As regular readers of our Trek Tuesday column will be aware, pop culture is filled with references to Star Trek. However, the wormhole opens both ways. There are plenty of references to pop culture in Star Trek, as well.
Here are eight examples of pop culture references across Star Trek. Did we include your favorite? Please be sure and let us know.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The reference that served as an inspirational catalyst this week came from the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 premiere, “The Broken Circle.” Trekkies are reintroduced to La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) as she takes part in a drinking contest with a Klingon. Appearances might lead one to assume the Klingon would prevail. Nevertheless, it is La’An who leaves the bar table victorious.
This scene pays homage to the introduction of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Marion is introduced in a scene set in a bar in Tibet, she is victorious in a comparable drinking contest. Even the composition of the shots in this sequence informs the homage in “The Broken Circle.”
In the 1975 movie Jaws, a trio of men joins forces to take out a large shark that’s terrorizing Amity Island. One of them is Quint (Robert Shaw), a professional shark hunter. During the movie, he delivers a monologue over drinks about surviving a shark attack.
In Star Trek: Picard season 3, Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) is named after the actor who played the character. Just like Quint, Shaw has a scene-stealing flashback monologue. And just like Quint, Shaw’s fate is to ultimately be felled by that which he previously escaped, in “Võx.”
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The aliens in the 1978 adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers have a very memorable method of indicating their enemies. When a human is spotted, they open their mouths and emit an unearthly scream while pointing. The body-snatched Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) executing the gesture at the conclusion of the movie provides a particularly memorable image.
In Star Trek: Lower Decks season 2’s “I, Excretus,” Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) takes part in a drill simulation of the Mirror Universe. There, she’s outed by Mirror Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid). When he discovers her true identity, he performs the distinctive gesture from Invasion of the Body Snatches ’78.
One of the most memorable and celebrated episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is season 6’s “In the Pale Moonlight.” This episode features Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) speaking directly to the camera. The story follows Sisko as he seeks assistance from Elim Garak (Andrew Robinson) in getting the Federation involved in the war.
In 1979’s Alien, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is part of a working-class starship crew who encounter a deadly extraterrestrial threat on a remote planet. In the sequel, 1986’s Aliens, she returns to the planet and helps rescue a young girl from the same threat.
The penultimate episode of Strange New Worlds season 1, “All Those Who Wander,” paid heavy homage to the Alien franchise. There was a particular emphasis on Alien and Aliens, including a similar aesthetic for the crashed ship and a young girl for our hero to rescue. Fortunately, “The Broken Circle” confirmed that Oriana’s ultimate fate on Strange New Worlds seems much happier than Newt’s in Alien 3.
In the Lower Decks season 3 episode “Reflections,” Mariner and Boimler meet Petra Aberdeen (Georgia King) of the Independent Archeologists Guild. During the penultimate and final episodes of the season, Mariner temporarily joins the Guild herself.
In dialogue, the organization is referred to as the “Indie Archeologists Guild.” This pays homage to the most famous archeologist to grace the silver screen, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Often, Doctor Jones is referred to as “Indy,” a homonym for the organization’s “indie.”
While Connery doesn’t appear in the movie, his name (sort of almost) does. At the climax of the movie, the characters visit the supposedly mythical location “Sha Ka Ree.” According to Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by Lisabeth Shatner, the location’s name is based on a distortion of Connery’s name. In the Lower Decks season 3 “movie” episode “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus,” a conceptually similar location is named after William Shatner himself: Shatanari.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still plays a significant role in the Strange New Worlds series premiere, “Strange New Worlds.” The movie was directed by Star Trek: The Motion Picture director Robert Wise. It is being watched by Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) in Montana during the episode’s cold opening.
However, The Day the Earth Stood Still continues to be significant throughout the story. For example, at the climax of the episode, Pike delivers a monologue to the people of Kiley 279. This monologue echoes the monologue Klaatu (Michael Rennie) delivers to the people of Earth at the climax of the seminal sci-fi classic.
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