The last several years have been rough for fans of Star Trek. After the lukewarm receptions of both Enterprise and Nemesis, the long-running streak of success that started with The Next Generation and led to a movie franchise, the criminally underrated Deep Space Nine, and the much loved for its faults and all Voyager had finally come to an end.
The franchise was largely stagnant for years after. Talks of new spin-offs would come and go on a regular basis but none actually made it to the screen. Fans got a bit of hope when J.J. Abrams rebooted the series with Star Trek, Into Darkness, and the Justin Lin helmed Beyond. None of these movies ended up landing with fans and general audiences alike in the way everyone had hoped. though.
Luckily for us, Star Trek: Discovery just came back with an exciting new season. After a first season with lots of highs and lows, it looks like the show has finally found its rhythm. Even the show's naysayers are starting to come around on the series. One of the aspects of the show that is really starting to take off is how great the ensemble cast in the series is.
There is one character that does get more mentions than the rest, though. Saru is often thought of as the breakout character of the show. He is one of the best designed aliens in the series, has a distinctly original backstory, and is played by one of the greatest character actors of his generations, the infallible Doug Jones.
Still, his character isn't quite perfect. There are several flaws that enhance his character's depth while others just make him less likable overall. Here are 20 things wrong with Saru:
20 How Did He Get So Smart?
Saru has one of the most unique origins of any Trek crew member. He came from the humblest possible beginnings. His culture was not just pre-warp, but barely evolved at all. They were a species that lived in huts and were consenting prey to an advanced predator race. Humans may have made quite the technological leap when they invented warp drive earlier than expected, but they have nothing on Saru.
In what seemed like only a few years, Saru was able to take a piece of advanced tech and formulate a message that Captain Georgiou was able to find. From there, it didn't take long for him to become science officer aboard the Shenzou and then 1st officer on the Discovery. That's quite the leap from living in a hut. Arguably too big a leap.
Maybe Saru is just a prodigy among prodigies.
19 He Lied To His Father
Tensions between fathers and sons are constant throughout the Star Trek universe. Fatherhood seems to be the one philosophical element that the Federation doesn't seem to have mastered anymore than us.
The same can be said of Kelpiens. Saru and his father are shown to have an incredibly tense relationship. His father actively supports the Kelpiens' plight, even assisting with their ritualistic sacrifice. The belief goes so deep within him that when Saru asks how he would react if his own son was chosen for sacrifice, he basically said he'd be honored.
While that is certainly horrible, Saru not sharing with him that there was another species that he was communicating to was possibly the worse crime. Exposing his father to a species that didn't view them as food may have changed his perspective forever. Instead, Saru held on to his resentment of his father and left without a word.
18 He Didn't Respect His Sister
Saru's relationship with his father was far from ideal, but his relationship with his sister seemed much more healthy. The two showed real love and compassion for one another. This truly stood out in a society where everyone seems to be distant from one another. It's likely hard to be attached to someone when they could end up being sacrificed as food at any time.
What is sad about Saru and his sister, though, is that despite his love for her, he didn't truly respect her. He planned on undertaking this huge journey and didn't share the experience with her. She could've helped him construct the message to the Federation and may have even found a new life there as well. This will almost certainly prove to be a source of tension between the two when they inevitably meet again.
17 He Abandoned His People
Though we have barely gotten a glimpse of Kelpien culture, it's safe to assume that they aren't the most intelligent of cultures. They willingly submit to being used as sacrifices despite having incredible physical attributes.
There's little doubt that Saru is the greatest prodigy of his people. Instead of using his talents for the betterment of his kind, though, he abandons them. His quest to become a part of the Federation may have made him happier, but it does little to help the plight of his people. Had every human of special abilities been beamed away right when humanity needed them most, we'd likely still be in the dark ages.
16 He Rarely Uses His Enhanced Abilities
Throughout the series, Saru proves time and time again that he has a cunning analytical mind. He started from nothing and worked his way all the way up to the chief science officer on the Shenzou before then getting promoted to first officer on Discovery. Few Starfleet officers have ever had such an impressive trajectory.
What is surprising, though, is the fact that he has enhanced strength and speed. Despite the fact that he is functionally superhuman, he almost never demonstrates any of these abilities. They were at war in the first season and he never once fought off any Klingons. He would've made easy work of the Klingons in ep.2 of the series. Georgiou might still be alive had he been more forthcoming.
15 He Didn't Stop Michael's Mutiny
There are three traits that are widely shown to be the main aspects of Saru's personality. He has a very analytical mind, enhanced strength and speed, and a literal organ that tells him when danger is approaching. Despite all of this, the first officer aboard the Shenzou was able to stun his captain and take over her ship.
One would think that if anyone could've seen Burnham's choice coming, it would've been Saru. Then, he would've been able to incapacitate Michael with little effort at all. The entire course of the series might've been altered had Saru done any of the things he's known for. Big fail there, Saru.
14 He Supported The Tardigrade Incident
One of the first ethical dilemmas in the series was what to do with the Tardigrade the ship had captured. They needed it in order to use the ship's infamous spore drive. This technology was a huge boost for the Federation which desperately needed a win.
The only problem was that it caused the Tardigrade agony. The practice was essentially animal cruelty. Michael Burnham may have had a huge problem with this practice, but Saru was hesitant about helping the creature. One would think that Saru coming from an abused species would've given him a much greater capacity for empathy for the poor creature. Logically, it should've been him leading the charge for the creature's health and not Burnham.
13 His Rivalry With Michael
The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are very different from the beginnings of any other in the franchise. Essentially, it began with the dramatic series finale of a Trek series we'll never get to see called Shenzou. While it would've made an extremely controversial finale for that series, (though still better than the Enterprise finale) it made for a great jumping off point for the show.
We didn't get to see much about how the Shenzou operated, but we did see enough to understand what the primary source of conflict aboard the ship was. Michael and Saru's rivalry seemed to be an ever present source of tension on the bridge. They fought over Georgiou's attention like two children trying to be the favorite child. Not only was it unprofessional, it undoubtedly contributed to Michael's mutiny and incarceration. Had she been able to confide in Saru like a friend, maybe the opening battle of the series would've gone differently. We'll never know.
12 His Threat Ganglia Are A Tell
It's no secret that Saru aspires to be a captain. He seems most at home on the ship when he's sitting in that captain's chair. While he has many attributes that would make him a fine commanding officer of a star ship, there is one thing outside of his control that would be a real detriment.
Starfleet captains frequently have to square off with commanders of other star ships. These tense mental battles can often lead to the difference between a battle and peace. It's a huge problem then if the captain has literal ganglia popping out of his neck every time he feels like he's in danger.
Playing poker against Saru would be the easiest thing in the world. If the ganglia are showing, bet hard.
11 He Supported Lorca
All of the characters in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery made a huge mistake when judging the character of their first captain. Throughout the first half of the season, Lorca demonstrated time and time again that he was far from the normal Starfleet commanding officer. Yet, somehow no one once considered that something may be up.
For Saru, this is especially embarrassing. Despite all of his boasting about his abilities to detect danger, his ganglia seemed very relaxed in the presence of Lorca. This makes them pretty worthless if they can't detect a mortal threat that literally sits right next to him every single day.
An unidentified space object makes your ganglia go nuts, but a man who was too intense for the mirror universe didn't make them twitch at all? What's the point of even having them?
10 He Didn't Trust Pike
His ability to judge character only seems to be getting worse as the series progresses. Lorca he saw as a captain he could be loyal to. This was despite the fact that not only was he from the mirror universe but he also acted contrary to Starfleet ideology almost every day of his command.
Pike, apparently, isn't as trustworthy to Saru. While it's clear that there is still some trauma from Lorca's betrayal, Pike is one of the most decorated officers in the entire Federation. He is the captain of the flagship of the fleet and has a list of accomplishments as long as his arm.
One would've thought of Pike as a breath of fresh air for Saru, but he still doesn't seem to trust him.
9 He Is Always Afraid
Midway through the first season of the show, Saru reveals a bit more about his mental state. Evidently, the ship's first officer lives in a constant state of terror every second of the day. This doesn't exactly fill one with confidence in a commanding officer.
Saru's fearfulness frequently makes him dissuade others from risky decisions that have proven to be the exact choice that the crew needed to make. He is the constant voice of dissent on the bridge due to his excessive worrying. If he is to rise his way up the ranks into his own command, he will need to face some of these demons head on.
If Captain Kirk was great for his "I don't believe in a no-win scenario" attitude, a "I don't believe in a no-lose scenario" attitude isn't helpful at all.
8 He Didn't Support Michael Aboard The Discovery
It's a pretty massive understatement to say that Michael Burnham went through a lot in the early days of the series. She was the only officer in Starfleet history to commit mutiny. This leads to her being treated like a second class citizen on Discovery.
Saru was one of the crew members who had known Burnham the longest. It was sad that he didn't have more compassion for his old friend. Sure, Burnham did betray him but Saru still could've seen her perspective on the issue. Her "Vulcan hello" theory may have been misguided, but a lot of the logic was sound. Saru seemed unable to break through his own resentments for a good deal of the first season. He didn't seem to have a huge problem with Burnham being discriminated against. Supposedly Starfleet was supposed to be past all that.
7 He Frequently Disregards Tilly
Tilly soared straight into the hearts of fans faster than most any other Trek character has managed to since the original series. She was an instant burst of energy and levity in a show that up to that point had been rather dark and dreary. Her charming personality and motor mouth of helpful rambling information make her the lynch pin of the crew's dynamic.
It'sodd that no matter how many times she comes up with an off the cuff solution to an unsolvable problem that everyone on the show is constantly disregarding her. Saru seems to be the worst at this. In a way he is Tilly's mentor, but he is also the one who is constantly shaming her or trying to hold her back. Saru lives his life in fear and Tilly seems to fly by the seat of her pants. Maybe Saru should think about what he could learn from her instead of what she could learn from him.
6 He Didn't Sense Anything About Tyler
There were a lot of twists in Star Trek: Discovery season one. While quite a few of them were incredibly well done, there's one that has become infamous. The Ash Tyler/Voq conspiracy was so obvious that almost every watcher of the show had figured out what was happening half a season before the reveal.
That's why it's so odd that no one on the ship could figure it out. Not to mention Saru's incredibly ineffective threat ganglia again, but come on! Saru was literally working with a secret traitor who was offing people on the ship! How can Saru continue to think that his ganglia are useful after the Tyler situation (and the Lorca situation... and the mutiny) prove that they are worthless and likely psychosomatic in nature.
5 He Betrayed Michael And Tyler
"Si Vis Pacem" was a landmark episode of Star Trek: Discovery. It was the show's first planet of the week episode and a showcase for the expensive special effects that the series likes to show off. The episode looks like that Natalie Portman movie Annihilation, but on a tv budget.
It was also a big episode because it was the first to put the spotlight on Saru. It showed off his physical abilities, the minor aspects of his design, and his deep vulnerability. Unfortunately, it also showed how easily he could be compelled to betray his friends. He got a taste of a life without fear and almost derailed the entire mission for it. Saru went from the level headed character of the show to a Colonel Kurtz. "The lack of horror, the lack of horror."
4 He Is Lonely
Saru likes to present himself like he's self assured and pragmatic but he frequently comes across as deeply insecure. This insecurity clearly comes from a deep loneliness and social anxiety that he doesn't seem to be able to cope with.
While it must be difficult to be in Starfleet as the only member of his race, he's had many years to figure out how to acclimate. Saru is also a commanding officer on the ship. His insecurities are keeping him from being the effective commander that he could be. There are many aboard the ship who would likely be more than happy to be closer with Saru, but he seems to have little interest in solving this problem.
Though it's not like he had a plethora of friends on his own planet either.
3 He Rarely Ever Comes Up With Solutions
In many ways, Saru initially seemed like he would be the spiritual successor to pragmatic scientific Trek characters like Spock and Data. While he definitely has several qualities that are reminiscent of those characters, he doesn't quite have the problem solving capacity that they do.
He originated on the series as the Shenzou's science officer. It's likely that he was the go to problem solver of that ship but not the Discovery. Crew members like Michael, Tilly, and Stamets are constantly showing him up when it comes to the patented Starfleet scientific magic.
Points should go to Saru for being able to give a really good inspiring speech. Neither Spock nor Data were particularly good at those.
2 He Is Cold & Distant To The Crew
One would think that a character who is billions of miles from home, has no members of his species in his life anymore, and is a commanding officer would make more of an effort to have a personal relationship with members of his crew. Saru doesn't seem very interested in any of that though.
Discovery is the straight up party ship compared to the others of the series. While Star Trek: The Next Generation had low key poker nights, Star Trek: Voyager had lots of high concept holo deck programs, and Star Trek had 3-D stress, Star Trek: Discovery shows its crew members blowing off steam by dancing and drinking with one another. It's sad that Saru doesn't let his hair... err Ganglia down like that. It would probably help with his anxieties if he would go to a party or two.
1 He Keeps Doug Jones From Doing More Movies
Doug Jones is the perfect actor to play an alien on a Star Trek show. While Leonard Nimoy, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, and a slew of other actors showed that their alien characters were more than just makeup, Jones commits on a whole different level. Nothing about his performance seems even slightly human.
All of this is because Doug Jones is the best monster actor of all time (sorry Boris Karloff). He's starred in movies like Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Hocus Pocus. Most famously though, he brought to life his most relatable creature ever in the Oscar winning movie The Shape Of Water. The man made a romantic comedy which basically featured the Creature from the Black Lagoon adorable. He's a national treasure.
That's why it's both a gift and a curse that Jones is on Star Trek: Discovery. While it's amazing that such an amazing character actor is gracing the franchise with his talent, it also makes one wonder what kind of movies he could be making. It'd be like taking Andy Serkis away from Hollywood so that he could be in the new Star Wars show... actually that sounds awesome.
What about you? Did we miss any of Saru's faults? Did we sell him short? Let us know in the comments!