Star Trek: Discovery is still in its early days of building an audience. But, because that audience is mostly composed of Star Trek's most hardcore fan base (in other words, clever obsessives), they appear to have uncovered one of the biggest twists in the show's history way before the writers were ready to reveal it to us.
Beam down into your favourite chair and we'll explain. Warning: the following probably all counts as spoilers.
The theory involves a Klingon plot to infiltrate Starfleet, and it originated with some unusual casting. Javid Iqbal, the actor credited with playing Discovery's most significant Klingon, Voq, doesn't exist beyond his work on the show. Nothing on IMDb or social media (outside of a couple of parody accounts that have since popped up).
Meanwhile, Shazad Latif, who appeared in episode five as imprisoned Starfleet grunt Ash Tyler, has been credited with the same episodes despite the fact he supposedly doesn't appear in them. (You might know him better as Toast of London's Clem Fandango. YES WE CAN HEAR YOU, CLEM FANDANGO.)
When Latif's casting was originally announced, it was in the Klingon role of Kol (who ended up being played by Kenneth Mitchell). Latif was cast as Tyler instead, despite his apparent Klingon skills. Oh, and as you'll recall, the actor who is credited as Voq is Javid Iqbal. Shazad Latif's birth name? Shazad Iqbal.
At the end of episode four, 'The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry,' Klingon conspirator L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) meets the exiled Voq, telling him that to save himself he needs to go to the House of the Mo'Kai, which basically sounds like a magical spy academy.
"What must I sacrifice?" Voq asks. "Everything," she replies.
So... his looks and entire identity, then?
It certainly seems that way. We haven't seen Voq since, but we have met Ash Tyler in a Klingon prison, in episode five 'Choose Your Pain', where he's apparently managed to survive for seven months.
As Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) puts it: "You're lying. No-one survives Klingon torture for seven months and lives."
Could the real Ash Tyler have died in interrogation, allowing Voq to replace him?
We've also done our own digging. When we asked Latif what attracted him to the role, he said it was the thought of doing '15 hours of television' – but Tyler's first appearance was in episode five. So, surely that should be ten hours?
We've since received an update on Latif's quote, from a PR representative who told us: "For context, he was on set from the beginning for extensive rehearsals and fittings, hence the 15 hours of TV comment."
That's certainly an unusual way to shoot a TV series (usually rehearsals and fittings take place before filming begins) – but we're not saying the statement isn't true.
We have a feeling we'll all find out before the end of the season. Showrunner Aaron Harberts told us: "Season one is the war novel, and we won't be doing another war novel. That's served us well for season one. I think it's about love. Star Trek fans and science fiction fans are looking for, 'What are you trying to say?' It's not just about space battles."
That's interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it means this narrative will be resolved by the end of the season – so if Ash Tyler really is an undercover Klingon, we'll find out by the time the finale rolls around (probably long before).
The other intriguing element is the idea the series is about love. L'Rell appears to feel love for Voq, and our lead Michael Burnham is certainly falling for Ash Tyler.
We wonder if those plotlines will collide? It would be especially fascinating if Burnham, whose parents were killed by Klingons, who killed a Klingon herself (starting the current war), had accidentally fallen in love with her enemy, without realising...
It would be a VERY Game Of Thrones style twist, which makes sense – Discovery is majorly influenced by Thrones.
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