Strange New Worlds Easter Eggs Call Back to a Major Star Trek: Wrath of Khan Character

With “Subspace Rhapsody,” the Enterprise crew has sung their way into several deep-cut references, including a callback to Carol Marcus from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 9
Photo: Best Possible Screengrab/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.

When Strange New Worlds premiered last year, nobody expected the show to become a series of strange new genres. And yet, the most retro Star Trek series of the modern era has proved to be the most flexible. In a race to see which Star Trek show would have become a musical first, nobody could have guessed SNW would have beat Lower Decks to that particular punch. But here we are. The first official musical in the history of Star Trek has arrived, and like a lot of SNW season 2, “Subspace Rhapsody” contains multitudes. 

Here’s every big easter egg from the Strange New Worlds musical and how some of the deeper cuts actually will change the way you think about Star Trek history…

“Triple the Speed of Subspace Communications”

Uhura and Spock are pumped about finding a “naturally occurring subspace fold” because they think it can speed up current subspace radios. This is a small tip of the hat to the idea that in The Original Series era the Enterprise was very often out of communications range of Starfleet Command, meaning Kirk had to make decisions on his own. In the The Next Generation era, it was far more common for Picard to have real time conversations with his superiors via subspace.

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More broadly, the idea of “subspace” in Trek goes back to TOS, and simply refers to a part of space that is separate and apart from normal space. Technically speaking, warp speed happens in subspace, but faster-than-light communications are also sent through subspace. Interestingly, in Discovery season 3, we learned that the Gorn destroyed parts of subspace prior to the 32nd century. Later in the episode, Spock says, “With our current relay network it takes weeks to send a message across the quadrant.” That’s pretty much still the case in TOS, which is in the future of SNW.

Uhura as a Switchboard Operator 

Because the Enterprise computer is being hogged by computations connected to the subspace fold, Uhura is having to route comms to different people manually. This actually happens a lot in The Original Series, and in The Motion Picture, too. This is another nod to the “outdated” tech of the TOS era that is still very much the present in SNW.

The Description of Roger Korby

M’Benga describes Roger Korby as “the Louis Pasteur of archaeological medicine.” Spock uses this exact characterization of Dr. Korby in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” from season 1 of The Original Series. Relevantly, Dr. Korby will eventually become Christine Chapel’s fiancé — before disappearing. Spock and Christine have no way of knowing this at this point in the timeline, but it does make Spock’s song later in the episode, “I’m the X,” all the more poignant. Spock isn’t just losing Christine to a fellowship. She’s destined to fall in love with Dr. Korby! 

We Have No Idea Who the Captain of the Farragut Is at This Point

Interestingly, although the Farragut has been referenced earlier this season in episode 6, we have no idea who the captain is at this point in the timeline. At some point, the captain of the Farrugut was Captain Garrovick, who died sometime in 2257. We know this because the backstory of the TOS episode “Obsession” tells us a younger Kirk served on that ship at that time. Confusingly, this means that the events described in “Obsession” take place either at the very end of the Klingon War, or smack dab in the middle of it. It’s possible SNW is messing with the timeline a bit, and that we’re supposed to believe that Garrovick is still in command. But, because the captain of the ship has specifically not been named, it seems like the show is playing a small canon tapdance.

Kirk Shadowing Number One

Number One mentions shadowing Pike before she became the First Officer. This seems to imply Number One was shadowing Pike when he was still the first officer of the Enterprise, under Robert April. Was Una promoted to First Officer before Pike was promoted to Captain?

Number One’s “New” Personality 

Kirk and Number One’s song, “Connect to Your Truth,” mildly lampshades the idea that Number One is a kinder and gentler on SNW than she was in “The Cage.” In the original conception of Star Trek, Number One was supposed to be more Spock-like and cold.

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Gilbert and Sullivan 

In the same song, Number One makes a reference to “Gilbert and Sullivan.” This comes from the Short Treks episode “Q&A” in which she and Spock sang “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” while stranded in the turbolift. Accidentally, that Michael Chabon-penned episode also referenced the TNG classic “Disaster,” in which Crusher had Geordi sing the same song.

La’an’s Watch

When La’an sings “How Would That Feel,” we see her watch from episode 3, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” This was the watch she modified to find the secret facility during the time travel mission with the alternate Kirk.

The Ships in Starfleet, Circa 2260

When we learn that the musical reality is spreading to the “entire fleet,” we actually see several ships listed in Starfleet, including:

  • Republic
  • Lexington 
  • Kongo
  • Farragut

All of these ships, including the Kongo, were listed as sister ships of the Enterprise in the book The Making of Star Trek. The TOS episode “Court Martial” established that the Republic was Kirk’s first ship before the Farrugut. The USS Lexington appears in the TOS episode “The Ultimate Computer” while the Kongo was listed in The Making of Star Trek and has appeared on several background readouts and charts, including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Klingon Planet Forcas

The star chart lists the planet Forcas here as a Klingon world. In the TNG episode “Parallels,” Worf has just come from a bat’leth tournament on Forcas III.

Deep-Cut Canon Planets

The same star chart also lists a few other planets, all of which are deep-cuts in Star Trek canon, including:

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  • Eminar: This references the system from the TOS episode “A Taste of Armageddon.” In that episode, Eminar VII was fighting a war with the planet Vendikar, but the war was waged entirely by computers.
  • Delphi Ardu: This was a planet that was part of the long-extinct Tkon Empire, glimpsed in the TNG episode “The Last Outpost.”
  • Gamma Tauri: Also first mentioned in “The Last Outpost” in TNG, it was later thought to be near the Cardassian border in Deep Space Nine.

“Secrets You Keep” 

The song, “Secrets You Keep,” refers to La’an’s time travel mission, Chapel and M’Benga’s actions in the Klingon War, and possibly, even Spock covering up the existence of his sister, Michael Burnham.


La’an calls Kirk “Jim,” which is what the alternate universe Kirk asked her to call him in “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” Of course, throughout Trek canon, Kirk prefers “Jim” to “James.” But, oddly, almost everyone (including Uhura and La’an) in SNW has called him “James” except La’an.

Bruce Horak Returns!

In 2022, after Hemmer’s death in “All Those Who Wander,” Bruce Horak assured fans that he would return to Star Trek canon as a different character entirely. While one could argue this already happened in the episode “Lost in Translation,” in which Hemmer appeared as a kind of psychic memory, Horak appears here, again, as the Klingon captain.

K’Tinga Class and Aft Torpedoes 

The Klingon ships referenced in this episode are said to be “K’Tinga class,” which references the Klingon ships first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Although very similar to the D-7 Klingon ships from TOS, the big feature these ships seemed to have in TMP was…wait for it…the ability to fire photon torpedoes from behind.

“I Don’t Love Rules”

The idea that Kirk is a rule breaker by nature is a matter of some debate. Although we tend to think of Kirk as someone who breaks the rules all the time, at this point in the Prime Timeline, the biggest rule Kirk has probably broken is simply cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test as a cadet. Although we saw Chris Pine’s Kirk take this test in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, based on what we learned in The Wrath of Khan, we really don’t know how many rules Prime Kirk has broken. Especially not by 2260. But what rule does Kirk think he’s referencing? It feels unlikely that the Temporal Prime Directive existed in 2260, but maybe there is some early version of temporal regulations that Kirk is referencing.

Carol Marcus

Kirk reveals to La’an that he can’t pursue a relationship with her because he’s getting more serious with a woman named “Carol” who is a “scientist on Starbase I.” This referencing Carol Marcus from The Wrath of Khan, who, we learned in that film, had a son with Kirk, but specifically asked Kirk not to be in his son’s life, at all.

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At this point in canon, David isn’t born yet, but we learn here that Carol is pregnant. Kirk says, “I tend not to stay in one place for very long, which is a growing problem because Carol is…pregnant.” The idea that Kirk couldn’t stay in one place is referenced in The Wrath of Khan when Carol says, “Were we together? Were we going to be? You had your world and I had mine. And I wanted him [their son] in mine, not chasing through the universe with his father…”

To be clear, the idea that Kirk was a low-key deadbeat dad was a retcon in 1982 in The Wrath. So, if it feels like retcon here, this has been going on for a long, long time.

Spock’s Big Feelings

The idea that Spock has emotions that are more intense than regular human emotions was established way back in TOS in episodes like “The Naked Time,” “Amok Time,” and “All Our Yesterdays.” The fact that Spock says, “I feel things differently, bigger,” is 100 percent a huge part of his entire arc in the classic films, starting with The Motion Picture, when he fails to purge all emotions in the Kolinahr. In a sense, this episode also sets up “The Naked Time.” Because Chapel is breaking things off with Spock, this, in theory, could lead Spock to be colder with her when she returns to the Enterprise in the time of TOS. Spock’s song, “I’m the X,” also seems to contain strains of that funky Vulcan guitar riff from “Amok Time.”

How Many People on the Enterprise?

The number of crewmembers on the Enterprise is mentioned to be “200.” Does this seem low? Well, in The Original Series, Kirk (and others) mentioned more than once that the Enterprise had over 400 crewmembers. In “A Piece of the Action,” he even tells mobsters that “there are over 400 there.” But, in the Pike era, the crew complement of the Enterprise is around 200. In “The Cage,” Pike said he was “tired of being responsible for 203 lives.” When the Enterprise appeared in the Discovery season 2 debut episode, “Brother” — the foundation for Strange New Worlds — the crew mentioned the Enterprise had 203 crewmembers.

“Our Prime Directive”

At one point in the big, showstopping, final song, “We Are One,” the crew sings about “our Prime Directive,” to which Spock says, “Well, not exactly.” The Prime Directive is about non-interference, of course. Not about uniting as one. But, whatever! Good thing Spock was there to “Well, actually” everyone in the middle of the song.

TOS Theme…Emerges From the Subspace Fissure?

As the closing number stops the subspace fissure, we hear the classic theme from The Original Series. Could we take this to mean that the Alexander Courage-composed theme to the classic show is…perhaps…created at this point in the Trek timeline? Now that a musical universe is possible within Trek canon, anything is possible.

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