|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.
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?
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?
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.