Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9 Easter Eggs & References

From parallel dimensions to Wrath of Khan references, Discovery's “Terra Firma, Part 1” was full of Star Trek references.

Adira in Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9
Photo: CBS

This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 9.

Although a casual fan doesn’t need to know the ins-and-outs of Star Trek canon to get into Star Trek: Discovery, it certainly helps! Although all of Discovery Season 3 has been set in a “new” part of the Trek timeline, the 32nd Century to be exact, the series hasn’t entirely been freed of canon restraints. From Trill, to Starfleet history, and beyond, Discovery Season 3 has been a rollercoaster of connections to the entire sprawling canon of Trek. And, as “Terra Firma Part 1” proves, that canon isn’t just limited to one universe. Here are all the Easter eggs and references we caught in Discovery Season 3, Episode 9, “Terra Firma, Part 1.”

The Kelvin Universe 

Right at the top of the episode, the mysterious Kovich (David Cronenberg) explains to Culber that traveling both across time and jumping from different universes can “make you pretty sick,” and in the case of a “time soldier” named Yor, can be fatal. This 2379 Starfleet officer is a Betelgeusian, but also “from a parallel universe caused by the temporal incursion of a Romulan mining ship.” This is the first time in “Prime” Trek canon that we’ve been told outright that they’re even aware of the Kelvin Universe. Further, Yor is the first glimpse of the future of what Starfleet looks after the reboot films in that timeline. Basically, Yor’s uniform might look like an early TNG-era jumpsuit, but because he’s got a 2370s combadge, it’s a bit of a mishmash. 

TLDR: In the future of the Kelvin Universe, they dress like it’s the beginning of TNG. But, who knows? Maybe in Yor’s universe, gold in 2379 still means “command.” 

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Oh! And Yor’s death also neatly explains why Old Spock died off screen in Star Trek Beyond. Kovich says: “Before Georgiou, Yor was the only individual known to have traveled across time and dimensions.” This implies his files don’t know about Old Spock, who did the same. The question is: How does Starfleet in the Prime Universe know about the Kelvin Universe (and how it was created) and not know about Old Spock going there? Hmmm?

The Temporal Wars and the Temporal Accords 

Kovich mentions both the Temporal Wars and the Temporal Accords, and mentions that the “Interdimensional displacement restriction” prevents people from going to other parallel universes on purpose. According to Daniels in Star Trek: Enterprise, the Temporal Accords existed sometime in the 31st century, roughly a hundred years before the events of Discovery Season 3, and likely before the burn. Although Discovery has mentioned “the Temporal Wars” before, it stands to reason that one aspect of these wars was the “Temporal Cold War” seen throughout all four seasons of Enterprise

“Maybe they’ll call you Killy after all”

Georgiou jokes that if Tilly manages to kill the crew by accident that “maybe they’ll call you Killy after all.” This references Season 1 of Discovery in which we learned that Mirror Tilly’s nickname was “Captain Killy.” Notably, we never saw Captain Killy in “Despite Yourself,” or any of the other Season 1 episodes in which she was referenced. Obviously, that changes in this episode. 

The Gamma Quadrant 

The Discovery’s computer suggests taking Georgiou to the planet Dannus V, which Michael Burnham says is “just shy of the Gamma Quadrant near the galactic rim.” So, to put this in perspective, the Gamma Quadrant is the area of space that the Bajoran Wormhole led to in Deep Space Nine. Saying this planet is just shy of the Gamma Quadrant, could indicate it’s right on the border between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants, which would be “north” of Federation space, roughly. The galactic rim might refer to the barrier at the edge of the galaxy. This barrier was breached by the USS Enterprise in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and again in “By Any Other Name.” Relevantly, passing through that barrier caused Gary Mitchell and Dr. Dehner to acquire PSI powers and slowly go nuts. 

Speaking of Gary Mitchell…

Admiral Vance suggests that leaving Georgiou on an “Uninhabited planet is better than a brig in the starship.” This kind of references the idea that Kirk was going to maroon Gary Mitchell on Delta Vega, rather than just kill him outright. Meanwhile, while the name of the planet here — Dannus V — is new to Trek canon, the word could reference writer Richard Danus, who wrote for both TNG and DS9.

The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the one

Saru quotes Spock from The Wrath of Khan in his decision not to help Georgiou with her condition. He’s overruled eventually, which kind of echoes Saru’s conversation with the Vulcan president T’Rina in “Unification III,” in which she told him that maxim’s like that one were part of some bagge the Vulcans were trying to get over.

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“You hesitated last time”

Vance tells Burnham that he needs to know she won’t hesitate if Georgiou gets dangerous. Burnham says, “you’re referring to Commander Airiam.” This references the events of “Project Daedalus,” in which Airiam nearly killed everyone after getting possessed by the AI called Control.

New phasers 

We’ve been seeing “new” Starfleet phasers in the opening credits for a while, but this looks like the first time someone picks one up. It also appears that the phaser morphs into something on Georgiou’s wrist. So, maybe these phasers are made of programmable matter? 

Where I’m from we were Prime and you were the Mirror”

The idea that there is an “objective” Prime Universe, is of course fanspeak that has bled into the actual canon of Star Trek. Nobody in the Mirror Universe considers themselves to be from an alternate dimension, and ditto with the Kelvin Universe. This is the first time this kind of thing has been openly addressed on-screen in Trek canon.

“Door Doesn’t Register at All”

Burnham says that the mysterious door doesn’t “register” on her Tricorder. This is a little like the Guardian of Forever in the TOS episode “City on the Edge of Forever.” In that episode, Spock says, “For this to do what it does it does is impossible by any science I understand.”

Prefix code

When Adira and Stamets locate the Kelpien ship that is still sending a signal in the Verubin Nebula, they mention that they have the prefix code, which should be able to open up a backdoor to the systems. This references The Wrath of Khan when Kirk uses the prefix code of the Reliant to order the ship to lower its shields. 

“Die standing”

Before Georgiou walks through the magic door, she says she’d rather “die standing.” This might reference a recent tie-in novel Discovery novel called Die Standing by John Jackson Miller. In that book, there’s a character from Georgiou’s past named San, and it seems like this is the person she’s mourning in the Mirror Universe flashbacks from this season.

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Lorca’s Coup

Georgiou has seemingly traveled into the Mirror Universe, and back into the year 2255. All of these events served as the backstory for Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, and effectively happened “before” the show began. For a full breakdown of all the ways Georgiou’s new trip to the Mirror Universe changes what we know of this timeline, check out this handy article. 

Epsilon Indi IV 

“Killy” references the Imperial shipyards on Epsilon Indi IV. This star system first appeared in the TOS episode “And the Children Shall Lead.”

Mirror Landry returns 

Ellen Landry, played by Battlestar Galactica veteran Rekha Sharma, returns in this episode. We haven’t seen Landry since season 1 of Discovery in which she seemingly died twice, once as Prime Landry, and again, when DISCO blew-up the Charon. Notably, Landry was part of Lorca’s coup, but it looks like nobody knows that right now.

Georgiou’s fancy title

We hear Emperor Georgiou’s fancy title twice in this episode: Her Most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo’noS, Regina Andor, Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius. We first heard this title in the Discovery episode “Vaulting Ambition.”

Evil DOT bots

The last time we visited the Mirror Universe, we hadn’t been introduced to the DOT bots from Season 2 of Discovery, yet. Here, it appears that the Terran Starfleet has red-eyed versions of these cute little things, because, of course they do.

Vahar’ai retcon

In Season 1 of Discovery, we didn’t know about the process of Vahar’ai, in which Kelpiens are supposed to turn into baddasses. In the Mirror Universe, it seems that the Terrans have taken the place of the Ba’ul, introduced in the episode, “A Sound of Thunder.” Did Georgiou know about Vahar’ai only because of her trip to the Prime Universe? Or do high-level Terrans know about it?

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Owo, the security chief of the Charon

We see Owo battling to keep her job as the security chief of the Charon. In the first Mirror Timeline, she had this job. 

Georgiou’s backstory seems to foreshadow Deep Space Nine’s Mirror Universe

During the christening ceremony, we see a dramatic recreation of Georgiou’s ascension to become Emperor of the Terran Empire. One aspect of this has to do with her totally dominating the Klingons. In the future of the Mirror Universe, we learn that the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance eventually destroyed the Terran Empire. Clearly, the Klingons were harboring a hundred-year-long grudge.

Daughter of Rome

Did the Roman Empire just not fall in the Mirror Universe? When Stamets calls Georgiou a “daughter of Rome” it really makes you think that’s the case. But, if we’re meant to think that the Roman Empire didn’t fall in the ancient history of the Terran Universe, then it feels super-unlikely that all the same people would have even been born, in order to like, establish duplicates of Tilly, Stamets, Kirk, Spock, etc. I mean, I guess it’s possible, but wow, the divergence goes back that far?

Georgiou is kinda like Kirk in “Mirror, Mirror”

In terms of story beats, Georgiou is in a similar place Kirk was in “Mirror, Mirror.” Kirk spared Mirror Chekov’s life, Georgiou spares Mirror Burnham’s life. Kirk started being nice to his concubine, Georgiou is being nice to her slave, the Mirror Saru. In both cases, the characters know that everyone will freak out if they keep acting nice and forgiving to people around them, so an air of arrogance and bluster is required. The difference is Kirk only had to fake it until he made it out of the Mirror Universe. What’s Georgiou gonna do? Fake it until she reforms the Terran Empire? 

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 has four new episodes left this season. Those all stream on Thursdays on CBS All Access.