This week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery took the crew to a parallel dimension — a mirror universe — where up was down and down was up. The episode, which was directed by Star Trek: The Next Generation alumni Jonathan Frakes, featured a few fun Easter Eggs and nods, including one to Frakes’s character Commander Riker. Let’s take a look at the episode, “Despite Yourself.”
When the Discovery arrived in the mirror universe, they had to rearrange their crew compliment very quickly. In the new universe, Tilly was their captain and their engineer was, well, they weren’t sure. So, Captain Lorca put on an accent to pass as their Chief Engineer. His accent was, of course, Scottish — an ode to Montgomery Scott — Chief Engineer from Star Trek: The Original Series. Hearing Lorca with a Scottish accent was a sweet moment for fans of Scotty and a nod to actor Jason Isaacs’s true British accent.
When Tilly pretended to be captain over the comms system, she answered with the phrase, “What the hell?” This phrase was a nod to Jonathan Frakes’ character Will Riker. Whether it was in the script or added later is hard to say, especially since Frakes directed this episode. While past seasons of Trek rarely used any harsh language, Riker was known for rashly yelling, “What the hell?” whenever the Enterprise found themselves in a difficult situation. This was definitely a humorous Easter Egg for fans of TNG.
The mirror universe has been visited a few times in Star Trek history. The crew of The Original Series visited the mirror universe in the episode “Mirror, Mirror”. The crew of Enterprise visited the same mirror universe in the two-part episode “In A Mirror Darkly.” This is the same universe the Discovery found themselves in during this episode, “Despite Yourself.” While Lorca was figuring out how to travel back home, he mentioned the USS Defiant, a ship that made it across both universes in previous series. The direct mention of this ship confirms that the crew is in fact exploring the same mirror universe as shows prior.
Through the Looking Glass
Deep Space Nine also visited this universe in the episode “Through the Looking Glass.” Through the Looking Glass is a reference to Lewis Carrol’s book of the same name — the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland is Burnham’s favorite book. She even recited verses of the book to herself when she was running from the Ripper alien. Now her ship has literally gone through the “looking glass” into a mirror universe. This Easter Egg confirms the recurring theme that Burnham and her shipmates are a lot like Alice. Will they have to face off against a Red Queen or a Jabberwocky before this season of Star Trek: Discovery is up? Only time will tell.
Star Trek: Discovery airs Sundays at 5:30PST/8:30EST on CBS All Access and globally on Netflix the following day.