Star Trek’s Most Hated Story Comes From A Surprising Place

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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There are plenty of things fans hated about Star Trek: Discovery, but by far, the biggest criticism concerns the story in which a Klingon named Voq was given the mind and body of a human Starfleet officer named Ash Tyler. Fans thought this was the worst storyline and evidence that the franchise was going off the rails, but here’s something that might stun you quicker than a double shot of Saurian Brandy. For all of Star Trek: Discovery’s many faults, the so-called “worst” storyline involving the Klingon double agent is firmly rooted in the Gene Roddenberry-blessed canon of Star Trek: The Original Series

The Origin Of Ash/Voq Goes Back To The Original Series

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When we say the Ash/Voq business is firmly rooted in Trek canon, this goes all the way back to “Errand of Mercy,” the very first Klingon episode ever aired. When Kirk and Spock tangled with these angry aliens, the biggest threat they faced was not simply getting executed. Instead, the worst threat they faced was having their mind unraveled by the “mind sifter,” an exotic device capable of scanning a person’s brain, mapping and recording their thoughts.

Klingon Mind Sifter Devices

The main reason these Star Trek villains used the device was to learn whether prisoners were lying; for example, the Klingon Kor wanted to use it to ascertain whether Kirk and Spock had given him fake identities. Our Starfleet heroes were lying through their teeth, and only Spock’s impressive Vulcan mental faculties kept the mind sifter from turning him into a mindless husk. Believe it or not, this is the first part of why Discovery’s worst storyline is firmly rooted in the lore of The Original Series.

Klingons Could Capture The Mind And Personality Of Starfleet Officers

While it’s weird to imagine brutish Star Trek aliens like the Klingons using highly sophisticated technology, the fact remains that in an episode that takes place only a decade after Discovery began, the Klingons could scan and record every single thought in any brain less disciplined than a Vulcan’s. That explains why the Disco-era Klingons could fully capture the mind and personality of Ash Tyler, who was once a real Starfleet officer. The only other missing ingredient to the so-called “worst” Discovery storyline is how the Empire could make a Klingon warrior look completely human.

A Hidden Klingon In The Original Series

This is explained in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” one of the most lighthearted Star Trek episodes. In that iconic ep, we meet the seemingly human character Arne Darvin, but Kirk uses a Tribble to expose Darvin as a Klingon agent who has been surgically altered to infiltrate and sabotage various targets of interest. Again, while haters harp on Discovery’s “worst” storyline making no sense, the simple matter is that Star Trek has had Klingons getting surgery and passing for humans since 1967.

Klingon Subterfuge Is Different

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Put these Star Trek factoids together, and the whole Voq/Ash thing makes plenty of sense: the real Ash Tyler had his memories sucked out with the mind sifter, and they were later placed into Voq’s mind to help him convincingly infiltrate Starfleet. Meanwhile, Voq’s body was surgically altered to match the real Ash, which was convincing enough to pass the same cursory scans that Arne Darvin would have undergone. Just like Darvin, the surgery isn’t perfect: all it took was a single, more detailed scan by Dr. Culber to reveal this Klingon infiltrator’s hidden nature.

Star Trek Discovery Does Have Some Bizarre Moments

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We’re not going to try to give Star Trek fans the hard sell that Discovery is brilliant or that the early seasons didn’t have some bizarre moments. But the fact remains that the storyline fans claim to be the absolute worst is firmly rooted in the canon of the very first show in the franchise. If you want to pick on Ash Tyler, you’ll need to find a more legitimate reason…like the utterly wild and hilarious way that he pronounces Klingon names like Kahless and Qo’noS.