With Star Trek: Discovery‘s September premiere creeping ever closer, and San Diego Comic-Con in full swing, tons more details about what to expect from the Trek prequel are coming to light. While most of the character revelations of recent weeks have been focused on the show’s lead, Lt. Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), the spotlight has finally turned on one of Discovery‘s more intriguing supporting characters. We’re talking about that odd-looking bloke in the image up top: science officer Lt. Saru, played by lanky Hellboy veteran Doug Jones.
First up, we now know Saru’s species — he’s a Kelpien. He’s the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, and he’s got an uphill battle to prove his mettle. It seems Kelpiens have a reputation for cowardice, something that derives from the fact that they’re not at the top of the food chain on their homeworld. Because they evolved as a prey species, they’ve developed a unique ability, one attentive viewers will remember was alluded to in the first trailer for Discovery. Showrunner Aaron Harberts told EW that Kelpiens can “sense the coming of death.”
What we don’t know is how exactly this power will play out. Can he sense specifics about what sort of death is approaching, or who might be in the crosshairs? Or does he just have a vague sense that bad things are about to happen? If it’s the latter, then it seems like that’s a trait that could either be very interesting or an exercise in deus ex machina. Counselor Troi’s often-vague empathic impressions from Next Generation come to mind.
As far as personality goes, Saru is said to be in the vein of past Trek fan-favorites such as Spock and Data. Actor Doug Jones told EW:
Saru is the Spock of the series, he’s the Data of the series — and those are beloved characters that I always connect with whenever I would watch the past incarnations of Star Trek. On Falling Skies, I played an alien species who came to Earth to help the humans fight back the bad aliens who’d taken over, and I was intelligent, well-spoken, had a lot of answers and science-y smart. Saru is all of those things and then some.
We’ll find out more about Saru and the rest of the Discovery crew when Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS on Sunday, September 24. The series will then shift exclusively to CBS All Access for the remaining episodes.