‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Explains Why Harry Kim of ‘Voyager’ Never Got Promoted

Harry Kim and the crew from Discovery

Paramount Harry Kim and the crew from Discovery

As the season of “Star Trek: Discovery” comes to a close, fans of the show have just a few days to ponder what this season’s threat might be. The Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) has been the subject of much conversation, especially by some fans who try to link this disturbance to aggressors from Trek past.

Some thought that since the DMA is automated, it must be related to the Borg or another technologically advanced race. Many believed that the DMA could have been created by the same beings who made V’Ger into a massive spacecraft. While others speculated that the DMA might have something to do with the Doomsday Machine, which was also a robot-controlled force of destruction. 

None of those theories hold water now, as the episode “Species 10-C” revealed the creatures behind the technology. Unfortunately, for those fans who have been speculating, the 10-C are not anything that has been seen before. As noted in a previous article, the 10-C are much like the aliens from the 2016 film “Arrival,” as they cannot communicate with human beings verbally or through psionic methods. 

Episode 12

Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Episode 12 – All space, ship scene with ending2022-03-10T08:02:40Z

Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Saru (Doug Jones), and other crew members worked out a way to communicate with the 10-C, using lights and the understanding of chemicals released by the alien species. Fans will find out on March 17, 2022, what exactly will happen between the Federation and Species 10-C, and if Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) can be stopped by Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) and Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala).

Since Book came onto the ship in Season 3, there has been some confusion about his role. Everyone aboard “Discovery” knows that he’s Burnham’s boyfriend. Still, the courier is not a part of Starfleet or affiliated with the Federation. Ajala told ComicBook.com how that makes his character unique. 

“So when you’re able to be someone like Cleveland Booker, who is part of Starfleet, but not part of Starfleet, in a very fun way as an actor, you get to break the rules, because you know the rules,” said Ajala in the 2020 interview. “And that is going to be fun to do because we’re going to see someone who operates outside of Starfleet etiquette.”

The confusion about how one non-Starfleet character operates aboard the Discovery is not hard to believe. But it turns out that there’s even fan discussion of the roles of some of the bridge crew. In a recent post on a Star Trek Discovery Facebook group, one fan mentioned that he could not understand why “everyone on the bridge is a commander.”

“Saru as Number One hardly ever seems to take the bridge when [Burnham] is off doing something,” wrote Trek fan John Maynard. “Think in ‘Voyager’ there was a whole episode just about getting the chance to have the bridge. But in ‘Discovery,’ it doesn’t seem important at all who’s in charge of a starship.”

Maynard is correct, as only Lt. Christopher (Orville Cummings) and Ensign Adira Tal (Blu Del Barrio) are the only non-commanders with regular speaking parts on the bridge. The rest of the bridge crew is composed of Lt. Commander Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), Lt. Commander Joann Owoswkun (Oyin Oladejo), Lt. Commander Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), and Lt. Commander Eva Nilsson (Sara Mitich). 

When Ronald Bryce (Ronnie Rowe) was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he was transferred to the U.S.S. Curie and replaced by Christopher. 

Harry Kim

Harry Kim Finds The Planet Of Women | Star Trek VoyagerClips from the bad episodes. Turns out that Harry Kim is actually from a planet of women! Episode Name: Favorite Son Aired: March 19 19972018-04-01T20:28:39Z

As Maynard points out, when Burnham or Saru are not available, it seems like the choice to sit in the center seat is random — since everyone is equal in rank. Fans remember that on “Voyager,” there were differences in rank, and Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) remained at that rank throughout the seven seasons of the series.

On Reddit, fans note that Kim remained ensign aboard the U.S.S. Voyager because “someone’s got to be the ensign.” Fans pointed out the episode “Night,” where Kim is on the bridge, in charge, while other senior officers are away or asleep. 

Since the bridge roles on “Star Trek” were initially modeled after the U.S. Navy, comparing how many high-ranking officers serve in a real-life bridge makes sense. Thanks to this listing by former service member Sean Valigura, it’s clear to see that the majority of the crew serving on an aircraft carrier’s bridge are not Lieutenant Commanders or Lieutenant. Aside from the Captain (or Commanding Officer) and the Officer of the Deck (Lieutenant), most others are enlisted sailors. 

Even “The Original Series” had a line of command which made sense. At the top was Captain Kirk (William Shatner), followed by Lt. Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who served as the First Officer and Science Officer. Next, there was Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), who served as the Helmsman and Navigation Officer; Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), as Communications Officer; and lastly, Ensign Pavel Checkov (Walter Koenig), who was the Helmsman and Weapons Officer. 

’Star Trek’ Ranks

Star Trek Rank and DutiesFollowing on from the video exploring the divisions of Starfleet, let's take a brief look at the ranks as explained in the shows. From ensign to fleet admiral, let's see what the duties are of Starfleet's enlisted officers. Music from bensound.com, purple-planet.com and freesfx.co.uk Star Trek Online developed by Cryptic Studios and Perfect World. Star…2021-04-09T18:30:02Z

Perhaps the Discovery bridge crew are all so highly ranked because they are the only people alive to operate the ship, which was built 700 years in the past. Or it could mean that the writers haven’t wanted to let Owoswkun, Detmer, and the others leave the show to serve aboard another ship, as they did with Bryce. 

However, it seems that the Harry Kim argument, where ”someone has to be the ensign” would make sense for the Discovery. Perhaps changes in rank and duties might clear up who does what. As Decider’s Brett White wrote, the ”actual bridge crew, the officers that do essential things like handle operations or pilot the ship, are mostly on the periphery.” White also said that the bridge crew seems “fractured.”

READ NEXT: ‘Star Trek’ Actor John De Lancie Shares What’s Coming in Picard: Season 2

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Eric Monahan
Eric Monahan
2 months ago

I suppose be it through Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) being asked to guess star in a future episode of ST Picard or Lower Decks or even Cameo appearance in ST Discovery or Prodigy to clear some air I to canon. All were are left with is Season finale of Voyager where Captain Kim is around!

Curt Yeomans
Curt Yeomans
3 months ago

Except Star Trek The Next Generation is guilty of the same thing that Discovery did. By the end of the series, every main cast member, except Worf, was either a Lt Commander, a full commander or the captain — and even Worf became Lt Commander in the TNG cast’s first scene in Star Trek: Generations. Heck, by the end of TNG, there were three full commanders on the ship: Riker, Troi (who was promoted in season 7) and Dr Crusher

Kevin Mickel
Kevin Mickel
3 months ago

Wow! I love it when an article gets its facts wrong.

“At the top was Captain Kirk (William Shatner), followed by Lt. Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who served as the First Officer and Science Officer. Next, there was Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), who served as the Helmsman and Navigation Officer; Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), as Communications Officer; and lastly, Ensign Pavel Checkov (Walter Koenig), who was the Helmsman and Weapons Officer. ”

During TOS, The chain of command was as follows…

Captain Kirk: Commanding Officer.
Commander Spock: First Office, Science Officer (Not Lt. Commander Check his sleeve insignia.
Lt Commander Montgomery Scott: Chief Engineering Officer.

That’s all that was ever formally designated. After that, it get’s a little more convoluted.

On a few occasions, Lt. Hikaru Sulu, Helmsman, was left in command when Scotty was not available. Does that mean Sulu was “fourth in command?” It’s a logical impression, but it was never stated.

Lt. Noyota Uhura, Communications officer, years after the fact, was stated to be Fourth in Command, but this was NEVER stated on screen, and noting was ever done to indicate it. Once, on the animated series, she did assume command, claiming to be the “Senior Lieutenant,” but she only did this AFTER the entire male crew was incapacitated.

Ensign Pavel Chekov, Navigator, was to to assume the bridge on occasion, but only so Kirk to leave the bridge for whatever reason, so he was still in nominal command. Theoretically, any bridge officer can be left in charge at the Captain’s discretion. He was not made Weapons Officer until the first movie, by which time he had received two promotions to “full” Lieutenant.

Please check your facts when you write such an article.

Yes, in a couple of early episodes, Spock rank was verbally referred to as Lt. Commander, but he was always wearing a full Commander’s rank insignia. In later episodes, he always clearly referred to as a Commander. The logical explanation is that the First Officer on a Starship is a Commander’s billet. Spock may have been only a Lt. Commander when he was appointed to the job, but was allowed to wear Commander’s stripes due to his position, a practice known as “frocking.” before his promotion became official. (Speculation. But it makes sense.)

Tom Ficarra
Tom Ficarra
3 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Mickel

As Star Trek is based on Naval traditions, it appears that you never served in the Navy and don’t know anything about how a command structure works, the difference between rank and assignment, or what it means to “take the con”. Go talk to a Navy officer or Senior Chief, they’ll square you away.

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