‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Photos of Ash Tyler’s Flashbacks & What They Mean

Ash Tyler Flashbacks CBS Interactive

Ash Tyler on Star Trek: Discovery

During the midseason finale of Star Trek Discovery, viewers got to see a few of Ash Tyler’s flashbacks, possibly shedding more light on the character’s mysterious past. Ash has been the source of many fascinating theories, some of which we will explore later on in this story. If you only want to see screenshots of his flashbacks with little commentary, read on. We will indicate later in the story when we’re breaking into the theory portion of the article, in case you don’t want to see any potential spoilers about the future of the show. This article has spoilers for the fall finale of Star Trek: Discovery

Photos of Ash’s Flashbacks

First, here are photos from Ash Tyler’s flashbacks. They were triggered when he saw L’Rell. We’ll provide a little bit of commentary, but won’t go into an in-depth theory until later in this article, prior to a potential spoiler warning.

This image shows a brown eye, looking like it’s in great distress.

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We see multiple scenes that appear to be Ash on a chair, in great pain.

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We see what appears to be a table covered in blood.

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Ash is on a table, screaming in agony. You can see the shoulder of a Klingon standing next to him.

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Instruments used on Ash. You can see a Klingon hand picking them up.

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One of the instruments used most likely to cut into Ash:

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Then we periodically see images of a face screaming while it’s enclosed in some kind of transparent bag.

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This is one of the first images we see in the flashback. A Klingon:

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Here’s an image again of that face, likely Ash’s, enclosed in some kind of plastic bag while a Klingon stands over him.

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The same scene, only darker:

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It’s unclear what we’re seeing here. A Klingon torture device? A Klingon claw?

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This red image is hard to decipher. It was in Ash’s first flashback:

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Ash is screaming again in this scene, but some kind of device is on his head:

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Here Ash is screaming again, his face covered in plastic:

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There was another short flashback with the Admiral, and then a flashback where he relived sleeping with L’Rell. In his second flashback, we saw a closeup of an eye again:


Ash is screaming and his face seems to be covered in blood:


Another closeup of his face:


When he dreamed he was sleeping with L’Rell, this is her face from that scene:


So what do these images mean? Fans are trying to decipher if they fit into a popular fan theory that has been gaining momentum.

Do not read on unless you are ready to be potentially spoiled based on a very popular fan theory about Ash’s future on the show. This theory has not been confirmed, but it’s been gaining popularity online. 

Read on for theories and potential spoilers. 

Do the Flashback Screenshots Support the Popular Ash Tyler Prediction?

The theory that is gaining momentum is that Voq is actually Lt. Ash Tyler in disguise. When he visited the Matriarchs, he gave up his Klingon identity in order to infiltrate the Discovery, which is experimenting on the only technology that could beat the Klingons in the war. When we last saw Voq, L’Rell told him that he would have to “sacrifice everything” to fight the Federation, if he chose to meet with the Klingon Matriarchs. The idea is that Ash is a real human, but Voq was surgically altered to look like Ash. And his mind was implanted with Ash’s memories. The real Ash may or may not still be alive.

Klingons have a Mind scanner. It’s an interrogation machine that reaches into a person’s mind and records every thought and piece of knowledge they have, either as a mind sifter or a mind ripper. Perhaps the Mind Scanner was used to put Ash’s real memories into Voq. That’s why this Ash is so convincing. He truly believes he is the real Ash.

But from the midseason finale, we really have on way of knowing whether or not this theory is true. Ash is suffering PTSD and told Michael that he let himself essentially be L’Rell’s sex slave in order to escape the torture that would have killed him. His memories are of torture and having sex with L’Rell. Even when he visits her in her cell, his reactions could be extreme PTSD and Stockholm syndrome.

His flashbacks can be interpreted as either backing up his story to Michael, or as backing up the fan theory, depending on how you look at them.

This photo from Ash’s flashback is not L’Rell, if you compare it to her photo above.

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But does he look like Voq?


What do you think? This could indicate that Ash is remembering being Voq at one point, or it could just as easily mean that Voq was present during Ash’s interrogation and torture. Maybe L’Rell took an interest in sleeping with Ash because he is Voq, or maybe it was rape.

We know from the flashbacks that Ash was tortured and that other Klingons were part of that torture. But those scenes could also be scenes of Voq being surgically altered to look like Ash. The photos of Ash’s face being caught in a clear bag could be another form of torture, or it could be part of the surgical alteration. And what about this photo?

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Is that a strange object attached to Ash’s head or a Klingon’s hands? It could be some type of torture device, or it could be the Mind Scanner we talked about earlier. It might have been used to take Ash’s memories and gain information about the Federation without brain damaging him. Or it might have been used to rip out Ash’s memories and put them into Voq.

The photos of Ash’s flashbacks are fascinating, but by themselves they’re still not enough to solve the mystery of what happened to Ash, and whether or not these Voq theories are correct. What do you think? The theory isn’t without its merits. In the original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” a Klingon named Arne Darvin was surgically altered to look like a human and infiltrated the Federation. Tribbles hate Klingons, and when a Tribble freaked out in Darvin’s presence, his real nature was revealed. So the idea of a Klingon looking like a human to infiltrate the Federation isn’t completely original. But some fans are really hoping this theory doesn’t turn out to be correct, because they’re intrigued by Ash’s PTSD storyline and don’t want that shortchanged.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. And for more information about the theory, check out this story about the actors who were listed as playing Ash and Voq:

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