ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. Twitter: @ExtraTremeerial | Email: [email protected]
Eleanor Tremeer

Heralding Star Trek's (hopefully) triumphant return to TV, Star Trek: Discovery carries the expectations of many a fan, and CBS are fully aware of this. After pushing the show's premiere back from January 2017 to May, recently CBS postponed the show again — without a concrete airdate.

But as sad as it is to see the USS Discovery floating in limbo, warp nacelles sputtering, bridge consoles exploding all over the place, there was something confidence inspiring in the most recent press release.

Christopher Lloyd's Klingon commander Kruge in 'The Search for Spock'. [Credit: Paramount]
Christopher Lloyd's Klingon commander Kruge in 'The Search for Spock'. [Credit: Paramount]

Buried in the casting announcements, we caught our first glimpse of what might be the most interesting part of — the Klingon subplot, which is set to be rather revolutionary.

Clashes With Klingons

Ah, the Klingons. Easily one of the most recognizable races in (second only to the Vulcans), the Klingons have long been a compelling part of the franchise. Known as noble yet volatile warriors, the Klingons have a rich history and are always causing trouble in Star Trek shows — whether that means antagonizing Kirk in The Original Series, navigating their tenuous truce with the Federation in The Next Generation, or declaring war on just about everyone in Deep Space Nine.

Klingons attack Deep Space Nine in "The Way Of The Warrior". [Credit: CBS]
Klingons attack Deep Space Nine in "The Way Of The Warrior". [Credit: CBS]

So it should come as no surprise that Star Trek: Discovery are shining another spotlight on this fan favorite alien race. In the most recent cast list, as published by Entertainment Weekly, it was confirmed that there will be three main Klingon characters — and their character descriptions hint at interesting plot developments.

The show also cast three actors as Klingons: Chris Obi (Roots) as T’Kuvma, a leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses; Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful), who will play Kol, a Klingon Commanding Officer, and protege of T’Kuvma; and the newcomer Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, the Battle Deck Commander of a Klingon ship.

It seems that much of Discovery will focus on uniting the Klingon Empire, an intriguing plot point considering that at this point Trek's in-universe history, the Klingons were engaged in an antagonistic cold war with the Federation. This caused many brutal conflicts between the two cultures, and didn't end until the Khitomer Accords were signed in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The Klingons meet with the Enterprise crew in 'The Undiscovered Country'. [Credit: Paramount]
The Klingons meet with the Enterprise crew in 'The Undiscovered Country'. [Credit: Paramount]

We've actually had hints about this Klingon plot in Discovery from the get-go — when Nicholas Meyer (Wrath of Khan) was named as co-writer, he told DenOfGeek that he and ex-showrunner Bryan Fuller considered The Undiscovered Country to be a "narrative jumping off point". Fuller also hinted that Discovery would break with Trek tradition to focus on more than one ship, and now it seems that other ship will indeed be a Klingon Bird of Prey.

Uniting The Klingon Empire

Entertainment Weekly's casting information seems to pinpoint the new character T'Kuvma as something of a revolutionary, working towards a united Klingon Empire. The in-fighting between the powerful Klingon houses was a weakness of the Empire, causing problems well into The Next Generation, which saw the Klingon homeworld erupt into a brutal civil war.

However, not much is known about the state of the Empire around the era in which Discovery and The Original Series are set. The Klingons of TOS were markedly different from those we know and love — originally conceived as a race known for their duplicity and trickery, the Klingons even looked very, very different, lacking the distinctive forehead ridges.

The Klingon character design changed significantly. [Credit: CBS]
The Klingon character design changed significantly. [Credit: CBS]

Instead, the Romulans were painted as the noble warriors. The roles of these two alien races were switched around later on — the TOS films and TNG established the Klingons as noble yet savage warriors, introducing the forehead ridges. The short-lived series Star Trek: Enterprise tried to explain these canonical inconsistencies, though many fans considered this to be a vain attempt to rewrite something better swept under the rug.

This puts Discovery in a rather tricky position. It seems logical to assume that the new show will use the noble warrior characterization that the Klingons have become famous for, but whether the creators will opt for the forehead ridges, or use the TOS Klingon design remains to be seen. Personally, I'm hoping they side with Worf on this one.

Aesthetic debates aside, Discovery could explain a lot of Klingon history through T'Kuvma's personal mission to unite the Klingon houses, as it may be that the Empire was in an even more divided state at this point in history. This makes T'Kuvma and the other Klingons out to be rather sympathetic characters, and their cause may well endear them to Discovery's protagonist, the enigmatic Number One, whose own story lies in her journey to understand the new life and new civilizations she encounters.

"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."

So Fuller told to Moviefone last year, and now that the Klingon subplot has been revealed, we can finally understand the parallels between Discovery and The Undiscovered Country — as well as how this connects to Number One's own personal journey.

We might have a long time until Discovery finally leaves spacedock, but all signs point towards this Trek revival being worth the wait.

Tell us in the comments: What do you want to see in Discovery?

Personally, I'm hoping for another baseball game. [Credit: CBS]
Personally, I'm hoping for another baseball game. [Credit: CBS]

[Source: Entertainment Weekly, DenOfGeek, Moviefone]


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