Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Discovery's Mysterious Man May Connect To The Next Generation

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 9, "Terra Firma, Part 1," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Through three seasons, Star Trek: Discovery has not been afraid to step into the weird. Whether it be a Klingon surgically transformed to appear human or a deceased character coming back to life via the mycelial network,Discovery keeps viewers on their toes. But the show's newest character is its biggest step into the absurd yet.

"Terra Firma, Part 1" introduces a mysterious man played by Paul Guilfoyle. Simply calling himself "Carl," the man appears out of thin air in the middle of the frozen wasteland on Dannus V sporting a bowler hat and cigar. Carl, who is sitting in an Adirondack chair, greets Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou. Next to him, there's a free standing door, and he's reading a newspaper that grimly says, "Emperor Georgiou Dies Horribly Painful Death."

Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now

Carl greets the two newcomers in a Wonderland-like fashion, speaking in door puns and riddles. They do not take kindly to him, and question how he is the alleged "cure" to the symptoms Georgiou is feeling that is tearing her physically through time and space. But the true cure seems to be the door, through which could contain the solution to the problem. Despite the shady circumstances, Georgiou goes through the door, and ends up traveling back to one of the most important days of her life when she was Emperor in the Mirror Universe.

So who is Carl? His appearance isn't alien, and he seems to have the sense of humor and habits of a human. Is he a hologram set up to welcome Georgiou to a mysterious portal? Another species using a human avatar to make himself look approachable?

Right now, signs most likely point to Carl being part of the Q Continuum. Introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Q were a species of immortal beings who possessed the ability to alter, create or destroy virtually any form of matter or energy. That makes them essentially magic in the Star Trek universe, and a good number of episodes involved a Q popping into the show and causing chaos before popping back out again.

One particular flex of Q skills came in the TNG episode "Tapestry." In it, John de Lancie's Q gives Captain Picard the chance to go back to his past and change a pivotal day. In doing so, he creates an alternate timeline, and watches how much his current life depended on that seminal moment. Essentially, Georgiou is doing the same thing. The door sent her back to a day that lingers in her memory, and gave her the ability to choose a different path.

The similarities between "Tapestry" and "Terra Firma, Part 1" are the largest indicator that Carl is a member of the Q. If so, it's a fantastic way to see how yet another Star Trek species is doing in the 32nd century. And it also sets up a presence that could serve as a helping hand in some of Discovery's gravest moments -- or its worst nightmare.

Streaming on CBS All Access,Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Commander Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber, David Ajala as Cleveland "Book" Booker, Blu del Barrio as Adira, Ian Alexander as Gray, Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou. New episodes of Season 3 air on Thursdays.