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WARP FIVE: Blu del Barrio Rises to the Challenge During Discovery's Fifth Season

The Discovery actor reflects on relationships on- and off-screen and more!

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for the fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery.

Graphic illustration featuring a portrait of Blu del Barrio featuring Star Trek: Discovery episodic stills of Adira Tal

Ari Michaelson /

Welcome to Warp Five,'s five question post-mortem with your favorite featured talent from the latest Star Trek episodes.

Throughout the course of Discovery’s extragalactic space travel, Ensign Adira Tal has overcome personal hurdles such as meeting and befriending new people, opening themselves up to new experiences, and making their mark in Engineering alongside Commanders Paul Stamets and Jett Reno.

When the U.S.S. Discovery is tasked with a Red Directive mission this season, forcing them across the galaxy tracking down clues and outmaneuvering two fugitives and the Breen Imperium to reach a tool of immense power first, the ensign finds themselves voicing their knowledge, drawing on their experience as a former inspector for the United Earth Defense Force, and offering solutions from the Bridge, with encouragement from Lieutenant Sylvia Tilly and the ship's new Kellerun first officer, Commander Rayner.

Ahead of the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, "Lagrange Point," which sees Adira volunteering for a dangerous mission aboard the enemy Breen Dreadnaught, had the opportunity to sit down with Blu del Barrio to talk about their character's growth and evolution, the relationships they made on- and off-screen, and what Discovery means to them. 

Adira's Self-Discovery

In Engineering, Adira is at their station while Book helps with their ship issues in 'Lagrange Point'

"Lagrange Point"

In "Lagrange Point," Primarch Ruhn's Breen Dreadnaught intercepts a mysterious structure aboard their vessel before Discovery could decloak and reach it. In order to reclaim the structure and prevent the Imperium for taking the Progenitor tech for themselves, Captain Burnham and her team weighs out their options once they manage to infiltrate the enemy ship. Stamets beams as Adira shares a solution they often utilized while serving the Earth Defense Force — transpo-locks. However, pride quickly morphs into parental concern when Adira volunteers to hack the Breen's coding from aboard their ship.

"This is maybe the first mission where they're kind of, 'Yeah, I’m ready for this. I feel ready for this,'" reflects del Barrio. "It was really fun to play in comparison to what it used to be like. They understand this season how much they are valued and how much they see their value because of the responsibility put on them. I don't think this is a mission they would've done in past seasons. I don't think this is something that they would’ve been sent on. To know that they are wanted and needed for this mission has so much weight on it. They calmed down a little bit finally and are, 'Okay, I get why I’m here. I know that I’m meant to be here.'"

Behind-the-scenes of 'Lagrange Point' - David Ajala and Jonathan Frakes point ahead of them, Blu del Barrio laughs, Callum Keith Rennie poses, Sonequa Martin-Green smiles, while Paul Stamets smiles facing Frakes and del Barrio

Behind-the-scenes of "Lagrange Point"

Director Jonathan Frakes previously shared with that the scene where both father figures, Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber, sees Adira off on this mission was one of their favorite shots of the episode.

Recalling the scene, del Barrio shares, "It's a lot of good and it's a lot of love. I also really love that moment. That's probably my favorite from the episode as well because you see how close they've gotten. I genuinely love those two [Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz] more than I could explain. That scene, it just felt very natural to us and how our conversations are. Getting to see Adira that comfortable as opposed to where they were at the very start [of the series] and how scared they were of everybody and how much of a wall they had up. Seeing them like that was really, really nice."

Tilly and Rayner's Belief in Adira

Rayner grins as Adira walks through Burnham on what to do while they're at their station on the Bridge of the Discovery in 'Whistlespeak'


This season of Discovery, Adira finds advocacy in them from both Lt. Tilly and Commander Rayner as they find themself on the bridge in some of the starship's most thrilling adventures.

"I loved working with Callum [Keith Rennie]," del Barrio states. "[Rayner] is very rough and grizzled in that way. To play off of that with Adira's energy was very fun. From an improv point of view, when we got to play off each other, it just made it great, especially when we were with Mary [Wiseman] as well. I loved playing off of him. I think Adira would've been much more scared of him in earlier seasons, but they feel like this is their place now and this is their home. There's a little bit more of protection about Discovery that they have [this season]. I absolute loving having Callum with us."

Tilly and Adira are smiling and in good spirits as they lean towards a computer panel in the Science Lab in 'Erigah'


"I got to work a lot this season with Mary Wiseman, which was something that I wanted from the very beginning," adds del Barrio. "I felt that when I met her, and from watching Tilly on the first two seasons. My biggest hope and wish was that Adira and Tilly would have some kind of relationship. The relationship that they end up having is perfect to me, and exactly what I would’ve hope for. It's also close to mine and Mary's relationship. I can't explain in words how much I love Mary Wiseman. Getting through those scenes brought so much joy into my life, especially those days that were very long. To have somebody that I could just really play with was fun."

With Tilly's return to Discovery for this Red Directive mission, Adira also helps the Academy instructor's worry of not connecting with her cadets. "It's really beautiful," remarks del Barrio. "It's not often that Adira feels that they get to help somebody else on this ship move forward in their life because they’re the youngest and everybody is sort of a mentor to them. It's nice to help see, 'Look what you’ve done with me. You just got to do exactly what you did and you're doing it with me, which is mentor me in a really wonderful and beautiful way. You've around done that.' Getting to help her get there in that way was an adult moment for Adira."

The Progression of Adira and Gray's Relationship

Adira and Gray sit across one another in the Caves of Mak'ala in 'Jinaal'


At the end of "Jinaal," Adira and Gray decided their romantic relationship had run its course. Speaking on that episode, del Barrio reveals, "I am really happy with the way that we did that separation and end of that romantic relationship because the it's very possible [and realistic], and the reasoning is very solid. They are both very young. They are both on very different paths, and they've been connected, not even by choice for so long. As sad as it was for the both of us, it made sense."

"That conversation that we had, it was well written and played really beautifully," continues del Barrio. "What I love the most about that breakup is not actually the breakup itself, but the scene that comes later when we're having a phone call. It was very short, but I think it was extremely necessary. That kind of relationship, there's so much love and camaraderie there, and it wouldn't just go away like that for either of them. Having both of them want to maintain that friendship and connection, to me, read very true. I was happy that they stayed in it, and we had that moment with each other."

Their Experience with Discovery, On- and Off-Screen

Adira looks over their shoulder while standing in the Engineering lab in 'Terra Firma, Part 1'

"Terra Firma, Part 1"

In their eyes, Adira's journey reflects their own personal journey. "My life during this whole process was so interconnected," believes del Barrio. "Our stories were so interconnected. Even though it's Star Trek and they're in space, however many years in the future, within our personal stuff, it was very interconnected and it was 50% on purpose and 50% just by chance. For that reason, it's kind of hard for me to go back and watch some of it because I was going through a really difficult time when I started. There was a lot of stress and worry and imposter syndrome."

"When I watch the very beginning of Adira's story, I feel my fear," del Barrio elaborates. "As a whole, when I think about it, I still don't really know how I got so lucky to do this, to share this journey with everyone, and be a part of this universe. It still feels very surreal, even now, being done with it. At some point, I thought that feeling was going to go away, and I'd be like, 'Now I get it.' But it never happened, and I kind of love that feeling — that feeling of gratitude that has stayed with me. It's crazy, and I want to hold onto that feeling and not forget about it."

"I feel insanely proud of the way that I got to portray Adira," del Barrio continues. "How I got their story, them coming out, and my real transition on a platform like this. I hope people could see and view and use this as validation for themselves because that's not something that I had when I was growing up, and that would've changed my life. The fact that I got to be a part of something like that is really insane to me, and I couldn't be any prouder of it than I am."

What Discovery Means to Them

Blu del Barrio in a tank top with their tattoos exposed resting on their arms

Ari Michaelson

With one episode left before the series airs its epic conclusion, del Barrio spends a moment to reflect on what the series means to them.

"There's something about the word 'transition,' which I said earlier about Adira's journey, that really fits into Discovery," del Barrio concludes. "It was the first launch in a new era of Star Trek. This is the most diverse show that we've had in the franchise. There is a big emphasis on transition in terms of the Star Trek universe that Discovery reflects, and hopefully continues to stand for in the future. That's a really fitting word for it.”