Lieutenant Tyler is NOT Voq, The Klingon – We Can Prove it

Lots of speculation surrounding Lt. Tyler

In the fifth episode of Star Trek: Discovery, fans were introduced to a new main character of the show.  Lieutenant Ash Tyler, who was a Prisoner of War aboard a Klingon vessel when Captain Lorca was captured in Choose Your Pain (read our review), has since become a key part of the USS Discovery’s crew, quickly earning the trust of Lorca and the affection of Burnham.

So it may come as a surprise to you to hear that there are huge, massive, rumours surrounding the character; that he’s actually, get this, Voq – the Klingon.

I’ll admit, I’ve subscribed to this fan theory for some time now – ever since the first episode he showed up in, titled Choose Your Pain.  There’s a lot to suggest that he is Voq.  For example he’s credited in every episode including those before the character first appeared – episodes that Voq was in.  Then there’s the fact that we never see both Voq and Tyler in any one episode.  Not only that, but the “actor” playing Voq, Javid Iqbal, seems to be a fake person.  He has never appeared at any press events, and there’s essentially nothing about him on the Internet.  Sure, there’s an IMDB profile page for him (which contains pictures of Voq but none of Javid), but it seems to be a fake profile page – a way for Discovery showrunners to keep a plot twist under wraps.  Add to all of this, Shazad Latif, the actor who plays Lt. Tyler, has a different birth name.  “Shazad Iqbal”.  Yup, that’s right.  Same last name.

All this would seem to add a lot of credence to the theory, and there’s even more.  Any time the press questions any of the actors or showrunners on the Voq/Tyler theory, they don’t deny it.  Instead, they skirt the issue and use vague terms.  That alone can be seen as proof to the theory.

More.  We know that Tribbles are an arch enemy of Klingons, visibly upsetting Klingons when they get too close, and we know that Captain Lorca has one sitting around in his ready room.  So if Tyler is actually a Klingon, we’ll know as soon as he gets within range of the Tribble, right?  Well, that Tribble seems to have disappeared for a while.  Interesting.  Though in one episode, we did see Tyler in the room with a Tribble BUT when watched closely, Tyler seemed to keep an eye on the Tribble and keep his distance.

We also know that Voq was sent to L’Rell’s house – a house known for being spies and professional liars.  They also apparently focus on speaking fluent alien languages and fitting in with their cultures, which presumably includes english and human cultures.

Do you actually believe he survived 7 months in Klingon prison because his captor, L’Rell, took a certain liking to him and rapes him over the course of those seven months?

There’s even this super-fun Twitter account pretending to be Javid Iqbal.

With all this evidence, and there’s actually more, how can Tyler not be Voq?

Tyler is not Voq and I can prove it

In the latest episode, Si Vi Pacem, Para Bellum, (read our review), Burnham, Tyler, and Saru conducted an away mission.  Upon their return, they paid a visit to sick bay, where Dr. Culber and another doctor looked them over.

There was a key piece of evidence hidden right in plain site.  Above each medical bed, there is imagery of the interior of the patience resting on the bed.  We see Burnham, who has human organs, and we see Saru who has Kelpien organs.  This means that the showrunners are paying enough attention to detail that the screens do show what represents the insides of the patient on the bed.  Then we see Lt. Tyler’s screen and there are….. human organs.

Klingon organs and bodies are very different from humans, even if they are mostly the same from the outside, save for a bumpy forehead.  According to Memory Alpha, “they [have] twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight-chambered heart, three lungs, and even redundant neural function as well as multiple stomachs. Some geneticists believed that the extra organs, notably the third lung, evolved to give Klingons greater stamina on the battlefield.”

Here's the proof we've all been looking for. Turns out Tyler is not Voq.
Here’s the proof we’ve all been looking for. Turns out Tyler is not Voq.
We can see that the showrunners are paying enough attention to detail that they give Saru a non-human physiology on the screen
We can see that the showrunners are paying enough attention to detail that they give Saru a non-human physiology on the screen

In other words we would most definitely notice if Tyler was a Klingon by his organs on the screen.  On top of that, we know that tricorders are capable of detecting the life form it is being used on in The Original Series.

So if Lieutenant Tyler is not Voq, who might be?  My theory for now – it could be Captain Lorca.  The problem he has with his eyes being sensitive to light has gone away.  We also know he’s not a fan of doctors, and probably hasn’t had one scan him physically since his return from Klingon prison.  There’s more, but I’ll leave that to another article some day.

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About Cassius Adams

Cassius Adams is the creator of and is a content contributor. He has been a Star Trek fan for nearly three decades. Cassius discovered his passion for the franchise early into TNG's run, and nourished that passion throughout DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies. Cassius can be reached by emailing or you can follow him on Twitter at @supercass

  • Sky DeBoever

    He may not be Voq, but something is up. L’Rell could have only been on the prison ship he was on for a month. She was stranded on the Sarcophagus ship for the first six months following the Battle at the Binary Stars. So he could have only been saved by her for one month, so that means he had to survive on his own for six months, which seems unlikely.

  • mr ed

    Wow. Great catch. If Voq is Lorca, do you think that’s why the Tribble isn’t on Lorca’s desk? Or was Lorca in the scene you mention where it appeared Tyler was keeping distance from the Tribble?

  • Bob Archer

    Not to mention, didn’t Lorca say he throughly check Tyler’s start fleet record out. Unless you think the Klingon’s are awesome computer hackers and can break into federation and start fleet to plant a fake service record in there.

    • Curtis House

      The real Lt. Tyler could have just died during the battle and Voq stole his identity. No need for awesome computer hacking.

  • Rafael Jordan

    tyler IS voq, 100%. but your post is fascinating. i hope it’s not a plot hole in the end, because it’s hard to reconcile.

  • NEU Engineering CC

    “interior of the patience”

  • David Kosinski

    Voq was last seen in the ready room of the abandoned Shenzhou, looking at personnel files before breaking the padd so who knows if he accessed other files, just food for thought

  • Douglas Lee Bryenldson

    Um… no. I think part of the deception would be to make sure that Tyler could pass a simple “medical scan” showing him as human. The transporter would also easily identify anyone as human or not during matter transference so he would have to appear as human to any kind of scan. My guess is that Voq’s Klingon body was genetically transformed into a genuine human body – and only his thoughts/self remain Klingon. It’s pretty clear Tyler is actually Voq.

  • Karl

    Shazad Iqbal is his birth name, pretty blatant that he’s playing both roles, the Voq makeup doesn’t hide Shazad’s face very well, the writers must think us idiots.

  • Daniel Ireland

    Has it been verified that Shazad Latif’s birth name is actually Iqbal? I thought the only reference to this was a line on his Wikipedia page which has since been removed.

  • Richard Cieslik

    Great article with a flawed conclusion.
    The theory is not that Tyler is Voq “in disguise” as that would be stupid, this isn’t Orville were you can apparently pass yourself of as an Alien race by acting 100% human (American, to be more precise) with no one getting the least bit suspicious.

    No, this is much darker and sinister show, with a much better promise.

    We see Tyler being tortured…and we know he is a real person, and we know Voq hasn’t been seen since he was sent away…and we Know L’Rell had Tyler as a prisoner…
    She told Voq he would have to “lose everything:” to win
    When they meet on Discovery in the mid-season finale, their conversation only makes sense if the theory is true
    :What did you do to me” screams Tyler
    “I won’t let them hurt you” she replies
    and then…”Soon”

    “Soon”? why would she say that if Tyler was just someone she tortured and raped…and how would she, a prosoner, be able to do anything…

    so…put it all together

    Voq is “implanted” in Tyler, some sort of conscience transfer, waiting to be activated by L’Rell.

    • Paul Johnson

      This is what I’m leaning towards – that Voq has been “implanted” into Tyler by a conscience transfer, kind of like a Vulcan katra. This would mean that Lt Ash Tyler really IS Ash Tyler, but with Voq’s consciousness implanted within him. But, this means Ash had to have survived Klingon torture for seven months – and we know that L’Rell was on board the Sarcophagus for six months of that. Had Ash been on board the Sarcophagus, it’s likely the Klingons would have just killed him for food, as they did with Georgiou (as in, they ate her corpse, they didn’t kill her for food). This means Ash did not survive by encouraging the affections of L’Rell – because he would have only been her prisoner for about a month and a bit, if that.

      The other option is the other way around – Voq was completely restructured genetically to become Human – which is why all medical scans will show him as Human. Tyler was indeed taken prisoner by another Klingon ship – not the Sarcophagus – perhaps a ship of House Mo’Kai, and then it was actually Tyler’s consciousness that was implanted into Voq, with Voq’s own consciousness being suppressed, waiting to be activated by L’Rell. It also explains why L’Rell was so desperate to “defect” to the Federation – only she could awaken Voq’s buried subconscious. It still doesn’t explain Ash surviving torture by encouraging L’Rell’s interest in him for seven months – as he seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying, and we see the flashbacks of it too. He also seems genuinely bewildered and tormented by it, leading to him confronting L’Rell in Discovery’s brig.

      It could be that these are false memories, implanted into Tyler to make his story seem more believable – something we’ve also seen in Trek before too.

      Either way, I think Ash genuinely believes he is Human, which will inevitably lead to conflict with him being an agent of the Klingons.

  • TheWriteStuffIndy

    I’m now thinking that the producers has put all of these clues in front of us to take us off the trail of someone else. But who that is, is still one big mystery. It could still be Tyler — after all, Starfleet medical scanners have been fooled before. Remember Data’s “mother”?

  • Ron Bo

    Arne Darvin passed for human, you think he never underwent a medical scan? You’d have to have a way to spoof the scanners to insert an agent.

  • Steeltown Jim

    Tyler is just too lovely to be Klingon. Period.

  • James Gelston

    So, I guess you failed to prove it.

  • Devil Master

    “Despite Yourself” confirms that Tyler is not Voq. Instead, we get a pretty good clue to the real identity of Voq as Dr. Hugh Culber. He goes as far as showing Tyler a fake medical record, claiming that Tyler has “scarring in all his organs” and that “they opened up (Tyler’s) limbs and they appear to have shortened (his) radius, femurs, even (his) spinal cord”.
    However, Tyler is not fooled and kills Hugh Culber/Voq.

  • uh oh. Now we learn his organs are all scared (and rearranged?)

  • TrekJen

    Too bad this wasn’t written with both points of view and unbiased. But it’s funny now, so that’s something.

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