As much as it’s been keen to boldly take the franchise in a new direction, Star Trek: Picard has never been shy in honoring Trek past. For one, various familiar faces from both The Next Generation and Voyager have returned throughout the show’s debut run. Nods to The Original Series have been thin on the ground, however, due to how far removed it is from the adventures of Kirk and Spock. That said, the latest episode did feature a subtle callback to one of Trek‘s most famous alien races.
In episode 9, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”, La Sirena is brought down on the Synth homeworld of Coppelius. Encouraging caution given the attack on the ship, Raffi urges the rest of the crew to arm themselves as they could encounter danger. “We might run into… I don’t know…” she splutters. “Angry reptiloids out there, or homicidal fungi.” Those are two curiously specific worries Raffi has there, so you might have noted that they were referencing something. But let’s examine what this line’s specifically alluding to.
First of all, “angry reptiloids” must be a tip of the hat to the Gorn, who debuted in iconic TOS episode “Arena,” in which William Shatner’s Captain Kirk was forced into a fight with the commanding officer of the bipedal lizard-like species on Cestus III. The event has been referenced many times since in other series, so we know it’s gained mythic status among Starfleet officers.
The “homicidal fungi” Raffi mentions is less obvious, but it could be another nod to an event from Kirk’s life. In “The Conscience of the King,” we learn that Kirk lived on Tarsus IV as a teen, where the planet’s food supply was ravaged by a… homicidal fungus. Governor Kodos then took the drastic Thanos-like measure to kill half of the population to save the other half. Many years later, Kirk encounters Kodos again, attempting to live in anonymity.
You might have to analyze them afterwards to decode their meaning, but these The Original Series references are much-appreciated. Especially coming within a week of Shatner’s 89th birthday.
Star Trek: Picard concludes its first season this Thursday on CBS All Access.