Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 5 Easter Eggs & References

In “Die Trying,” the Discovery returns to Starfleet and finds a ton of Easter eggs for DS9, Voyager, and the Mirror Universe, too.

Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 5
Photo: CBS

This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 5.

Because everything in the 32nd century is brand-new for the Star Trek canon, it would make sense that the writers of Star Trek: Discovery could get away with not really referencing anything from the existing canon. To put it another way, how much do you really know about the year 1090 off the top of your head? The gap between Discovery’s point of origin in 2258 and 3188-3189 is huge. And yet, nerdy Star Trek Easter eggs and HUGE call-backs to some of the most beloved ships and characters ever, endure. 

From a surprise cameo from a famous film director, to a lesson in Mirror Universe history, and yes, the appearance of Captain Janeway’s beloved starship, here are all the Easter eggs we caught in the latest Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Die Trying.” 

“Federation and Starfleet Headquarters”

Saru notes that the ship is en route to “Federation and Starfleet Headquarters,” and then points out that these are “separate entities that now must abide together.” Although sometimes used interchangeably, this distinction is relevant. Starfleet actually predates the Federation and is an exploratory organization, analogous with what might happen if NASA and the Navy were combined in space. The United Federation of Planets, on the other hand, is the government. Starfleet and the Federation are not the same things, except now, as Saru points out, in the 32nd Century, they kind of are.

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New Constitution

Owo sees what she describes as a “new Constitution.” This can only refer to what she infers is an upgraded version of a Constitution-class starship. The NCC-1701 Enterprise was one of 12 Constitution-class ships in service in Joann Owosekun’s time. 

USS Voyager and USS Nog

The crew very prominently sees and talks about the USS Voyager NCC-74656-J. Owo and Tilly confirm that the “J” constitutes 11 “generations of evolution.” It is unclear if this means that this is literally the same Voyager from the 24th Century, or if the “J” means that this is the 11th ship to carry the name, “Voyager.” Elsewhere in the Starfleet Headquarters, barely visible is the USS Nog. Clearly, this was named for the Ferengi Nog from Deep Space Nine. Played by the late Aron Eisenberg, Nog was the first Ferengi in Starfleet. 

New Starfleet uses the TNG coloring 

Admiral Charles Vance and the rest of the 32nd Century Starfleet seem to use the color-coded system from the TNG era. Command officers still appear to sport red, while stripes of gold and blue are visible on other uniforms. 

Kaminar Joined the Federation

Saru is thrilled to learn that Kaminar became a Federation planet sometime after Discovery jumped into the future. Because we never heard from Kelpiens in the 23rd or 24th century, it seems likely they joined the Federation at some point after that. In the Short Treks episode “The Brightest Star,” we learned the Prime Georgiou rescued Saru from Kaminar, but that Saru couldn’t return there because of issues with the Prime Directive. In Discovery Season 2, the ship returned to Kaminar in “The Sound of Thunder,” but Kaminar definitely didn’t enter the Federation at that point.

Sigma Draconis System References “Spock’s Brain”

One unnamed officer tells Admiral Vance that the “Emerald Chain” — an alliance of Andorians and Orions — is up to no-good in the “Sigma Draconis” system. This is the same star system from the TOS episode “Spock’s Brain.” Let’s hope that Spock’s brain hasn’t been stolen — again.

The size of the Federation

For the first time ever, the size of the Federation has been firmly established, not just now, but also, prior to the current timeline. Vance tells Saru and Burnham that there are “38 member worlds” in the Federation right now, but that because of bad communications, it’s possible that there may be more. Vance also says this number is “down from 350 at its peak.” We knew there were a lot of planets in the Federation in TNG, but we really had no idea exactly how many.

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Starfleet Federation combo

As mentioned by Saru in the opening monologue, Vance doubles-down on the idea that “Where we sit now represents not only the headquarters of Starfleet Command by also the entire civilian government of the United Federation of Planets.” It’s unclear at this point if there are civilian government officials still operating, or if Vance is saying that he is basically Starfleet and the Federation at the same time. He also says that everything has “been that way since the Burn.”

Zero records of Discovery is basically Spock’s fault

Vance says “our records show Discovery was destroyed in 2258.” Saru implies the files would have been erased by Starfleet for safety reasons. But, the truth is, Spock is the one who erased the stuff about the Spore Drive. We saw Spock take these steps in “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2.”

A War to Uphold the Temporal Accords

Admiral Vance’s “quick history lesson” mentions that the Federation spent most of the 30th Century fighting “a war to uphold the temporal accords” which he says is an “interstellar treaty outlawing time travel.” This references the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise, and basically establishes that the “Temporal Wars” alluded to by Book in “That Hope Is You Part 1” are the same Temporal Wars that Daniels pulled Captain Archer into. It also seems that the Temporal Wars may have continued in the relative “present” beyond what we saw Daniels doing in Enterprise.

The Discovery crew drops references for their entire story

As the crew is getting debriefed by the new Starfleet, several characters, including Culber, Reno and Tilly tease-out plotpoint from previous seasons.

Culber:  “I was emotionally dead, and I was murdered”

Culber was killed in the Season 1 episode “Despite Yourself,” when the Discovery jumped to the Mirror Universe. He was then brought back to life in the Season 2 episode “Saints of Imperfection.” He was in a terrible mood about being brought back to life which is why he jokes here that “I was emotionally dead.” The fact that he and his “murderer are good now,” references a confrontation he had with Ash Tyler in “If Memory Serves.”

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Reno: “Commander Burnham fell out of the sky, with Captain Pike”

This references the Season 2 debut, “Brother,” in which Burnham and Pike rescued Reno from the USS Hiawatha, which had been crashed into an asteroid. 

Tilly: “After I got my hair blown out and became a Terran Captain/Dominatrix”

Tilly is talking about the episodes in which she had to impersonate the Captain of the Terran ISS Discovery, her Mirror Universe counterpart nicknamed “Killy.” This started in the episode “Despite Yourself” and went through “What’s Past Is Prologue.” When Tilly had to dye her hair and straighten it in “Despite Yourself,” she noted that her mother would have approved. 

David Cronenberg 

During Georgiou’s debrief, a mysterious man with glasses sits-in and asks her all sorts of pointed questions. This character has not yet been named, but he is played by legendary film director David Cronenberg. Among other films, sci-fi fans probably know Cronenberg best for directing The Fly and Scanners. Is this new character a representative of the future version of Section 31?

Georgiou’s Mirror Universe History 

Cronenberg’s character notes that the present is Georgiou’s “second universe, your third timeline.” This means that Georgiou has existed in the Mirror Universe version of 2257, the Prime Universe version of 2257-2258, and now, the Prime Universe version of 3188. 

April 5: Bizzaro First Contact Day

Cronenberg’s man with glasses also mentions April 5, 2063. In the Prime Universe, this is First Contact Day but in the Mirror Universe, it’s the day that humans killed the Vulcans who landed on Earth. This event is depicted in the opening scenes of the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes “In a Mirror, Darkly Part 1 and Part 2.” To date, those are the only episodes of Trek canon that take place entirely in the Mirror Universe. 

The Terran Empire’s Demise

When Georgiou and Cronenberg talk about the Terran Empire versus the Federation, he points out that the Federation “endures, unlike the Terran Empire that fell centuries ago.” We have no idea how this guy has access to so much history about a parallel universe, but the collapse of the Terran Empire references the Deep Space Nine episodes that take place in the Mirror Universe, starting with “Crossover.” In that episode, we learned that after Kirk asked Mirror Spock to make the Empire nicer in the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror,” Mirror Spock basically did just that. But, his actions eventually led to the downfall of the Terran Empire. As far as we know, in canon, the most “recent” crossover to the Mirror Universe would have happened during Deep Space Nine, which is why Cronenberg says there hasn’t been a crossing between the two realities in “500 years.”

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Ion storm

Speaking of the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror,” while trying to help the Federation seed ship, the USS Discovery encounters an ion storm. Though this plot device has been used a lot in Trek, it was notably the reason why Kirk, Uhura, Scotty and Bones accidentally beamed to the Terran ISS Enterprise in “Mirror, Mirror.”

Burnham in command 

Oddly, though Burnham is the main character of the show, we really haven’t seen her in command of the USS Discovery. Other than her brief attempt at mutiny on the USS Shenzhou, and her command of the ISS Shenzhou, this is the only real time she’s been in legit command of a starship during the entire run of the series. 

Barzan Joined the Federation 

Nhan hails from a race of aliens called the Barzan. In the TNG episode “The Price,” the Barzan were trying to sell rights to a wormhole in their space. At that time, the Barzan were not a member of the Federation. Their planet was also super-reliant on other planets for assistance, which is why Nhan later says that her people are known for “poverty.” 

Airam’s funeral 

Nhan tells Burnham that she’ll never forget Airam’s funeral and what Burnham said. This references the Discovery Season 2 episode “The Red Angel,” which began with the entire crew honoring Airam’s sacrifice in the previous episode, “Project Daedalus.”

Federation Starchart References a Ton of Known Star Trek Planets

A huge holographic star chart at Starfleet Command contains the names of a bunch of planets from the entirety of Trek canon. Some of the names are mirrored, which makes it tricky to read them all, but here are the ones we caught

  • Ankari Homeworld: This alien species comes from the Voyager episodes “Equinox Parts 1 and 2.”
  • Cardassia Prime: The homeworld of the Cardassians, primarily from Deep Space Nine.
  • Thalos: While it’s tempting to read this as a misspelling of “Talos,” from TOS, it’s not. Several planets in the Thalos system were referenced in both TNG and DS9.
  • Halee: Historically this is a Klingon planet in the Beta Quadrant. It’s been referenced in Discovery and TNG, starting with the TNG episode “Heart of Glory.”

We Don’t Have Five-Year Missions Anymore 

Vance tells Burnham and Saru that Starfleet doesn’t “have five-year missions anymore.” This of course, references The Original Series, in which the Enterprise was on a 5-year-mission of exploration. Sura and Burnham are super-familiar with this policy, mostly because Pike was on a five-year mission on the Enterprise before he became temporary captain of the Discovery. Saru tells Vance that he feels like the DISCO crew come from a “revered time,” which seems to imply Saru has been reading a bunch of history while Burnham was on this mission. In this sense, Saru is aware that contemporary Starfleet must be huge fans of the exploits of the 23rd Century Starfleet. Basically, Saru gambles that the new Starfleet is filled with people who are, in a sense, classic Star Trek fans. He’s not wrong.

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Star Trek: Discovery airs new episodes on Thursdays on CBS All Access.