After we had just about recovered from the news that #StarTrekDiscovery would be delayed six months, they broke our hearts once again — Bryan Fuller has officially pulled back as showrunner, though he will oversee breaking each episode's story. Once we could see through our tears and re-read the press release, we noticed something heartening: The characters who have been already been cast hold very intriguing implications for the plot of the show.
Putting this together with some previous hints from Fuller himself (RIP), we came up with a theory of how Star Trek: Discovery might be structured — and this could be the most innovative thing Star Trek has done since Sulu came out as gay.
When it was revealed, the fact that Discovery is set ten years before The Original Series had fans buzzing. This is a fascinating and relatively unexplored time in Federation history, when tensions were high with the Klingon Empire, while the Romulans were lurking behind the Neutral Zone after their vicious war with Starfleet.
There has been much speculation about both the Klingons and the Romulans playing a villainous role in Star Trek: Discovery, but this casting news hints at a more sympathetic, and possibly groundbreaking, shift in perspective.
Clashes With Klingons
In their writeup of Bryan Fuller's partial exit, The Hollywood Reporter included some details about the show that came to them from their sources.
Sources tell THR that the rest of the cast also will feature an openly gay actor as one of the male leads (which Fuller confirmed), a female admiral, a male Klingon captain, a male admiral, a male adviser and a British male doctor.
There's a few things to notice here — that LGBT character is confirmed to be a gay man, another female character will appear in addition to the female lead, and as in Deep Space Nine the show's doctor will be British. But the most surprising news is that a Klingon captain will feature among the main cast.
At first glance, that's not much to talk about — after all, the longest running character in all of Star Trek is the Klingon Federation officer Worf, who appeared in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and all of the TNG movies. However, that was far later in Federation history: In the Discovery era, rising tensions between the Klingons and Federation lead to a vicious war in TOS that wasn't resolved until the Khitomer Accords in the film The Undiscovered Country.
A source of great contention was a Klingon/Federation battle on Axanar, a planet at the edge of Klingon space. This battle became famous for the Federation's tragic victory — and thanks to a lawsuit between CBS and a fan film company, Axanar is also a source of contention in the real world.
There has been much speculation that Axanar could be a focal point for Star Trek: Discovery, which would explain why CBS want to halt the production of a competing fan film. But with this new revelation, it looks like something even more complex is going on in Discovery — this may be the first show to feature a Klingon crew as main cast.
Aboard A Bird Of Prey
Earlier this year, we speculated that Discovery might do something totally original, and split the main cast between two separate ships. This was inspired by an interview with Fuller at the Saturn Awards, in which he had this response to being asked if Discovery would follow only one crew:
"No, I think we will be seeing lots of crews in the story. We're telling a 13-chapter story in this first season. It's nice to be able to dig deep into things that would have been breezed passed if we were doing episodic and had to contain a story to an episode."
We assumed Fuller was referring to multiple Federation crews, but if a Klingon captain is listed in the main cast, maybe the second main cast won't be Starfleet, but their bitter rivals.
Picture this: A Star Trek show that has two main casts, one aboard the Federation ship the USS Discovery, and another aboard a Klingon Bird of Prey. This is a fascinating premise, as it would allow the show to explore two clashing perspectives in a time fraught with interstellar tension.
We already know that Discovery will focus on the leading character's own journey to broaden her perspective, as she's challenged to question what she thought she knew.
"We're going deep into something that was for me always very tantalizing, and [we're telling] that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy. For her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself."
If this is the main theme of the show, following a crew of people who are thought of as enemies could be a strong driving force in the story. This makes even more sense if Discovery does explore the Battle of Axanar, as the two crews could become embroiled in the conflict.
By featuring the Klingons as protagonists, the audience will be forced to confront their own ideas of this race of people, seeing both sides of the war as sympathetic. Of course, it's just an idea which may not turn out to be true, but what's more quintessentially Star Trek by introducing an enemy as a friend?
There is one more thing this casting has caused us to wonder about, and that's how in the heck Fuller and the Discovery production team are going to get around the Klingon design issue — in TOS, the Klingons are devoid of their iconic forehead ridges. The prequel show Enterprise (set over 100 years before TOS) attempted to solve this issue with a plotline about a genetically engineered "augment" virus... but this is a subject still contested among fans.
So whatever the Klingon captain's role in Discovery, it'll certainly be interesting, whether we're forced to realign our perceptions of Klingons — or if we'll finally get that forehead-ridge issue settled.
Would you like to see the Battle of Axanar in 'Star Trek: Discovery'?
[Header image by GeekFilter.]