Star Trek: Picard likes to drop super-nerdy references and act like you're just supposed to know. Don't remember Bruce Maddox? Too bad. Confused about why Hugh is chilling on the reclaimed Borg cube? Tough — they're not even going to say his name until like the episode is almost over.
This take-no-prisoners approach is just how Picard likes to roll. And in Episode 5, "Stardust City Rag," one massive plot point hinges on a surprise appearance from a non-regular Star Trek: Voyager character, and there's a good chance you may have forgotten all about him. Plus, the episode manages to slip in some booze from Captain Kirk's time, while making more than one mention of a certain big-eared Deep Space Nine bartender. There's maybe even a sly tip to Stranger Things!
Here's all the Easter eggs and references you were baffled by or missed in the latest Picard.
Ready. Set. Engage! Picard spoilers ahead.
Like literally every single episode of Picard so far, we begin in flashback. This time, it's 13 years prior, and some poor Starfleet officer is getting his face drilled in a group of people trying to extract his "cortical node." A cortical node is an essential piece of Borg tech, and even after people get de-Borged, they usually still tend to have one embedded in their brains.
Quickly, we learn this guy is Icheb, who as Seven mentions later in the episode "was a former Borg, rescued and reclaimed by Voyager in the Delta Quadrant." As a teenager, Icheb first joined the crew of Voyager in the episode "Collective," and even returned with the crew in the episode "Endgame." In Voyager he was played by Manu Intiraymi, but here, to represent Icheb as a twenty-something man, he's played by Casey King.
One thing: Icheb doesn't have a cortical node. Though it's not mentioned in dialogue, he actually donated his node to save Seven's life in the episode "Imperfection." So, the irony in this scene is doubly tragic.
When Bruce Maddox is offered a drink on Freecloud, the drink is orange and it's called "Tranya." This dates back to the classic original series episode "The Corbamite Maneuver," in which Kirk meets an alien who looks like a baby played by young Clint Howard. That alien baby offered Kirk and his boys a glass of tranya. Clint Howard also appeared to be drinking tranya in the season finale of Discovery Season 1.
This is also the first appearance of Bruce Maddox in the flesh since the TNG episode, "A Measure of a Man." This older Bruce Maddox is not played by the actor who originated the role, Brian Brophy, but instead, by John Ales.
11. “Ninety-Nine or Eleven”
When discussing Seven's moniker, Rios mistakenly says she goes by "Ninety Nine...or Eleven." Saying she goes by "Ninety-Nine" could reference the code-name from the spy-spoof show, Get Smart. While saying she goes by "Eleven" seems like a direct nod to Eleven from Stranger Things.
10. Quark gets mentioned — twice
The Ferengi bartender — and owner of Quark's bar on the space station Deep Space Nine — seems to be doing pretty well for himself in 2399. When Rios beams down to Stardust City, we see several holographic signs, and one of them reads "Quark's Bar." (Quark either relocated to Freecloud or, has a franchise.) Later, when Rios is trying to impersonate a "facer," it's mentioned that he had dealings with "Mr. Quark of Freginar."
9. The Breen
In the same scene, an alien species called "the Breen" are mentioned. These alien baddies were mentioned several times in TNG but weren't actually seen until Deep Space Nine. During the Dominion War, the Breen allied themselves with the Dominion and were directly responsible for an attack on Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco.
8. The barber from the Enterprise seems to be cutting hair on Freecloud
Back in the day, everyone on the Enterprise in TNG used to get their hair cut by Mr. Mot, the blue-skinned Bolian barber. But now, it's very clear in the same scene where we see a hologram for Quark's Bar, that there's a place called "Mr. Mot’s Hair Emporium." So, like Quark, did Mot set-up shop on Freelcoud? Or does he have a booming business? Note: the hologram is even Mot's face!
Interestingly, in a scene just before this, Rios is harassed by a hologram advertising for "The Red Bolian." The Bolians are the same species as Mot, but they are usually always blue.
A final bit of Mot trivia: In the TNG episode "Starship Mine," Picard tells the terrorists trying to rip-off the Enterprise that his name is "Mot."
7. Pattern Enhancer
Raffi gives everyone in the secret away team "pattern enhancers" to help them get beamed-out in a crucial moment. During The Next Generation, pattern enhancers were large cylinders that helped the Enterprise crew transport through planets with rough atmospheres or crazy interference. Essentially, the new pattern enhancers in Picard are way smaller than the old versions.
When Seven meets her nemesis — Bjayzl, the woman who had Icheb killed, the newest Trek villain refers to Seven as "Annika." Though she rarely goes by it, Annika Hansen is Seven's real name; the name she had before she was assimilated by the Borg when she was a little girl. This was established in the Voyager episode "Scorpion Part 2," and we later learned her parent's backstory in the episode "Raven."
5. "There is no solace in revenge"
Picard attempts to talk Seven out of killing Bjayzl by telling her "there is no solace in revenge."
Jean-Luc might be talking about himself. In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard's entire motivations are clouded by his desire for revenge against the Borg.
4. Regaining your humanity
In perhaps the best scene of Star Trek: Picard thus far, Seven of Nine asks Picard point-blank "After they brought you back from your time in the collective, do you honestly feel that you regained your humanity?" Picard claims the answer is "yes," but then she pushes him by asking "all of it?" He replies, "no."
This scene subtly references numerous Star Trek episodes and films at the same time. First, Picard obviously made it clear that he was robbed of his humanity by the Borg in the episode, "Family," and again, later, in First Contact. But, what's also interesting is that when Seven of Nine was "rescued" by the USS Voyager, she outright told Captain Janeway that she didn't want her humanity back. Jean-Luc was a Borg drone for about a week. Seven had been a drone since she was a little kid. Clearly, they have different experiences.
3. Sound effects straight from Bones' sickbay in TOS
Toward the end of the episode, when Bruce Maddox is in sickbay, faint sound effects can be heard. These are directly lifted from sound effects we heard in Star Trek: The Original Series, in the classic sickbay. Too bad the Emergency Medical Hologram isn't Bones.
2. Shout-out to Data's dad
As Bruce Maddox lays on what will soon be his deathbed, he tells Dr. Jurati, "We did it, Agie. Soong and I...and you..." Maddox is taking partial credit for creating a "perfectly imperfect," humanoid androids Dahj and Soji. He also might be taking credit for making even more androids, but he's also namechecking "Soong." This is a reference to Dr. Noonian Soong, the human cyberneticist who created Data. Soong appeared in the flesh, or as a hologram, in the TNG episodes "Brothers," "Birthright Part 1," and "Inherentice." In all cases, he was played by Brent Spiner.
1. Jurati's betrayal
In the final scene of the episode, Jurati straight-up kills her lover and colleague, Bruce Maddox. She says "I wish I didn’t know what I know. I wish they hadn’t shown me." This could reference episode 3 when Commodore Oh from Starfleet Intelligence confronted her about her visits with Picard. The opening of this episode — in which we see a flashback of Bruce Maddox is making cookies — might also suggest that Jurati has a secret to her origin. Why would someone using real ingredients to make "fake" cookies make her sad? Is — as previously theorized —Jurati a secret robot?
Star Trek: Picard airs Thursdays on CBS All Access.