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THIS QUESTION SPOILS S01E11 AND IT'S ANSWER SPOILS S01E12. DO NOT CLICK UNLESS YOU'VE FINISHED WATCHING S01E12.


Episode 11 confirms a fan theory (that I'm intentionally going to delay talking about so that the question list doesn't show the theory.)

The theory is that Lieutenant Ash Tyler is actually the Klingon Voq, surgically and psychologically altered to look and act like a human.

In Episode 6, Captain Lorca explained that he did research on Lieutenant Tyler before asking him questions about his background - presumably to test him. So clearly there are Starfleet records that match this "created" Lieutenant Ash Tyler's memories and appearance.

How do they match so perfectly?

Is it:

  • that the Klingons copied a real person exactly? Perhaps using the real Ash Tyler, whom they had captured? Maybe even the guy that was beaten on the prison ship?

...or is it:

  • that the Klingons somehow created fake records? Perhaps they hacked or infiltrated Starfleet? Or perhaps they just modified the records on the USS Discovery?
  • "whether he was actually Tyler" <-- That sentence undoes all your spoiler tags. – Burhan Ali Jan 21 '18 at 10:35
  • Good point. It's pretty tough to not hide the whole thing - I figured at that point in the post, people who care would have given up. I'll see if I can fix it. – LevenTrek Jan 21 '18 at 13:54
  • I'm of the personal opinion that spoilers for Discovery questions are unnecessary so long as the title is spoiler-free. After all, anyone who wants a spoiler-free Discovery experience should know not to read Discovery questions. – Thunderforge Jan 22 '18 at 5:11
  • @Thunderforge: Wouldn't that mean watchers who do not want to read any spoilers would have to wait until the series has ended? Given that especially ST:DIS abounds with unlikely twists that can indeed be hard to follow (let alone believe), Science Fiction & Fantasy can be a crucial resource to fill in the gaps in one's understanding before watching the next episode. – O. R. Mapper Jan 31 '18 at 13:14
  • Just to add to the answers, The ChoH'a' procedure includes using a donor human body, but somehow overlaying that human's conscious on top of the Klingon's surgically altered body and original conscious. memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/ChoH%27a%27 – Darth Locke Oct 26 '18 at 14:16
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Tyler was a Starfleet officer captured at the Battle of the Binary Stars

This is directly answered in 1x12 "Vaulting Ambition" when L'Rell explains how Voq came to be.

The one you call "Tyler" was captured in battle at the binary stars. We harvested his DNA, reconstructed his conscious, and rebuilt his memory. We modified Voq into a shell that appears human. We grafted his psyche into Tyler's, and in so doing, Voq has given his body and soul for our ideology.

This is corroborated earlier in the episode when a medical officer examining "Tyler" says this:

His genome matches the one we have for Lt. Ash Tyler in our Starfleet database. His brain wave patterns, however, are highly irregular. Unless someone can tell me how they put a Klingon inside a Starfleet officer's body, I don't know how we can treat him.

Given that L'Rell said that they "harvested his DNA", that would explain why the DNA of "Tyler" matches the Federation's records. Since L'Rell has no reason to lie, it would certainly seem that her words can be taken as truth: Lt. Ash Tyler was indeed a real Starfleet officer who was captured at the Battle of the Binary Stars around the time of Episode 2.

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Tyler probably existed before

Let's ignore the fact that the Klingons hacking into Starfleet records and planting false information1 has terrifying implications for the Starfleet-Klingon war. On that basis alone I'd feel comfortable saying that Tyler was a real person, because the alternative is just too improbable.

In a 2018 interview with IGN, Shazad Latif (Tyler's actor) believes that Tyler was real:

"Yeah, I think L'Rell used a captured soldier," Latif told me, referring to Voq's Klingon partner (played by Mary Chieffo). "She took this guy and then used his body and his brain and his memories, with all the skill she has as a conscious[ness]-transferring scientist. It’s amazing."

He goes on to mention that this was the original intention of the production crew, but of course ideas can change over time (emphasis mine):

"It was an ongoing conversation from very early, because, you know, stuff changes completely in 10 months as you write," he said. "The writers end up changing things to each actor, and they're writing scenes for them specifically. And everything changes sort of organically as you're going along. So ideas that were originally there in episode one might have completely changed, I think. So there was always different people's views, or producers -- you know, different people going, maybe this or this. And, everyone wants to understand the science of it anyway. But, yeah, that was the basic essence of it, that it was more like how it's done. But originally the idea was the same, that he was laid over the top of this core Voq body, and slight, certain organs were put in. And then the transfer of consciousness and memory."

Whether or not this will be addressed on the show remains to be seen.


1 I've seen it supposed that, because Lorca's obvious underhandedness throughout the show thus far, we may not be able to draw any meaningful conclusions from his questioning Tyler; we know that Lorca's lied about things before, and he seems to be keeping some things close to his chest even now, so who's to say he's not lying about Tyler's record?

While an interesting theory, it ignores the fact that many other people in Starfleet have a vested interest in learning more about Discovery's newest crewmate. If nothing else we'd expect Doctor Culber to have pulled his medical records in order to treat him.

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