Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen Star Trek Beyond yet, you’ll want to bookmark this for later. If you’ve already seen it, and you’re a fan, you probably picked up on more than a few references to other entries in the Star Trek canon. Leaving out the Kelvin Timeline entries – that means the J.J. Abrams-produced reboots – we still noticed a few dozen throwbacks, references, and friendly nods to the various series and movies of the past. And that’s not even including some continuing themes, like captains going crazy and betraying the Federation, anonymous red shirts getting slaughtered, a beautifully filmed saucer crash that reminds us of the same event in Star Trek Generations, and the familiarity of the Swarm (when we hear drones and hive minds and bee references, we can’t help but think of the Borg).
From the names of starbases and Starfleet personnel to random quotes, gestures, and throwaway comments, here are 19 Hidden References To Star Trek‘s Past.
19. Chekov Explains The Origins Of Scotch
In one of Star Trek Beyond‘s final scenes, Chekov is seen explaining to a new alien friend that Scotch was “inwented by a little old lady in Moscow.” Anyone who watched the original series knows that Chekov was constantly attributing inventions, sayings, and discoveries to Russia, even when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Examples abound. When Scotty brings up the classic Scottish saying, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on you,” Chekov insists (with a smile) that the saying is Russian. On Pollux IV, he and Kirk discuss Apollo’s ability to magically disappear, but he’s baffled by Kirk’s reference to the Cheshire cat in Alice In Wonderland. “Cheshire? No sir. Minsk, perhaps.” He insists that quadrotriticale was developed in Russia, which is why he’s familiar with it when his Captain isn’t, and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, he he says that Cinderella was a Russian epic.
His quote about scotch is pretty specific, though; it echoes his sentiments expressed to Scotty in fan favorite episode “The Trouble With Tribbles,” telling him that Scotch was “inwented by a little old lady from Leningrad.”
18. McCoy Calls Spock A “Green-Blooded Ingrate”
McCoy and Spock have a long history of banter, but it’s always McCoy who slings the insults, throwing in references to Spock’s ancestry and physiology whenever he gets the chance. It’s a strange thing for a 23rd-century Starfleet officer to keep doing, especially in a future filled with alien races, and double-especially considering the fact that he’s a doctor, but that doesn’t stop him. In Beyond, he calls Spock a “green-blooded ingrate” after he saves Spock’s life and then gets dragged back onto an alien ship with him, but that’s nothing compared to previous insults from the original series:
“Don’t give me any Vulcan details, Spock.”
“Are you out of your Vulcan mind?”
“I’m trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!”
“You bet your pointed ears, I am.”
Even Kirk gets in on the action in “Catspaw,” the very silly Halloween episode:
Spock: “Trick or treat, Captain?”
17. The Yorktown Space Station
The stunning, multi-dimensional Yorktown Space Station is a major player in Star Trek Beyond. It’s where the Enterprise crew gets assigned the mission that sends them into conflict with Krall, and our story begins. In panoramic sweeps we see dozens of species going on about their daily lives, and learn that Sulu’s husband and daughter make their home there.
Its name has some history. In the original series episode “Obsession,” the Enterprise is supposed to deliver much-need vaccines to the U.S.S. Yorktown, and on Star Trek Voyager, Tuvok’s father was an officer on the Yorktown. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Yorktown is one of the ships disabled by the destructive probe that’s trying to find some whales to talk to.
But in this case, we think the reference is a throwback to Gene Roddenberry’s first plan for the show. When he pitched Star Trek to NBC back in 1964, it featured a starship called The U.S.S. Yorktown, named after a World War II era aircraft carrier. Given that the whole premise of Star Trek centers around acceptance and diversity, the naming of the space station Yorktown, where multiple species live together in peace and harmony, seems to be a nod to the creation of the entire Star Trek universe. Further evidence: Director Justin Lin mentioned that there are 50 species on the Yorktown, representing 50 years of Star Trek.
16. Captain Kirk’s Log Entry
While Kirk is recording his Captain’s Log, he throws in a few references for us longtime fans. The Enterprise is already three years into her five-year mission, but Kirk gets specific, making a point of saying that it’s their 966th day on the job. That number didn’t come out of nowhere; Star Trek, the original series, premiered its first episode, “The Man Trap,” on September 8, 1966. Yes, that’s 9/66.
He also refers to life aboard the Enterprise as “episodic,” which reminds everyone that this whole universe of movies, merchandise, events, and giant lines at Comic Con has its very humble beginnings in a TV series that almost didn’t make it to a third season. Life may feel episodic at times, but Star Trek is always episodic, and the best of the movies feel like an expanded, extended episode of the TV show.
15. The Franklin’s Serial Number
This is one of those little Easter eggs that we thought was a stretch, but was recently confirmed by the Star Trek Beyond team. The U.S.S. Franklin’s serial number appears a couple of times during the movie, and seemed familiar, making us wonder if it was a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who died last year and whose presence is still strong throughout this movie. He’d already appeared in the rebooted Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, and was asked if he could also appear in Star Trek Beyond, but his health was already failing at that point, and he had to say no. He loved the idea, though, and had particularly enjoyed playing alongside the new cast in the first two, but he simply wasn’t able to work anymore. Fittingly, there is a dedication to him at the end of the movie, right before the closing credits.
14. Kirk’s Depressing Birthday
In Star Trek Beyond, Kirk and McCoy share a drink – scotch, stolen from Chekov’s locker – and talk about Kirk’s upcoming birthday, which is not a celebratory occasion for him. As McCoy not-so-sensitively reminds him, it’s the same day his father died. George Kirk’s death was the event that kicked off the first reboot movie, and changed the timeline forever, but Kirk doesn’t know that; he only knows that his dad died the day he was born. So the two men share a drink and talk about why Kirk is feeling so low.
A similar scene unfolds in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, when McCoy and Kirk share a drink and Kirk complains about feeling old and tired. McCoy isn’t particularly sensitive then either. “Other people have birthdays,” he says, “Why are we treating yours like a funeral?”
McCoy’s long history of drinking with Kirk, Chief Medical Officer to Captain, was actually started by their predecessors, Captain Christopher Pike and Doctor Philip Boyce. In “The Cage,” which later became the two-parter “The Menagerie,” Boyce stops by Pike’s cabin, and makes them a couple of martinis, because “sometimes a man’ll tell his bartender things he’ll never tell his doctor.”
13. Krall’s History
Remember the spoiler warning at the beginning? If you weren’t paying attention then, pay attention now, and plug your eyes and ears while we do this next bit. Scrolling would probably accomplish the same goal, with less drama.
Krall used to be Captain Balthazar Edison of the aforementioned U.S.S. Franklin. Once the crew realizes that, they dig into his history, and find out that he was a soldier in the united Earth military organization called MACO (Military Assault Command Operations). We first heard of such a thing in Star Trek: Enteprise, when crew members and MACO personnel teamed up against the Xindi.
During Krall’s final battle with Jim Kirk on the Yorktown, he bitterly refers to fighting the Romulans and the Xindi, and resents the fact that MACO was disbanded and replaced by Starfleet, when the United Federation of Planets was founded, an organization devoted to peace. All of this Trek canon history comes directly from Enterprise, the least-liked and least-watched, but clearly not the least important, of all the Star Trek series.
12. Spock Quotes Shakespeare
When Spock and McCoy are stranded, and Spock is injured, McCoy has some choice words for Spock’s decision to start quoting Shakespeare. But how could Spock resist? The Bard and Star Trek go back a long way.
From the first season original series episode “The Conscience of the King,” to Klingon Chancellor Gorkon’s insistence that “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon” in Star Trek VI, Shakespeare’s presence has loomed large. But by far, his largest fan is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who uses Shakespeare’s words to rescue Lwaxana Troi from a romantically-inclined Ferengi, distract a 19th century landlord in San Francisco from evicting him and his crew by promising her a role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and convince Q that humanity is actually a pretty worthy species. Remember, this is a man who kept Shakespeare’s Collected Works in his ready room at all times, because you never know when you’re going to need a quick quote.
11. Commodore Paris
In Star Trek Beyond, Shohreh Aghdashloo plays Commodore Paris, of the Federation High Command. She’s the one who assigns James Kirk the Enterprise’s mission, and also offers him a position as Vice Admiral.
In a Trek-savvy audience, you’ll hear whispers the first time her name is mentioned, as everyone assumes she is an ancestor of Star Trek Voyager’s Ensign-turned-Lieutenant, bad-guy-turned-good-guy, rogue-turned-family-man Tom Paris. Tom Eugene Paris was recruited to Voyager by Captain Janeway from a penal colony, to help her find the Maquis, and more than earned his keep. In his years aboard the starship, lost in the Delta quadrant, he became an invaluable member of the crew, saving them from peril multiple times, working undercover when necessary, and creating a series of particularly annoying holographic novels. His backstory included a disapproving father, Admiral Owen Paris, who came from a long line of high-ranking Starfleet officers. We can only guess that Commodore Paris was among them.
10. Uhura’s Necklace
When Kirk is trying to figure out how to locate the Enterprise crew, Spock asks Chekov to scan for a specific Vulcan mineral, located in a necklace he gave to Lieutenant Uhura. McCoy has a field day with this, commenting on how Spock gave his girlfriend a tracking device. Who knew it would come in so handy?
Turns out necklace gifts have come in handy on Star Trek before. In the episode “Elaan of Troyius,” the Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission, escorting the captivating but incredibly cranky Elaan to Troyius to be married and end a war. Things get dramatic: she stabs her instructor, chemicals in her tears make Kirk fall in love with her, and her guard betrays the Enterprise to the Klingons. The ship is about to be destroyed when Spock discovers some energy readings on the bridge, and traces them to Elaan’s necklace. She calls them “common stones” but they turn out to be dilithium crystals, and once Scotty integrates them into the ship’s engines, the Enterprise wins the battle and saves the day. The moral of the story: jewelry saves lives, no matter which timeline you’re in.
9. Krall’s Relationship With Kirk
Krall may be a new villain, but he has moments when he seems awfully familiar.
We already know from Star Trek Into Darkness that the reboot team is a fan of Khan. But the reboot Khan, with all due respect to the talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, is nothing compared to the original, played to perfection by the late Ricardo Montalban, and that’s where see some Khanspiration in Beyond. Both Krall and Khan were abandoned, or at least perceived they were, and both are hell-bent on revenge, even if Khan is mostly angry at Kirk while Krall is pissed at the entire Federation. But by the end of the movie, when Krall has already come up against Kirk multiple times, their relationship starts to get personal. He even starts taking on a little of Khan’s rhetoric, and finally, in a very Khan-like moment, says, “Goodbye old friend,” a phrase Khan really likes using when talking to his arch-enemy, Admiral Kirk.
8. “I Ripped My Shirt Again”
In the movie’s opening scene, Kirk meets with the Teenaxi people to help them make a treaty with their enemies, the Fenopians. Before the scene is over, the Teenaxi, who look sort of like tiny dog-monsters, attack the poor Captain as a group, tearing at him as he tries to throw them off. Scotty beams him out, security guards remove the creatures who beamed over with him, and Kirk storms off with the comment, “I ripped my shirt again.”
Viewers of the original Star Trek know that’s one of Kirk’s trademarks, a nice way to counterbalance all the female near-nudity that was a staple of the 1960s series. His shirt ripped during fist fights with Gary Mitchell, Ben Finney, Finnegan, gladiators on Triskelion, and the Onlies, a bunch of really creepy children. It ripped when Spock sliced it open with a lirpa – don’t blame Spock, he was in the grip of a blood fever – and when McCoy tore it open to give him a hypospray. Assuming some of these events still happened in the Kelvin Timeline, Kirk wasn’t kidding when he said “again.”
7. Scotty Cracks His Knuckles
There’s a light moment near the end of the movie, right when the stakes are at their highest. Krall is about to unleash his superweapon on the entire population of the Yorktown space station, and Scotty is trying to help them shut down the ventilation systems to prevent it. He sits down and gives his knuckles a good crack before diving in.
Flashback! In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew travels back to the 80s to try to find some whales. (They need them to communicate with a space probe that’s destroying Earth.) The crew splits up into teams, much like in Beyond and many a Trek episode, and Scotty and McCoy go looking for the 20th century equivalent of transparent aluminum. They pose as scientists to get into a company called Plexicorp, and are given access to the computer. Just saying “Computer” doesn’t seem to get it going (as it’s an early era Mac), nor does it help when he picks up the mouse and speaks into it directly. Then the Plexicorp guy suggests Scotty use the keyboard.
“The keyboard,” Scotty says. “How quaint.” Then he cracks his knuckles, just like Simon Pegg, and gives it a go.
6. Kirk’s Inspirational Speech
As they’re about to head into the nebula on a rescue mission, Kirk delivers some words of inspiration to his crew. He has Uhura patch him in to the whole ship, and tells them, “There’s no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”
Even across two timelines, our Kirk is still our Kirk. In the original series episode “The Corbomite Maneuver,” the crew is also faced with the unknown, and he wants to reassure then that there’s still hope, despite the fact that they’ve just heard a shipwide message from an alien called Balok telling them they have ten minutes to make preparations for being destroyed. (He assumes they have a deity or two that provides them with some comforting beliefs.) What does Kirk tell his crew?
5. A Toast To Absent Friends
After the mission is over, McCoy throws a little surprise get-together for Kirk’s birthday. The crew is all decked out in their civilian clothing, but it’s still clear that Kirk is their commander as well as the birthday boy. In view of the losses they suffered at the hands of Krall, he makes a toast. “To absent friends,” he says. It’s a poignant moment, made more so by the cutaway added in after the film was done to Anton Yelchin, who died in a tragic accident after the movie was shot. It’s a much-needed reminder that even in success, there are casualties.
In Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Kirk makes the same toast as he has a drink with Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura. In this case he’s referring to Spock, who died at Khan’s hands and is now in a torpedo tube on the Genesis planet, and McCoy, who’s at home, “pumped up full of tranquilizers.” Both DeForest Kelley (McCoy) and Leonard Nimoy are gone now. They have been and always shall be, our absent friends.
4. Spock’s Lives
The two Spocks in the reboot movies can get a little confusing, since they are alive at the same time and even have conversations. Quinto’s Spock sees Nimoy’s Spock as a mentor, and so shaken when he hears about his death that he decides to leave Starfleet and pursue his work on New Vulcan. At least that’s his plan. When he’s telling McCoy about it, he starts with, “When you’ve lived as many lives as he … ”
While New Spock doesn’t really know all the details of Original Spock’s life, we do, and we know that he’s lived quite a few lives. He came close to death many times in course of the Enterprise’s adventures, but at the end of The Wrath of Khan, he sacrificed his life to save the crew, saving them all and devastating them at the same time. At the last minute, though, he mind-melded with McCoy, preserving his “katra” or his living spirit, so that he could live again. So in The Search for Spock, the crew violated direct orders and headed back to the Genesis planet, where they found his torpedo coffin broken open, and a mindless, empty Spock body waiting to get its katra back.
There was also that time when Spock’s consciousness was stored in Christine Chapel, but he didn’t actually die; his body was just being used by an entity named Henoch, and he got it back. So that doesn’t count.
3. The Reason Spock And McCoy Were Beamed Up Separately
It wasn’t just for comic relief that McCoy and Spock are transported separately, although dammit, Jim, that was a great moment. But when McCoy asks why, Scotty explains that he’s using the cargo transporter for the first time and doesn’t want to risk splicing them. “I couldn’t imagine a worse scenario,” McCoy says.
Of course, he already experienced that scenario, or rather, he’s going to, depending on how you look at the timeline. See list item number four for details of the original Spock and McCoy merger.
In addition, we know that the transporter DID once splice together an unlikely duo. In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Tuvix,” Tuvok and Neelix were accidentally fused into one being due to a transporter accident. Tuvix retained elements of both of their characteristics but in the fusion, he became a new person entirely, with his own sense of self and and a desire to continue his existence. This led to a huge moral dilemma about whether or not it was right to kill Tuvix, a unique life form, in order to get Tuvok and Neelix back. Janeway had to make the hard choice, as always, and she wrestled with it, but ultimately decided it was her only real option. Bye bye, Tuvix. So, the splicing thing? A valid concern.
2. Kirk’s Promotion
At the beginning of the movie, Kirk wants a promotion. He’s tired, he feels a little lost, and the idea of being in one place has some appeal. He talks to Commodore Paris about a Vice Admiral position, which seems a little premature given that he hasn’t even completed his five-year mission yet, but she’s open to the idea and agrees to discuss it with Starfleet. By the end of the movie, he’s changed his mind, and heads off happily anticipating new danger and adventure (and for us, Star Trek 4).
What’s the advice the original Captain Kirk gives to Captain Picard when they meet in Star Trek Generations? “Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there, you can make a difference.” This is why Kirk was so depressed at the beginning of The Wrath of Khan and even so unnerved at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He needs that ship to feel like he’s making a difference. He also likes to have a good time, which is why New Kirk asks if there’s any flying when you’re a Vice Admiral. When he’s told no, he asks, with a grin, “Where’s the fun in that?” And on we go.
1. The Giant Green Space Hand
All fear the giant green space hand! Sounds silly, but we loved when Scotty mentioned this as one of the perils of outer space. That throwaway comment of his is a reference to one of the worst SFX moments from the original series. In the episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?,” the Enterprise encounters the Greek god Apollo, who reaches out into space and grabs the ship with, yes, his giant green hand. “You will obey me,” he says, “lest I close my hand thus.” The air pressure gets a little intense, and he finally releases them by opening his hand (thus). They get the message: Kirk and a team beam down to the planet to see what he wants from them. Spock, however, isn’t invited, as he reminds Apollo of Pan.
Apollo’s demands are simple: he just wants the Enteprise crew to come live on Pollux IV and give them their loyalty, their tribute, and their worship. When that doesn’t work out, he spreads himself across the wind like the other Greek gods, while Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas cries. Kirk gets his by a wave of remorse once the whole thing is over, and wonders aloud if it would have hurt them so much to gather a few laurel leaves. Too late!
Sharp eyes will spot the green hand in the Star Trek Beyond credits; it’s a blink-or-you-miss-it moment, but it’s definitely there.
Star Trek Beyond premiered on July 22nd, 2016.
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