Star Trek’s Starfleet Now Includes Infamously Traitorous Species

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek kellerun

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery’s second season, the title ship and her crew ended up in the far-flung future, instantly traveling from the 23rd century all the way to the 32nd century. For franchise lore nerds, the time jump was exciting because it helped us to learn that not only were Starfleet and the Federation still around in the future but that these organizations had members from some very surprising planets. For example, the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery’s fifth season revealed (via my new favorite character, Captain Rayner) that the Kellerun, a traitorous species last seen in Deep Space Nine, now have a member in Starfleet.

The Kellerun In Deep Space Nine

star trek kellerun

Before this season of Discovery kicked off, Star Trek fans had only seen the Kellerun in the Deep Space Nine episode “Armageddon Game.” In that ep, Dr. Bashir and Miles O’Brien were helping these aliens as well as their former enemies the T’Lani to accomplish what seemed to be a mutual goal: dismantling the Harvesters, nasty biological weapons. However, ambassadors from both races end up betraying the Starfleet officers and try to kill them as a way of ensuring that nobody will ever know how to recreate Harvester tech.

The Kellerun Have Been Absent For A While

Since that Star Trek episode (a fairly memorable one, especially by the standards of early Deep Space Nine), we haven’t heard from either the Kellerun or the T’Lani again (and no, seeing T’lani symbol on some cargo containers in the DS9 episode “Profit and Loss” doesn’t count). It seemed like these were races that Star Trek had more or less forgotten about, but the Kellerun popped up again in Discovery recently. The prickly Captain Rayner is a member of the Kellerun, and that alone tells us some very surprising things about Starfleet in the 32nd century.

We Thought The Kellerun Were Bad Guys

star trek kellerun

When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine first introduced us to the Kellerun, they weren’t members of the Federation and (to the best of our knowledge) didn’t have any members serving in Starfleet. After the attempted murder of Bashir and O’Brien, their membership in either the Federation or Starfleet seemed less likely than ever. They may very well have been labeled an enemy race, something that would normally preclude easy admission into Starfleet (just ask poor half-Romulan Simon Tarses, who seemed on the verge of losing his Starfleet career when his Romulan ancestry became public in the TNG episode “The Drumhead”).

In The 32nd Century, The Federation Is Still Tolerant

star trek kellerun

Thanks to the appearance of Captain Rayner in the opening episodes of Star Trek: Discovery’s fifth season, we now know that Starfleet includes at least one Kellerun member. That alone nicely echoes the ongoing franchise themes of turning former enemies into current allies. It may not have been as historically significant to the franchise, but seeing Rayner serving in Starfleet was the equivalent of seeing Worf (a member of the former enemy race, the Klingons) serving in Starfleet at the beginning of The Next Generation.

We Don’t Know Yet If The Kellerun Are Federation Members

However, Star Trek fans shouldn’t necessarily look at Rayner’s presence as an indication that the Kellerun as a whole are now part of the Federation in the 32nd century. For example, in Deep Space Nine, Nog was able to become a member of Starfleet despite Ferenginar not being part of the Federation–he just needed the endorsement of a command-level officer (in this case, Sisko). Similarly, the Kelpians weren’t members of the Federation when Saru joined Starfleet, but Lieutenant Philippa Georgiou (with the blessing of Starfleet) recruited him into the service.

In other words, it was cool for Star Trek: Discovery to bring the Kellerun back, and Captain Rayner is a cool character, but we’re hoping the rest of this season will help us learn more about what this species has been up to in the 32nd century. I’d be particularly pleased if we got some kind of update on the ancient Harvester technology, even if it’s just a throwaway line. In the meantime, we can hopefully look forward to this season of Discovery giving us even more throwback characters and references to the golden age of Star Trek. 

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