The Science Behind Star Trek: Discovery Klingons' Appearance

One of the most controversial aspects of the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery has been the radical redesign of the Klingons, one of the iconic alien races in Star Trek lore. However, the show's cast and crew are explaining that the change isn't just aesthetic and serves a narrative purpose.

Along with the Vulcans and the Borg, the Klingons are among the most popular aliens in the franchise. The warrior race served as a constant adversary for Captain Kirk's Enterprise in the original series, and evolved into an uneasy ally during the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation. TNG's Lieutenant Worf has come to define the Klingons: a stern, honorable warrior race. And while the the Klingons' look has evolved over the years, Discovery's overhaul is arguably the biggest change yet.

Related: Check out Star Trek: Discovery's Klingon Costumes

However, those changes are being made with a purpose. Per Trek Movie, the show's creature designers Neville Page and Glenn Hetrick have revealed that these new Klingons are bald with more pronounced ridges - because they're basically sensors. The ridges are tools that the Klingons, a predator race, utilized to climb the food chain.

Actor Mary Chieffo, who plays Klingon L’Rell, expanded on that idea.

"Obviously the hair was the biggest thing people noticed, or the lack thereof. And I will attest to the fact there is a reason my ridge goes back the way it does. There are sensors and pheromones…There is a whole reasoning behind it that is adhering to what has always been true in Klingon canon…So I deeply believe we are in line with what has come before but is also adding a new kind of nuance."

Page also defends the notion that these Klingons can credibly exist in the same universe as the previous iterations, chalking up the discrepancies to the vastness of the Klingon empire:

“The Empire is very big. They don’t all grow up on Qo’noS. They don’t all live on the same planets and certainly those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently?” We tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth.”

Discovery's plot reportedly hinges largely on the Klingons, and the show is seemingly doing its best to both update and honor the legacy of what's come before for them - it's also a positive sign that they'll actually be speaking subtitled Klingon. There's plenty of precedent for changing up the look of the Klingons, and it's good that the show's creative team has seemingly thought out some pretty decent reasons for the changes this time. If Discovery stumbles, it seems unlikely that it will be because of the Klingons.

NEXT: Why Star Trek: Discovery Won't Use the Word 'God'

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS with a two-part series opener on September 27, 2017. After that, the show will continue on CBS All Access in 2017 and 2018.

Source: Trek Movie

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