6 Years Later, Star Trek is Undoing a Controversial Canon Change
The Discovery-era Klingons are “in the rearview mirror.”
Hardcore Star Trek fans know that for every single change to a classic alien species, there’s usually some kind of in-universe explanation. But when it comes to the debut of new Klingons in the first episode of Strange New Worlds Season 2, maybe there’s not. If you’re wondering if there will ever be a reappearance of the radical Nosferatu-esque Klingons from Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 and Season 2, the short answer is: not likely.
Ahead of the launch of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2, showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers spoke about Discovery canon, what to expect in the new season, and why Klingons look the way they do. Spoilers ahead.
In “The Broken Circle,” the Enterprise crew deals with the fallout from the Klingon War. Some Klingons and humans profited from the war, and are trying to make it start all over again. To that end, a rogue group of arms dealers, “The Broken Circle” have even constructed a faux Starfleet ship, to make it look like the Federation is trying to reignite the conflict. Attentive fans will notice that Mitchell (Rong Fu) tells Spock (Ethan Peck) that this ship is a “Crossfield-class” starship, and that its saucer is basically identical to the USS Discovery. Between the Klingon War references and the reappearance of the Klingons, are Discovery’s first two seasons essential viewing before Strange New Worlds Season 2?
“It’s really important that it’s not a Discovery sequel for people who don’t watch Discovery,” Akiva Goldsman tells Inverse. “What we try to do when it comes to the deeper dive into more canonical material is this: if you don’t know about that stuff, it’s a cool TV show that lives on its own. If you do know it, then it’s an utter delight. But we never use [events in other shows] foundationally for story structure or emotion unless we re-explain it and recharge it so that it’s new in the episode.”
So, no, Star Trek is not the MCU, even though there’s a faux-USS Discovery in this episode, and the events of Discovery are referenced. Strange New Worlds isn’t worried about its roots, especially when it comes to Klingons. After a controversial redesign for Discovery Season 1, the Klingons that appear in Strange New Worlds Season 2 look more or less like the Klingons in most of canon, complete with those famous foreheads.
“I think we were probably a little more influenced specifically by the look of the movies,” Henry Alonso Myers tells Inverse. “But the history that nobody talks about is that in almost every show, there has been a change in the way the Klingons look. And what Discovery did was really interesting and it was specific and it was challenging. This was our chance to say that we were not changing or ruining anything that anyone else has done, but to do something that felt like its own, but very much coming from the world of the other Klingons.”
Goldsman chimes in on this point and makes it clear we won’t be seeing the monster Discovery Klingons anytime soon. “Henry is very polite. I worked on Discovery and I’ll just say, it’s nice to have those Klingons in the rearview mirror.”
Regardless of which of the myriad Klingon designs you prefer, both showrunners emphasize that the overriding reason for returning to a classic design wasn’t motivated only by fan service, but also by behind-the-scenes efficiency. “A lot of what we were doing was for production purposes,” Myers says. “The [Discovery Klingons] are tremendously hard to do. There are physical challenges, where they had to put stuff inside their mouths and cover their whole heads. It limited the number of people we could have in those roles. So, we were trying to find something in the middle that gave us the Klingon look we wanted and didn’t have any of the challenges.”
Will the Klingons return after the first episode of Strange New Worlds Season 2? Myers and Goldsman aren’t telling. But they do tease that by the end of the season, fans will see all sorts of things no one is expecting.
“There are some episodes this season that are very much in the tradition of what we generally do on Trek,” Myers says. “But I’ll just say, there are one or two, that they probably haven’t ever done on Trek before, and this is the first time.”
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 airs new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.