Holy crap. I went into Star Trek: Beyond with modest expectations. I did not really care for Star Trek Into Darkness. But this was a great course correction and one of the reasons was because it leaned into clever references to the previous films and TV shows. It celebrated that lore in some obvious and some very deep cut referential ways. Below are the various references I noticed so you probably don’t want to read this until you’ve seen the movie because it is spoilery. SPOILER WARNING!
Captain Kirk begins the movie by mentioning that it’s day 966 of their 5-year voyage. Star Trek premiered on September, 1966. That’s a pretty deep pull. I love it. He also mentions that after so long in space their days seem to be getting “episodic” which is a nice way to reference the adventure-of-the-week style the original TV show had. It’s pretty easy to imagine that stuff is going on between the movies.
The name of the artificial city/space station that Starfleet has built is Yorktown. Gene Roddenberry originally pitched Star Trek taking place on the USS Yorktown but it was changed to the Enterprise by the time they filmed the first pilot.
Dr. McCoy takes Kirk out for a drink because he knows Kirk is depressed about an upcoming birthday (in this timeline, also the day his father died). It mirrors the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where McCoy visits Kirk for a drink because Kirk is depressed about getting older (in that timeline, he also resented being an Admiral and no longer getting to command a ship, something this Kirk learns he also wants). They initially plan on getting blitzed on Sorian brandy but instead drink some of Chekov’s whiskey. At the end of the movie, Chekov tries to convince an alien girl that it was actually a Russian that invented whiskey. On the original series, Chekov frequently made up stories about Russians actually inventing or accomplishing various things.
The Paris Lineage
Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo plays Commodore Paris in the movie. It could be a coincidence, but on Star Trek: Voyager, Lt. Tom Paris came from a long line of Starfleet leadership. Perhaps this is one of his ancestors?
The Enterprise is destroyed and Kirk orders the remaining bridge crew to evacuate in their Kelvin pods. The USS Kelvin was the ship that Kirk’s father commanded and which he died on because the bridge didn’t have escape pods.
Who Mourns Adonais?
Scotty references the classic TV show episode “Who Mourns Adonais” when he is brought to the Franklin by Jaylah, mentioning a giant green hand. That was something that happened in that episode where a regular guy gets godlike powers.
All Our Yesterdays
This movie separates the crew and one of the best pairings is the bickering yet respectful relationship between Spock and Dr. McCoy. The original show and movies got a lot of mileage out of this pairing, especially in the episode “All Our Yesterdays” when Spock and Bones are trapped together on an ice planet. Spock gets delirious in both the movie and the original episode.
Later in the movie, the two are transported. Bones is famously averse to transporters, making note of it in both Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also, the transporters on the old NX ships were not used regularly – they were safe for cargo but risky for people. In Beyond, Scotty admits he’s nervous about transporting both of them because what if they got spliced. We saw this happen to comedic (?) effect in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager and horrific results at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
It’s Been a Long Road
There are several references to the TV show Enterprise, the last Star Trek show to air which ended back in 2005 but was set chronologically prior to the first Star Trek show. Therefore, even though the new movies are in a new timeline, all of Enterprise is still canon and this movie embraces it in a big way.
First of all, and major spoilers from this point on, the crew of this movie end up discovering the previously assumed lost vessel of the USS Franklin. It is an NX (experimental vessel) very closely modeled on the NX Enterprise from the show Enterprise. Also, it has polarized hull plating (not shields) and phase cannons, just like on Enterprise. Not only that but Krall is really the Franklin’s captain, Captain Edison, who was said to come from a military background. It’s strongly implied he was from MACO, which were military soldiers that the Enterprise had in seasons 3 and 4 but who were abandoned once Starfleet joined the Federation of Planets and became a purely scientific mission. Edison/Krall mentions both the Xindi and Romulan War. The Xindi were the big enemy for Enterprise season 3 and the original Star Trek show mentioned a prior war with Romulans. Spock puts on a USS Franklin uniform which is very reminiscent of the jumpsuits that the crew wore on Enterprise.
Around the middle of the movie, Krall uses technology to suck the life force out of people and it changes his appearance. Ultimately, we learn he’s actually human and has a personal vendetta against Starfleet. But when I saw his appearance change, I couldn’t help but think of the Son’a villains in Star Trek: Insurrection. In that movie, a human-looking species prolongs its life with the radiation from a certain planet and the bad guys are forced to use radical surgery to prolong their lives and that’s why they look alien.
The ancient alien weapon that Krall is assembling looks like a disc that when activated basically melts people. It looks a lot like a similar ancient Vulcan relic that could do a similar thing in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Gambit”. Probably a coincidence because there’s so many TV episodes but it’s very similar.
Spock learns that his future self, Ambassador Spock, has passed away and he gets the Ambassador’s belongings which include a photo of the original crew circa Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. And if you read the Vulcan on the case, it translates to: “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”, a Vulcan saying.
The Enterprise crew disrupts the enemies spaceships by broadcasting a high radio frequency. They decide to play “classical” music: “Sabatoge” by the Beastie Boys (1994). We heard young Kirk listen to this song in Star Trek (2009) and here he proclaims it a good choice. There was also the Beastie Boys song “Body Movin'” playing in Kirk’s apartment in Star Trek Into Darkness. And if you haven’t ever heard it, you must listen to how William Shatner pronounces “sabotage.”
I challenge anyone to count these but according to director Justin Lin, he had designs for 50 new alien species included in the movie to honor this being Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. I definitely saw tons of new ones in the backgrounds but I have no idea if it ends up being exactly 50.
To Absent Friends
At the end of the movie, Kirk makes a toast “to absent friends”. It’s a nice mirror to the both Star Trek III: The Search for Spock where Kirk made that toast to the crew in honor of Spock being dead (he got better) and Star Trek: Nemesis where Picard honors the late Data.
The Enterprise has actually been the name of many ships. The NX-01 Enterprise from Enterprise. The USS Enterprise from the original TV show. And then we saw the Enterprise A at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Kirk, Scott and Chekov visit the Enterprise B at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations. The Enterprise C was seen in the “Yesterday’s Enterprise” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation while that show featured the Enterprise D. In Star Trek: First Contact forward, that crew was in the Enterprise E. Anyway, there’s a long history of the ship being destroyed and a new model taking its place. That happens in this movie with the crew getting their version of the Enterprise A (NCC 1701-A) at the end of the movie.