Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 4 — Every Easter Egg & Reference

Star Trek: Discovery remakes a TOS classic with style and big feelings while giving a ton of shout-outs to the whole franchise along the way.

The Discovery crew explores a new planet in Star Trek
Photo: Paramount

This Star Trek: Discovery article contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 4.

After season 2, one of the hallmarks of Star Trek: Discovery is the fact that many of the episodes tend to feel more like standalones. Although there’s always a big arc lurking in the background, both Season 3, and now, Season 4, have proven that even within the serialized framework of DISCO, Trek can still tell stand-alone stories in the 32nd Century. In the previous episode, “Choose to Live,” we got an action-adventure mystery involving the Qowat Milat. This time, in “All Is Possible,” DISCO does a classic Star Trek survival story, with an amazing emotional punch at the end. Here are all the Easter eggs and deep-cut references we caught in “All Is Possible.”

Ni’Var rejoining the Federation 

Most of the plot of this episode revolves around the idea of the Ni’Var — the planet formerly known as Vulcan — rejoining the Federation. This references the events of Season 3, specifically the episode “Unification III,” in which we learned that Romulans and Vulcans now live on the same planet in relative peace. Historically, the planet Ni’Var/Vulcan was a founding member of the Federation, along with Earth, Andor and Tellar Prime.

A Ferengi behind the bar

The brand-new lounge/bar on the USS Discovery — which made its debut in the previous episode — doesn’t seem to have consistent staff, however, in this episode, in the background, we do see a Ferengi seemingly tending bar. This clearly references Quark’s bar in Deep Space Nine, where Quark and his brother Rom (both Ferengi) both tended bar. This feels like a deliberate follow-up to the previous episode, which had a shout out to Quark’s Bar patron, Morn.

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Starfleet PJs seem to have old school insignia 

Although the Disco crew has fully switched over to the 3189 Starfleet uniforms, complete with the rounded combadge, Burnham’s pajamas are still rocking the old-school Starfleet delta. 

Dr. Kovich 

David Cronenberg’s enigmatic Starfleet character, Kovich, returns in this episode, this time with the title of “Dr.” We don’t know what Kovich is a doctor of, and because he tells Tilly he’s “consulting” with Starfleet Academy, it’s still unclear as to what his regular job is within Starfleet. ray Tal’s Academy experience…and Adira’s

Gray Tal’s Academy experience…and Adira’s

Gray mentions that “Starfleet Academy is awesome.” This might seem like an offhand remark from him, but both Gray — and Adira — presumably have all the memories of the previous hosts of the Tal symbiont. When we saw the previous hosts of Tal in the Season 3 episode “Forget Me Not,” it was established that at least three of them were Starfleet officers, including Admiral Senna Tal. Because of Kovich’s age, it seems reasonable that he knew Senna Tal in Starfleet. But, because they are a human host of Tal, Adira doesn’t access those memories from the symbiont as consistently. Meaning, Adira’s memories of previous hosts of Tal having gone to Starfleet Academy might be fuzzier than Gray’s. 

Zhian’tara exercises 

Gray has to work on his “Zhian’tara exercise” to keep his “mind-body” connection strong. As with the last episode, “zhian’tara” is a reference to the Deep Space Nine episode “Facets,” which refers to various hosts of a Trill inhabiting new bodies. 

Red Starfleet Cadet Uniforms

All the Starfleet Cadets wear red uniforms. This references not only the 2009 reboot canon, in which all cadets wore red, but also, The Next Generation-era, which established all cadets in the 2360s, wore black jumpsuits, with red shoulders. Even in the DS9-era, red was the go-to color for those shoulder pads, too.

USS Armstrong 

After the planned training exercise, Tilly’s shuttlecraft of cadets is supposed to rendezvous with the USS Amrstrong. This ship is almost certainly named for famous astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human being on the Moon. Trek canon loves naming things after Armstrong; Riker mentions “Lake Armstrong ” in First Contact and a different three-nacelled USS Armstrong was part of the Federation fleet sent to defend Vulcan in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. 

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But, within the current Discovery timeline, this USS Armstrong is actually the 32nd Century version of the “Constitution Class,” named after the original “Constitution Class” of The Original Series. According to the book Starfleet Ships: 2294-The Future, the Armstrong has a crew of at least 2,000 and was designed as a kind of tribute to the “Constitution Class” ships from the 23rd Century. Similarly, the USS Voyager-J is an 32nd Century version of the “Intrepid Class,” meaning that, after over 800 years, Starfleet started recycling the class names of their various starships. 

Gamma-Ray Burst 

Adira and Harral both mention that a “rogue gamma-ray” burst knocked out the shuttle and the communications. The pseudo-scientific version of “gamma radiation” has been mentioned in Star Trek canon several times, including, but not limited to, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the TNG episode “Silicon Avatar,” the DS9 episode “Meridian,” and the Voyager episode “Child’s Play.”

Based on a sampling of those references, gamma radiation, or a gamma ray burst, has been linked to:

  • Recrystallizing dilithium crystals (The Voyage Home)
  • Remnants of the Crystalline entity (TNG)
  • Time shifts with planets (DS9)
  • And Borg weapons (Voyager)

In fairness, it might not be a great idea to draw too many conclusions from this very innocuous line, however, Tilly has experience with recrystallizing dilithium in the Short Treks episode “Runaway,” Discovery loves time shifts, and people have been wondering about the return of the Borg in DISCO since Season 2 seemed to suggest a connection between Control and the Borg. 

That said, the DS9 episode “The Sons of Mogh” also established that Klingon mines emitted gamma radiation. And so far, in 3189 we have no clue what the Klingons are up to in the post-Burn future. Did Tilly and the kids hit a Klingon mine? 

L-Class Planet (or Moon)

The notion of a planet (or Moon) that is slightly below the coveted “M-Class” planet, is not new to this episode. In fact, Discovery crashed on an L-Class planet in the Season 3 episode “Far From Home,” last year. The first L-Class planet in Trek canon was in the TNG episode “The Chase,” a planet called Indri VIII.

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Colony on Titan 

Cadet Sasha mentions she grew up in a “Colony on Titan.” In the Discovery Season 3 episode “People of Earth,” we learned that Titan had been in a decades-long feud with Earth, one which was diffused by the USS Discovery

Vasquez rocks out the window of Ni’Var

Out the window of the conference room on Ni’Var, we see several rock formations that look like the Vasquez rocks. These real rock formations are a near omnipresent Easter egg in all of Star Trek. North of Los Angeles, the area stood-in for several alien planets in TOS, TNG, and yes, was the planet Vulcan (Ni’Var) in the 2009 reboot. More recently, the Vasquez rocks made a big appearance in Star Trek: Picard Season 1, appearing for the first time, as the actual Vasquez rocks. In this case, in DISCO, clearly these are CGI.

Multiple references to the TOS episode “The Galileo Seven”

The entire set-up of Tilly’s predicament, and various aspects of the shuttlecraft crash are intentional homages to the 1967 episode of The Original Series, “The Galileo Seven.” The director of the episode, John Ottman, has confirmed that in speaking to the writers of the episode — Alan McElroy and Eric J. Roberts — this episode was intended to directly reference various aspects of “The Galileo Seven.” So, that means, there are quite a few small nods to that episode

  • When Adira goes to repair parts of the shuttle, they move a grate on the floor. This is exactly like Scotty working on the Galileo shuttle.
  • In “The Galileo Seven,” the shuttle is lost in a “quasar-like” area of space called Murasaki 312. In “All Is Possible,” the cadet shuttle crashlands on a moon of a larger planet, but we’re told there are over 30 moons. The point is, in each case, it would be impossible to find the shuttle in a short period of time.
  • In both episodes, the trapped crew of the shuttle hears roars from outside on the alien planet. In “All Is Possible,” this turns out to be some actual snow monsters. But, in  “The Galileo Seven,” it was giants with spears. 
  • In both episodes, one crew member dies and everyone is told to move on quickly with their survival tasks.
  • Finally, in “The Galileo Seven,” Spock’s ability to command the shuttle was put into question by several other people, which suggests a degree of prejudice against Spock simply because he’s half-Vulcan. In “All Is Possible,” Harral and Gorev distrust each other because as an Orion and a Tellarite, they have bad blood from the days that the Emerald Chain ruled over several planets. (Which also references the events of Season 3.)

To be fair, “The Galileo Seven,” isn’t the only Star Trek episode which focuses on a shuttle crash and/or crew members being trapped in a shuttle. Other notable episodes include “Final MIssion,” in TNG, when Wesley and Picard crash on a planet, and “Shuttlepod One,” in Enterprise, in which Trip and Reed shiver in a stranded shuttlepod, hoping someone will find them.

Tilly’s photo with Michael 

Toward the end of the episode, in Tilly’s quarters, we see a photo of her and Michael from earlier in the Discovery timeline. Specifically, this shot has to come from Season 2, because Tilly is rocking a Starfleet badge that’s not her Cadet badge from Season 1. This suggests this photo had to be taken sometime between Season 1 and Season 2, perhaps around the events of the Tilly-centric Short Treks episode “Runaway.” Basically, there’s actually a fairly tight time period in which this photo could have been taken. Because Season 2 hit the ground running, it feels unlikely Burnham and Tilly would have posed for this picture while Burnham was super stressed about finding Spock or after Burnham discovered her mother was the Red Angel. 

Remember when we first became roomies?

Tilly recalls the moment when she and Michael Burnham first met. They were forced to share a room and Tilly says “I was scared to bunk with a famous mutineer.” This references the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, “Context Is For Kings,” in which Burnham joins the crew of the Discovery following her mutiny on the USS Shenzhou in “The Battle at the Binary Stars.”

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I can get Zora to record me sleeping…

Tilly mentions that Zora could create a hologram of her for Burnham. Zora, as we well know by now, is the sentient computer that runs the USS Discovery. Although Zora hadn’t totally emerged in Season 2, by the end of Season 3, Zora had put her consciousness into the Dot-Bots, who first revealed themselves to Tilly, while she was in command of the ship in the episode “There Is a Tide…”

Snowglobe with NX-01 (all is possible) 

Several times in the episode we see Tilly’s snow-globe with the words “All Is Possible.” Adira is gifted this at the end of the episode. But, the starship inside the globe seems to be the NX-01 class, meaning the same class as the “first” Enterprise, for Star Trek: Enterprise. Although Discovery now takes place in the 32nd Century, well beyond the canon of the rest of the other shows, it didn’t start that way. In seasons 1 and 2, DISCO took place in the 2250s, before TOS and after Enterprise. That’s Tilly’s original timeline. And, of all the shows, the DISCO is the one closest to Enterprise, at least, chronologically. 

In other words, Tilly having nostalgia for the NX-01 makes perfect sense!

Star Trek: Discovery airs new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.