Star Trek: Discovery's Doug Jones Discusses This Week's Big Moment for Saru

Star Trek: Discovery's newest episode finally answered a question that's been lingering for 930 [...]

Star Trek: Discovery's newest episode finally answered a question that's been lingering for 930 years. Earlier this week, we released our interview with Discovery star Doug Jones about the second episode of the show's third season, "Far From Home." We also talked to Jones about this week's new episode, "People of Earth," which includes a pivotal moment for Saru and the Discovery crew. Warning that SPOILERS for the episode follow. "Far From Home" ended with Discovery reuniting with wayward crew member Michael Burnham. Fans may remember that, at the conclusion of season two, Burnham and Saru chose to table the discussion of who should become Discovery's new captain until after the crisis at hand had passed.

Now that they're reunited in the future, they waste no time addressing that situation. Burnham quickly offers Saru the command position, and he becomes the official captain of the USS Discovery. spoke to Jones about this promotion and the challenges that await Captain Saru in this far-flung future.

Star Trek Discovery Season 3 Episode 3 013
(Photo: CBS)

How does it feel to finally be able to say, "Yes, Saru is the captain of the Discovery?"

Doug Jones: I know. Oh, it's so funny, because when they showed a more extended trailer of season three, there were clips of me in a captain's uniform that people froze the frame, zoomed-in, counted my pips on my badge, looked at the stripes on my shoulders, and like, "Okay. Ah." But not everybody caught it. So it was a not very well kept secret, but I couldn't really come out and say, "Yes, you're right." So I'm tickled pink to finally say, "Yes, Saru is captain." And I couldn't be prouder and happier to do so, because that puts me in a small prestigious group of actors who have played captains in Starfleet over the years.

Unless I'm forgetting something big, this is the first time we have an alien captain on a Star Trek show. The main casts always have aliens, but it was always humans giving the orders.

Right. And I've asked some pros about this. I think that there have been alien captains before, but never an alien captain of the title ship of the show. Right.

Yes, exactly.

Yeah. So it's an honor to be that first one. Yes, for sure.

Did you get the sense that this was always the path that Saru was on, or were there real conversations behind-the-scenes about whether they should put Michael in that position?

When we first did season one, the writing team told me that both Burnham and Saru are on the rise through the ranks. They're both on the climb in Starfleet to become -- hopefully, they're both headed to a captain's chair one day. So I didn't know exactly how that was to play out. And of course, Michael Burnham is the story of the show. She's going and we're all really following. And her rise will always continue, I believe. So what happens with Saru in that? I'm just tickled pink to be in the captain's chair now. It's a good fit for my bony butt.

When fans talk Star Trek, they often like to debate their favorite captains, Kirk vs. Picard, that sort of thing. Where would you say Saru falls on that Kirk-Picard spectrum in regards to his style of command?

Well, without my threat ganglia now, I believe that I have the courage of Kirk probably. I've got the diplomacy of Picard. Saru has always been very much his only character anyway. I have perhaps the curiosity of Janeway, I hope, and others. I don't know. I think he's very much his own captain. I don't know that he can be directly compared to any other one captain in Starfleet. So I hope to leave my own little mark on that chair.

What would say is Saru's biggest challenge as the captain going forward as he leads the crew in this unknown future?

I think you just hit it on the head right there. My biggest challenge as captain is the unknown. And as I mentioned before, we all left something behind, and we have now this chosen family. And keeping that family psychologically, emotionally healthy and well and interacting with each other and trusting each other and leaning on each other. He has to guide and lead, so that is my biggest challenge. Because with all of the other challenges that we face and threats that we face during a weekly episode, he's also got to keep the family healthy and well.

Do you feel like the fact that he had to leave his homeworld behind already, and that he was already the only Kelpien in Starfleet that, that maybe makes him uniquely suited to this particular set of challenges?

You know what? Yes, without knowing it, Saru's past prepared him for this day. Absolutely. He's left everything behind once before. If you've watched the Short Treks and seen my backstory in "Brightest Star," you'll see that he had a choice to make when he made first contact with outer space. And Lieutenant Georgiou, at the time, swooped down in a shuttle to take me away. She told me, "Your people are a pre-warp society. If you leave now, you cannot come back and share what you know with them. So here's your decision."

So he knew what it was like to leave everything behind once before. Getting to come back to Kaminar in season two was a little perk and a little happy time for him, especially knowing now when he could liberate them with the new information that Vahar'ai is not our death, it's our adolescence, and we have a lot longer to live.

But he's leaving the second time now. The second time he jumps away from friends and family and what's familiar. He's doing it with a pat on his back, to know like, "Hey, we pulled this off. I got Kaminar liberated, I got my people liberated, I got the Ba'ul and the Kelpiens to live in harmony together." And the last thing you see of another Kelpien in the season two finale is my sister now piloting a fighter ship. So it's like, "Okay, I think they're evolving. They're doing great. I can leave now, knowing that they're all in good hands."

Is there anything else you'd like to say to fans before you get back to your day?

If anyone's calling themself a fan of not just anything that I've been in, but of the entire genre of comic books and fantasy and sci-fi and all those things, just a big thank you, because you're the ones keeping that element of the entertainment industry and keeping all of us employed. So God bless you all for that.


New Star Trek: Discovery episodes debut Thursdays on CBS All Access.