All Access Star Trek Talks Klingons And The Return Of L’Rell With Mary Chieffo

All Access Star Trek podcast episode 28 - TrekMovie

[Mary Chieffo discussion starts at 12:47 ]

Tony and Laurie look at the latest Star Trek news: more Paramount+ Trek-themed promos, quotes from Discovery showrunners on how they plan to tie the show into the Short Treks episode “Calypso,” a new book on the way about Michael Burnham’s season three gap year, and the death of legendary actor Christopher Plummer, who played General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

After the news, they talk to Star Trek: Discovery’s Mary Chieffo about reprising L’Rell for Star Trek Online, her time on Discovery, and her thoughts on L’Rell’s future in the franchise as well as her appreciation for the Klingon characters who came before her. 

Links to topics discussed in the pod:

Watch New Paramount+ Star Trek Universe Super Bowl Commercial

Showrunners Promise ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Will Fit Together With “Calypso” Canon

Next ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Book To Tell The Story Of Michael Burnham’s Season 3 Gap Year

The Shuttle Pod Steps Into The Shadows To Examine Section 31’s Role In Star Trek

The Star Trek Community Mourns The Passing Of Legendary Actor Christopher Plummer

Other mentions:

‘Star Trek Online: House Reborn’ Launches With Klingon Experience Update And Mary Chieffo As L’Rell

Get A Closer Look At L’Rell–With Hair!–In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2

‘The Mandalorian’ Star Gina Carano Fired


Ripley Improv


Tony: How Star Trek Gave Krogans Four Testicles In Mass Effect

Laurie: Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean talk Star Trek on Better Call Saul press junket

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments, and please post your suggestions for topics we should cover in the future as well as guests you’d like us to have on.

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Would be great to see in SNW, the Klingons, how they changed to look more human (in TOS). Would L’Rell go thru the painful surgery just for her love of Tyler!? Would love to see this take on the new Pike series. The reasons for their transformation. I mean, besides the real makeup issue. :P

They already did that on Enterprise.

Yeah, I wish they would have an in-universe explanation too. I’m a big fan of visual continuity (across the various series) and Discovery totally wrecked that with the Klingons and with the pre-TOS setting in general. My “head canon” explanation is that the Klingons attempted to reverse engineer the augment virus and it ended up reverting them to an earlier stage of their evolution. At some point prior to TOS they realized these changes weren’t good (for some reason) and undid them but it changed them back to the flatheads until around the time of TMP when they finally got it right…

I’m not obsessed with visual continuity, but the look of the Klingons is an issue for me because it was specifically addressed in episodes of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, so it’s obviously not just the makeup. The whole explanation about Klingons shaving their head is war just makes it even stranger. I have a similar issue with the holophone – it was specifically mentioned as band new in Deep Space Nine.

I like that headcanon. It certainly makes more sense than “there were both varieties, we just only saw one despite there being a huge war” (similar to how every Romulan seen between TOS and Picard was somehow a “northerner”).

You guys should read this article. The Disco Klingons are not a problem.

The Klingons have been changed MANY times, long before Discovery. Fans are so needlessly melodramatic about the Disco Klingons.

They suck and are awful and I hate them. “Need” doesn’t enter into it.

You make a sound logical point, though, I can’t deny it.

Again, for many, it’s not they changed so much that it was a really BAD change more than anything. Definitely for me. I just finished rewatching season one of Discovery a few days ago and I still can’t use to them. They just looked and felt so out of place.

Totally. If we don’t know Berman era Klingons maybe is not a big deal. But knowing famous characters like Worf, B’Elanna, and so many others, it is very hard to like how they look in Discovery.

Feel bad for the actors which all are very cool. Chieffo, Latif, Obi, and Mitchell were outstanding. Looked very hard for them to move, to show their facial emotions. Also the struggle to talk, they sound a little muffled with the facial prosthetics….not such a good idea.

If they want to continue the thread of DS9 and ENT explaining this, I think now it would be best to have an episode showing the different looks of Klingons all together in one room, suggesting to us there are different races of Klingon within the empire with periods where one race has been dominate over others. I mean, empires are supposed to be big, so why not?

My bad. Totally forgot about the virus story on Enterprise. Still, I wonder if Mary Chieffo and all the Klingons will have another makeup transformation on SNW.

The way I’d like to see this rectified is by having a situation where diplomatic communications between the Federation and the Klingons are being brokered by Pike and L’Rell, but many of the Klingon houses are too proud to have anything to do with the Federation. L’Rell turns to the augment-afflicted Klingons, who are ostracised from normal Klingon society but still desperate to prove their honour and value as Klingons. These smooth-headed Klingons agree to act as intermediaries between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, patrolling the borders – which suits regular Klingons just fine, as they want to be as far away from the ideals of the Federation as possible. Tyler can be involved here as a commander of this border force. This would explain why we only encounter these smooth-headed Klingons in TOS, until it is fully-cured by TMP.

I like that a lot! I would still like an in universe explanation for why the Discovery Klingons look so different too, though. It just doesn’t seem plausible that they were never seen before or after. The changes are just too radical including their fingers and hands. I suppose you could claim they were a sect that had been relegated into the shadows before the augment virus and then either made to look like normal Klingons when the augment virus was finally cured or that they were somehow relegated back into the shadows. I just wish the Discovery producers would not have created this mess in the first place, ha! And yes I know this doesn’t matter to a lot of people. But IDIC. It does to me. :-)

It is not only on Discovery. The Klingons look different in every iteration of Star Trek.

I like your take on this. Interesting approach. It is very likely L’Rell will be part of the main cast or will be a recurring character like Martok, Kor, Dukat, or Garek.
Writing this now makes me think how different was DS9 in regards to Klingons. Did not have any significant stories with Klingon Females. Minor roles. The Duras Sisters and Grilka were the only three I remember. :P

I loved K’Ehleyr on TNG. Great character.

I guess the Chancellor’s daughter on Star Trek 6.

Please no. Keep the Klingon Orcs out of it.

I have similar questions as Anthony regarding whether whatever explanation they come up with for Calypso holds up. My theory for it was that Calypso took place in the Kelvinverse, and that Discovery still got the sphere data, but either the confrontation with Control didn’t happen or happened differently, leaving them to abandon the ship instead of go to the 32nd century. It will be interesting to see what they come up with for the official explanation.

It’s a good question. I think what they were saying in those interviews, though, is that it is not going to be an alternate or Kelvin universe thing. Time will tell!

Thanks Laurie and Tony. Great chat and discussion. I would love to see Mary Chieffo back on Star Trek but think she would also be terrific in the “other” franchise you mentioned during your discussion. I also like how you let your guests do the talking and give them every opportunity to really have their say. Too often it’s about the interviewer as opposed to the interviewee but with your discussions, it’s very much about the guest which makes for a nice change.

I wonder if you would consider doing something on “Enterprise” in the coming months, which I believe has it’s 20th anniversary this year. Having done a complete series re-watch recently, I do think that show still had a lot of potential and it saddens me that it ended in the manner it did.

Thanks, Scott! Our podcast is mostly focused on all the new Star Trek that’s being produced now, although of course we talk about all the Star Treks in the course of doing so. The Shuttle Pod (the other TrekMovie podcast) might be doing something for Enterprise for its 20th, and of course we will have stuff on the site.


I enjoyed your interview with Mary Chieffo. The first season is my favorite season of Discovery. I loved the look, the diversity of the different houses and ships, and the klingon designs. They looked more menacing and terrifying. My head canon is this: If not all humans look the same, then not all Klingons look the same. Perhaps, the Klingons we see in TOS, explained in ENT, are used to infiltrate federation space and the virus only affected a certain percentage of the population. Once again my head canon.

I am hopeful we will see L’rell in Strange New Worlds. Shes a wonderful actress.

Great Podcast Overall!

I assumed the virus only infected a few colony worlds. Them being soldiers on the Federation border would make a lot of sense.

Agreed! Maybe SNW or S31 might spin it that way. I’m hoping they do address it.

Really hope to see L’Rell on SNW! Always liked her although I really hated the way the Klingons looked first season of Discovery but a major improvement in the second.

So, technically we don’t know that Klingon’s have more than one…um, er, you know. We saw two streams. So there were clearly two…openings. But that doesn’t mean they came from separate organs.

And I can’t believe I’ve given this subject this much thought.