Published Mar 4, 2021
Who's Who: The Discovery's New Future Faces
We look back at some of the new faces of Star Trek: Discovery's third season
By Jay Stobie
The U.S.S. Discovery’s jump to the 32nd Century brought the starship into contact with advanced technology and a revised political landscape, but the excursion to the future also introduced an array of new recurring characters throughout the third season. Whether friend or foe, each addition to the Disco family influenced the crew’s story in unique ways. Since we’ll be focusing on the recurring cast, we unfortunately won’t be able to include the stellar performances by lead Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) and his intrepid Queen Grudge (a natural born star). Let’s dive in and welcome the latest recruits to this bold Star Trek series.
A brutal courier who was ultimately revealed to work directly for Osyraa, Zareh (Jake Weber) symbolized the future’s lawless nature and showcased it to Saru and Sylvia Tilly by murdering the Coridanite Kal at The Colony. After the Emerald Chain overtook Discovery at the end of “Su’Kal,” Zareh reemerged to oversee the Regulators and secure the starship. Despite the Chain’s political overtures to the Federation, Zareh represented the organization’s most violent tendencies. Butting heads with fellow courier Cleveland Booker proved to be a fatal mistake, as Book pushed Zareh to his doom when Osyraa’s top lieutenant chose to insult Grudge.
2. Adira Tal
A human gifted with the ability to carry a Trill symbiont, Adira (Blu del Barrio) suffers through the tragic loss of their partner Gray before realizing that their “squid” somehow permits them to continue to see the previous host. Aside from having a brilliant mind, Adira bravely carries the weight of history on their shoulders as Star Trek’s first non-binary character. In one of the season’s most moving moments, Adira informs a supportive Paul Stamets that they prefer to be referred to by the pronouns they and them. Informally adopted by Stamets and Doctor Culber, Adira went on to play a vital role in saving the away team that was marooned on the dilithium planet in the Verubin Nebula.
3. Gray Tal
Adira’s fallen partner Gray (Ian Alexander) breaks ground as Star Trek’s first transgender character, and the background on the pair’s love story as depicted in “Forget Me Not” brought tears to countless fans’ eyes. Gray also has the unique distinction of being able to communicate with Adira from the beyond but, in an interesting twist, is later recognized as a living being by the crashed Kelpien starship’s holoprogram. In another profound exchange, Doctor Culber vows to ensure that Gray will one day be seen by all. This metaphor steadfastly supports recognizing the LGBTQ+ community’s rights while also supplying hope to many fans who have been part of an adopted family.
4. Admiral Charles Vance
A no-nonsense officer who is dedicated to the Federation’s humanitarian ideals, Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) commands Starfleet through the most difficult period in the organization’s history. Initially hesitant about Discovery’s arrival, Vance soon eases his guard and becomes a valuable mentor to Saru during the Kelpien’s early stages as a captain. Vance reflects the 32nd Century’s skepticism in his distrust of Michael Burnham’s tactics, but the time traveler eventually impresses the admiral with her devotion to duty, loyalty to her friends, and ingenuity. Although Vance officially welcomed Discovery to the future in “Die Trying,” his decision to promote Burnham to the captain’s chair signifies the instant that Burnham and her crew finally feel at home in this new era.
5. The Federation HQ Team
A high-ranking figure whose role remains mysterious, Kovich (David Cronenberg) debriefs Philippa Georgiou about the Terran Empire and remains by Vance’s side as the Emerald Chain attacks Federation HQ. As the admiral’s trusted security chief, Lieutenant Willa (Vanessa Jackson) greets Discovery with a frosty demeanor before succumbing to the crew’s charm and guiding the bridge team during their orientation through Starfleet’s latest tech.
The 32nd-century equivalent of Voyager’s Doctor, Eli (Brendan Beiser) utilizes his advanced biometric sensors to gauge Osyraa’s sincerity in her attempt to unite the Federation and Emerald Chain. Without Eli, Vance might never have believed that Osyraa genuinely sought a diplomatic resolution. Lieutenant Teemo (Dorren Lee) coordinates HQ’s communications and conveys the admiral’s orders to the fleet upon Osyraa’s arrival and throughout the Viridian’s barrage on the shield barrier. Teemo holds the distinction of informing Vance that Ni’Var had dispatched a fleet to support the Federation.
An Emerald Chain outcast who nevertheless bonds with Book, Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz) overcomes his own self-doubt to defend Discovery against the Viridian at Kwejian and fight Osyraa’s occupying force near Federation HQ. Disillusioned by the Andorian-Orion Syndicate’s rule, Ryn represents the views of the Chain’s average citizens. While Ryn takes a courageous stand in the battle for Discovery, the Andorian is captured and executed by Osyraa in a heinous act that pushes Aurellio further toward defection.
The powerful leader of the Emerald Chain and its system of mercantile exchanges, Osyraa (Janet Kidder) initially seems ruthless. Whether killing her nephew Tolor (Ian Lake) for his failures or threatening Kwejian with famine, the Orion appears to have little time for niceties… until she surprises the Federation with an overture of peace. However, when confronted with Vance’s need for her to be held accountable for her crimes, Osyraa swiftly drops her diplomatic tone and seeks out total victory over Starfleet. Osyraa’s death at Burnham’s hands proves to be the catalyst for change, as the Chain falls apart without her. Leader Pav (Karen Robinson) soon brings Trill back into the Federation fold, while President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) arrives to discuss a potential reunion with Ni’Var.
8. Lieutenant Ina
First seen in “Su’Kal,” Lieutenant Ina (Avaah Blackwell) becomes the newest member of Discovery’s intrepid bridge crew to receive a prominent amount of screentime. In addition to sitting in at Lieutenant Nilsson’s usual station, Ina participates in Tilly’s “jailbreak” and risks her life to combat Regulators and enact Burnham’s plan to drop Discovery out of warp in “That Hope Is You, Part 2.”
The answer to the galaxy’s greatest puzzle, Su’Kal (Bill Irwin) caused The Burn when his grief over his mother’s death interacted with the dilithium planet, radiated through subspace, and decimated warp capable vessels. Removing Su’Kal from the Verubin Nebula prevents a second Burn, but the bond the Kelpien establishes with Saru remains influential to the Federation. The pair’s shared experience convinces Saru to take leave from Discovery’s captain’s chair and visit Kaminar, making way for Michael Burnham to fulfill her true potential and assume command.
If Ryn displays the plight of the Chain’s common citizens, then Aurellio (Kenneth Mitchell) depicts the organization’s scientific pursuits. Despite his intelligent mind, Aurellio does his best to remain unaware of Osyraa’s more militant actions throughout the galaxy. Once the human scientist’s naive disposition fades away in the face of the Chain’s actions aboard Discovery in “There Is A Tide…” and “That Hope Is You, Part 2,” he speaks out against violence and receives threats from Osyraa and Zareh in return. Following Burnham’s successful retaking of the ship, Aurellio exercises his astuteness and correctly theorizes that Book’s empathic powers could allow the Kwejian to operate the spore drive.
11. Aditya Sahil
A true believer in every sense, Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain) inspired Star Trek fans around the world with his unwavering conviction that the Federation would endure. Sahil’s adherence to his values pays off when he meets Burnham, who initiates the long process of bringing the Federation back together. Sahil makes his way to Federation HQ in the season finale, receiving a much-deserved officer’s commission from Admiral Vance and sharing an emotional moment with Burnham just prior to her own promotion.
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.