Star Trek: Discovery has moved the timeline of the Star Trek universe to a bold new frontier: the 32nd century, the furthest into the future that we've traveled. This new version of the galaxy is more Wild West than galactic utopia, largely due to a cataclysmic event known as "The Burn," which crippled warp technology and drastically limited Starfleet's reach. As such, Michael Burnham and the crew of Discovery are having to re-learn what some of the more familiar staples of Star Trek are all about, and this week was all about the alien symbiotic race known as The Trill.
So what are Star Trek's Trill alien race? Here's the full explanation:
The Trill are a humanoid alien species native to the planet Trill. A small portion of those Trill humanoids are suitable hosts for a symbiotic organism known as a Trill symbiont. The bonding of The Trill hosts and symbionts has allowed the history and knowledge of Trill culture and experiences to be carried from the 12th century into the 32nd century.
After bonding to a Trill symbiont, the host is given access to all the memories and skills of the symbiont's former hosts. Host and symbiont truly become one in the same on every level, and to illustrate that balance between individuality and collective identity, the Trill host retains his/her first name, while taking the single name of the symbiont as their last name.
The Trill first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation's season 4 episode "The Host", but the alien species really got to shine in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DS9 introduced fans to Jadzia Dax, who was the space station's science officer. Jadzia Dax was a fan-favorite of the series - right up until that host body was killed, and the Dax symbiont was passed to Ezri Tigan, a counselor on DS9. Ezri Dax would be featured in the show's final season, illustrating the transitional nature of Trill existence.
The Trill would continue to make appearances in Star Trek series like Voyager, and Picard, but never with the amount of focus that DS9 gave them. That's been a source of much-debate within the Star Trek fandom, as The Trill have been viewed as the series' metaphor for LGBTQIA+ people - specifically transgender people. Star Trek seemed to pull away from addressing LGBTQIA+ issues in the 2000s era - a time when the Trill coincidentally also seemed to largely disappear from the franchise.
In Star Trek: Discovery season 3 episode 4, "Forget Me Not", we learn that after the calamity of The Burn, the Trill are barely hanging on in the 32nd century era. The Burn drastically affected the Trill, as the explosion of Dilithium from warp drives all over the universe killed off a significant portion of the Trill's viable host bodies. However, The Trill have been given a bold new hope: Adiral Tal (Blu del Barrio) has become the first human bonded to a Trill symbiont, revealing that the race can expand its influence to many other races and cultures.
In real life, the story of the Tal symbiont has given a proper due to the Trill and their resonance in the franchise. Tal's hosts Gray (Ian Alexander) and Adira (Barrio) are played by Star Trek's first transgender and non-binary actors (respectively).
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is streaming new episodes Thursdays on CBS All Access.