If you’ve watched the latest episode of “Star Trek: Discovery,” then you may have noticed that there was a new creature on the bridge of the ship. This being was wearing a bright yellow uniform and bright yellow gloves. We haven’t seen much of this alien before, but now that he, she, or it appears to be a permanent part of the crew, it might be a good time to dive into what exactly this creature is.
It’s unclear exactly which role this new crew member is serving. But, the yellow, just like in the times of Jean-Luc Picard’s “Next Generation,” means that this character is part of either engineering, communications, security/operations aboard the “Discovery.”
Fans Speculate on What It Could Be
This character’s appearance has started quite a few conversations on social media about which species it could be. In one posting on a Facebook fan group, many discussed their ideas of what it could be. At the same time, some expressed appreciation that this creature was not just another “forehead of the week” alien design.
“It is great to see more elaborate alien make-up, but then techniques and modern latex materials have made it easier,” said one Trek fan. “They can make one-piece designs, which cuts down [on] make-up chair time, and they have better budgets.”
A few compared this alien to characters seen in “Star Wars,” like the Hammerhead (also known as Ithorians), which even got its own action figure. Others compared it to creatures from “Men in Black” or “Dr. Who.”
It’s a Shlerm
This alien is known as a “Shlerm.” Before now, fans had only seen a Shlerm for a split second during “Star Trek Beyond.” In that film, a Shlerm walked past Spock (Zachary Quinto) near the start of the movie. This was when Uhura (Zoe Saldana) attempted to give Spock back a necklace. It’s a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ moment aboard the Starbase Yorktown.
The Shlerm was created by Joel Harlow and his team of creature creators and make-up experts for “Beyond.” That alien design was just one of more than 50 creatures created for the film.
“If I had started off by thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to make 50 different aliens,’ I would have been overwhelmed,” Harlow told Digital Trends in 2016. “But we got into this rhythm where everybody just worked so seamlessly together. It was truly a dream project for us.”
Joel Harlow’s Shlerm Design
Thanks to The Trek Collective, fans have access to better photos of what the Shlerm looked like in “Beyond” and what its hands looked like. They are rather hoof-like and certainly did not have five fingers.
One fan speculated that those fingers are robotic appendages of some kind because the bridge of a Starfleet vessel was created for humans. It could be that Glenn Hetrick and James MacKinnon, the two creative minds behind the make-up and prosthetics on “Discovery” have a different reason in mind, which fans will learn about in future episodes.
Season 4, Episode 1
The Shlerm also appeared on the first episode of this new season of “Discovery” as part of a different crew that the DISCO team rescued. It could be that the Shlerm is this same character and has now been integrated into the crew for Captain Michael Burnham (Sonqua Martin-Green).
Not the First Time
While this Shlerm creature is finally getting a little spotlight, this is not the first time an obscure alien race was brought into use. The DISCO character Linus, portrayed by David Benjamin Tomlinson, is based on a Saurian who appeared for just a few moments in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
Tomlinson told Trek Report that when he saw the prosthetics for Linus for the first time, he “gasped.” Since then, Saurians have since appeared in “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” But their biggest impact on “Star Trek” might be their alcohol, which has played a part in many episodes, including “The Enemy Within.”