiou left her in command. This refers to a time before the series even began, when Burnham served with Captain Georgiou on the USS Shenzhou.
Tilly jokes about some fake advice from her “Grandma Adela.” It’s a fun moment, but it’s also really interesting because in TNG Picard mentioned his “Aunt Adele,” in the episode “Ensign Ro.”
San Francisco Fleet Yards
Burnham talks about the construction of the Shenzhou at the San Francisco Fleet Yards. Most of the starships from the 23rd Century era of Trek were constructed at the San Francisco Fleet Yards.
You have the conn
Saru tells Tilly “you have the conn.” Trek fans have heard countless characters utter this phrase relative to someone being given command of the ship. But where does it come from? “Conn” is actually an old nautical term, and is thought to refer to “conduct.” That said, some sources suggest that “the conn,” refers to a conning line on ships, which controlled the rudder of the ship. Either way, having the “conn,” means you’re in charge of where the ship goes. Look at Tilly. She’s the captain now.
DS9 cosplay for Burnham and Culber
Culber’s a Bajorian! Burnham’s a Trill! No, these two aren’t cosplaying for a Star Trek convention, but the last time we’ve seen Bajorians and Trills working together was obviously on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when we got used to seeing Kira and Dax on cool missions almost every single week.
Saru is human
Can Doug Jones’ face be an Easter egg? Maybe? The vulnerable actor behind Saru is mostly known for his work inside of make-up and complicated suits. Jones has of course played humans before, it’s just that from The Shape of Water to Hellboy, creatures are what he’s known for.
Discovery’s knowledge of holodecks
In Discovery Season 1, Captain Lorca and Tyler used a rudimentary version of a holodeck for a training exercise that involved killing Klingons and Lorca giving Tyler shit about being from a suburb of Seattle. Some fans felt this holodeck violated canon, because we think of the holodeck as being a TNG thing. That said, The Animated Series episode “The Practical Joker,” established the classic Enterprise (contemporary with DISCO) had a kind of low-rent holodeck.
So, obviously, Saru and company know about holodecks because they’ve come all the way to the 31st Century, but it’s possible they knew about this tech from their own time, too.
Replicator program mentions hasperat
One of the holograms encountered by Saru and the away team talks about making “Hasperat.” This is a spicy Bajorian food, which originates in TNG. This is the second time Hasperat has been referenced in Discovery Season 3! Adira was talking about it back in episode 4, “Forget Me Not.”
Tons of “old” Starfleet holograms, means more uniform variants
When the crew encounters the holographic recreation of the day Kaminar joined the Federation, we see a bunch of slightly “new” Starfleet uniforms. This is also true of the replicator technician in the earlier scene. Basically, for the audience, all of these uniforms are brand-new, but in the Discovery chronology, all of these uniforms were in play like 100 years ago.
Transwarp tunnel…thanks a lot Borg!
Osyraa uses a transwarp tunnel to find the Discovery. Book mention this tech is kind of unreliable, but why are there transwarp tunnels at all? Wel, in the TNG episode “Descent” we learned that the Borg used transwarp tunnels to get around. This fact was reinforced throughout Star Trek: Voyager, and most recently in Star Trek: Picard. In fact, Soji helped guide the La Sirena into a transwarp tunnel right before the big finale of Picard Season 1.
The USS Discovery has a cloaking device! In terms of on-screen canon, this is the first Federation starship we’ve seen rocking a cloaking device since the USS Defiant on Deep Space Nine. Back in the day, the Federation was totally not allowed to have cloaking devices between of a treaty with the Romulans. This was like the entire premise of the TNG episode “The Pegasus,” and also the reason why the Defiant briefly had to have a Romulan observer onboard when they used their cloaking device.
But, this is the 31s century, and the Romulans are now part of the Vulcans, and it seems like the rules have changed. In the TNG episode “All Good Things…” a future version of the Enterprise was able to cloak. Could some version of that future still happen over on Picard?
What do you say when you do your jumpy thing?
Osyraa is annoyed that Tilly doesn’t have a catchphrase for when the ship goes into Black Alert and uses the Spore Drive. Unknowingly, Osyraa is actually referencing a bigger conversation that Tilly and Saru had a few episodes back, when there was a big discussion about Saru’s catchphrase. Let’s just say Oysraa’s “get us out of here,” isn’t great, but it does beat “manifest.”
It’s also a good reminder that while Saru doesn’t have a catchphrase, Tilly doesn’t either! Maybe, “Warp, please?”