The second episode of Star Trek: Discovery‘s fourth season, “Anomaly,” debuts today on Paramount+ (and will be available internationally on Friday). It features the most significant tie yet between Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. SPOILERS follow for the latest Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Anomaly.” This episode isn’t the first instance of Discovery taking a cue from Picard. Discovery‘s previous season revealed the resolution to the Romulan diaspora and that Michael Burnham’s mother is now a member of the Qowat Milat. However, “Anomaly” features an even more direct connection, bringing up Jean-Luc Picard by name (last name, at least). It all involves how Picard’s first season finale addressed Jean-Luc’s terminal illness and how that provides a resolution for Gray Tal being incorporeal.
Fans following Star Trek: Discovery will remember that Gray is a Trill, former host to the Tal symbiont, in a relationship with Adira. With Gray on the verge of death, Adira received the symbiont in a last-ditch effort to save its life and became the first human to successfully bond with Trill symbiont for an extended period. Adira believed Gray died but then began seeing Gray when no one else could. They wondered if it was the symbiont projecting a past life until Adira transported onto the damaged Kelpien research vessel that was the epicenter of the Burn. The ship holo-projected new appearances onto each away team member, including Gray, confirming that he is still alive as an individual being. Dr. Hugh Culber promised to find a way for others to see Gray.
Back in the late 24th century, Jean-Luc Picard was on death’s door. He received a new lease on life thanks to the work of Dr. Alton Inigo Soong, the son of the scientist who created Data. Following his father’s work, Alton Soong created a synthetic body capable of housing a human consciousness. He meant to take the body for himself. Instead, Soong chose to transfer Picard’s consciousness, as the former Starfleet admiral was on the verge of death and had helped avert the eradication of all organic life in the galaxy. Despite being artificial in nature, the body did not grant Picard any extra-human abilities, only the chance to live out the same number of years he’d have expected to have if not for his fatal brain abnormality.
Some 800+ years later, in the 32nd century, Dr. Culber discovers Alton Soong’s work while looking up solutions to Gray’s situation. “The process was attempted a number of times after Dr. Soong first used it on a Starfleet admiral; Picard was his name,” Culber tells Adira (and, through Adira, the still spectral Gray). Despite it being a big namedrop for Star Trek fans, Culber actor Wilson Cruz delivers it as if struggling to remember the name. It makes sense since the USS Discovery traveled into the far future from 100 years before Picard’s decorated Starfleet career.
This moment also answers a lingering question from the Star Trek: Picard finale. If Soong developed a way to transfer human consciousness into synthetic bodies, does that mean that humans are now essentially immortal through the process? Discovery takes the opportunity to address this issue, with Culber stating that, while attempts were made after Picard, “the success rate was so low that, eventually, people just stopped trying.” It seems Picard got lucky with Soong’s first attempt. The only reason Culber is trying it with Gray is that Gray surviving a previous transference of consciousness bodes well for his chances of success. Even with that in mind, Culber is still getting assistance from a Trill guardian.
What do you think of this connection between Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard? Let us know in the comments. Star Trek: Discovery debuts new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.