Doug Jones' 'Star Trek Discovery' Character Saru Is the Show's Answer to Spock and Data

Thursday, 20 July 2017 - 11:04AM
Star Trek
Star Trek Discovery
Thursday, 20 July 2017 - 11:04AM
Doug Jones' 'Star Trek Discovery' Character Saru Is the Show's Answer to Spock and Data
Image credit: CBS
When you've got the king of prosthetics acting, Doug Jones, on board for your futuristic science-fiction show, you're going to want to show him off. As such, it's exciting to finally get a better look at the character of Saru, who will appear in the role of weird alien Other in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. What's particularly interesting here is that the character's description hints that all is not well within Starfleet.

Saru, the character that Jones plays, is a "prey" species, and as a result of years of evolution, his people have developed the ability to sense danger before it arrives—especially when it brings imminent death. It's an almost supernatural ability, but one that fits well within the wider Star Trek canon where aliens come in all shapes and sizes. According to Entertainment Weekly:

Opening quote
"On Saru's planet, there's a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens. As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts. Such prey species tend to have a cowardly reputation in the Federation, but Saru should not be underestimated."
Closing quote


What's significant here is the idea of the Federation belittling the Kelpiens for their cautious behavior. One of the primary tenants of Gene Roddenberry's science fiction has always been that, in the far-flung future, humanity has evolved past petty squabbles to become a utopian society of acceptance. Discovery's showrunners have made no secret of the fact that they're simply flat out ditching this ethos, instead creating situations filled with tension and imperfect sentient beings making far-reaching mistakes. Institutionalized speciesism, though, amounts to more than simply Sonequa Martin-Green's character making a bad call on a mission, and this kind of attitude within the Federation will probably irk longtime fans.




In terms of casting, though, there are few better choices for an alien of this caliber than Jones. Also appearing in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (which is coming later this year), in which he kinda sorta reprises the archetype (if not the actual character) of Abe Sapien from Hellboy, Jones has a long and illustrious career of wearing heavy makeup and yet still, somehow, managing to communicate pathos. Speaking about his role in Discovery, Jones said:

Opening quote
"[Producers] said Saru is the Spock of the series, he's the Data of the series-and those are beloved characters that I always connect with whenever I would watch the past incarnations of Star Trek. On Falling Skies, I played an alien species who came to Earth to help the humans fight back the bad aliens who'd taken over, and I was intelligent, well-spoken, had a lot of answers and science-y smart. Saru is all of those things and then some."
Closing quote


Trying to beat out Data and Spock is a tall order, Jones. We'll see if he pulls it off in September.

Star Trek Discovery premieres on CBS All Access on September 24th, 2017.


Science Fiction
Sci-Fi TV Shows
Star Trek
Star Trek Discovery
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