Star Trek: Discovery's Klingon ship has a morbid secret

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Mar 25, 2021, 6:00 PM EDT (Updated)

For over 50 years, Star Trek has taken us to the edge of the universe with smartly crafted ships and technology that's inspired real-life inventions of a similar ilk.

But the proud Klingon warriors of the new Star Trek: Discovery series appear to be taking a page from humankind's past with an ornate sarcophagus ship that looks more at home alongside the pyramids of Egypt than flying in a futuristic fleet.

The ship, and its crew, are mysterious hybrids, but with just 10 days to go before the CBS All Access debut of the new show — which is actually a prequel that takes place in a universe about a decade before the five-year mission at the heart of the original series — producers have revealed a few new secrets behind the warship's design.

The ornate vessel is decked out in the coffins of the Klingon dead like a posh cousin to Serenity prepping to enter Reaver space. And the crew, many have pointed out, look quite a bit different from the Klingons of their future.


Now Trek Core reports that series co-executive producer Ted Sullivan has explained that the ship is actually 200 years old, making it a relic of another time, and inhabited by Klingons who have also adopted some customs from those ancient times. That explains why they not only don new ceremonial armor but have an aesthetic that's a departure from other members of the alien race, most notably Worf, son of Mogh, and a regular crewman on The Next Generation and later Deep Space Nine.

Sullivan says the commander T’Kuvma, played by Chris Obi, follows the rules of the Klingon messiah, and believes himself to be the second coming. “The outside of the ship is covered in thousands of coffins. Some are 300 years old, some are just two days old,” he told SFX Magazine.

Trekkies know that Klingons have been represented in the past as valuing honor over all else, but customs surrounding their fallen comrades have been nearly non-existent. Typically, they send their dead off with a braying cry, but ignore any customs of burial and preparation of the body.

This new fascination with not only caring for the dead but using their stone coffins to literally shield their ship is a complete departure from anything we've seen in Star Trek before.

And it points to a more spiritual side — at least for this group of Klingons.