As long time Trekkies (who have a tendency to be a little bit obsessive, and haven't quite decided if this new show -- which is technically another prequel even though it looks modern -- is going to be a keeper), know, Gorn are simultaneously the most embarrassing and most beloved creatures of Star Trek: The Original Series. If you've seen TOS, you may recall the rubber suited lizard man that has a very slow and methodical fight with Captain Kirk. You've seen, and probably laughed at, the clip. But maybe you've also laughed with the clip and celebrated the clip. And if you have, it means you like Star Trek. Welcome to the club!
I confess that I and many of my Star Trek pals have been agonizing a bit over things that don't appear, at first blush, to make sense with Discovery. Not the issue of special effects produced in 2017 looking different than those made in 1966. (Some can't get past the holograms, and they deserve your mockery and scorn.) It's seeing a Klingon ship employ a cloaking device when all along we thought it was Romulan technology. Or how Captain Lorca can keep a Tribble on his desk without it reproducing all over the place. We want answers before the end of the season.
Yet that glimpse of a Gorn is more than just a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of fan service. It is a bold statement that this new Star Trek may be different. Its hero, Sonequa Martin-Green's Michael Burnham, may have kicked things off by disobeying a direct order (and giving her captain and mother figure Captain Georgiou a Vulcan nerve pinch). And it appears as if Burnham's new captain, Jason Isaacs' Lorca, is some sort of ends-justifies-the-means rogue at odds with everything the Federation stands for. But despite all this, this is definitely still Star Trek. The Gorn skeleton is more than just a call-back. It's an expression of how we're seeing a familiar world through an unfamiliar lens. We're looking at its bones.