|WARNING: Although this article contains theory speculation which should be treated as spoilers in case any of it turns out to be true.|
The theory that the Klingon character of Voq was transformed by L’Rell to pose as Lt. Ash Tyler (played by Shazad Latif) has continued to gain steam since it popped up a month ago. The hints within the show were compelling enough, but the media has really latched on to the real world clues, especially how the actor credited to play Voq does not appear to exist beyond a sparse IMDb page. The theory assumes that actor Shazad Latif played Voq, and Iqbal is merely a fiction invented by show producers to hide the twist.
Latif sticks with the story
A few weeks ago when asked about “Javid Iqbal,” Latif even pointed to the IMDb page to deflect attention. But that hasn’t satisfied the media who prodded again about Iqbal during the UK press tour, which seemed to be creating an uncomfortable situation for the actor. From a report on RadioTimes:
[Latif’s] face dropped when we asked if he’d ever met Javid Iqbal, as if he was personally offended, and his answer seemed a little nervous and rushed: “Javid Iqbal… I’ve met him, yeah. But we don’t see a lot of people… There are so many different sets that you hardly see…”
It’s then that Captain Lorca himself, Jason Isaacs – the actor who we were supposed to be speaking to alongside Latif – burst into the room, joking “Whatever he’s saying is rubbish!”.
Jason Isaacs offered more back up on Twitter last week, talking about meeting Javid Iqbal:
Never had scenes with him- only met him in once in a costume fitting— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) October 31, 2017
Digital Spy also spoke to Latif during the press tour and believe they caught the actor out when he said the following:
“We have 15 hours to explore these characters, I haven’t done a job where I’ve done 15 hours of TV, it’s an incredible amount of work that we’ve done over 10 months, that really excited me.”
Of course the character of Lt. Tyler was not introduced until the 5th episode of Discovery. Assuming Tyler appears in every episode following, he would be in only 11 episodes and not 15. The character of Voq did appear in 3 episodes, including the two-part pilot. Since posting their article suggesting that Latif had accidentally confirmed the theory, Digital Spy was given an update:
We’ve since received an update on Latif’s quote, from a PR representative who told us: “For context, he was on set from the beginning for extensive rehearsals and fittings, hence the 15 hours of TV comment.”
Another clue for the Tyler=Voq theory is that before he was announced to be playing Tyler, CBS originally announced Latif was going to play a Klingon. At the time Latif’s character was described as “protégé of T’Kuvma” named Kol. The character of Kol (now a leader of the House of Kor and opponent of T’Kuvma) was later cast with Ken Mitchell, but the original description sounds a lot more like Voq, who T’Kuvma anointed as the “Torchbearer” during the two-hour pilot. However, Latif also explained this week to Newsweek how he switched roles:
…when [Latif] arrived on the Discovery set in Toronto, Canada, the series’ producers asked him to read a different part—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.”
Watch the video below for more from Latif about playing Tyler on Discovery.
So the official line continues to be that Shazad Latif plays Tyler and Javid Iqbal played Voq. Shazad continues to do press, whereas Iqbal has yet to do so. Although Inverse and some other sites have pointed to the recently launched parody Twitter account “@RealJavidIqbal,” as another clue. Inverse concluded the account “strongly suggests” the Tyler=Voq theory is true, noting “a few Trek insiders are retweeting the ‘actor.'”
New show clues?
As for the show itself, there haven’t been any overt indications proving or disproving the theory, although there seemed to be a hint in episode 6 when Captain Lorca joked with Tyler during their training session that he “fights like a Klingon.” Otherwise, have been no story points indicating that Tyler is anything different than who he says he is, a former POW who is still dealing with issues of torture and captivity from the Klingons. There have been no scenes showing him doing anything nefarious on board the USS Discovery, and in fact he has has been involved in missions valiantly helping the Federation war effort. He has even started a romantic connection with Michael Burnham that seems entirely genuine.
There are still some areas that raise some doubts for the theory. It is a bit hard to imagine the character of Voq, who was portrayed as a somewhat simple, true-believer in T’Kuvma’s message of Klingon purity, would be able to pull off a deception of pretending to be Tyler, including speaking perfect English.
However, as noted in our original theory article, it could be that he has no idea he was Voq. It could be that in addition to being transformed to look like Voq, he also had Tyler’s personality and memories implanted. It was established in the original series that the Klingons have “Mind Scanner” technology, which could have been used on the real Tyler. Any mission Voq/Tyler has would then be something he isn’t conscious of and might be awaiting some kind of trigger.
Another possible source of doubt stems from how could Tyler avoid detection. If Voq was changed to appear like Tyler, it is clear it was more than just cosmetic. At the end of last weekend’s episode, Tyler can be seen being examined in sickbay following the mission to Pahvo. We know that a decade later (in the TOS episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”) Dr. McCoy was able to identify the spy Arne Darvin as a Klingon using his medical tricorder. So, if Voq has been transformed, it was either done in a different way, or it is possible that McCoy had more advanced scanning capability than used on the Discovery. It may even be that McCoy’s tricorder was capable of detecting the type of transformation used for Voq, assuming Tyler is ever exposed as a Klingon.
Some think that Lorca’s tribble may be the key to exposing Tyler, as it was a tribble that clued McCoy to scan Arne Darvin. We have yet to see Tyler and the tribble in the same room together, but if he can fool the biobed, maybe he can fool the tribble too?
The latest episode may have given us a clue about how Voq/Tyler might get triggered. We saw that L’Rell was very determined to get herself onto the USS Discovery. She told Admiral Cornwell she wanted to defect and specifically noted they should return to the Discovery. She also told Cornwell that Voq was “chased away, forever gone.” However, we know that it was L’Rell herself that sent Voq to the matriarchs of House Mo’Kai (at the end of episode 4) where he would have to sacrifice “everything” so that he could “prove to all” he was “the one” to win the war. It could be that L’Rell is trying to reunite with Voq (now Tyler) to trigger him to carry out this mission to defeat the Federation.
Still looks likely
In our original article on this theory we came to the conclusion the theory seemed likely. The evidence both from the show and in the real world was too compelling. The clues from subsequent episodes are not conclusive either way, but continue to lean towards the the theory. As for the claims of the actors, until Javid Iqbal actually is demonstrated to be a real person, it seems to just be awkward cover for what is now becoming an almost assumed twist for the show.
The big question now is, will the twist come this weekend in the mid-season finale or will this be left to 2018 in the second chapter of Discovery’s first season?
Star Trek: Discovery is available on CBS All Access on in the US and airs in Canada on the Space Channel. It is available on Netflix outside the USA and Canada.
Keep up with all the Star TrekDiscovery news at TrekMovie.