What We Know About The 24 Warring Klingon Houses Of Star Trek: Discovery

  • Science Fiction
T'Kuvma will vie for control over the Klingon High Council in Star Trek: Discovery. CBS All Access

Like most new shows, Star Trek: Discovery wants to emulate Game of Thrones. It wants to tell a sprawling serialized narrative, complete with elaborate maneuvering between political factions and the looming possibility of death. But unlike most new shows premiering under the shadow of HBO’s fantasy giant, the sprawling Star Trek galacto-political history is well suited for Game of Thrones-like storytelling, particularly within the backstabbing, feuding, brutal realm of Klingon politics.

Entertainment Weekly has a number of plot details from Star Trek: Discovery, but the most telling is its description of the show’s Klingons. Discovery has “a lot of Klingons,” EW writes. “The series is set during the Klingon-Federation cold war, but you can expect things to not stay too cold for long. The main focus is T’Kuvma (Chris Obi), a leader looking to unite the Klingon houses… by any means necessary.”

It sounds like Klingon politics are as fractious as ever. Klingon society is organized by feudal Great Houses, each with their own internal social hierarchy and military. The 24 most powerful Great Houses hold a seat on the Klingon High Council, in the capital city of Klingon homeworld, Qo’noS. Sometimes this governing body is too fragmented by infighting to function as a strong central government, sometimes it’s united under a strong Chancellor.

The opportunity for tangled power struggles should be obvious. But what houses are we likely to root for? Who will be the House Stark and House Lannister of Star Trek: Discovery ? According to producer Alex Kurtzman (The Mummy, Sleepy Hollow, Star Trek Into Darkness), Discovery will adhere closely to existing Trek continuity. The newest entry in the franchise is not meant to be a reboot:

“You have to respect canon as it’s being written. You cannot say, ‘That never happened.’ No, no no, you can’t do that, they would kill you. Star Trek fans would kill you. No, you have to respect canon. You have to understand the timelines and what the different timelines were and what the different universes were and how they all worked together. You have to keep very meticulous track of who, what, where, when and why. And we have people in the writer’s room whose sole job is to say, ‘Nope, can’t do that!’”

Of the Great Houses portrayed in previous Star Trek shows, some are more likely to pop up in Star Trek: Discovery than others. For example, we won’t be seeing the House of Martok, which only grew to influence thanks to Martok’s 24th-century military career (he is portrayed as an aging legend in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). Discovery is set a century earlier. The murky histories of other houses — including Antaak, D’Ghor, Grilka, Konjah, Korath and Noggra — make it hard to know whether or not they held a seat on the Klingon High Council during the Discovery time period.

But a few Great Houses are very likely to be part of the power structure T’Kuvma hopes to control, “by any means necessary.” The House of Duras, known as a canny and deceptive political power, pops up all over the Star Trek timeline, including instigating a Klingon civil war in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era.

One of the most powerful Klingon houses all the way back to the time of Kahless, the legendary hero and first Warrior King of the Klingon Empire, Duras became an entrenched institution over the centuries. This power curdled into corruption, as Duras began to do anything to destroy their enemies, including betraying a Klingon colony to the Romulans. This lead, a full generation later, to their ouster and increasingly desperate schemes to take back power in the Deep Space Nine era. Combining the entrenched power of House Lannister and the tenacity of Stannis Baratheon, it seems highly likely we’ll hear the name Duras and witness the seeds of their downfall at some point in Discovery.

The House of Kor, whose patriarch butted heads with James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series , seems another good fit for Discovery, though his lack of forehead ridges could prove a tricky continuity challenge (rather than make up elaborate ridge excuses, like Star Trek: Enterprise, Discovery would do best to just pretend ridgeless Klingons never existed). Finally, who could resist including the House of Mogh, into which Worf will be born decades after the events of Star Trek: Discovery?

Kor and Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Errand of Mercy." Photo: CBS Television Studios

“If you’re a fan of Star Trek you are going to see a lot of things which hearken back to the original series and elements of the original series,” Kurtzman said. “We are going to be revisiting a couple of things on Star Trek: Discovery that I think people are going to find familiar.”

We’re likely to hear some familiar names as T’Kuvma jockeys for power and situates the Klingons against the Galactic Federation, and there will be narrative possibilities that weren’t as available to TV shows before Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones changed television,” showrunner Gretchen J. Berg told EW. “They almost made it difficult to fall in love with people because you didn’t know if they were going to be taken away from you. That show’s had an influence on all TV dramas that have come after it.”

Berg’s co-showrunner, Aaron Harberts, agrees. “Death isn’t treated gratuitously on this show. It’s not for shock value. But when it happens we want to make sure that people really feel it.”

While Game of Thrones licensed Star Trek: Discovery to tell new types of stories with Klingons, the focus on political struggles among the Klingon Great Houses is also a validation of years of Star Trek continuity, fulfilling Star Trek writer and producer Ronald D. Moore’s vision for the Klingons. A renewed focus on what Moore described as “bloodlines and families and sort of this Shakespearian idea of how the Klingon Empire ran” is Star Trek to its core.

The Shakespearian bloodbath begins Sept. 24, when Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS.

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