Watching the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, I like many fans were left shocked by the new look created for the Klingons. While many pointed to how the Klingons have changed over the decades between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, the new look left me and many others scratching their heads. In fact, their new design for the show became quite the controversy.
The Klingons in Discovery were hairless, but the Empire also followed T’Kuvma, a Klingon who looked deformed in the eyes of the everyday warrior. This didn’t seem to follow previous Star Trek canon.
As reported by Trek Movie, Star Trek: Discovery Makeup Designer Glenn Hetrick attempted to explain some of the controversy.
“If you really think about season one, and the Klingon storyline, we had this incredibly ritualistic season with them It was really about unification, and igniting the beacon, the Light of Kahless, and bringing him back… so we integrated that very much and thought a lot about that.”
He points to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s sixth season episode “Rightful Heir.” That episode featured the clone of Kahless revealing how he unified the Empire. Hetrick explains:
“He did it by cutting off his hair, and dipping it into a volcano and forging the first bat’leth and tempering in the ocean of Qo’noS.”
While he did cut off part of his hair. The episode specifically says he only cut off a “lock” of his hair.
But Hetrick continued:
“There is this whole thing with hair and ritual and unification that was very much in the forefront of our mind when we designing.”
I can see the point about ritualism, but I wished it was explained better onscreen last season.
While Hetrick explained the design choices for the Klingon in Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 he did reveal they will be undergoing a change once again for Season 2.
“As we move into season 2, it has been a while since we have been with our characters. It has been a while since we have seen our Klingon friends. So, everything keeps evolving. The story has evolved. And I can guarantee you this, you are going to be blown away that they have a completely new look, yet again, going into season two.”
Not only did Glenn Hetrick tease the new Klingon designs, but he also promised we will see new houses. Along with the houses, the show aims to explore the cultural mythos of the Klingon people.
Part of that cultural mythos will apparently be a way to explain the wildly different ship designs the Klingons used in Discovery. Designs that didn’t fit in with anything from Star Trek: Enterprise and The Original Series, both shows that take place around the same time period of Discovery.
Instead of the iconic warbirds, we were given ships that had more of a glassy textural feel with a bit of Egyptian flavor. It looks like they are going to use the vastness of the Empire to attempt to explain away some of those issues. Issues it seems that the team recognizes that fans have. Hetrick explains:
“In season two, you are going to see much different designs. You are going to see different houses you haven’t seen before. One of the most important things to us was that at this point in canon, as we head towards the current version of unification, the houses really each grow up on different planets. It is an Empire, it is not just Qo’noS… We have seen six of the great houses in close up in season one. As we move forward into the next season, I promise that we will continue exploring and unpacking and unfolding that infinitely interesting story of what the Klingon culture looks like on a wider level.”
I’m unsure if delving into these new houses can be a way to explain away Discovery’s departure from decades worth of canon. Personally, I enjoyed how Star Trek: Deep Space Nine poked fun at the inconsistency of the Klingons from The Original Series and those post-Kirk era.
What do you think? Does Glenn Hetrick make some fair points about the Klingons and Star Trek: Discovery? Are you looking forward to finally getting some closure on the canon issues from the first season? Are you excited about these new Klingon designs?