‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Fan Theory Analysis: Exploring the Ash Tyler Theory

WARNING: Although this article is complete fan speculation, it should be treated as spoilers in case any of it turns out to be true.

Many fans have noted that there is just something odd about Star Trek: Discovery’s Ash Tyler. And, if you’ve been following the fan forums, you’ll be aware of the popular fan theory that Lieutenant Tyler may not be who he claims. We broke down the theory, weighing the evidence for and against it, in TrekMovie’s fan theory analysis article “Who Is Lt. Ash Tyler?

Since then, lots of tantalizing bits of dialogue peppered into the last handful of episodes have cemented what many fans believe to be true: that Ash Tyler is actually the Klingon Voq. With Discovery beaming back to All Access this Sunday, we will soon know the truth.

But what does it mean for the show if the theory turns out to be correct? Here we break down a few possibilities.

The Theory: Lt. Ash Tyler is Klingon Voq

In “Who Is Lt. Ash Tyler?” we pretty thoroughly break down all the possibilities surrounding the fan theory itself and go through each piece of evidence bit by bit. If you haven’t heard much about the theory or are still on the fence, that’s a good place to start. But here is a quick recap to get you up to speed.

Ever since he first appeared in episode five, “Choose Your Pain”, fans have been speculating that Tyler and Voq (who we haven’t seen since episode four) are one and the same, and that the Klingon is now aboard the Discovery, masquerading as the ship’s chief of security.

There are multiple clues in the show, including Tyler’s story of imprisonment not adding up, and the final scene in “The Butcher’s Knife…”, where Voq sets off with L’Rell to visit House Mo’Kai to be schooled in the art of deception. It’s backed up by brief snippets of dialogue, such as Lorca saying Tyler “fights like a Klingon”, or Stamets telling Burnham that relationships only work “if you never hide who you are,” and of course L’Rell, imprisoned on the Discovery, ominously telling Tyler “soon”. Offscreen there’s also ample evidence, most tellingly the fact that Javid Iqbal – the actor credited with playing Voq, doesn’t appear to exist.

L’Rell has a mysterious hold on Tyler

Add to that, the eleventh episode (which airs January 14) is titled “The Wolf Inside”, and if that doesn’t scream “episode all about the traitor aboard the Discovery,” I don’t know what does.
So, if all the fans who believe this theory are proved right, what does this mean for the show?

What happens next?

At some point soon, we are going to find who Tyler really is – is he Voq in disguise? Is he just plain old Ash Tyler? Something else? Here we breakdown what might happen if the “Voq is Tyler” theory proves to be true and what it might mean for Star Trek: Discovery’s storyline.

The real Tyler shows up.

In this scenario, Voq has assimilated Tyler’s memories and persona, but the real Ash Tyler is still alive, presumably as a prisoner of war. In fact, the real Tyler’s appearance may be the way in which Voq’s deception is uncovered. A potentially hairier thought is, what would happen if Tyler returns after Voq’s cover is blown. How would he be treated by a crew who was betrayed by his doppelganger? More importantly, what would the implications be for his relationship with Burnham, a woman who loves him but a woman he has never met?

The show has already established that Burnham is inexperienced in relationships, and we can assume having your would-be lover turn out to be a Klingon would not instill her with confidence. Would she rekindle her relationship with a man she thought she knew? “Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad” gave us a false start to their relationship. Was it foreshadowing, and they’ll start over again in season two?

This never happened, but will probably happen again

We’ve already seen Voq/Tyler experience a form of PTSD as a result of his imprisonment. Should the real version show up, having been held prisoner far longer than his counterpart, what form would his recovery take?

And then there’s Lorca to consider. We know that the captain’s not the most trusting person to start with. Could he trust Tyler having been fooled once before?

Tyler’s dead.

Alternatively, the real Tyler may be dead. Obviously there would be consequences for Burnham, having a man she’d developed feelings for snatched away from her not once, but twice.

It would, however, open the door to introduce a new character and shake the cast up for season two. Although, with Landry being killed off already, the position of Discovery’s chief of security could become somewhat of a poisoned chalice. They might as well give the character a red shirt and be done with it.

Voq continues as Tyler.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the three possibilities is if Voq/Tyler is discovered and remains aboard Discovery, with everyone aware of his Klingon nature.

It’s hard to imagine Lorca being overly trusting of a former spy, although, lest we forget, he did take in a mutineer, so the man obviously believes in second chances. It would also throw an interesting spanner into the works of the Burnham/Tyler romance.

More importantly, it’s been noted that Discovery hasn’t got an outsider character akin to Spock/Data/Odo/Seven, who learns about and comments on what it means to be human. This has been a mainstay of Trek since its inception, and although the showrunners have made it clear that Saru was intended to fill this slot, Tyler could add a new dimension to this sort of character. Voq’s story would be perfect in this role, learning to incorporate conflicting Klingon and human personalities into one being, akin to a Seven of Nine-type journey to rediscovering humanity. And perhaps a character to bridge humanity and Klingons could even be the key to ending the war with the Federation?

We’ve already seen that Voq is a religious fanatic, devoted to “remaining Klingon.” Having his entire persona stripped away from him, and being forced to embrace his newfound humanity, is a tantalizing prospect for the character.

Even if Voq is integrated into the crew somehow, it doesn’t preclude the possibility of the real Tyler still showing up at some point. And – splitting hairs here – if he’s now biologically human, that means Worf is still set to be the first Klingon in Starfleet. Canon is preserved.

New theories, new speculation

Obviously all of this is pure speculation. Any and all of these theories could be completely wrong. Tyler may be who he appears, and Voq will reappear at some point, possibly having been on Risa for several months. Chances are we’ll find out in the next few weeks.


New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery return on CBS All Access on Sunday, January 7th by 8:30 pm ET. It will air in Canada on the Space Channel at 8:00 pm ET the same day and be available on Netflix outside the USA and Canada on Monday, January 8th at 8 am BST.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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I really do wish folks could let this go and let the story unfold on its own.

We live in the age of the Internet hive mind. Constant fan speculation about upcoming episodes of Star Trek has been with us since the first episode of TNG in 1987 when we were all still dialing in to CompuServe BBS chat rooms. The era you long for hasn’t existed for over 30 years, I’m afraid.

People still have black and white tv sets in the UK… not everyone has moved on…

Prodigy bulletin boards for me. :)

If you want the story unfold on its own, you can simply not click on these threads and just watch it on your own. I get your point, but I’m always amazed at these arguments as if anyone forces people to log on the internet and read these kinds of things. Just ignore it and watch the show if thats what you want to do.


If he story was good and didn’t have more plot holes than swiss cheese… No one would have even guessed this was a possibility.

Meee: So stop watching the show, non-Trek-fan.

you are wrong with that assumption.

That fact that the plot allows for it to be possible is the opposite of “plot holes”. Plot holes would be them providing red herrings that would make it impossible but its still true.

Chuck: So stop reading the articles, killjoy.

You’re under no obligation to give it any thought at all. others are free to.

The writers and producers aren’t stupid. They wanted us to speculate. Knowing that makes the outcome even more intriguing

In that case, this is probably not a good site for you to be reading.

Speculation’s fine and a lot of fun. It’s only when some toad gets to see an episode early and takes pleasure in spoiling things for everyone else that it’s an issue.

Theories and projection are really fun for those of us who love storytelling. Just look at the number of ways this could go! Hot dog!

Our TM staff have great imaginations :^D

I still don’t know about Voq being Tyler. Voq came off as mightily incompetent, and it seemed to me L’rell would have preferred to be rid of him, but since T’kuvma appointed Voq as his successor she was stuck with him. Sending him off to the Matriarchs of Mokai could just have been a good way to sideline him. If she let him die, no one would believe she was still working for “the cause” while under Kol.
Tyler would have been with L’rell as far back as when Voq and her were stranded on the disabled Sarcophagus Ship, plenty of time for some good old “normal” sleeper agent conditioning. Also remember, when she sent Voq away, Discovery was only JUST starting to get the Spore Drive working, so Voq was already out of the picture by the time L’rell learns about Discovery and goes about abducting Lorca in episode 5.
The whole Javid Iqbal/Shazad Latif thing is so transparent, it feels more like a red herring to me, just like the “He Fights like a Klingon” barbs and that Tribble on Lorca’s desk we conspicuously never have seen Tyler interact with.

Don’t be silly. Tyler is obviously Voq. There’s no debate here. Everyone knows it’s the case.

I’m not sure, but I keep remembering Tyler’s PTSD on the Klingon ship. Flashes of blood and albino skin.

I really hope that Tyler ISN’T Voq. The fans have expected and analyzed this so much that it would be kind of a let-down if it simply turned out to be true. I’d much rather that it was a red herring, and something else was going on.

Maybe the writers should just not have Vok show up again in Season 1.
It would make it a mysterious plot point, but why not – not everything needs to make sense in the short term.

There is no character called Vok.

but Tyler has had more than 1 physical since coming aboard. Wouldn’t they have discovered something?

I think human Tyler may have been conditioned. Remember the Klingon Mind Sifter.

So long as he’s not Voq consciously pretending to be Tyler, I don’t really care what they do with this, though Shazad Latif is a likable and good-looking addition to the cast. But there’s no way to justify the idea that Voq could have learned to act so human so fast, I don’t care what L’Rell specializes in. His brain could be in there dormant and waiting, there could have been surgery to make him look like Tyler (that would still make every Cardassian-made-to-look-Bajoran surgery we’ve seen look like pre-med school stuff). I just can’t buy that he’s acting.

agree with both points

Yes, not only does it make more sense for Voq to not be conscious that he’s Tyler, it makes for a more interesting story because you feel real empathy and sympathy for the character. It creates the potential for Ash/Voq to potentially betray the Klingons.

Voq was such a devoted Klingon that him betraying his old ways out of love for Burnham would be a big heroic move.

Offtopic but necessary: R.I.P. Jon Paul Steuer (Alexander Rozhenko).

If Tyler is a Klingon sleeper agent, I can’t really see Lorca letting him continue as security chief. In fact, unlike any other Trek captain, I could imagine Lorca killing him outright for it. That ambiguity, that uncertainty about Lorca’s choices and motivations, is why Lorca’s the best character on the show. (Plus, Jason Isaacs is tremendous.)

Also, Michael is the Spock character, don’t you think? A badly written Spock character so far, but she has the potential to fill that role.

I did find this recently. May add to some more speculation: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8856297/

But this guy is not known for DISCO??

He’s a comedic actor [from his bio] so maybe it’s a put-on …?

I think Voq is Tyler and Lorca knows. He let’s him stay under his control rather than exposing the truth to figure out what the Klingons plan. If that means he kills some of his Crew members he doesn’t care, because he sees the big picture and accepts the risk of sacrifices to save millions.

Some odd comments here.

Firstly, keep in mind fans like us on sites like this are not the general public (or even “casual Trek fans”) so the “over analysis” that goes on here is not the norm. I’ve spoke to friends who watch the show who range from not thinking anything weird about Tyler to being intrigued but unsure, to thinking he might be Voq. Its much more of a general thing to most people.

Secondly, a twist or swerve is easy to do badly. They could have crafted a story with ZERO hints, ZERO clues and made it impossible to even think Ash might be Voq. That’s a “bad” twist. A good twist makes sense. Like “The Sixth Sense”.

If Ash is Voq, the story has made sense so far. They haven’t faked us out with red herrings that couldn’t possibly fit the potential narrative. And that’s WAY more responsible than creating a twist no one sees coming because it doesnt any sense.

If he’s Voq they will have to do a damn good job of explaining: 1) why nothing discovered with medical exams. 2) Why is he a functioning member of the crew that could have sabotaged many things, especially giving the ship to the klingons in the Mudd episode. 3) how can his human mannerisms be so…human. That being said…I think he’s Voq lol

It’s not a matter of whether or not we think he’s Voq. He’s Voq–there’s no debate on this.

I think the mannerisms and why he hasnt sabotaged anything is because he thinks he’s Ash. He doesnt know different. Or he might now suspect but still isnt sure. The plan would be to “awaken” him at the right moment so the Klingons can capture Discovery.

As for medical exams. Yeah…I mean, the explanation could be as simple as them saying (or implying) that the House that “created” him had incredibly advanced technical ability. The House of Spies, perhaps has spies that are made to appear like many different races. Who knows.

Perhaps there is something implanted in him that would give off a fake illusion of his insides.

One thing I’d strongly assume is since they used the same actor for both characters that the intent is its the same body and not a mind transference scenario.

This is just getting a little boring…

For the record, I do not think Ask Tyler is Vok.

There is no character called Vok.

Heh — nor Ask Tyler.

We’re quite the spelling nazis aren’t we ;^)

I wonder, is this the primary reason they changed the look of the Klingons, piling all that… stuff… on the actor’s head so maybe we couldn’t tell if it’s the same actor when he plays a human? I hope I’m wrong. Because that would be a cheap gimmick.

Because the canonically “easy” alternative would be to make them look like on TOS, which would confuse the casual audience and make for unspectacular aliens. This is most likely meant to be a visual update to the post-TOS design.
The story possibilities you can fling out of the scenario in DSC are endless.
The theory I agree most with is that the events of the Klingon augment arc caused the Empire to fall into disarray.
The human looking Klingons became an underclass, a shameful mark on the Klingon race. After the end of the war we see in DSC, losses from the war cause a new ascendency of the the “smooth heads”, causing them to be the dominant faction for a number of years during the Enterprise’s 5-year mission under Kirk.
Klingon canon preserved :)

So they have jumped to the Mirror Universe. Yes Tyler is Vok. The female klingon likes him because she knows who he is. She will be the trigger to his remembering who he is and his mission. Will it still hold in the Mirror Universe. The ‘real’ Tyler may show up.

I personally thought there was something missing from Discovery until episode 5, when Tyler appeared and joined the crew. The puzzle pieces fit and the show suddenly clicked.
So, I have two theories.
1. Tyler Self Sacrifices himself in front of the Klingons for Burnham or Burnham has to kill Tyler at the end of the season to complete her ark. Either way Tyler dies and becomes a tragic love.
2. The real Tyler is still on the Klingon ship. Voq as Tyler dies and the REAL ash Tyler becomes a part of the crew without any memory of his love for Burnham.
Either way I cant see how the showrunners or CBS would be dumb enough to let Shazad Latif go.

totally agree, letting Latif go = huge mistake.