Has Star Trek: Discovery set up a clever Klingon spy sub-plot?

Has Star Trek: Discovery set up a clever Klingon spy sub-plot?

2 comments 📅20 October 2017, 18:44

Only a few days ago, we wrote about an incredible Mirror Universe hint at end of Star Trek: Discovery season 1, episode 5, “Choose Your Pain” and now a new and even more fiendish plot theory is circulating the internet.

To recap relevant, recent events…

Captain Lorca (Jason Issacs) was taken prisoner when his shuttle was intercepted by a Klingon warship. Upon being thrown in a prison cell onboard said Klingon warship, he meets Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainn Wilson). Lorca soon learns that Klingon incarceration is not much fun as guards regularly visit the cell and demand that the prisoners nominate one of their own to be beaten, usually to death. A strategy designed to stop the prisoners from bonding, so Mudd explains. Lorca sees a badly beaten man in Starfleet uniform lying on the floor at which point the guards enter the cell and shout “Choose your pain” thus giving us the episode title. Mudd hastily encourages Lorca to join him pointing to the poor, out-of-luck officer as the guards pick up him, dish out a serious beating then finally stamp on his head with their big Klingon boots as we hear his neck break. Charming.

Late, Lorca spies yet another man in a Starfleet uniform lying in the shadows who turns out to be Lt Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif). In a fairly obvious way, he is set up so that the audience thinks he’s some of sort of spy, relaying information learned in the cell back to the Klingons, however it turns out to be Mudd, as he’d basically been looking out for number one – a true Mudd mannerism. Unknown to us, Lorca and Ash team up after this fact is uncovered and what follows is a pretty cool escape.

Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Ash Tyler

The next time two guards enter the cell, Mudd nominates Ash. Lorca reluctantly agrees as Ash pleads with him to let him be the one so that Lorca may live. The beating begins…and at the moment the Klingon is about to snap his puny human neck, Ash rolls aside, sweeps the guard’s legs and takes him down. At the same time, Lorca has launched himself at the other guard and between them they manage to overpower the two Klingons, snapping their necks in a beautiful moment of revenge-fuelled fury. Naturally, Mudd begs that they take him with them, but Lorca smacks him in the face with butt of a Klingon disrupter and closes the cell door behind him. Best moment of the whole episode right there. “You haven’t heard the last of Harry Mudd..!” He screams through the bars.

Now, cast your mind way, way back to Star Trek: The Original Series, season 2, episode 15 “The Trouble with Tribbles”. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection. One is gritty take on Trek during an intergalactic war…and the other is a lighthearted romp with a dumpster load of spare toupees from wardrobe. However, a very interesting theory from the Daily Dot suggests they might have a lot more in common than we think, or at the very least…we’re in for a very interesting Klingon undercover agent sub-plot.

Would the real Javid Iqbal please stand up

In Discovery, the primary Klingon antagonist is a Klingon named Voq, played by an actor named Javid Iqbal. The thing is, Iqbal doesn’t seem to actually exist. No photos appear of him outside of his Klingon makeup, he hasn’t appeared in any other TV show, movie, or even a commercial and basically has no presence on the internet at all.

The theory begins with Discovery‘s early casting announcements, when Shazad Latif was cast as Klingon officer Kol last year. Discovery went through some considerable pains during pre-production, including Kol being recast with the actor Kenneth Mitchell. Shazad Latif switched roles to play Starfleet officer Ash Tyler. He’s credited among the main cast in Discovery‘s title sequence and appeared prominently during the promotional tour, even though Tyler only made his first appearance in episode 5. Usually, an actor must appear in almost every episode to be considered a main cast member.

This is where things get complicated. According to some fans, Shazad Latif has been in almost every episode, they believe that Latif also plays the Klingon torchbearer Voq and that Voq has disguised himself as the human Ash Tyler. That means Javid Iqbal, the actor who plays Voq, is not actually a real person. He’s just a name CBS put on the credits, to avoid spoiling the twist.

You have to admit, there’s more than a passing resemblence

So, is Ash Tyler actually Voq? There’s plenty of evidence to support this. Captured by the Klingons during the Battle of the Binary Stars, Tyler’s been incarcerated in a Klingon prison for months. He allegedly survived because the Klingon captain “took a liking to him” which already sounds suspect, but even if he is just a regular human Starfleet officer, he could’ve been brainwashed during his time in prison. Did the Klingons allow him and Captain Lorca to escape so they could plant Tyler as a spy onboard the USS Discovery?

Voq versus Tyler

As for Voq, his last appearance was pretty intriguing. In episode 4, “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” he was exiled from his own ship and given a mysterious opportunity by his ally L’Rell (Mary Chieffo). She said she would take him to the House of the Mokai, a matriarchal Klingon family, where they would “expose him to things he never knew possible”. This would give him some kind of power to fight the Federation… but it would come “at a cost” he would have to sacrifice “everything”.

What does “everything” mean, here? That’s an important question in Voq’s case, because he seemingly has nothing left. He lost his ship and his mentor, and his crew left him to die. Arguably, his ultimate sacrifice would be to abandon his Klingon identity. Did the Mokai transform him into a human? To support this, the Klingon captain who “captured” Tyler is a woman, who told Lorca that she was “descended from spies”. She could be a member of the Mokai. Would Voq’s capture of the Discovery allow him to be redeemed in the eyes of fellow Klingons – or is this a one-way ticket?

That said, Tyler just take considerable delight in beating the absolute crap out of the Klingon captain during their escape. It’s really tough one to call…but something’s afoot.

So anyway, back to those tribbles, as if this wasn’t enough to blow your mind. In the 1967 TOS episode, a Klingon agent named Arne Darvin (Charlie Brill) masquerades as a human to infiltrate a Federation post, where he attempts to poison grain destined for a planet with disputed Federation-Klingon ownership. Darvin is only outed because the innocuous, fluffy tribbles have a particular hatred of Klingons and tend to freak out in their presence, which leads Kirk to discover his identity and save the day.

And guess who keeps tribbles in his ready room…none other than Captain Lorca. Maybe it’s like a Terminator thing – you know, always keep a dog close by and a tribble.

This could be an incredibly clever story arc waiting just around the corner for us…or it could be all a monumental coincidence. Fingers crossed we find out one way or the other before the series takes its mid-way break in a few weeks on November 12th.

Related articles
Massive Mirror Universe hint at end of Star Trek: Discovery S01E05
Star Trek: Discovery S01E05 “Choose Your Pain” REVIEW
• Star Trek: Discovery S01E04 “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” REVIEW
 Star Trek: Discovery S01E03 “Context is for Kings” REVIEW
 Star Trek: Discovery S01E01-E02 “The Vulcan Hello” & “Battle at the Binary Stars” REVIEW



  1. Roderick T. Long
    24 October 2017, 03:34 Roderick T. Long

    Another point: “Javid [or Javed] Iqbal” is a fairly common real-world name … but it also means “forever-fortunate.” Which comes awfully close to … “live long and prosper.”

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  2. Chris
    20 October 2017, 22:04 Chris

    Oo ooooo ooooo! Yes after watching Trekyards I cant help but agree entirely. And the tribble… That’s gonna be the big reveal. however I wonder if the doctor might discover first ? Giving rise to more tension if Stamets partner is injured / killed? Also it makes it easier to understand why the incoming raiders weren’t scanned for lifesigns?!

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