This article contains spoilers
When Spock’s family visited the Enterprise during “Journey to Babel” in Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk ended up getting stabbed. When the Enterprise visited the planet Vulcan for Spock’s wedding in “Amok Time,” Kirk almost got choked to death. The point? Vulcan family reunions are tricky!
In Strange New Worlds season 2, episode 5, “Charades,” when T’Pring’s family visits the Enterprise for an engagement dinner, Spock’s entire biology is suddenly altered by a nearby alien intelligence, and this time, Nurse Chapel has to risk her life to set things right while Pike has his cooking insulted.
Along the way, “Charades” drops several references to the entire Trek franchise, deepening our knowledge of Vulcans, in ways both highly logical and hilarious. Here are the biggest Easter eggs and shout-outs we caught in this episode.
Vulcan Has No Moons?
Chapel’s voiceover log tells us she is going to “survey the Moon of Kerkhov on the far side of the sector of the Vulcan system.” Now, to be clear, this is not a moon orbiting Vulcan. In “The Man Trap” in TOS, Spock said that Vulcan had no moons. Later, in The Animated Series episode “Yesteryear” and in The Motion Picture, we saw some celestial bodies that certainly looked like moons. D.C Fontana, writer of “Yesteryear,” attempted to retcon this issue by claiming Vulcan had a “sister planet” visible from the sky. And, although subsequent special editions and director’s editions of The Motion Picture have removed the “moons” of Vulcan, we did see some moon-like planets in Discovery. Also, in Star Trek 2009, the planet Delta Vega is close enough to Vulcan that Old Spock was able to see Vulcan from its surface.
Is “the Moon of Kerkhov” connected to any of this? Probably not. On Spock’s shuttlecraft screen a bit later, we see that Kerkov itself is a planet, and this is one of its moons. So, this is another planet that just happens to be in the Vulcan system or sector. This would be a little like somebody saying “a planet in the Earth system,” when referring to Jupiter. People in Star Trek tend to call our solar system the “Sol System” or sometimes (like Worf did in “The Best of Both Worlds”) “the Terran System.” But, either way, it seems like Kerkhov and the ancient aliens, the Kerkhovians, were unconnected to anything having to do with Vulcans. Heck, the entire premise of the episode rests on them being unfamiliar with Vulcan biology. Did the Vulcans ever run into the Kerkhovians before? Fan fiction writers — go!
Vulcan Science Academy
Chapel is applying to something at the Vulcan Science Academy. This is the same organization that Spock dropped out of prior to The Original Series. In Star Trek 2009, we actually see Spock reject his acceptance into the Vulcan Science Academy when the elders refer to his “disadvantage” of having a human mother. In this episode, we get a similar scene later on, when Spock’s “handicap” of having a human mother is mentioned. Interestingly, in Star Trek 2009, Akiva Goldsman — the co-creator of Strange New Worlds — appeared in a cameo as a Vulcan elder.
Of note, Chapel trying to get an internship at the Vulcan Science Academy as a human is not without precedent. In Discovery, we learned Michael Burnham was a graduate of the Vulcan Science Academy. From both TOS and Strange New Worlds, we also know that M’Benga studied on Vulcan, though it’s not clear if it was with the Vulcan Science Academy. Classic (non-canon) Star Trek novels like The Vulcan Academy Murders (1984) retroactively established that Dr. M’Benga had worked and studied on Vulcan for four years.
Dr. Korby and Archaeological Medicine
M’Benga quizzes Chapel on “Korby’s three principles of archaeological medicine,” essentially the study of ancient alien techniques that can be used by doctors in the present. Korby is a reference to Dr. Korby, from The Original Series episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” By that time, in 2266, Korby is Chapel’s ex-fiancée! At this point, she clearly hasn’t met him, and he hasn’t gone missing yet. Will we see Korby this season on Strange New Worlds?
Spock “Fully Suppresses” His Emotions
Spock credits M’Benga with helping him “fully suppress” his emotions. This is a tiny bit of a retcon, insofar as it helps to explain the differences between the smiling Spock from “The Cage” (2254) and the more emotional Spock from SNW seasons 1 and 2 (2259).
While this episode sees the reappearance of Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson — reprising her role as Spock’s mother from Discovery — Spock mentions to T’Pring that he’s “still not speaking to my father.” This references “Journey to Babel,” in The Original Series, in which Spock reveals he hasn’t spoken to his father, Sarek, in years.
“Amok Time” Music
When Spock sees his human ears and says “What the f —?” we hear notes from the fight music from “Amok Time.” In 2022’s “Spock Amok”, Strange New Worlds composer Nami Melumad also used this music, which was originally composed by Gerald Fried, one of the many composers who worked on The Original Series.
Pelia Sends Her Regards
Amanda’s friendship with Pelia is mentioned here, as Pike says that Pelia is busy and can’t say hello to Amanda. This season has established that Pelia has known Amanda for a long time and that Amanda was one of the first humans who Pelia “came out to” as a Lanthanite. However, Pelia and Amanda do not meet in this episode.
Spock Hiding His Ears
Spock wears a beanie to hide his ears, briefly, from his mother. In The Original Series, Spock used a beanie to hide his ears in “City on the Edge of Forever,” and also hid his ears under a hat in “Assignment: Earth.” Most famously, Spock hid his ears under a makeshift headband in The Voyage Home.
Vulcans Don’t Eat Meat
Spock eating bacon in this episode is kind of a big deal! In “All Our Yesterdays” Spock eats meat while trapped in the ice age period of the planet Sarpeidon. In that episode, Spock’s emotions took over because he was chronologically aligned with Vulcans from the distant past. He was not happy about having eaten meat, but admitted, with regret, that he had enjoyed it. Traditionally, Vulcans are vegetarians, a fact that Spock uses to his advantage in The Animated Series episode “The Slaver Weapon,” where the Kzinti underestimate Spock because he doesn’t eat meat.
Vulcans Don’t Lie?
Amanda mentions that Spock is “not a practiced liar yet.” Throughout TOS and the classic films, it is mentioned often that Spock cannot lie. And yet, he manages to “exaggerate,” or leave out pieces of information very often!
“Parted From Me But Never Parted”
Spock tries to formally greet T’Pring when she beams on the Enterprise saying “parted from me but never parted…” though T’Pring cuts him off. This line comes from a longer exchange in “Amok Time,” in which Spock and T’Pring greet each other this way.
The Green Tunic
Once again, Pike is rocking the green wrap-around variant Starfleet tunic. Pike wore this last year in “Spock Amok,” and the design is based on Kirk’s various green tunics from TOS. Kirk most famously wears his green variant tunic in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” and now Pike has worn his version of this tunic in two humorous episodes.
“Many Vulcan Men”
T’Pring’s mother remonstrates Spock’s Starfleet commitment, and mentions that “many Vulcan men would stand willingly at T’Pring’s side.” This foreshadows the idea that T’Pring will eventually take a lover in the form of another Vulcan named Stonn. In “Amok Time,” Stonn is part of the plan to make sure T’Pring’s engagement to Spock is made moot. Although he was played by Lawrence Montaigne in TOS, we’ve actually seen Stonn in Strange New Worlds. In season 1, during the episode, “The Serene Squall,” Stonn is seen helping T’Pring with her efforts to rehabilitate various wayward Vulcans, including Sybok. In that episode, he was played by Roderick McNeil.
Chapel’s Love of Spock
When the spacetime aliens grill Chapel and ask her “What is your relationship to this being?” longtime TOS fans know the answer. Very early in The Original Series, starting with the episode “The Naked Time,” Chapel makes it clear she loves Spock, but she doesn’t wish he was fully human. In “The Naked Time”, she says she loves “The human Mr. Spock, the Vulcan Mr. Spock.” In this episode that continuity is honored when Chapel tells the Kerkhovians that the human Spock “isn’t him.”
T’Pring and Spock Are on a Break
After learning of all the shenanigans that were hidden from her, T’Pring suggests that she and Spock take some time apart. This episode formally establishes the rupture between Spock and T’Pring, which will eventually result in “Amok Time.” Whether or not we’ll see more of T’Pring and Spock’s relationship in Strange New Worlds remains unclear at this point.
Strong Vulcan Emotions
Spock says: “[Vulcan feelings] are more powerful than human feelings, which is why we suppress them.” This checks out with everything we learned in The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager. When Vulcans have strong feelings about something, they can’t really hide those feelings, even though they often try. This is why Spock’s dad, Sarek, was so dangerous later in life when he lost control of his emotions. It’s also why Spock and Tuvok worried about how they’d behave during their time of Pon farr. Here, Strange New Worlds makes it pretty clear that Spock’s strong emotions for Christine Chapel aren’t only because of his human emotions. As a Vulcan, he also loves her.