Star Trek: Discovery - Which characters will survive to see Season 2? (Plus a compelling fan theory)
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first five episodes of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
We are just five episodes in, with ten to go. Only four more before the Christmas break. It’s probably a little early to be predicting the show’s second season - we don’t even know if there’ll definitely be a second season! But it’s always fun to speculate.
So, this is my question - which of the main cast will still be main for the second season?
Historically, there aren’t many changes in the main casts of the Trek series. In the Original Series, Deforest Kelley (McCoy) was promoted to the opening credits for the second season. The Next Generation had the most changes, along the way losing Denise Crosby (Yar) and Wil Wheaton (Wesley) and firing Gates McFadden (Crusher) after the first season, only to reinstate her in the third. For Deep Space Nine, Michael Dorn (Worf) was added in the fourth season, and after Terry Farrell (Jadzia) left in season six, she was replaced by Nicole deBoer (Ezri Dax) for the final season. Voyager suffered just a straight exchange, replacing Jennifer Lien’s Kes for Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine. Enterprise, however, stands as the only Trek series to leave it’s principal cast unchanged over it’s run. Rumours that Jeffrey Combs’ Andorian Shran was to be promoted in the fifth season were sadly never realised.
But here, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY is a different kind of Trek. We’re now in 2017, and the writers are very aware of popular series, where the trend is not to save your main cast, but to constantly put them in jeopardy. Adventure is all the more exciting when you don’t know for certain if your favourite characters will make it out alive. Series such as 24, THE WALKING DEAD and GAME OF THRONES, relish in killing off several main players each series… and the fans lap it up.
Apparently, we can expect the same from DISCOVERY, but only time will tell just how brave the writers are going to be. I mean, we have had a number of deaths already, but they were- mostly - signposted…
Captain Philippa Georgiou.
Let’s be honest, did we think Michelle Yeoh’s character was ever going to survive? Billed as the commanding officer of the USS Shenzhou, the fact she wasn’t the captain of the USS Discovery itself didn’t point to a happy end. As predicted by many, Georgiou was killed in the second episode. Now, her name was on the opening titles, but with the billing of ‘special guest star’, longevity wasn’t really wasn’t on the cards. She has made an appearance since, via a holographic message, and we can expect future appearances - presumably in flashbacks, but possible also as part of the mirror universe(?). The fact Georgiou was eaten by the Klingons (EATEN!!!!) Yeoh is never going to be a regular on the show.
Ensign Danby Connor
Actor Sam Vartoholomeos was announced early on, and it wasn’t clear whether his Ensign Connor would be a regular character or not. Sadly, one of the trailers actively showed him being killed, which took away the surprise when it happened in the show. At least Ensign Connor can claim to be the first ‘speaking role’ to be definitively killed off in DISCOVERY.
The cult leader, aiming to bring together the twenty-four houses of the Klingons. Chris Obi was deemed to have a very important role… but T'Kuvma was killed by lead Michael Burnham just after killing Captain Georgiou. I’d say this was probably the first actual surprise death of the series. But still, he wasn’t on the opening titles, so the chances of his longevity was already in doubt.
Commander Ellen Landry
This is an interesting one. Not a particularly surprising one… other than how quickly Landry was dealt with. Like the majority of the Discovery crew, she wasn’t introduced until the third episode. The Chief of security (and I’d guess at second officer judging by her closeness to Captain Lorca), she wasn’t the nicest of people. There’s was something shady about her. Again, considering she’s the first crew member of Discovery we’re introduced to, and seemingly pretty important, with a bridge crew role, the fact she wasn’t included on the opening credits implied she wasn’t going to be around for too long. Add to that we knew Shazad Latif’s Ash Tyler was coming in to be a security officer, and his name IS on the credits… the ONLY surprise, I guess… is that she died in only her second episode?! Possibly a waste of Rekha Sharma, but a crowd pleasing moment - I don’t think Landry had many fans.
As noted, the above four characters are all missing from the opening titles. Realistically, in all series, recurring and guest stars can be seen as cannon fodder. A brave series will not shy away from killing off those named as main cast. Which is why I’m going to predict which of the six DISCOVERY main players will survive until the show’s potential second year.
The producers have admitted they found it very difficult to cast Burnham, and were lucky to get THE WALKING DEAD star Sonequa Martin-Green. Originally Bryan Fuller’s plan was to make an anthology series, with each season taking place in a different time period. That would have been exciting, and I wouldn’t have minded that at all, but at the same time, it’s nice to build up a familiarity with the cast, watching them grow, both as individuals and as a team. Anthology series miss that. Show bosses decided to veto that idea and a second season of DISCOVERY will see characters follow on… I have no real doubt that Burnham will still be the lead. Too much as been made of the fact she’s a black female lead, to have her side lined. Even if the series becomes more ensemble focussed, I’m sure Burnham will be a strong part of it. I presume she’ll be entirely redeemed from her 'Mutineer’ status, and expect her to be reinstated, with a new rank and position. Whilst I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up as a Captain in time, I think the second season will be a little soon. Maybe Executive Officer? Maybe the Science officer? Depends on who the commanding officer is (see below). The only thing, and really the only thing, that could get in the way of Burnham’s presence in future seasons is that pesky word 'canon’. She has never been mentioned anywhere else in Treklore… and whilst that’s understandable (Discovery hadn’t been created yet!) the writers might feel the need to keep her a secret from the record books… I don’t think so, though. I predict Burnham will be our lead for as long as the series runs… be that one, two or seven seasons.
Captain Gabriel Lorca
In every other Trek series, the commanding officer has been our lead, the audience entry point into the story. Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer, all heroes. DISCOVERY is unique in that the main character is a lower level Starfleet officer. This mean’s the commanding officer can be… something different. Captain Lorca is definitely something different. Shrouded in mystery, already his attitude and actions are questionable and unlike those commanding officers names above. I like it. Lorca is interesting. We don’t know what his motives are, not really. He can keep secrets from us in a way the others couldn’t. Jason Isaac’s doesn’t have a habit of playing heroes, more likely a villain. Is Lorca a villain? Or is Discovery playing with shades of grey? Probably the latter, but that doesn’t discount the former. Isaac’s has stated that he didn’t sign on until he was told Lorca’s entire arc. I’ll say that again - entire arc. To me that suggests Lorca won’t be a regular character come the show’s second season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the last episode of season one, see’s Lorca, fully revealed as a villain and ultimately his demise. However, I’d like to suggest something else. I don’t know if we’ll ever fully know, or be able to call Lorca a 'hero’ or 'villain’. He might be justified in his actions. Or at least, justified in himself, even if not to others. I do not see him continuing as a regular, certainly not as the commanding officer of the USS Discovery. What I’d like to see, is Lorca to 'do a Krycek’. In THE X FILES, the second season introduced a new partner for Mulder in the form of wet-behind-the-ears agent Alex Krycek. He turned out to be a villain, but rather than kill him off, they had him run off and become one of those interesting rogue players, out for himself, shifting loyalties as he saw fit. He’d pop up over future series, and you’d be guaranteed that if the credits featured actor Nicholas Lea, the episode was going to be a big important one. That’s the kind of role I’d love for Lorca.
Actor Doug Jones has stated he’d love to see Saru’s homeplanet, or more people from his species in the second season. That sounds like Saru might be around for it! In some respects, I think Saru is the safest character for a return. He’s the show’s only regular alien. They created him from the ground up, and they’ll likely want to keep him. If not for those reasons alone, then because Saru is already becoming a fan favourite, despite limited screen time. We’ve already seen him promoted from a Lt. Commander science officer, to a first officer, and his relationship with Burnham is… complicated. Complicated is good. Whilst I have no doubt Saru will still be alive, what his function will be is less clear. If I’m right about Lorca moving on/dying, Saru is the next in line to be the commanding officer. We’ve already seen him in that position after Lorca was captured by the Klingon’s. In theory, Saru could become our first regular alien captain. (Spock didn’t become a captain until the movies). That, in turn, would allow for Burnham to be installed as his first officer. An interesting way to continue their relationship. However, I predict something else. I reckon the showrunners will bring in a new captain. Maybe with another 'name’ in the role, to get in new interest? I predict a new captain, with Saru continuing as the first officer. This would also keep Burnham further away from the captain’s chair, which is possibly the best thing for the series at this point.
Lieutenant Paul Stamets
Stamets’ is a tricky one. He’s a science officer, not an engineer, but is essentially the chief engineer on the USS Discovery. That’s because the ship was built entirely around Stamets’ work on the spore drive. Now, we know that the spore drive is doomed to failure. We know that because if it was a success every ship made after it would use it. Enterprise’s D & E, the USS Defiant, the USS Voyager… but none of them do. That says it all. Discovery will likely be the only ship (RIP the USS Glenn) to use the spore drive… and we’re not entirely certain how long it will be able to continue to use it. Either way, Stamets’ role is very linked to it. No Spore drive, and probably no use for Stamets. Episode 5 saw Stamets link himself to the drive and something odd has happened to him. He saw the universe, and our last image of him was his 'delayed’ mirror image. This might well tie in somehow to the mirror universe, but might be more personal to Stamets. I have no idea what Stamets’ storyline will be from here on in, and that makes it hard to predict whether he’ll stick around for season two. I’m going out on a limb and say, yes. I think the Discovery will continue to use the spore drive in future seasons, or a version of him. Maybe with Stamets 'plugged in’… but I believe Stamets will continue in his Engineer/Science role. They could shift him to a more straight forward science position of course, but I’ll edge away from that.
Question/Theory. Whilst everyone is suggesting Stamets may now be something to do with the Mirror universe, I’ll just pose the question… do we know how the Q Continuum was created? Could Stamets be the start? He has access to the entire universe, after all… (If he is, then no, I doubt he’d be a regular in season two… but it’s a fun question to ask).
Cadet Sylvia Tilly
Ah, Tilly. The first character in Trek to drop the F-bomb. Her place in History is now secure. She young, and unsure… but she has ambition. She might be annoying to a few, but to many she’s a comedic character, adding light to the shade. She is supposedly a talented engineer and this is something to watch out for. I believe she might end up the chief engineer should Stamets move on… or, and this is what I predict, she’ll work with Stamets to sort the spore drive - for the time being, anyway. I did consider she might have been put in to win the audience over, be the ultimate likable one, before getting killed off by Lorca or something to cement an 'aww’ factor. But the more I watch, the more I think, we’ll see Tilly change, and grow. We’ll see her progress through the ranks. I’m expecting Ensign Tilly to head up the Engine room with Lieutenant Stamets in season two.
Lieutenant Ash Tyler
Our last regular character… but one which is surrounded by a very interesting fan theory. One I’m totally behind. I, like many, believe that Tyler is in fact the Klingon Voq, surgically altered to look human. There’s so much evidence to support this… both in the story, and in real life/behind the scenes. If this is true, then expect Lorca’s pet tribble to out his cunning plan in the last third of the season… and that mean’s Tyler’s role will be done. I don’t see Voq/Tyler continuing into season two. Probably killed by Burnham in the season one finale.
Haven’t heard the Tyler/Voq theory? Behold the evidence:
In episode 4, L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) offers Voq a visit to her matriarch or spies but it’ll cost him… 'everything’. Episode 5, Tyler has been in a Klingon prison cell, on L'Rell’s ship, and look’s surprisingly spritely. She also has a thing for him. He’s been on the ship for seven months. But we know (from the previous episode) she’s been with Voq stranded on T'Kuvma’s ship for the first six months of the war. The story doesn’t check out. In real life, actor Shazad Latif (who has been credited on the titles since episode one, but has only just appeared in episode 5) was originally announced as a Klingon back in December. Months later he was reannounced as Ash Tyler. We know he was about for filming back in the early episodes (he was out on the town with co-stars… check their social media). The description of his character was a protégé to T'Kuvma - a description that certainly fits the Voq character. His character may have been named Kol, and we now know Kenneth Mitchell plays Kol, and opposing Klingon presence… and finally, you try googling the 'actor’ credited for Voq. You will only see one credit, and it’ll be Voq. Basically, Shazad Latif plays Voq, has been there since the beginning, and this explains a lot.
It’s actually quite clever, and I think many fans will welcome this plot twist if we’re correct. It works on many levels. We know, in the TOS era, Klingon’s should look human, but there was no real way for a 2017 series to 'do’ one of those Klingon’s. But look at Latif. The colour of his skin, the black goatee… he’s a pretty good fit for a modern take on the Human looking Klingons. It also gives a practical explanation for the new look Klingons. The new mask-type makeup on the Klingons allow a complete change of identity. You can’t tell what the actor looks like under the Voq makeup. Imagine the character with Worf-style makeup. You can clearly make out actors… such as when Avery Brooks and Tim Russ have 'played Klingons’. For this plot twist to be pulled off, Klingon’s needed a bit of a redesign. If the theory is right, maybe as fans we can cut the show some slack.
So there we are. To answer my question - which of the regulars will still be regulars come season two? Burnham, Saru, Tilly and possibly Stamets. I don’t believe for a second that either Lorca or Tyler will continue on.
Furthermore, I think we’ll get a new Captain in… maybe a female one? I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson Cruz’ Dr. Culber gets upgraded to regular. Right now he’s only a supporting player. This could mean he’s got a bullet with his name on it. But he does play one half of Trek’s first ever gay couple. That might be enough to keep him alive, unless Uber-Stamets somehow kills him off in season one? I predict an upgrade though.
What do you think? Do you believe the Tyler/Voq theory? Will Lorca survive the season? What’s going on with Stamets? Will Saru receive another promotion?
But seriously when someone says “Hey you should listen to this song, I think you’ll really like it” you totally should. Because even if you don’t like it, the song means something to them, and they care enough to share it with you.
whatever you do, don’t look through old twenty one pilots social media albums.
don’t scroll through the 2011s, to the 2010s, all the way to the 2009s.
don’t look at Mark’s late-night sketches of equipment and cameras he longs to own. don’t look at his excited facebook posts about the “incredible amount” of about 15 people that bought his reel bear posters. don’t find his first still photographs of Tyler and Josh, when the three of them were just broke college kids.
don’t scroll down Brad’s twitter until you find days that he desperately tried to get work as a photographer. don’t scroll until you see his desperate inspirational posts. don’t scroll so far that you see the cameras he used to dream of.
don’t look at Michael’s posts from when he traveled the world with his best friends. don’t find videos of him and Tyler joking about how he’s “not a real security guard”. don’t find his grainy photos of the team traveling in a little white van. don’t scroll on Michael’s instagram until you see his long, heart-felt goodbye posts to the clique, and to Tyler and Josh.
and for the love of everything, don’t find the whole facebook albums that tired, beaten down Tyler filled with pictures of the few people that came to his shows. don’t see his old pictures filled with captions like, “thanks for showing up.” don’t find pictures that young Mark took of Tyler’s eyes open in passion, hoping the bartenders would turn and catch a glimpse of his show. don’t find where Tyler used to post reminders to be at the shows, because he never knew if someone would show up. don’t read the old posts about how he had to say goodbye to Nick and Chris.
don’t find Josh’s first pictures where he wrote poems in the captions, and used sad words in his posts. don’t look at his excitement when he got to be a part of twenty one pilots. resist the urge to find pictures of his brown-haired self sleeping in the back of a crammed van.
don’t do any of this. unless, of course, you want to end up like me: silent and at loss for words in front of a computer screen, tears in my eyes. don’t do this if you don’t want to feel a deep pride in your heart for how far this band has come. don’t find the old posts if you desperately miss the old crew. don’t read the comments on old posts unless you want to desperately write over and over again to Brad and Tyler and Josh and Mark that, “keep going, keep working. it gets better. you get the equipment, you get the second chances, you get the big shows, you get the recognition. keep working past crew members and band. keep working for what you believe in, it will come to you.” don’t read the old captions if you don’t want a feeling of helplessness as you wish you could go back in time and tell them that it will all work out.
this episode was so blessed……..stamets injecting himself with tardigrade DNA because of how much he loves his husband and his mushrooms…tilly and michael having lunch…tyler destroying his rapist..michael stamets and tilly bonding over loving science and ripper..stamets and culber brushing their teeth..ripper being freed…………..we’ve been,,so blessed,