This article contains Star Trek: Strange New Worlds spoilers.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 4
If there’s one thing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is trying to make clear, it’s that hanging out in the Star Trek universe isn’t safe. While The Next Generation and Voyager may have had the reputation for looking and feeling a little too cozy, Strange New Worlds continues the grittier vibe from Discovery, which also references the rough-and-tumble nature of The Original Series.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 4, “Memento Mori,” is its darkest episode yet, with a ton of nods to The Original Series, the classic films, and an interesting sideways nod to Lower Decks. Here’s every Easter egg and reference we caught while the Enterprise faced off with the Gorn for the first time…
Security officer’s log
Strange New Worlds episode 4 continues the tradition started in episode 2, “Children of the Comet,” in which the episode begins with a different person’s log entry. We’ve now had log entries from Uhura, Number One, and now, La’an frame three separate episodes.
Starfleet Remembrance Day Pins
The crew all wear specific round buttons that honor past starships they all have some connection to. Although it’s tough to see all the pins, the co-writer of this episode, in a recent interview with the author of this piece, Davy Perez explained the significance of the pins like this:
“I liked the idea of introducing a way to honor Starfleet’s fallen. Part of what I was hoping to do with Remembrance Day, in my own small way, was to take the trope about “redshirts getting killed” that is often joked about and give that a dramatic meaning. These are Starfleet officers we’re talking about after all!”
But who’s pin honors which ship? Here’s what Perez said:
“Ortegas’ ship was the Palenque. I remember that for sure. I believe Chapel’s was the Farragut. Someone wore Yorktown, that could be Pike’s pin. And Kongo was also in the mix, I think Spock might have worn Kongo because he isn’t allowed to acknowledge that he lost his sister on Discovery.”
The Farragut is probably a reference to the ship James T. Kirk served on in roughly 2257, which would be just a few years before this episode. In the TOS episode “Obsession,” we learn Kirk was on the Farragut when it was attacked by a cloud creature. Yorktown was an early candidate for the name of the Enterprise. And, the Kongo popped up in several older Star Trek books, starting with The Making of Star Trek, which lists it as possibly one of several sister ships of the Enterprise.
S.S. Puget Sound
Named for a region in Washington state, we also learn that as a little kid, La’an served on the S.S. Puget Sound, a non-Starfleet colony ship. However, the jackets worn by La’an and her brother in the flashbacks indicate the Puget Sound was very much a Federation ship, as evidenced by the “UFP” on the shoulders of the jackets. Also, the jackets themselves slightly resemble the design worn by Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk in Star Trek Beyond, which may or may not be intentional.
Spock says “SEN-SORS”
Spock’s pronunciation of the word “sensors,” with the emphasis on the second part of the word — sounding like “oars” — is consistent with Leonard Nimoy’s pronunciation of the word in The Original Series. In the Lower Decks episode “Moist Vessel,” Mariner balked when Admiral Vassery pronounced the word this way.
DISCO phaser rifles
Some of the landing party are carrying phaser rifles. These echo the same design used by Captain Georgiou and Michael Burnham in the first Discovery episode ever, “The Vulcan Hello.”
TOS music cues
Nami Melumad’s score for Strange New Worlds incorporates a lot of TOS flavor, including drums and musical cues reminiscent of “Arena,” the first episode with the Gorn.
Deep-space transfer tube
The Enterprise uses a physical transfer tube to move people off of the colony freighter. This same kind of tube was used to move the entire crew of the Discovery to the Enterprise in the Discovery Season 2 episode, “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 1.”
The survivors of the Gorn attack mention a “loud ringing sound,” which later is postulated to be an “ultrasonic canon.” This references similar Gorn tactics in the TOS episode “Arena.”
Flying blind in the Brown Dwarf
The notion that the Enterprise and the Gorn ships can’t use their shields or sensors in close proximity to the Brown Dwarf seems to reference the Mutara Nebula in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In that film, the Enterprise heads into a nebula so Reliant can’t see them, and nobody has shields. Spock suggests going into the Mutara nebula in Wrath of Khan, which chronologically takes place about 26 years after this episode of Strange New Worlds. Was Spock thinking about fighting the Gorn with Pike when he suggested going into the Mutara nebula in Wrath?
The writer of “Memento Mori,” Davy Perez also told me that “Memento Mori,” was designed to reference the TOS episode “Balance of Terror,” as well as WWII submarine films. This also connects to Wrath. Nicholas Meyer was inspired by submarine warfare for The Wrath of Khan as well.
Incidentally, in real life, the 40th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan is on June 4, pretty much one week after “Memento Mori,” will have aired.
Dr. M’Benga mentions “matter synthesizers,” going offline. Although the TOS version of the USS Enterprise didn’t have replicators like in The Next Generation, we did see food slots throughout the classic ‘60s show. And, in Discovery, a “matter synthesizer” was used on many occasions. Think of this as a forerunner to the replicator.
M’Benga mentions that Chapel has an interest in “archaeological medicine,” which would include sewing up wounds with an actual needle. This slightly references Bones getting totally grossed out by 20th-century hospitals in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” in TOS.
You just turned a compass into a radar
Spock converts navigation tech on the Enterprise to locate the Gorn ships. The sound effect used is pretty much spot-on the same as in The Original Series, specifically in “Balance of Terror.” Did Spock’s modification become standard after “Memento Mori”?
Photon Torpedo location
Unlike in the classic Trek movies, the photon torpedoes are launched from right under the middle of the saucer section. This is totally consistent with where the photon torpedoes usually came out in The Original Series.
Cutting off the lower decks
The idea that emergency bulkheads separate the “lower decks” of the Enterprise from the rest of the ship comes from The Original Series episode “Day of the Dove.” In that episode, hundreds of crew members are cut off from the rest of the ship on the lower decks. Obviously, we now associate the phrase “lower decks” with the series of the same name. And in Strange New Worlds, both Kyle and Uhura could be viewed as “lower deckers.”
Dive dive dive
Ortegas says “dive dive dive.” This references submarine warfare, specifically the 1958 film Run Silent, Run Deep.
“Take the Galileo”
Pike tells Spock and La’an to “take the Galileo.” This is, arguably, the most famous Enterprise shuttle of them all, specifically from the TOS episode “The Galileo Seven”
Spock and Michael Burnham in Discovery
During their mind-meld, La’an briefly hears the voice of Michael Burnham, saying to Spock “I love you too, brother.” This comes from the Discovery Season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2,” in which Spock tearfully sees Michael off for the last time. Interestingly enough, Spock was piloting a shuttle when this happened.
Of note, La’an doesn’t see Michael’s face, meaning the secret of Spock’s sister is still pretty much safe.
“The Pike Maneuver”
Ortegas says that if the crew pulls off this trick, it will be called “the Pike Maneuver.” The idea here is that the “redshift,” will make it look like the Enterprise has stopped moving, even though it hasn’t. This is kind of like the opposite of “the Picard maneuver,” in which Picard made it look like the Enterprise was in two places at the same time.
The black hole effect
The black hole effect used in this episode reflects current thinking from astrophysicists in terms of what black holes “really” look like. This black hole looks similar to the illusionary black hole from Discovery Season 2, in the episode “If Memory Serves.” But, the scene in which the Enterprise escaped the black hole and then flies triumphantly seems to visually reference the opening montage in Lower Decks.
In the opening of every single Lower Decks, the Cerritos looks like it’s sucked into a similar black hole, but then warps out to safety. Strange New Worlds isn’t a series about junior officers exclusively, but, in some ways, it does present the classic Enterprise as a scrappy underdog.