Even though Star Trek: Discovery is now set 1000 years in the future, it still managed to slip in an unexpected reference to Jean-Luc Picard in its most recent episode. The easter egg wasn’t exactly a crossover with Star Trek: Picard, but rather called back to the Starfleet legend’s beginnings, as revealed in The Next Generation.
In season 3 episode 3, the crew travel to Earth to find out what’s happened to the Federation in the 32nd century. There, they discover that the planet, which is one of the founding members of the union, has pulled out of the Federation, and that’s a big reason why it’s collapsed. It’s a sobering revelation for our heroes, but they’re able to find some solace when they visit what was once Starfleet Academy and come upon a happy place from their youths.
The crew happen to find a tree that they all used to study under some 930 years ago, which reminds them that they’re part of something much bigger than themselves, something that helps bolster their resolve. It’s even more significant, though, when you remember that a young Jean-Luc also has a connection to perhaps that very same tree. In TNG episode “The Drumhead,” Picard and Crewman Simon Tarses bond over their memories of sitting under an elm tree on the Starfleet Academy grounds, despite studying there at different times.
This Discovery moment is definitely harking back to that TNG exchange, as the permanence of the tree is once again used to connect two different time periods and experiences, but it also may provide a direct link from the Discovery crew to Picard. Of course, it’s possible that Picard’s tree was elsewhere on campus – he mentions a bench nearby his tree, though there’s not one in DIS – but the deeper meaning of it still unites them.
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 continues Thursdays on CBS All Access.