What is Su’Kal’s Monster?

The monster that terrorizes Su'Kal on the dilithium planet


The Star Trek: Discovery season three finale will bring fans back to the dilithium planet in the Verubin Nebula where Culber, Saru, and Adira are trapped. As shown in the teasers and promotional photos, the three Discovery crew members will do their best to convince Su’Kal that he needs to leave the planet.

However, it’s unclear whether or not their attempts will succeed. Su’Kal’s unwillingness to leave everything he’s ever known is compounded by his fear of the monster that lurks on the planet with him. In order to leave the planet, he needs to face his fears, which include facing his monster.

Su’Kal’s monster has been a cause for lots of speculation among fans. The shadowy creature could just be a manifestation of the glitches in the holodeck program Su’Kal has been living in all his life. However, some fans think it’s something much more meaningful than that.

The Monster is Actually Su’Kal

Su'Kal eating in the Verubin Nebula

CBS All Access

Several fans have theorized that the Kelpian male that has been interacting with the Discovery crew members is actually a holoprogram and that the monster is actually Su’Kal. One Redditor did a lot of research to support this theory, which was centered on the premise that the monster looks very similar to an evolved Kelpian.

Fans of Discovery know that Kelpians evolve and change forms throughout their lifetimes. This happened to Saru when he underwent the Vahar’ai, which was shown in the season two episode “An Obol for Charon.” Saru’s evolution was relatively minor, limited to losing his fear ganglia. However, the book the elder was reading to Su’Kal suggests that Kelpians have another evolved form, that of an underwater predator. The picture of this evolved form in the book looked very much like Su’Kal’s monster.

Given this information, the Redditor and several other fans put forth the theory that the monster is actually Su’Kal in his evolved or mature form. They posit that Su’Kal was so terrified of his evolved form that he programmed a version of himself that was still in the unevolved form. Another possibility is that the holoprogram masked Su’Kal’s true appearance, the way it did with the Discovery crew members, to make him look like his previous form. If this is the case, then the monster is essentially Su’Kal seeing his true form, which may have manifested as an actual holographic image.

Another story element that supports this theory is that Su’Kal has covered the ship in totems to ward off the monster, and all of these totems center around the concept of growing up.

The Monster is Actually Su’Kal’s Mother

A holographic image of Dr. Issa in a distress call


ScreenRant put forth the theory that the monster is actually Su’Kal’s mother, Dr. Issa. They proposed that Dr. Issa programmed the holodeck to raise Su’Kal because she was sure she was going to die. However, instead of killing her, the radiation started to mutate her. When she began to mutate, she separated herself from her son so that he wouldn’t be scared. She would only reappear when Su’Kal was in danger.

According to their theory, one of the ways that the monster form of Dr. Issa protects Su’Kal is by keeping him from leaving the holoprogram and the ship. She had every reason to believe that leaving the ship would kill Su’Kal. So, it makes sense that she would prevent him from leaving the ship by showing her monster form and scaring him into staying put.

They also theorized that this is why the monster appeared when the Discovery crew members boarded the ship. If Dr. Issa sees any attempt to get off the ship as a danger to Su’Kal, then the Discovery crew members trying to convince Su’Kal to leave would be perceived as a threat. So, she came out either to stop the Discovery crew members from taking Su’Kal off the ship or to scare Su’Kal into staying on the ship.

Considering all the other Kelpians aboard the ship died from the effects of the radiation, this theory may be a bit farfetched. However, it could be that her pregnancy somehow imbued her with some of the same immunity Su’Kal has.

Whether fans believe that the monster is just a manifestation of the holoprogram, Su’Kal himself, or Su’kal’s mother, they all agree on one thing — Su’Kal will have to face the monster in order to disable the holoprogram and get off the ship.

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