Picard Season 3 Episode 6 Easter Eggs Just Changed the Game for Star Trek
In the latest Picard, Star Trek easter eggs are more than references. Here, the shout-outs are the story.
This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.
In new episodes of various Star Trek shows, there are easter egg moments and then, there are easter egg tsunamis. Picard season 3 episode 6, “The Bounty,” is the latter. This doesn’t mean that “The Bounty” has more easter eggs per se than other Trek episodes, but the references here do pack a bigger punch, for one specific reason — almost all the callbacks matter to the story.
Unlike some cameos and easter eggs in other franchises, all the canonical references in “The Bounty” transcend the concept of “fan service” and exist as tactile things in the Trek universe. These feel organic. If you’ve never seen an episode of Star Trek before, you might be a bit confused by this episode, and yet, this episode, and season 3 of Picard as a whole, is a wonderful 101 course on the totality of the ‘90s-era of Trek shows. “The Bounty” isn’t just a place for a lot of Trek easter eggs, the references are a kind of composite of all of Trek, while still pushing a brand new story forward.
So, what were the biggest Easter egg moments in “The Bounty?” Because it’s close to impossible to get every single reference here, let’s go deep on the ones that mattered most, and how these easter eggs turned deep cuts into brilliant storytelling.
The name of the episode telegraphs out the biggest easter egg, which is revealed later in the story: the Klingon Bird-of-Prey known as the HMS Bounty, originally featured in the films The Search For Spock and The Voyage Home. Of course, when Kirk and the crew stole this Bird-of-Prey in The Search For Spock, it wasn’t yet called the Bounty. Bones gave it that name in The Voyage Home as the result of a “fine sense of historical irony.” In real life, in 1789, people did organize a shipboard mutiny against William Bligh on a ship called the Bounty. Those people weren’t rebelling against shapeshifters, but like The Search For Spock and The Voyage Home, the status quo of Picard season 3 puts our heroes in the roles of loveable mutineers very early on. And by episode 6, the Titan is a borderline pirate ship.
So, when the Bounty actually appears in the Fleet Museum, the episode becomes somewhat of a spiritual sequel to The Voyage Home. Jack and Sidney stealing the cloaking device from the Bounty and installing it on the Titan also make the episode a worthy follow-up to The Original Series episode “The Enterprise Incident,” in which Kirk and Scotty jacked in a Romulan cloaking device to the classic 1701 Enterprise. And this connection to Captain Kirk and the voyages of that generation really make the other easter eggs click.
Jack’s Captain Kirk Fandom
When the Titan hits up the Fleet Museum at Athan Prime — a name that references a time-traveling character from 12 Monkeys, who is the son of characters on that show — Jack Crusher gushes to Seven about his love of Kirk and the Constitution-class Enterprise-A. It’s tempting to say that Jack is just an audience surrogate here for older Trekkers, but it’s way more layered than that. Jack’s love of Kirk and the classic Enterprise as a child is telling because he also rejected Jean-Luc Picard and the contemporary version of Starfleet. For Jack, a childhood love of starships and heroes like Kirk didn’t match up with the flawed person of Jean-Luc Picard.
But the audience knows that Picard and Kirk have met, and we’ve seen that interaction in a way that Jack couldn’t understand or feel. In the 1990s, some children fought with their parents over which captain was better — Kirk or Picard. Here, with Jack’s love of Kirk, we kind of flip the script against Picard, which proves that intergenerational arguments aren’t always connected to a recency bias. Nostalgia is tricky and it doesn’t always move in the same direction. This easter egg gets deeper when we consider that the episode also shows us Kirk’s literal dead body!
Kirk’s Body on Daystrom Station
When Riker and Worf enter the hall of easter eggs on Daystrom station — including another version of the Genesis Device and a genetically modified “Attack Tribble” — we also get a shot of Kirk’s remains stored here. Now, this means that Section 31 literally dug up Kirk’s dead body on Veridian III after Picard buried him there at the end of Star Trek Generations. This is creepy, but it’s also symbolically relevant to the story of The Next Generation crew. Kirk’s body and what was left of the Enterprise-D were both left on Verdian III, which, in 1994, signified the end of two eras — the original cast was no longer in control of Star Trek in the mainstream, but also, the heyday of The Next Generation was over because the Enterprise-D was over.
Kirk’s dead body on Daystrom Station is also a nice nod to the overall theme of mortality and legacy in Picard season 3. Jean-Luc begins this season by telling Laris, in episode 1, that “I’m not a man who needs a legacy.” And yet, here’s his son carrying on a devil-may-care attitude that we know is reminiscent of a young version of Jean-Luc Picard we only heard about in flashbacks like TNG’s “Tapestry.” When Worf and Riker are confronted with the hologram of Moriarty, they are taunted as “such pathetic old warriors,” which again, feels similar to how we felt about Kirk and the gang in The Undiscovered Country.
The Enterprise-A, Voyager, the Defiant, and… USS New Jersey?!
The last time we saw the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A was in The Undiscovered Country after the ship had just taken a pounding from a Bird-of-Prey that could fire while cloaked. Now, fans are probably aware that Christopher Plummer played Chang in that movie and his daughter Amanda Plummer plays Vadic in Picard season 3. But the easter egg of the Enterprise-A at the Fleet Museum cuts deeper than that. Unlike so many Enterprises, this is one that survived. The bulk of its hull is still intact enough to be on display at the Fleet Museum, giving the universe an idealized notion of that specific era of the 23rd century.
The Enterprise-A only exists because of the Bounty. If Kirk and the crew didn’t destroy the previous Enterprise, and stolen the Bounty, the Enterprise-A wouldn’t have happened. When Altan Soong is monologuing about the concept of evolution, we see the Titan parked in front of the Enterprise-A, showing us what nostalgia and the realities of time actually mean. The Titan being a Neo-Constitution-class ship isn’t just about cool retro starship lines. It represents how history shapes the present.
This thematic feeling is also true of the other big starship easter eggs at the Fleet Museum, such as the Constitution-class USS New Jersey introduced in the episode with its designation NCC-1975, which is a reference to where and when Picard showrunner Terry Matalas was born. The other ships that Jack and Seven talk about are all connected to the larger mosaic of the story of Trek. Seven says she was reborn on Voyager, and Jack pointing out the Defiant is relevant to the story we’re currently experiencing. Worf served on the Defiant, and that was the ship that was pivotal in beating back the Changelings the first time around on Deep Space Nine, even if, like the Enterprise-A, it is technically a replacement for the original, which was destroyed.
Data, Moriarty, and Jean-Luc’s Old Body
The second Defiant replaced the first. The Enterprise-A replaced the previous Enterprise. But these vessels aren’t the only things that have been replaced in Trek canon. Jean-Luc Picard and Data have both been given new life in new bodies. On Daystrom Station, Riker, Raffi, and Worf discover a new version of Data — or at least a composite of his memories, B-4, Lore, Soong, and Lal in a fresh vessel. This references Nemesis, the TNG episode “The Offspring,” Picard season 1, and TNG episodes like “Datalore” and “Brothers.” But more than that, the idea that Data seems to never die feels connected to the presence of the Moriarty hologram he sends out to greet old friends. After Riker remembers whistling “Pop Goes the Weasel” with Data in “Encounter at Farpoint,” Data’s consciousness allows the landing party access to the crucial part of Daystrom Station.
Riker has clearly processed his grief about Data’s death. In Nemesis, he couldn’t remember what song Data was trying to whistle, but years later he finally does. This is touching, but it also gestures at a bigger theme. Data is exactly like Sherlock Holmes in one specific way: his deaths are numerous and almost always false. Conan Doyle created Professor Moriarty for the short story “The Final Problem” in order to kill off Holmes forever in the minds of his readers. It didn’t work and Holmes was resurrected for subsequent stories, much like Data (and Spock!).
In “The Bounty,” Riker waxes poetic about the easter eggs relating to Data on Daystrom Station, saying, “I shared that tune decades ago with another dear friend. One who dreamt of crows [“Birthright Part 1”], aspired to thwart Moriarty with the intellect of Holmes [“Elementary,” “Dear Data,”], and somebody who couldn’t whistle worth a damn [“Encounter at Farpoint”].” In this trip down memory lane, complete with actual retro footage of Riker and Data from the pilot episode of The Next Generation, the purpose of Data’s journey is made clear. Holmes couldn’t die because the public demanded he be brought back. And Data’s journey, clearly, wasn’t over until he became properly human.
In fact, this is what Geordi says he is toward the end of the episode “synthetic, but human,” meaning, in death, Data has gotten what he wanted, to be reborn as a human. Crusher says, “He’s like you Jean-Luc,” referencing Picard’s synthetic body, created at the end of Picard season 1.
The episode ends with Riker and Troi being reunited, but as captives, while Data reveals that Jean-Luc Picard’s original human body was what the Changelings stole from Daystrom Station. Jean-Luc Picard in season 3 is like the Enterprise-A or the second Defiant. He’s the original, but also the replacement. He’s the same man, but not. Picard season 3 is a Next Generation sequel, and yet, much has changed, and generations beyond TNG have become central to the future of Star Trek. In Generations, Picard told Riker: “What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived…After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.”
Riker responded: “Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever.”
And now, Picard season 3 is making that funny little exchange into a deadly serious conversation. Data and Picard can’t live forever. Riker’s in trouble, too. The past isn’t just a fun joke or reference, it creates the future. Because, after all the deep cuts and shout-outs, Picard season 3 reminds us that what happens next is all that really matters.