Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Deep Cut Star Trek Reference Only Hardcore Fans Noticed In Strange New Worlds

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" has been hailed by many fans as a breath of fresh air for the historic science-fiction exploration franchise. Returning to the classic "Star Trek" model of self-contained episodes rather than the season-long serialized arcs favored by its contemporaries, "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Star Trek: Picard," the show delivers a first season full of adventures that ran the gamut from campy intergalactic romps ("The Elysian Kingdom") to nail-biting horrors in the vacuum of deep space ("Memento Mori").

As a prequel to "Star Trek: The Original Series," "Strange New Worlds" recounts the voyages of the Starship Enterprise as helmed by Captain Christopher Pike, played by the ineffably charming Anson Mount. Along for the ride are younger versions of Spock (Ethan Peck), Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), and much of the fun from this first season comes from seeing how these characters develop into the crew fans know and love.

But the homages to "The Original Series" don't end there. "Strange New Worlds" is packed from the bridge to the warp core with Easter eggs and references to the show that started it all. The interior of the Enterprise is an accurate recreation of the original, only updated for a modern aesthetic. There are tricorders and communicators galore, and even the costumes are a more detailed take on the original gold, blue, and red ones.

Notably, "Strange New Worlds" also include a less obvious detail taken from "The Original Series" that may have been missed by all but the most hardcore fans.

The landing party uniforms in Strange New Worlds are an homage to The Cage

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" has been answering a lot of burning questions about "Star Trek," and eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that one of the uniforms worn on the show is a subtle homage to a classic episode from "The Original Series." The outerwear worn by the landing party in Season 1, Episode 3 ("Ghosts of Illyria"), is a clear evocation of those worn in the original pilot to "Star Trek," an episode known as "The Cage."

The first pilot of the series featured Jeffrey Hunter as Christopher Pike alongside Majel Barrett as Number One (via IMDb). The episode begins when the Enterprise receives a mysterious distress signal, prompting Pike to send a landing party down to the planet of its origin. While landing parties in "The Original Series" would most often wear their regular uniforms to beam down, "The Cage" features a landing uniform with a futuristic-looking gray jacket.

In "Ghosts of Illyria," the Enterprise sends a landing team down to the planet Hetemit IX in search of a lost colony of the titular Illyrians, and notably, part of the landing unform includes another set of fashionable gray jackets. While they're updated to look more modern, much like the rest of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," the jackets are still an unmistakable tip of the hat to "The Cage," making them a fun Easter egg for the most dedicated fans of the franchise.

The complicated legacy of The Cage

"The Cage," developed as the pilot for "Star Trek: The Original Series," has a fascinating and complicated legacy. While the episode contained seeds of what "Star Trek" would become, including the introduction of Leonard Nimoy as Spock, executives at NBC were unhappy with it, forcing Gene Roddenberry and his collaborators back to the drawing board (via The Conversation). Eventually, parts of "The Cage" were incorporated into the two-part episode, "The Menagerie," in which Spock kidnaps the wheelchair-bound Pike, then commandeers the Enterprise and takes it off-course to the planet Talos IV (via IMDb).

In 1986, "The Cage" was finally released on its own on VHS, allowing fans to understand the original vision for the series (via Amazon). However, in addition to the gripes the network had with the episode, its attitudes toward women have caused it to age somewhat poorly. There's Pike's infamous bit of dialogue where he gripes about being unused to "a woman on the bridge," and even the plot itself revolves around aliens who tempt Pike by catering to the male gaze with visions of scantily clad women. Later in the episode, two female crew members are beamed down to the planet and are also presented as temptations for the captain.

However, "The Cage" still holds a special place in many fans' hearts for its attempts to explore human nature, something that would become a hallmark of the franchise. Pike wins against his captors when he realizes that their telepathic abilities are blocked by base human emotions like lust, highlighting the logic and emotion that battle inside every human. That theme echoes even to this day, with much of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" diving into that dichotomy through the half-Vulcan character of Spock. And, of course, those awesome landing jackets.