Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 9, "Project Daedalus", contains a bloody callback to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In the final film starring the original Star Trek cast, Starfleet assassins wearing environmental suits and gravity boots boarded the Klingon flagship to assassinate Chancellor Gorkon. In "Project Daedalus", Michael Burnham leads an away team to infiltrate Section 31's forward operating base that intriguingly echoes that infamous moment from Star Trek VI.
In Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Section 31 has been a thorn in the side of the U.S.S. Discovery and the tension was exacerbated in the previous episode, "If Memory Serves", when the Discovery and the black ops agency raced to Talos IV to retrieve Burnham and Spock. The Discovery got to Burnham and Spock and warped away but was labeled a fugitive vessel now on the run from Section 31 and Starfleet Command. In "Project Daedalus", Admiral Katrina Cornwell came aboard the Discovery to confirm the shady dealings of Section 31; it turns out the true enemy of the Federation is Control, the spy agency's artificial intelligence threat assessment program, which is seeking to evolve and wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy.
The Discovery's gambit was to take the fight to Section 31's headquarters, where Commanders Michael Burnham, Nahan, and Airiam beamed aboard to take out Control. The base's environmental controls were deactivated and lacked artificial gravity so the away team wore EV suits and gravity boots. As they explored the base, the Starfleet Officers found floating corpses belonging to the Starfleet Admirals who were in charge of Section 31, including Admiral Patar, a Vulcan logic extremist - all of them were murdered by Control. The away team also encountered pools and globules of blood floating in the Zero-G environment.
All of this cleverly harkened back to the similar scene in Star Trek VI - which is set in 2293, 36 years after the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 - when an assassin's phaser almost doomed the chance of peace between the Klingons and the Federation.
How Star Trek: Discovery Homaged Star Trek VI
In Star Trek VI, there was a secret conspiracy by Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan agents to prevent a détente between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Two Starfleet assassins wearing EV suits and gravity boots beamed to Kronos One, the Klingon flagship, to kill Chancellor Gorkon. A cloaked Bird of Prey hiding beneath the Starship Enterprise fired a photon torpedo that disabled Kronos One's artificial gravity; once aboard, the killers attacked the helpless Klingons with phasers. Without gravity, the phaser blasts caused the Klingons' pink blood to burst out of their bodies and free-float in pools around the ship - which looked just like the corpses and blood Burnham and her team encountered in Star Trek: Discovery's homage.
In "Project Daedalus", not only is there also a secret conspiracy, but the away team's gravity boots landing on Section 31's base were purposefully emphasized as an extra ode to Star Trek VI: Spock and his protégé Valeris were trying to save Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy from being framed for the assassination and led a hunt throughout the Enterprise for the two pairs of gravity boots the assassins wore, which would prove the real assassins were still aboard Kirk's ship. Further, Section 31's forward operating base is a converted former prison, which is another nod to Star Trek VI, since Kirk and McCoy were sentenced to life imprisonment on the Klingon prison planet Rura Penthe (known throughout the galaxy as "the aliens' graveyard").
The Star Trek VI sequence that Star Trek: Discovery honored was especially memorable thanks to it being an early use of CGI in a Star Trek movie. Prior to Star Trek VI's release in December 1991, the most famed use of computer-generated effects was the liquid metal T-1000 in James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day from July of that same year. The T-1000 was, in fact, the next level of CGI from Cameron's water alien in 1990's The Abyss. Star Trek VI utilized similar CGI to create the Klingons' pink blood globules floating around the interior of Kronos One. Though the effects look primitive and cartoon-ish by Star Trek: Discovery's modern, feature film-quality standards, this was a fun callback to one of the best Star Trek movies by the CBS All-Access prequel.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.