Life has taken an unexpected turn for everyone's favorite Kelpien on Star Trek: Discovery. In Episode 2.4, "An Obol for Charon," the Discovery crew found themselves completely falling apart, and none of them were falling apart more than Commander Saru, played by genre MVP Doug Jones.
His story took an unlikely twist in the episode, and a behind-the-scenes clip was released today where Jones opens all hailing frequencies to discuss the defining moment.
*WARNING: Black alert! From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 2.4 of Star Trek: Discovery. If you wish to remain unspoiled, spool up that spore drive and get yourself out of here as soon as possible.*
Just when we thought that Mr. Saru might actually succumb to the vaharai — a condition that every member of his species eventually faces, signaling that death is close, and inevitable — the unthinkable happened. After a hugely touching scene with Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) where Saru pleaded with her to cut off his enflamed threat ganglia (the physical emblem of his fear) and end his life, the ganglia fell off of their own accord. Saru didn't die or succumb at all ... the man whose entire life has been ruled by fear no longer felt any fear at all.
Doug Jones addressed this turn in a new behind-the-scenes clip, posted to the Star Trek: Discovery Twitter account. In the clip, Jones says, "Whoa, didn't see that coming ... and I've lost all my fear. How gorgeous is it to be afraid of everything all the time, and have to play that into a character, and now it's like, 'I ain't afraid of nothing, okay?' So It's really empowering and wonderful."
When remarking on his own fear (and fear and anxiety that have been shared with him by fans of the show), he adds, "It's nice to know the threat ganglia actually fall out and are useless now. It's like, 'Oh, isn't that great?' It makes you think, 'Everything I've been afraid of all my life might just be in my own little bubble. It might not be real. I might be afraid of absolutely nothing all this time.' So what Saru has learned I think we can all learn for ourselves too, that our fears might want to be revisited, and was it ever real in the first place? Or did we just make this something fearful all this time?"
Saru isn't alone in having had his entire life (up to now) be ruled by fear— his entire race shares that, which is something that he mentions a few times in the episode. They definitely just "made something fearful" the entire time, to quote Jones. His fellow Kelpiens on the planet Kaminar still exist in a perpetual state of fear, and because of promises made to Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) in the Short Treks episode The Brightest Star, he can't go back and tell them all that their entire way of life is a lie, and that they don't have to live that way. Not only that, but "General Order One" prevents him (or any Starfleet officer) from interfering with the evolution of Kaminar — they are a pre-warp society, so no dice.
Will a fearless Saru abide by those promises and rules? Will he take a page out of Michael Burnham's book, toss the rules, and do what he feels is right? Would she allow it if he did? On the red carpet for the premiere of Season 2, Jones told SYFY WIRE that, in terms of Saru and Burnham, we were going "to see a wonderful connection that will bond us forever." Being present when your surrogate brother figure has their fear ganglia fall off would tend to be a bonding moment, we imagine. If these scenes aren't what Jones was talking about, then we are not prepared.
Whatever the future may hold, get ready for a whole new Saru, and most likely a whole new performance from Doug Jones. This is a shift that is on the same level as what Odo (Rene Auberjonois) experienced in Season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It has us absolutely yearning for more, yet frightened of what choices could be made.
Don't bother pushing those threat ganglia back in, folks — just let them fall off.
Star Trek: Discovery airs on Thursday nights, exclusively on CBS All Access.