It admittedly sounds far-fetched, but the evidence is compelling, beginning with Iqbal’s page on IMDb.com, which lists Star Trek: Discovery as his only credit and features only images of him in full Voq makeup. As The Daily Dot notes, Iqbal has no social-media presence, and is the only member of the show’s central cast not to participate in the promotional tour ahead of the premiere.
That brings us back to Latif, who was originally cast in December as Klingon commanding officer Kol before being announced in April to be instead playing Lt. Tyler. Of course, there are numerous explanations as to why that decision might’ve been made — anything from an allergy to prosthetics to the whims of the producers — but none is as intriguing as a story change that requires secrecy. What’s more, Latif has been listed in Discovery‘s credits from the very beginning, although his character wasn’t introduced until Episode 5, “Choose Your Pain” (those credits do change, most noticeably with the inclusion of guest stars like Michelle Yeoh, James Frain and Rainn Wilson).
If all of that weren’t convincing enough, Yahoo! Movies posed the “Voq as Tyler” theory directly to Latif, who masterfully side-stepped the question: “I rarely read a lot of stuff online, but the publicists have been letting me know. It’s fun that there’s a lot of interest — that’s always a good thing. A lot of the theories are crazy. Some people have some stuff right, and some are way off. But it’s just good to see people interested.” When asked whether he’s ever actually met Iqbal, who’s credited as playing Voq, Latif was interrupted by a CBS publicist, who cheerfully shepherded the actor to his next interview.
But how might all of this intrigue play out on Star Trek: Discovery? Does Voq masquerading as a Starfleet officer make any sense?
Star Trek has a long history of characters disguising themselves as other races, most frequently Federation officers undergoing cosmetic surgery to pass as Romulans. However, we’ve also seen a Cardassian being altered to look like a Bajoran, and, perhaps most relevantly, a Klingon spy posing as a human Federation official in The Original Series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” to sabotage colonization efforts by poisoning a grain supply. Likewise, the Klingon augment virus, introduced by the franchise to explain away the dramatic change in the physical appearance of Klingons between TOS and the feature films, provides canonical evidence for the Empire’s experimentation using DNA from genetically modified human embryos, left over from the Eugenic Wars on Earth that produced Khan Noonien Singh & Co.
By the time of Discovery, set a decade before the events of TOS, the augment virus had existed for a century. Its outbreak, as depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise, triggered fears that the infected and their descendants, who lost their ridges, would become outcasts due to their more human appearance. That anxiety meshes with the radical Klingons introduced on Discovery who view the United Federation of Planets as an existential threat to their identity. “Remain Klingon!” became the mantra for Voq, L’Rell and the late T’Kuvma, in response to Federation encroachment.
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