What if the writers and producers of Star Trek: Discovery are cleverer than fans are giving them credit for?
Potential major spoilers ahead.
Fans have suspected for weeks now that the newly introduced Lt. Ash Tyler on Star Trek: Discovery is actually the Klingon Voq in a genetically-modified disguise. This is based on a number of subtle clues (okay, some are not-so-subtle), chief among them being the IMDb page devoted to an actor named “Javid Iqbal.” Iqbal’s one and only credit is “Voq” on Discovery, and no photos of him seem to exist outside of his appearance on the show, without his elaborate Klingon makeup.
Iqbal also happens to be the birth surname of actor Shazad Latif, aka Lt. Ash Tyler. It was announced early on that Latif was playing a Klingon character on the show, until he was supposedly switched to a new role, that of the human Starfleet officer Tyler. The implication is clear: Discovery‘s masterminds are trying to trick us, even going so far as to working in cahoots with IMDb to create a fake page for a fake actor, all in the hopes that no one would figure out that “Voq = Tyler.” (Hey Game of Thrones fans, let’s make “V=T” the new “R+L=J”!)
If that’s all it is, then Discovery‘s producers clearly underestimated their viewers. But there’s another possibility. In this era where every minutia of advertising and posters and toys and trailers are obsessed over by rabid fans, it’s entirely possible that Discovery‘s producers already knew that fans would analyze all this stuff and come to the Voq = Tyler conclusion.
After the episode “Lethe,” some fans found themselves fascinated by Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca, the changes and revelations viewers learned about him, and the final scene where he stared with something akin to displeasure at his own reflection. Lorca’s behavior since his return from the Klingon prison ship has been a little different, a little more raw and vulnerable. He also “expertly lied” on his Starfleet psyche evaluations following his captivity. It would previously have been hard to imagine Lorca begging for anything, but he wound up doing exactly that when Jayne Brook’s Admiral Cornwell threatened to take Discovery from him. He also had scars on his back that Cornwell, his longtime friend and lover, didn’t recognize.
And then there’s our counterfeit actor Javid Iqbal. Yes, the surname is shared with Shazad Latif. But the initials “J.I.” are shared with Jason Isaacs.
What if Tyler is a red herring meant to take attention away from Lorca until we look back months from now and see what’s obvious in hindsight? Lorca could be Voq. Maybe he was switched with the real Lorca on that prison ship, and the real captain is still being held there.
Granted, there are bits of this theory that don’t quite add up. For example, T’Rell’s whole prison ship deal is an obvious sham. Tyler claimed that T’Rell had “taken a liking” to him while he’d been there for the last seven months. But that’s impossible, since T’Rell was trapped on the Sarcophagus Ship with Voq for six of those months.
In all likelihood, Tyler is Voq. The Lorca/Isaacs theory is a stretch no matter how you look at it. But you have to admit, it’d be pretty incredible to learn that the people behind Discovery are smart enough to outwit viewers this way. If they’re faking us out, they’re doing a better job of it than most TV shows or movies do.
If true, there’s no way that the Voq depicted on the show was Jason Isaacs under all that makeup. It would have to be another actor using an alias, just to throw everyone off. Isaacs is too recognizable; his eyes would be very distinctive even under heavy makeup.
There’s also the possibility that Voq could be someone else on the U.S.S. Discovery. He couldn’t be just anyone on Discovery‘s crew; there’s no way he’s Burnham or Saru, for example. But there are other contenders among the third-tier characters we know less about, such as the various members of the bridge crew, or Dr. Culber.
The final option is that Voq is still out there somewhere, undergoing his training or transformation or whatever it is that those matriarchs were going to do to him. But this seems unlikely.
Consider the “previously on…” segments that open the show. It’s an unwritten rule that TV shows only include clips in those recaps that directly apply to events that are going to happen in this week’s episode. Discovery keeps showing us the “sacrifice everything” scene between T’Rell and Voq in the recaps, therefore we’re still seeing that story play out in current episodes — even if there’s no visible sign of Voq.
So there’s pretty much a 99% chance that Voq has undergone his “sacrifice” already and is on board Discovery alongside Burnham. And the odds are very strong that Tyler is the Klingon in disguise.
But that’s the fun of shows that fuel fan speculation: You just never know.
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