Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard Pokes Fun At Discovery's Space Whale

Episode 7 of Star Trek: Picard had a fun shout out to the gormagander, a creature introduced in Star Trek: Discovery season 1. Set in the year 2399, the series about the twilight years of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is set 142 years after the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. As the second Star Trek series on CBS All-Access, Picard shares much in common with Discovery and the gormagander is Patrick Stewart's show's latest nod to its sister series that stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham.

Star Trek: Discovery seasons 1 and 2 were a prequel to the legendary voyages of Captain James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) Starship Enterprise and it introduced many new concepts. Some were controversial, such as the redesigned Klingons, and technology that Trekkers' complained was canonically too advanced for its era, like the Discovery's revolutionary spore displacement hub drive. But Discovery also introduced some new alien creatures into the Star Trek universe, such as Ripper, the giant tardigrade which briefly interfaced with the spore drive and became the starship's navigator. Another new beast was the gormagander, which is a giant 'space whale' that appeared in Star Trek: Discovery season 1, episode 7, "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad". In what was arguably the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery's inaugural season, Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) hid inside a Gormagander in order to enter the U.S.S. Discovery undetected so he could enact his plan to get revenge on Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) by trapping the crew in a time loop so he could deliver the starship to the Klingons.

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Nearly a century-and-a-half later, the legend of the Gormagander was referenced in Star Trek: Picard episode 7, "Nepenthe", by Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill). After Picard and Soji (Isa Briones), the synthetic daughter of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner), escaped the Artifact, Jean-Luc's hired starship, La Sirena, warped to rendezvous with him on the planet Nepenthe. However, La Sirena was being shadowed by a Romulan ship piloted by Narek (Harry Treadaway). Jurati, who was already burdened by guilt because, as a Romulan spy, she secretly murdered Dr. Bruce Maddox (John Ales), went into a panic mode over the dangers of this mission. Agnes told Captain Cristobal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) and Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) that she wanted to be "the fun crew member who says, 'Let's hide in that comet', and it turns out to be a giant gormagander or something" - a sly nod to Harry Mudd's gambit on Star Trek: Discovery.

In the 23rd-century, the gormagander was on the Endangered Species list. While they were certainly hunted for their meat - Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) inadvertently ate gormagander meat-on-a-stick when she visited the Klingon homeworld, Qo'noS, in Star Trek: Discovery's season 1 finale - the population of gormaganders in the galaxy dwindled for other reasons. The enormous space whales spent their lives in deep space, consuming the alpha particles in solar winds, and they would often ignore their other instincts such as reproduction. Still, 'penetrating a space whale' was a crime in the United Federation of Planets, which Harry Mudd was certainly guilty of (among many other things). So, if Jurati ever did implement her joke of hiding in a gormagander, she can add that crime to her list, along with collusion with the Romulans, espionage, and first-degree murder.

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Michael Burnham became the Red Angel and led the U.S.S. Discovery 930 years into the future. Afterward, her adoptive brother Lieutenant Spock (Ethan Peck) redacted the Discovery from Starfleet's records. Still, by Star Trek: Picard's era, there are 'urban legends' about Burnham's adventures, such as people who claim to "see angels" in space - referring to the Red Angel. Meanwhile, it seems that Harry Mudd's stunt of 'penetrating a gormagander' also became an 'urban legend' in the galaxy, to the point that even Agnes Jurati heard about it on Earth.

Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on CBS All-Access and Fridays internationally on Amazon Prime Video.