Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 12 Easter Eggs & References

From references to Picard’s big “Die Hard” TNG episode to some callbacks to Short Treks, the penultimate episode of Discovery Season 3 connected to old and new Trek canon alike.

Burnham and Book in Star Trek Discovery Season 3 Episode 12
Photo: CBS All-Access

This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers.

After giving us the Guardian of Forever in episode 10, it was going to be hard for Star Trek: Discovery to try and top old-school Trekkie nostalgia. Luckily, the final few episodes of Discovery Season 3 aren’t really trying for over-the-top callbacks. Like the episode “Su’Kal,” episode 12 of Season 3 — “There Is a Tide..” — is fairly light on obvious Easter eggs and shout-outs. That said, some of the more subtle Easter eggs connect to much bigger aspects of canon. And, from a certain point of view, aspects of “There Is a Tide…” scan like a DISCO remake of a very fun TNG episode!

Baryonic residue 

As the Discovery jumps in near Federation HQ, Commander Willa (Vanessa Jackson) tells Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) that the “baryonic residue” of both DISCO and Osyraa’s ship match that of the Verubin Nebula. “Baryonic residue” refers to “the Baryon Sweep”; a process of cleaning a starship. This idea was first introduced in the TNG episode “Starship Mine,” written by Morgan Gendel. In “There Is a Tide…” Burnham has her own “Starship Mine” adventure reminiscent of Picard taking back the Enterprise in TNG during the Baryon Sweep. 

Buster Keaton

After Osyraa dismisses the extra data that can’t be deleted in Discovery’s computer, we see a pair of eyes seemingly hiding in one of the computer screens. That’s Buster Keaton, the famous silent film actor. The Discovery’s computer was showing the crew Buster Keaton movies in the episode “Forget Me Not.”

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Wanderer class-ship

As Burnham and Book barrel-through the transwarp courier network, Burnham worries that they’re about to hit a “wanderer class” ship. Although never mentioned in on-screen canon, some computer displays in TNG identified Wanderer-class ships. More relevantly, non-canon material has long-suggested that Wanderer-class ships are made by Orions. 

Kenneth Mitchell

Beloved actor Kenneth Mitchell appears in Star Trek: Discovery in his fourth onscreen role, and this time as a human! Previously, Mitchell played Kol in Discovery Season 1, and both Kol’Shal and Tenavik in Season 2. Mitchell also did three different voices in the Lower Decks episode “Veritas,” which makes this new Discovery character — Aurellio — his seventh Trek character overall. In real life, Mitchell has lived with  ALS since 2018, and as such, has been confined to a motorized wheelchair since 2019. Again, like Doug Jones’ actual, human face last week, actually seeing Kenneth Mitchell’s human face is a treat.

New phasers in action

Although we’ve seen seeing images of the new 32nd Century phasers since the start of Season 3, this is the first episode of Discovery in which we’re actually seeing these phasers be fired. Burnham first uses the phaser to cauterize one of her wounds, and later uses it to stun the guards in the Spore Cube section of the ship. Notably, these new phasers have a solid blue beam, which is very reminiscent of TOS.

Distress call to Gabrielle Burnham

Burnham sends a distress call to her mother, Gabrielle Burnham. This means Burnham sent the signal to Ni’Var (formerly Vulcan) and that she’s not just asking for her mother’s help, but the help of the entire Qowat Milat. Arguably, Burnham is speaking in code. She tells her mom that they may never see each other again, which is another way of saying she’s a “lost cause.” As we learned in Star Trek: Picard, the warriors of the Qowat Milat only bind themselves to a “lost cause,” so, in a sense, Burnham is asking for a army of Romulan/Vulcan/Human warrior nuns to come over to Federation HQ and start swinging some swords. Probably. 

Morse Code

While imprisoned, Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) and Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon) communicate to each other by tapping Morse Code to each other. Owo (Oyin Oladejo) mentions that this is something they learn in their first year at Starfleet Academy. This echoes Scotty using Morse Code in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, when he’s trying to break Kirk, Spock and Bones out of the brig, while the Enterprise was controlled by Sybok, who, you know, is like Burnham’s other step-brother. Technically. How did we get from Bryce and Rhys tapping out Morse Code to wondering what Burnham knows about Sybok? Yeah, that’s Star Trek canon for you! 

Stamets used to hate opera

When Aurellio talks about the Paul mentions he’d love to hear Andorian Opera, but his love of opera comes directly from his love for Culber. In season 1, Paul admitted he hated opera, but would endure it because he loved Culber. 

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Paul considers Adira his “child”

Not exactly an Easter egg, but it’s notable that Paul refers to having a child, clearly indicating that he views Adira as his surrogate kid. 

Tardigrade DNA in your system

Paul mentions the type of DNA is  from a “long extinct” version of a mutated tardigrade. This refers to Ripper from Discovery Season 1, who, presumably, has been dead for a longtime. That said, if we take the events of “Ephraim and Dot,” as canon, then, apparently, some tardigrades (not Ripper) can move through time and space pretty rapidly. So, are they all extinct? 

Fire suppression references TNG

Burnham uses the internal fire suppression of the USS Discovery to activate an airlock in order to put out a fire. La Forge and Crusher did something similar in the TNG episode, “Disaster.” Although that was activated manually, and was actually because they wanted to put out a fire.

Replicator made of shit

Admiral Vance says the matrices of the food replicators use “shit” as matter which is later reorganized to make actual food. It’s unclear if this is something that has happened recently with the Federation, or if old-school Replicator matrices used different basic matter to make food. It seems like that because the Federation is so cut-off from the rest of the galaxy that the shit-Replicators are a post-Burn type-of-thing.

Vulcan Nerve-pinch

Michael uses the Vulcan Nerve-pinch on Stamets in order to get him into an escape pod. Michael hasn’t used the Vulcan Nerve-pinch in a while. But, somewhat famously, she did use it in the very first episode of Discovery, “The Vulcan Hello.” In another odd connection to TNG’s “Starship Mine,” that was the first episode in which we saw Picard — a non Vulcan — use the Vulcan nerve pinch. Like Burnham, Picard probably learned the nerve-pinch from Sarek.

Phaser overload 

Bunrham uses a phaser-on overload to blow a hole in the side of the ship, which will send Stamets out to Federation HQ. The first time we saw a phaser set on overload was in the TOS episode “The Conscience of the King.”

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The Dot Bots Assemble!

At the end of the episode, Tilly and the gang realize that the emerging sentient cohesiveness of the USS Discovery has hidden itself in the new Dot-23 bots. These are the newer, 32nd Century versions of the Dot bots we first saw in “Such Sweet Sorrow.” The voices of these bots is none other than Annabelle Wallis, who was the voice of “Zora,” in the Michael Chabon-penned Short Treks episode “Calypso.” In that episode, we learned about a sentient version of Discovery, who harbored a castaway named Craft (Aldis Hodge.) It’s unclear how “Calypso,” actually fits into canon, but this is the second time we’ve heard Wallis’ voice in Discovery Season 3. In “Forget Me Not,” the Sphere Data (voiced by Wallis) spoke to Saru directly, and started making movie night a thing for the crew, specifically Buster Keaton movies. 

In “Calypso,” Zora was obsessed with the Audrey Hepburn film Funny Face, meaning it seems her tastes are still connected to old black and white classics. But, does that mean the ship will get totally abandoned by the end of the season? We’ll see! 

The Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 finale airs on CBS All Access on Thursday, January 6, 2021.