Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Features A Lord Of The Rings Reference You Probably Missed

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

One of the greatest strengths of "Star Trek" comes from how malleable the franchise can be. As proven time and time again over the decades, only limitations in creativity and imagination on the writers' part (and that of its viewers, as well) can hold the property back from its best version of itself. Stories set in this ostensibly futuristic, space-faring universe can span the issue of anti-Black racism in 1950s America, pack an entire hypothetical lifetime into the runtime of a single episode, or even take its cues from no greater authority than Shakespeare in surprising and inventive ways. "Trek" tends to wear its influences on its sleeve, as most recently evidenced by the latest episode of "Strange New Worlds."

Things got downright medieval in "The Elysian Kingdom," which saw Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) thrust into a LARPer's dream while the USS Enterprise navigated a nebula — one that happens to house a sentient being made up entirely of pure consciousness. Yeah, that's "Star Trek" for you! The doctor is at a loss to explain why the fairytale storybook he routinely reads to his young daughter Rukiya (Sage Arrindell) has inexplicably come to life around him, with the crew playacting specific characters from the fantasy novel in all their genre goofiness.

In the midst of all these nerdy joys, viewers could've easily missed one particular reference that'll be sure to please "The Lord of the Rings" fans everywhere. If you're going to plunge headfirst into fantasy, might as well borrow from the best. The "Strange New Worlds" creative team did exactly that ... for those who were paying close attention, at least.

Crossing swords

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the "Strange New Worlds" writers' room cracked the story that would feature M'Benga as a king, the Aenar engineer known as Hemmer (Bruce Horak) as a hilariously confused wizard, the heroic Captain Pike (Anson Mount) transformed into a craven chamberlain with allegiances prone to shift with the winds, La'an Noonien-Singh's (Christina Chong) puppy-loving princess, and Melissa Navia's sword-wielding Ortegas. There was love, betrayal, incredible line readings, and pretty much everything fantasy fans could possibly want from a "Star Trek" episode that started off subdued, quickly turned into a lark, and then looped right back around to its poignant ending.

Amid all the hijinks, viewers undoubtedly got a kick out of the lush production design and props littered throughout the fairytale-infused Enterprise sets. But even the biggest fans may not have realized the "Lord of the Rings" reference hiding in plain sight. Thanks to a particularly observant Reddit thread, some noticed that Ortegas' sword in the episode bears an uncanny resemblance to the blade wielded by Aragorn, son of Arathorn (played by Viggo Mortensen), in "The Fellowship of the Ring." It would seem that the "Strange New Worlds" crew got their hands on either prop sword from the production of "The Lord of the Rings" or one of those fancy prop replicas. Seriously, check out the similarities between the two blades for yourself!

Dare I point out that the visual of a Starfleet navigator running around the ship with a medieval weapon in hand actually has precedent in "Trek" lore, too? Talk about knowing your franchise history ... although this isn't the first time "Trek" and "The Lord of the Rings" has intersected, either.

Oh, and Tolkien nerds: next week's "Strange New Worlds" episode is titled "All Those Who Wander."