Star Trek: Discovery season 5 is here! The first two episodes of the conclusive final season, “Red Directive” and “Under the Twin Moons,” are now available for streaming on Paramount+.

If you’ve seen the episodes, you already know Discovery season 5’s premiere directly connects to established Star Trek continuity. For this week’s Trek Tuesday, here’s everything about Discovery season 5’s legacy Star Trek connection, explained.

Red Directive

Burnham wears an EV suit as she crouches atop Moll and L'ak's ship.

Photo Credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

The connection is revealed in the final moments of Discovery season 5’s premiere, “Red Directive.” Initially, enigmatic Starfleet officer Kovich (David Cronenberg) won’t reveal the details of the Red Directive to USS Discovery Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). However, Burnham’s persistence and mystery-solving acumen eventually carry the day.

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Kovich eventually reveals that their path began in the days of USS Enterprise-D Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).

The Chase

The story begins in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 6’s “The Chase,” written by Ronald D. Moore and Joe Menosky and directed by Jonathan Frakes. In this episode, Picard reunites with his old archeology mentor, Professor Galen (Norman Lloyd). It seems that Galen has made a significant discovery. Thus, he wants Picard to leave the Enterprise-D and join him in searching the galaxy.

Naturally, Picard rejects the offer. Galen subsequently leaves the Enterprise-D. However, his ship is attacked, and he is killed in the ensuing firefight. Now doubly motivated, Picard resolves to carry on the late Galen’s work. The Enterprise-D crew is able to extract some of the data gathered by Galen from his ship’s computer. Soon, this data is revealed to include multiple DNA samples from across multiple worlds. 

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Following a trail left by Galen, Picard learns that the Enterprise-D is not the only ship in pursuit of the information. Cardassians, Klingons and Romulans are also on the trail. After some further complications, Picard and Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) complete the sequence.

The Progenitor hologram addresses a group that includes humans, Romulans, Klingons and Cardassians.

“The Chase”

The combination creates a program that re-configures Picard’s tricorder. Then, it broadcasts a hologram of an alien humanoid (Salome Jens). This “Progenitor” explains that their race is behind much of the life in our galaxy. This is because they seeded many nearby planets in the past with the foundation for life. Thus, the disparate individuals present at the climax of “The Chase” are, to some degree, related to one another. This offers an explanation for an inherent Star Trek technical problem: that is, why the aliens (who are naturally played by humans) all look sort of human.

Progenitor

In Discovery season 5, Burnham and her crew are undertaking the next phase of this adventure. At the same time, Picard discovers the “why”; the Discovery crew searches for the “how”: the technology used by the Progenitors to create life. But what might the implications be if they lay claim to this incredibly advanced and ancient tech?

L'ak and Moll bring the Romulan puzzle box to Fred the android's base of operations.

Photo Credit: Grossman/Paramount+

One related answer may already be on the table. In “Red Directive,” we were introduced to thieves and lovers Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis). By the end of “Under the Twin Moons,” Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) has uncovered some details about Moll’s history. However, nothing is known about L’ak—even his species cannot be identified. Could he be a unique lifeform “born” from the same Progenitor tech Burnham currently pursues?

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Another interesting parallel exists between “Red Directive” and “The Chase.” Both include a significant scene for a Soong-type android. In both episodes, the respective androids “face off” against a descendant of the Progenitor. However, given that all Soong-type androids can trace their lineage back to a human creator, Noonien Soong (Brent Spiner), some interesting parallels between “biological” and “synthetic” life are drawn.

What other connections might be revealed, and what are your theories for Discovery season 5? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation season 6’s “The Chase,” are currently available for streaming on Paramount+. New episodes of Discovery are released for streaming on Thursdays.

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Avery Kaplan