Star Trek Detail Should Have Revealed Surprise Villain

By Michileen Martin | Updated

When I first watched Star Trek: Discovery, one of the strangest minor details I noted was that Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) kept a single Tribble in his ready room. It took me a while after Lorca was revealed to be a villain from the Mirror Universe before I developed the theory that the appearance of the Tribble made sense, that it may have served Lorca as much more than a pet, and that it was a clue regarding his true nature.


star trek tribbles

What does a Tribble have to do with Star Trek: Discovery‘s Lorca being from the Mirror Universe? Well, the most important thing to note is that Lorca has one Tribble as a pet, and never seems to have any more.

Introduced in the classic The Original Series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Tribbles don’t mate–they reproduce after eating. The fact that they’re cute little puffballs that melt your heart with their gentle cooing pretty much guarantees there will always be someone willing to feed them.

A Terran Is Exactly The Kind Of Person Willing To Be Cruel To A Tribble

star trek discovery lorca

If a Tribble sticks around and never seems to multiply, that means either no one is feeding it, or it is being fed but the resulting offspring are being slaughtered as soon as they show up. But who could be cruel enough to either slowly starve one of these adorable little puffballs, or to casually destroy them?

Star Trek: Discovery‘s Gabriel Lorca–a secret visitor from the more brutal Mirror Universe who betrays all the people who he’d captained for months–seems like exactly the kind of guy who could resist the cutest little creatures in the galaxy.

The Tribble was a clue about who he really was.

Was The Tribble A Way For Lorca To Prepare?

Star Trek Discovery gorn

Star Trek: Discovery‘s lonely ready room Tribble might have not just been there to show Lorca could resist its cuteness, but to Lorca the resistance may have been the point.

We eventually learn that Lorca maneuvered himself into Discovery’s captain’s chair specifically because he understood its potential to take him home to the Mirror Universe. He abandons ship as soon as the ship arrives home, leaving the Discovery crew with no obvious way to get home.

That means as soon as we meet him in Star Trek: Discovery, Lorca is planning something that he knows is likely to lead to the exile–if not the brutal deaths–of a crew that has come to trust him. He’ll need thick skin to do something like that–even skin thick for a Terran.

The Tribble may have been Lorca’s way of preparing himself emotionally for the betrayal. In other words, the constant starvation of the Tribble we see–and quite possibly the occasional slaughtering of baby Tribbles we never see–may have been a way for Lorca to flex his cruelty “muscles,” for lack of a better word.

The Return Of Lorca?

While Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season kills off the Mirror Universe version of Gabriel Lorca, we never learn precisely what happened to the Prime Universe’s version. It’s likely he died in the more brutal Mirror Universe, but anything is possible.

Jason Isaacs has expressed interest in the possibility of returning as Prime Lorca, possibly in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. There would likely need to be some kind of explanation how Christopher Pike and co. could have encountered the Mirror Universe before the crew of The Original Series without the characters in the latter show knowing about it.