This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for “The Sanctuary.”
After the hugely nostalgic trip to Ni’Var in “Unification III,” you’d think that Discovery might be briefly done with a ton of callbacks to previous eras of Trek. With Episode 8, “Sanctuary,” that guess is partially correct. When Burnham and Book hit-up Book’s home planet of Kwejian, the vast majority of what happens on that planet doesn’t have roots in old Trek canon, because, Kwejian — at least for Burnham — is a strange new world. That said, the rest of the episode still has more than a handful of references to the Final Frontier that came before. Here’s every Easter egg and reference we caught in Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 8, “Sanctuary.”
Prime Directive Violations
Admiral Vance tells Burnham and Sura that “The Chain has turned Prime Directive violations into an art form.” What he means is that basically, the Emerald Chain is contacting pre-warp planets, and exploiting those inhabitants for whatever they can get. In some ways, this makes the Emerald Chain kind of like the Terran Empire of the Mirror Universe. It also echoes the fight between the Kelpiens and the Ba’ul in Discovery Season 2.
A Picard-era Starfleet Badge?
When Oysraa (Janet Kidder) is revealed at the top of the episode, we see her holding an old Starfleet badge on the planet Hunhau, last seen in the episode “Scavengers.” In that episode, we saw Michael sifting through other old badges. It’s unclear which era this Starfleet badge comes from but it seems to be a version of the styles worn in Star Trek: Picard.
Janet Kidder as Osyraa
Does Janet Kidder seem familiar to you? Well, it’s not an Easter egg to notice an actress that seems familiar, but for genre fans, Janet Kidder had recurring roles in both The Man in the High Castle and the time-travel series Continuum. She also bears a striking resemblance to Lois Lane actress Margot Kidder, and that’s because Janet Kidder is Margot’s niece.
Jonathan Frakes is about to tie his TNG directorial record
This is the second episode this season to be directed by Jonathan Frakes, the previous one being “People of Earth.” Frakes is slated to direct one more episode this season, Episode 12, “The Good of the People.” That makes six episodes of Discovery directed by Frakes since 2017. If you count the two episodes he directed of Star Trek: Picard, this means Frakes has now directed the same number of episodes of “New Trek” as he directed episodes of The Next Generation. To be clear, he also directed two feature films (First Contact and Insurrection) and three episodes each of Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Still, assuming Frakes directs episodes of Discovery Season 4, Picard Season 2, and Strange New Worlds, we’re probably like a year away from him starting to overtake his ‘90s-era Trek directorial record!
Brandon Schultz and Kenneth Lin
The writers of this episode are Kenneth Lin and Brandon Schultz. This appears to be Kenneth Lin’s first Discovery episode. But, fans should already be aware of Brandom Schulz. Last year, he wrote the gorgeous Short Treks episode, “The Girl Who Made the Stars.”
Saru is working on his catchphrase to give orders in a cool way and having a rough time. Having Captain Pike say “Hit it” was first introduced in Discovery Season 2’s debut episode, “Brother.” But, it should be noted that Pike said “Engage!” in the TOS pilot “The Cage.” Captain Freeman faced a similar debacle in Lower Decks earlier this year.
Stamets and Adira have tracked the origin of the Burn to the “Verubin Nebula.” This appears to be a new Nebula in the Trek canon, but it sure sounds like an old one, doesn’t it?
Federation Distress Signal
When Saru asks Adira to isolate aspects of the music in the nebula, they find a Federation distress signal. This sound-effect sounds a little bit like a computer alert from TNG-era. (You can listen to a sample here.) But, the way in which they decipher the sound information is a little bit like the way Uhura and Spock break-down the alien probe signal in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
What lost ship is in there? Who knows!
Speaking of audio Easter eggs, when Saru enters the bridge early in the episode we hear the three-note Boatswain’s whistle. This has origins in actual naval history, but for Trek fans, this sound effect is most famously associated with The Original Series.
Osyraa’s warship is called “The Viridian” This could be a reference to the Star Trek Generation planet Veridian III, the place where Captain Kirk was eventually killed. That said the word “viridian” mostly refers to a certain shade of green, and the Orions are well, you know kind of…viridian in color.
Adira’s identity crisis echoes Ezri Dax
Adira tells Stamets they’re having a hard time figuring out which host’s personality is the most dominant. This echoes exactly what Ezri Dax went through in Deep Space Nine Season 7, when, like Adira, she was given a Trill symbiont on short notice.
Georgiou’s “flashback” is back
Much like we saw in “Scavengers,” Georgiou experiences her Mirror Universe flashback again. However, it should be noted that it sounds like she’s not saying “son,” like we previously thought, but instead saying “San.” This references a character mentioned in passing in a Discovery tie-in novel called Die Standing. Relevantly, this book also has Georgiou crossing paths with a previous host of Dax; Emony.
As Osyraa mocks Saru and the history of Kelpien enslavement, he counters by saying, “If memory serves, the Orions were once enslaved themselves.” Using the phrase “If memory serves,” is a sideways reference to Spock, but it also references the Discovery episode of the same name from Season 2. But, is Saru right? Well, yes, from a certain point of view. In the TOS-era, it was generally assumed that the Orions dealt in “animal women” as slaves. This is where we get the famous “green Orion” dancing woman, in “The Cage.” However, the Enterprise episode “Bound,” inverted this assumption, and revealed that Orion women were using an illusion of slavery to actually control the Orion Crime Syndicate. So, although Saru was right, he was also wrong. When Oysraa says: “My ancestors knew that power is virtue and that there is no nobility in suffering,” she’s likely referring to the faux-appearance that women were enslaved, when in fact, they were the ones running the entire Orion “government.”
Book mentions that Oysraa is using “photon torpedoes” to bombard the surface of Kwejian. Does this seem to imply the Emerald Chain has old-school tech? Shouldn’t photon torpedoes be outdated?
Detmer manual control references…Riker?
When Detmer decides to go “full-manual control” of Book’s ship, she suddenly has a couple of nifty joysticks. This seems to be a reference to the “manual steering column” on the Enterprise from Star Trek: Insurrection. In that film, Riker flew the Enterprise much the same way Detmer flies Book’s ship here. Guess who directed both that movie and this episode? Yep, you already know; Jonathan Frakes!
“You both are empaths”
Turns out, Book and his species aren’t space wizards, but instead, as Burnham says, they are empaths. This is a wink to the TOS episode “The Empath” but also, to the most famous empath in Trek history, Deanna Troi. Burnham also mentions that the Discovery will “amplify” the empathic signals of Book and Kyheem, “just like we did on Kaminar.” This references the Discovery Season 2 episode “The Sound of Thunder.”
The Emerald Chain is running out of dilithium
Thanks to Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz), the big revelation at the end of the episode is a pretty big game-changer. The evil Emerald Chain is low on dilithium, which means it will be harder for them to move their ships around. Because Discovery isn’t really relying on dilithium anymore, this could change everything in the rest of the season.
Ever since The Original Series, starships have needed dilithium to warp around the cosmos. If that changes by the end of Discovery Season 3, then the method for all this Star Trek-ing will be suddenly strange, new, and bold. Who knew Star Trek would end-up focused on the way we Trek?
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is streaming on CBS All Access.