Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 3 Easter Eggs and References

With a ton of high-fives to Deep Space Nine, some nods to The Next Generation, and even a possible Star Wars reference, here's all the cool stuff in the latest Star Trek: Discovery.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 3 "Choose to Live"
Photo: Paramount+

This article contains Star Trek: Discovery spoilers.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 3

For fans who feel like Star Trek: Discovery is the Deep Space Nine of the 21st century, the latest episode — “Choose To Live” — will only make that case stronger. Yes, although the Romulans warrior nuns from Star Trek: Picard take center stage in this episode, the vast majority of Easter eggs and callbacks will make Niners very happy.

Here’s every Easter egg and reference we caught in Star Trek: Discovery Season 4, Episode 3, “Choose to Live.”

“Choose To Live”

The title of the episode itself is an Easter egg. The phrase “Choose to Live,” spoken by Qowat Milat warriors is used as a kind of threat, warning a combatant that they’ve still got time to back down. In Picard, Elnor used this phrase many times before destroying people with a sword.

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Nerve pinch 

Before drawing her sword, J’Vini appears to use a Vulcan nerve pinch on one of the Starfleet officers. Whether she’s actually Romulan or Vulcan isn’t super relevant here. The Next Generation established that the nerve pinch can be done by non-Vulcans, notably, Jean-Luc Picard and Data.

In the first episode of Discovery, Michael Burnham — a human raised by Vulcans — used the nerve pinch on Captain Georgiou. For all you completists, the nerve pinch was first used in the TOS episode “The Enemy Within.”

Gabrielle Burnham and the Qowat Milat

  • The reappearance of Gabrielle Burnham, a human sister within the order of the Qowat Milat, is a callback to Discovery Season 3. At that point, we learned that just like Michael and the crew of the Discovery; Gabrielle was drawn into the future. The difference being, that Gabrielle arrived in the 32nd century several decades before the crew of DISCO. In this episode, we learned that the person who helped Gabrielle adjust to living in this new future is the now-rogue Qowat Milat, J’Vini.
  • The Qowat Milat originated in the Picard Season 1 episode, “Absolute Candor,” though canonically, this Romulan order has existed for much longer. In Discovery, it appears that both Vulcans and Romulans (and at least one human) can be a part of this order.


Gabrielle mentions that J’Vini is probably on a quest connected to a “Qalankhkai.” This is a Qowat Milat term that means the person on the quest has bound their blade to a lost cause. This idea was first introduced in Star Trek: Picard, again, in the episode “Absolute Candor,” when Elnor bound himself to the lost cause of Jean-Luc trying to find Soji and the cause of Dahj’s death.

Saru’s garden 

We first saw Saru’s garden in Discovery Season 2, specifically in the episode “An Obol for Charon.” Because the garden is in such good shape here, we kind of have to wonder who has been tending it in the five months since Saru left Discovery and went to work on Kaminar. Did he have all of his plants put in stasis? Was someone else taking care of the plants? 

Guardian Xi

The idea of a Trill Guardian originates in Deep Space Nine. Essentially, these are the people who tend to the symbionts when they’re not joined to hosts. Guardian Xi first appeared in Discovery in the Season 3 episode, “Forget Me Not.” 

“A zhian’tara like any other”

Guardian Xi mentions that the transference of Gray’s consciousness is “a zhian’tara like any other.” The word “zhian’tara” refers to a moment in which a joined Trill can meet their previous hosts.

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This comes from the Deep Space Nine episode “Facets,” in which the previous hosts of Dax embodied people who were friends with Jadzia Dax. So, the idea that Gray will inhabit a body outside of the symbiont Tal is similar to what happened with previous hosts of Dax in “Facets.” The reason this is so different is that the transference of Gray Tal into a new body is permanent, and the body is also non-organic. 

“When Spock was accused of murder” 

Burnham’s mom mentions the moment when “Spock was accused of murder.” This references the events of Discovery Season 2, in which a rogue A.I. named “Control,” manipulated holograms to make it look like Spock killed some people. Season 2 was also the first appearance of Gabrielle Burnham.

“This isn’t a moon…”

When Gabrielle says “this isn’t a moon…it’s a ship…” it seems like Star Trek is referencing Star Wars! Quite famously, Obi-Wan Kenobi said “that’s no moon…it’s a space station” in Star Wars: A New Hope. There’s also a few precedents for spatial bodies actually being spaceships in the Trek canon. In The Original Series episode “For the World is Hollow I Have Touched the Sky,” an asteroid was discovered to actually be a starship. 

Vulcan redspice 

While on the planet Ni’Var, president T’rina offers Book some “redspice.” This is a very deep cut to the Deep Space Nine episode “Second Sight,” in which this ingredient was used to make a very specific broth, which in turn, was put into a stew. To be clear, Discovery basically ransacked fictional Star Trek recipe books to cook up this Easter egg. 

Darts and a new DISCO bar!

This episode marks the debut of what appears to be a bar on the Starship Discovery, which is accented by cool flames everywhere. (Is the bar called DISCO INFERNO?) Regardless, it’s about time! In The Next Generation, the Enterprise-D had Ten Forward, starting in Season 2.

Meanwhile, Adira playing darts evokes the feeling of Quark’s Bar in Deep Space Nine. In DS9, Miles O’Brien convinced Quark to put up the dart board. As what has to be bonus shout-out to DS9, when Saru and Culber sit down at one of the tables in the bar, we see a Lurian chilling in the corner at a table, alone. The most famous Lurian in Star Trek canon was Morn, a wordless patron of Quark’s Bar, who, himself, was a kind of Easter egg for the character Norm, from the sitcom Cheers. 

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We could go down the Cheers wormhole with Star Trek actors, but let’s just leave it at this: Cheers featured a ton of Trek actors past and future, either in starring roles or a guest stars, including, but not limited to, Kirstie Alley, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Kate Mulgrew. 

Ship’s Counselor 

This episode also makes it clear that Culber is both a medical officer on Discovery and “the ship’s counselor.” Culber is now the fourth character to be a Star Trek regular (or semi-regular) who has the role of ship’s counselor. Obviously, Deanna Troi in TNG was the first, followed by Ezri Dax in DS9 Season 7. More recently, the bird-like Dr. Migleemowas was introduced on Lower Decks as the counselor of the USS Cerritos, starting with the Season 1 episode “Crisis Point,” in 2020. In the 23rd century, where Culber is from, the role of ship’s counselor didn’t appear to exist. 

Biomatter has a high concentration of latinum 

J’Vini says that the alien species she’s trying to protect has a “high concentration of latinum” in their bodies. In the Deep Space Nine era, gold-pressed latinum was used as currency in a big way by various species, often for black market purchases. If a species had latinum in their bodies, it makes sense that grave robbers were all over that. 

Mind Meld

This episode features a mind meld between T’Rina and Book. T’Rina says the classic words, “my mind to your mind.” Now, although the Vulcan mind meld (sometimes called “mind probe”) first appeared in the TOS Season 1  episode “Dagger of the Mind,” the words “my mind to your mind,” didn’t appear until the TOS Season 3 episode “Spectre of the Gun.”

This is also the first time a mind meld has happened in Discovery since Season 2. In both Season 1 and Season 2 of Discovery, there were multiple mind melds, but none in Season 3. There were a few mind melds in Picard Season 1 though, meaning 2020 wasn’t without any Trek mind melds entirely. That said, this is the first Trek mind meld of 2021. 

Gray wakes up

Gray’s synth body works! Following the events of the previous episode and the technology established in Season 1 of Picard, Gray now is reborn in an artificial body that is pretty much indistinguishable from an organic one. When this happens, Adira mentions they can no longer feel Gray’s memories within the Tal symobiant. This checks out with DS9 canon. When the hosts of Dax inhabited other bodies in “Facets,” during the zhian’tara, Jadzia couldn’t feel those memories anymore, either.

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Jolan Tru, Daughter 

When Gabrielle says goodbye to Michael she says, “Jolan Tru.” This is both a Romulan greeting and a Romulan way of saying goodbye. The phrase first appeared in Trek canon in the TNG episodes “Unification I” and “Unification II.” We also heard it a lot in Star Trek: Picard. Let’s face it, Trek canon just can’t quit those Romulans!

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 airs new episodes on Thursdays on Parmaount+.