If you thought Star Trek: Discovery moving 1000 years into the future would prevent it from creating any more Original Series plot holes, think again. Thanks to being set prior to TOS, Discovery produced a lot of errors that conflicted with established continuity, but season 3 promised to move past this by throwing the crew into the far future. And while that seems to have helped, a stray reference to a Gorn in the premiere still managed to cause a problem.
In the episode, Burnham encounters Cleveland “Book” Booker when she crashes into his ship. Before discovering she’s a time traveler, he blasts her for creating an unnatural wormhole, which is a highly dangerous thing to do. As Book says, the Gorn “destroyed two light-years’ worth of subspace” when they attempted to open artificial wormholes. Burnham then replies, “the Gorn did WHAT?” And it’s this piece of dialogue that opens up its own can of wormholes.
Iconic TOS episode “Arena,” the one where Kirk and a Gorn captain compete in single combat, marked the moment of first contact between Starfleet and the species. So, obviously it raises questions that Burnham’s wording suggests she’s familiar with the Gorn. ScreenRant pointed out this potential plot hole, but they did also come up with a few ways of making sense of it.
For one, it might be that Burnham is simply more shocked about the damage caused, so she enquires about that instead of asking who the Gorn are. Alternatively, the Mirror Universe Gabriel Lorca had encountered the Gorn before in his world, having a Gorn skeleton in his lab, so he may have told her about them during season 1. And finally, Burnham could have discovered information on the Gorn from the data sphere at some point in season 2.
There are ways around this goof, then, and it’s far from the biggest TOS inconsistency in the show, but it’s unintentionally funny that Star Trek: Discovery is still finding ways to create these plot holes even when it’s set centuries later than the rest of the franchise.