Star Trek: Discovery is now three episodes into its third season. The season brings Michael Burnham and the Discovery crew into the 32nd century, where the Federation is a shadow of its former self. The ship has a new captain, but its crewmembers are still searching for something to help anchor it in this new era. Thus, with hope in their hearts, they take the ship to Earth, home of the Federation and Starfleet headquarters. But Earth isn't what they remember. Still, after some conflict resolution, the crew is allowed to visit what once was Starfleet academy. There, they find a tree that they all used to study under 930 years ago. It's a sentimental moment that speaks to the crew being part of something much bigger and longer-lasting than themselves. But the moment has an even more significant effect if you remember one detail about Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It took Picard two tries to get into Starfleet Academy. Still, he got in and became one of the most highly regarded captains in Starfleet history. But some fans may recall an exchange from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled "The Drumhead." In the episode, Picard talks to Crewman Simon Tarses. Tarses remembers sitting under an elm tree at Starfleet Academy. It happens to be the same tree that was one of Picard's favorite study spots during his time at the academy. It's a shared experience that helps connect Captain Picard with his relatively green crewman.
And it's a similar point of connection between all Starfleet officers past, present, and future. That shared experience of studying under one of the trees at Starfleet academy unites Picard with the USS Discovery crew.
We can't say whether this is the same tree. It's possible, but there's more than one tree on Starfleet's campus. Picard mentions his tree had a bench nearby. There's no such bench near Discovery's tree. Perhaps, instead, it's the tree into which Picard carved some forgotten friend's initials before the groundskeeper, Boothby, caught him. Whether or not it's the same physical tree isn't that important. It's the experience and the mission of Starfleet that unite them and connect them to the rest of Starfleet.
What did you think of the big tree scene in Star Trek: Discovery? Do you think it's that same tree that Picard studied underneath? Let us know in the comments section. New Star Trek: Discovery episodes debut Thursdays on CBS All Access.