The USS Enterprise, in all iterations, may be the most iconic of Star Trek starship designs, but it’s not the only immediately recognizable vessel of the franchise. From the original series, to The Next Generation era – and now in season 2 of Star Trek Discovery, there is another!
We’re of course referring to the D7 class battle cruiser, the most common and recognizable of Klingon starship designs (alongside the Bird of Prey of course). This ship design appeared as a green holographic projection in the Star Trek Discovery season 2 trailer played during the CBS All Access panel at New York Comic Con.
Given how the other Klingon ships, and certainly the Klingons themselves, have looked so vastly different than their original series and TNG counterparts in Star Trek Discovery season 1, this intentional reveal stands out as particularly interesting.
Bryan Fuller, the original Discovery showrunner who left over creative differences, had Klingons looking and being different as part of his original pitch, but some believed part of their drastically different appearance – not just in look, but in their costumes and starship designs – could be due to rights issues. Paramount Pictures, for instance, owns the film rights and its associated designs.
But if this cruiser pictured in the NYCC 2018 sizzle reel is anything to go by, there doesn’t seem to be any rights issues. What’s particularly interesting about this specific design is that it doesn’t just belong to the Klingons. In Star Trek: The Original Series, Romulans used the same ship design in season 3. It was written off with a single line of dialogue from Spock, that the Romulans are using Klingon designs, but the reasoning wasn’t given (at least, in what aired on TV).
Behind-the-scenes, this reportedly occurred because of some union issue and the original model designer of the first Romulan ship, Wah Chang, who made the Bird of Prey which appeared in the season 1 episode “Balance of Terror”, destroyed it. So in season 3, when the Romulans returned in “The Enterprise Incident” they all of a sudden had D7 cruisers instead. Another reason some believe is that this was in an effort to show off new model kits that were also being merchandised.
Side-note: For you Trek geeks, the remastered version of Star Trek: The Original Series actually brings back several Romulan Birds of Prey for the space shots in “The Enterprise Incident” but also leaves a D7 cruiser as to not break canon, but to make it feel more true to the original Romulan vessel:
The in-canon reason was that the Klingons and Romulans had an exchange of technology, with the Romulans getting some some much needed warships, and the Klingons getting the infamous cloaking technology – that we later see used by Klingon ships in the films and TNG era.
That’s all to say, that Star Trek Discovery season 2 is bridging closer to established canon. The Klingons will have hair now, and as we learned at the NYCC panel, that’s because they grow their hair out during peace time, and go bald during wars. And there will be at least one D7 style ship which could be Klingon, or perhaps we’ll meet the Romulans. Or maybe there’s an even larger twist that connects to another universe/timeline.