This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 2. You can read our review of the episode here.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Naked Time,” Scotty famously told Captain Kirk that “I can’t change the laws of physics.” The physics Scotty was talking about applied more to the science fiction rules of how the Enterprise’s warp engines work than real physics, but within Trek a larger point still stands: When it comes to outer space technology, Trek likes to keep its made-up physics fairly consistent. And, even though Discovery is now nine centuries beyond Scotty, the ship itself predates Scotty’s tenure on the Enterprise by almost a decade.
The second episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 — “Far From Home” — feels like an episode of TOS in more ways than one. But perhaps the biggest way is the fact that the crew is trying to fix their starship without breaking the rules of Star Trek! Here’s all the Easter eggs and references we caught — from Scotty-esque dialogue, to some real spacetime science — in Discovery Season 3, Episode 2, “Far From Home.”
Wormhole effect and Einstein-Rosen Bridge
As we see what’s happening to the crew on the other side of the Wormhole, we briefly see the “blurring” effect on everyone’s faces which we also saw last season in “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2.” This visual effect is straight from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which the Enterprise briefly entered a wormhole that was caused by an imbalance in the warp engines. In other wormhole-related references, the opening credits of Discovery now end with a diagram of an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. In real science, Einstein-Rosen Bridge is the theoretical concept that would space and time travel possible via a wormhole.
We haven’t seen Federation starships crashland on planets very often in Trek, and so when Discovery plows into this icy planet, it’s easy to be reminded of two of the most famous starship crashes in Trek history. In Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-D’s saucer section crash-landed on the planet Veridian III. In Star Trek Beyond, the saucer of the reboot Enterprise suffered the same fate. Lower Decks recently referenced starship crashes in Episode 9, when the Cerritos crash landed on a planet, too. But, in all these cases, the ships that crashed did not fly away intact after the crash. As Saru mentions later, he’s “aware that starships were not designed to lift-off in this fashion.” The only Trek ship that consistently did take off and land on planets (other than shuttles and smaller ships) was the USS Voyager. But, in the episode “Timeless,” even Voyager had a crash on an ice planet.
Discovery uses “graviton beams” to cushion the crash landing. This tech has been mentioned throughout Trek, but most notably in the Voyager episode “Scorpion Part 2.”
Nhan in the credits!
Actor Rachael Ancheril is listed in the opening credits seemingly for the first time. Ancheril plays Nhan, the former USS Enterprise security chief who stayed with the crew of the Discovery after the end of Season 2. Later in the episode, Georgiou questions why Nhan stayed with Discovery and she mentions the death of Airiam. In the Season 2 episode “Project Daedalus” the human cyborg Airiam nearly killed Burnham and Nhan after she was hacked by Control. But, Airiam fought against this programming, sacrificed herself and saved Nhan and Burham.
Tilly foreshadows the twist ending
After Discovery crashes, Tilly mentions that because of all the technical failures on the ship, “we don’t know when we are.” This is the opposite of the premiere episode of Discovery Season 3, in which Burnham’s computer told her she was in the year 3188 right away. The information gap is relevant, too, since at the end of the episode we learn a year has passed for Burnham, while it’s only been like a day for the crew.
I don’t recall Terralysium being particularly icy
Reno mentions that the planet they are on is not their destination planet of Terralysium, because the terrain doesn’t match up. We only saw Terralysium in the Discovery Season 2 episode “New Eden.” In that episode Terralysium also had rings around it, which doesn’t appear to be the case here. Notably, Tig Notaro’s Reno doesn’t appear in “New Eden,” though she had joined the crew in the previous episode, “Brother.”
Plasma manifolds and EPS relays and conduits
Once we start getting into the nitty-gritty of what is wrong with the ship, classic technobabble starts happening. Reno talks about the need to fix the Plasma manifolds, EPS relays and conduits. All of these things are directly related and sometimes, referred to interchangeably in previous iterations of Star Trek. EPS stands for “electro-plasma system,” because it distributes both the electricity and gases necessary to make the power on the starship work. You can find references to “plasma manifolds” and the “EPS grid” littered throughout Enterprise, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
Reno’s Scotty-like abilities
When the internal power is knocked-out on Discovery, Reno mentions she can “modify the tricoders, like I did on the Hiawatha.” This references the Discovery Season 2 episode “Brother” in which Captain Pike and Burnham rescued Reno from the USS Hiawatha, where Reno had managed to stay alive for several months basically on her own. Specifically, Reno is alluding to the idea that hand-held tricorers can be used to scan the inside of the ship since the internal sensors don’t work. The analogy would be like using a handheld flashlight when the overhead lights aren’t working. Later in the episode, we see one of Reno’s floating bots following Stamets. These makeship robot creations — which Reno nicknamed “the kids” — were also first seen in “Brother.”
Transtator and Rubindium
Bryce says that one transtator on the ship needs an entire rebuild. Later, Tilly determines they don’t have enough Rubindium to actually make a new one. This references to very old pieces of Trek tech. The Transtator was mentioned in the TOS episode “A Piece of the Action,” as being an essential part of all Starfleet equipment. Meanwhile, Rubindium was an element used in “Patterns of Force,” which was used to create transponders which Kirk and Spock had implanted in their arms. It’s possible that Tilly is also referencing the real-world element, Rubidium, but maybe not.
When Georgoiu appears, it’s mentioned that she still has “bits of Leland” on her boots. Georgiou says someone still needs to “clean the spore cube” This references the ending of “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2,” in which Georgiou killed Leland. Apparently, she also stomped on his remains after he died.
Captain Pike’s broken table
When Saru, Tilly, Georgiou and Nhan confer, they’re having their meeting in Captain Pike’s old Ready Room. This is why there’s a broken table in the foreground, that was Captain Pike’s table from Season 2. This is the second year in a row that the Ready Room.
“Treatment so we can breathe naturally”
Before heading out onto the icy planet (which is really Iceland IRL) Saru says that Dr. Pollard will give Tilly and himself a “treatment so we can breathe naturally.” This implies the atmosphere is not entirely “Class-M.” In the TOS episode “Amok Time,” Bones gave Kirk a shot to help him breathe easier in the atmosphere of the planet Vulcan.
The problem is in the Jefferies tubes
Reno and Stamets determine that the biggest problem with the ship is “in the Jefferies tubes.” The Jefferies tubes are the parts of a starship where one can access all the inner-working systems. The tubes derive their name from Matt Jefferies, the conceptual artist who designed the original USS Enterprise in the 1960s. Every version of Trek has had Jefferies tubes.
Saru and Tilly’s “undercover” robes
Saru and Tilly don non-descript robes to make “first contact” with the people living in the Colony. Burnham and Saru wore similar robes when making contact with the people of Kaminar in the Discovery Season 2 episode “The Sound of Thunder.” Kirk and Bones also wore similar robes at the beginning of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Tilly references a Starfleet regulation from a ‘90s novel!
The reason why Tilly says “we’re not freaking right now by being held at phaser-point by a bunch of strangers” is because of Starfleet regulation 256.15. This is a deep cut insofar as this regulation does not come from onscreen Star Trek canon, but instead, from one of the novels. Tilly says this regulation mandates that “Officers shall display behavior befitting an officer at all times.” In the novel Vulcan’s Forge, this exact regulation was said to read: “Officers shall show professional behavior at all times.” This novel was written by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz and published in 1997. Pretty cool!
More Trek tech-speak! Reno says that in the previous season, Stamets was impaled by a “Seven-inch shard of Duranium alloy.” Duranium is used to construct the bulkheads of most of the starships throughout the Trek canon. The earliest reference to duranium comes from the TOS episode “The Menagerie,” where Kirk talked about what kind of material the shuttlecrafts were made of.
This episode’s villain has the same job as Book
We quickly learn that the guy harassing the colony, Zareh (Jake Weber) is a courier. This is the same job Book says he has in the Discovery Season 3 premiere. Clearly, some couriers are nicer than others.
Zareh knows that the crew of the Discovery are time travelers because of certain gravitational waves. In the famous TOS episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” Spock and Kirk were basically led to the Guardian of Forever because of strange gravitational waves, which later revealed a time portal.
“Contact the Tellarite exchange”
Zareh tells his lackeys to “contact the Tellarite exchange,” and then mentions that he plans to give some of Tilly and Saru’s other tech to “the Orions.” This seems to imply there are different factions with different mercantile exchanges like the one that Burnham and Book visited in the previous episode.
Zareh mocks Saru for not knowing how to speak a shorthand language he calls “pidgin.” In real life, “pidgin” refers to any shortened or abbreviated type of language. But, the telling thing here is that he uses the term “V’draysh” to refer to Saru, calling him a “Vdraysh captain.” This is a serious deep-cut from Short Treks. In the episode “Calypso” (which also takes place in a distant future for Discovery) a character named Craft mentions that the “V’draysh” were obsessed with “old things.” Picard, showrunner and writer of “Calypso,” Michael Chabon, later confirmed on Instagram that “V’draysh” was syncope of the word “Federation.” This is the first time we’ve heard the term spoken since “Calypso.”
You might wonder why Saru is able to fire darts out of the side of his head, but, this was established back in the Season 2 episode “The Sound of Thunder.” This is the episode where we learned that Kelpiens were destined to lose their threat ganglia, and become more formidable creatures, complete with nifty organic darts that they can shoot-out when needed.
Tractor beam rescue echoes Season 1 first episode
At the very end of the episode, when the USS Discovery is rescued by a mysterious tractor beam, visually, the series is echoing a scene from the debut of Discovery Season 1. During “The Battle of the Binary Stars,” the USS Shenzhou, was adrift and about to be destroyed, too. But then, at the last second, a tractor beam grabbed the ship. This was revealed to be the USS Europa, a Starfleet ship that had come to the rescue. Burnham was also rescued by a last-minute tractor beam in the Season 1 episode “Context Is For Kings,” the very first episode she actually boarded the USS Discovery.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is just getting started. New episodes air on CBS All Access on Thursdays.