Potential spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery's first season!
Ever since the introduction of Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful) as Lt. Ash Tyler on the fifth episode of Star Trek: Discovery (“Choose Your Pain”), fan theories about Tyler potentially being the Klingon Voq in disguise started making the rounds.
Why? Well, because Latif was originally cast in the role of a Klingon (more on that later) and Tyler’s appearance conveniently coincided with Voq’s disappearance from the series following Episode 4 (“The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”).
In the episode, L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) told Voq she would take him to House Mo'Kai — which was principally composed of “watchers,” “deceivers” and “weavers of lies” who specialized in espionage and subterfuge (considered dishonorable for a Klingon) — leaving him with the Matriarchs to expose him to things he never knew possible that would come to him at a cost: sacrificing EVERYTHING. Like ... being a Klingon?
Some of the reasons (there are many) that convinced fans he was a Klingon spy who had undergone a procedure to turn him into the human Ash Tyler (there’s a precedent in Star Trek canon) included Tyler’s iffy timeline to Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) that he had been taken prisoner aboard L’Rell’s ship seven months before at the Battle at the Binary Stars, while she was actually stuck aboard a stranded Sarcophagus for six of those months. Also, the actor who plays Voq is the mysterious Javid Iqbal, who has no other acting credit to his name. Latif’s birth name? Shazad Iqbal.
Oh, and that canon precedent? In Star Trek: The Original Series, a Klingon intelligence officer was genetically altered to pass as the human Arne Darvin (played by Charlie Brill) in “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
However in a recent interview with Newsweek, Latif seemingly debunked that theory by explaining that he’d originally auditioned for and won the role of the Klingon leader Kol (now played by Kenneth Mitchell) but that when he popped up on the Discovery set in Toronto, producers asked him to read for a much different part: that of Tyler.
“They were like, ‘You might be right for this, do you want to audition for it?’ I did a couple of rounds and they were like, ‘This is working. Would you rather do that?’ It was a bigger part, it was a better part and I’d have less time in prosthetics, so I was like, great.”
“He’s very dark,” Latif added about Tyler. “He’s got a lot of inner turmoil, he’s a very complex character. It’s not just that classic lighthearted action hero character. It gets dark and emotional. [Tyler]’s a very vulnerable man. We’ve got Sonequa who is playing a powerful woman. We’ve flipped it. It’s trying to change that idea of what strong is. You can be vulnerable and strong—you don’t just have to be able to punch someone and be macho.”
So there you have it. Are you satisfied with Latif's answer or do you still believe Tyler is Voq? We may very well find out during Star Trek: Discovery's midseason finale on Sunday.