New 'Star Trek: Discovery' Cast Members Hint At Tricky Diplomacy With The Klingon High Council

The Discovery, designation NCC-1031.
The Discovery, designation NCC-1031. CBS Television Studios

New cast members announced for Star Trek: Discovery hint high-level diplomatic talks between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon High Council as likely drivers of the first season’s plot.

CBS announced several new additions to the Star Trek: Discovery cast. Shazad Latif of Penny Dreadful will play Starfleet officer Lieutenant Tyler and Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica) will join the crew of USS Discovery NCC-1031 as security officer Commander Landry. But it’s the three remaining cast additions, all Klingons, which most indicate where Star Trek: Discovery is heading. Kenneth Mitchell (Jericho) will star as Kol, a Klingon commanding officer of some sort. Clare McConnell as Dennas and Damon Runyan (Supernatural) as Ujilli are both Klingons stationed somewhere above Kol in the Klingon bureaucracy. CBS has described both of their characters as “a leader in the Klingon Empire.”

Could this mean the Klingon High Council will play a part in the plot of Star Trek: Discovery?

What we know so far comes from months of hints and cryptic bits, occasionally contradictory and mostly from former showrunner Bryan Fuller (who was pushed out by CBS because of production delays, likely due to his conflicting commitment with American Gods). It’s possible some Discovery details have been changed since his departure. But we think we know Discovery is set in or around 2255, or a decade before the USS Enterprise’s famous five-year mission, the backbone of Star Trek: The Original Series.

According to Fuller, it involves a known incident: "There's an incident and event in Star Trek history, that's been talked about but never been explored. To do this series, we're telling a much more serialized story."

Considering the pile of Klingon casting announcements, it probably isn’t an unrelated incident, as high as my hopes were for a season of complex contractual law as the UFP signs the Treaty of Armens with Sheliak Corporate. During the Star Trek: Discovery time period, the Federation and Klingon Empire were in the midst of decades of cold war and occasional skirmishes. Exactly what moment of tension Fuller is using as the Discovery launch point is unclear. The Battle of Axanar is one popular theory.

While this new casting announcement doesn’t tell us much more about the conflict between the Federation and the Klingons, it does suggest it will be far more than a head-to-head between the USS Discovery and a Klingon vessel. The addition of Klingon leaders Dennas and Ujilli instead promise a more galacto-political conflict, involving Klingon diplomats and politicians apart from the military ranks.

Dennas in particular offers up a number of new storytelling possibilities for Discovery, since Klingon women have rarely been seen in positions of establishment power throughout the various Star Trek series. Instead, recurring Klingon women characters like the cutthroat Duras Sisters and half-human emissary K’Ehleyr are often portrayed as outside the mainstream of their culture. With the High Council dominated by men, Klingon women have to play their political angles around and outside of the halls of power. And while Dennas and Ujilli may or may not be members of the Klingon High Council, this new casting announcement suggests they’ll be near the center of Klingon power and authority depicted in Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery still doesn’t have a premiere date.

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