We know little about Doug Jones‘ alien character in Star Trek: Discovery, the alien Lt. Saru who first appeared on-camera in May’s series teaser trailer.

“My people were biologically determined,” says Saru in the teaser, “for one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death.”

Saru (Doug Jones) offers an ominous warning. (CBS)

What the heck does that mean? Well, today, Discovery producer Aaron Harberts and the man himself, Doug Jones, spoke to Entertainment Weekly and detailed a bit more background on Saru, who hails from a race known as the Kelpians.

From Harberts, with EW‘s James Hibbard elaborating:

What we can tell you that adds the context to that clip where he says he can sense the coming of death is that he comes from a planet where he’s a ‘prey species.’ He’s the first of his kind to make it to Starfleet.

On Saru’s planet, there’s a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens. As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts. Such prey species tend to have a cowardly reputation in the Federation, but Saru should not be underestimated.

Saru takes in a sight from the Shenzou viewscreen with wonder. (CBS)

Jones also revealed a bit more about Saru’s place among the crew of Starfleet officers with which he serves:

[Producers] said Saru is the Spock of the series, he’s the Data of the series — and those are beloved characters that I always connect with whenever I would watch the past incarnations of ‘Star Trek.’

On ‘Falling Skies,’ I played an alien species who came to Earth to help the humans fight back the bad aliens who’d taken over, and I was intelligent, well-spoken, had a lot of answers and science-y smart. Saru is all of those things and then some.

We’ll learn more about Saru and his people when Discovery debuts in September.

  • Desert Runner

    Given that Bryan Fuller wrote the episode, Flesh and Blood of VGR, I’m neither surprised nor excited.

    • The Science Fiction Oracle

      Dude, I think you are posting on the wrong article. Nothing about Bryan Fuller in this article?

      • Desert Runner

        You do not have any evidence to refute my assumption, either, that Brian Fuller seems to have set up this character before he left.

        • The Science Fiction Oracle

          OMG, that is truly horrible news which I simply cannot refute!

        • Justin Olson

          Pretty sure Fuller was involved with creating most of the main characters on the show. After all, he shares a “created by” credit with Alex Kurtzman and he co-wrote the first two episodes with Kurtzman and Nicholas Meyer, respectively.

        • TIG1701

          Fuller also wrote the pilot episode with Alex Kurtzman and Nick Meyer. This has been made clear for months now.

          I don’t trust a lot of what Fuller has done with this show but I’m giving it a chance. Of course he can write circles around hack Kurtzman who made the horrible Mummy movie and the bad JJ movies. Have more faith in Meyer obviously but that guy hasn’t written a Trek story in over 25 years.

  • Locutus

    Interesting.

    • Thomas W.

      Kinda playing fast and loose with the word ‘interesting’.

      • Locutus

        haha really? I think it is interesting that a) he comes from a prey species; b) he has a heightened sense of danger because of it, and 3) other aliens look upon prey species as cowardly. It’s also an interesting juxtapositioning given the heavy focus on Klingons. So yeah … interesting.

      • Daniel Ireland

        I definitely want to know more about his species, so yeah… interesting.

  • Justin Olson

    What’s with the different contact lenses? Did they change his look at some point or are his eyes going to change from moment to moment in the show based on his sensing of impending death?

    • Julian Glover

      Good lord I hope not

  • James

    Interesting. Most prey species do not have binocular vision, instead they have eyes on the sides of their heads, like rabbits or deer.

    I’m not keen on the ability to ‘sense death’, and those lines in the trailer are ripe for satire by The Orville.

  • Dan King

    So basically he is a coward. Great.

    • Gary Smith

      Being able to anticipate a potentially dangerous situation doesn’t exactly make you a coward

      • Dan King

        He is Prey species.

        I bet the Hirogen would love his species

    • Ace Stephens

      The exact opposite is the implication here. If he constantly knows imminent danger/death/etc. are around and yet he fulfills his duties despite that and the bigoted views of others, then he’s more courageous than those who might have no idea what to expect and no (literally backwards, in some sense) stigma surrounding their “sort.”

  • James

    ..the ability to sense immediate mortal peril.

    That’s…not a thing. “Mortal peril” does not emit unique energy signatures that can be detected with a specialized sense. Having heightened senses beyond the human (or other alien) norm, the ability to detect some other portion of the electromagnetic spectrum or some other fundamental force such as gravity, even an instinctive ability to interpolate fragmentary data from the environment to gain an impression of danger – okay, sure, fine. But “sensing mortal peril” is not something a species in an ostensibly science fiction show should be able to do

    He senses what, his own death? Or other people’s?

    Other people are dying…like…all the time. So yeah, I can sense death too. Some’s dying right…now. And now. Big whoop. Great superpower. You’re Bono.

    If he’s sensing his own death then presumably he’s going to be wrong in every episode except one. Again, that’s a stupid power.

    • Dan King

      He’s basically a deer. Running and fearful of everything.

      • James

        Sure – but deer are flighty due to their sense of smell. Same with cats and dogs who can literally smell ‘death’ on people – some cancers etc…

        My point is the ability to ‘sense’ mortal peril is bonkers. How the heck does that work? Hopefully Saru is speaking metaphorically in the trailer. He’s not really sensing death in their situation, but is inferring it from the evidence to hand.

        • archer923

          I say he’s basically a telepath and reads emotions and or body functions to figure out who’s screwed. I picture him like Tam Elbrun but not insane.

    • Perhaps he’s partly telepathic, and what he senses is when another person INTENDS to kill someone.

    • Gary Smith

      I just look at it as enhanced survival instincts.
      it makes sense if another species is always killing his people.

    • Ace Stephens

      I don’t know how well the biology holds up but the continuity features time travel and differing dimensions so, while he was “biologically determined” according to the above, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some element akin to transdimensional foreknowledge. That is to say that they’re psychic or close because only the ones who naturally had some portion of this ability were capable of surviving in order to reproduce – likely by avoiding the area wherein they sensed they “would” die or others of their species were being killed. I don’t know how this would “naturally” develop in any fashion but I’m unsure they would have to go very in-depth on it.

      I would think it’s something like that. If this is the case, he may be a (relative) “clue” as to how this program might tie into the larger continuity in a more direct manner beyond what we’re already aware of (since I expect there to be more). For instance, perhaps his ability would allow for something in the Mirror Universe to “break through” or an actor from the other shows to return as their character via some time distortion or the like. I wouldn’t expect something like this – which dives deeper into continuity in a way that may not appear to diehard fans as “self-contained” (whether it is or not) – in the first season but maybe second or third.

    • Daniel Ireland

      Could be an ESP thing? Maybe he can get a sense of the near future? The fact that he survives doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s wrong. His ability could allow him to do use the knowledge of impending doom to prevent death from occurring.

    • Julian Glover

      Star trek is full of impossibilities. I believe that he can sense upcoming danger or death in a certain area, and not across the universe.

  • Dan King

    I sense “immediate peril” for the ratings of this canon butcher show

  • Fiery Little One

    Interesting.

  • GIBBS v2

    I want to like this character design but I thinks it’s overly detailed and feels a little gross? The groves look like cuts in his forehead. But I think there is an excessive number of wrinkles and flaps that make the character a little less approachable than they should.

  • Dan King

    Worst science officer ever.

  • Neill Stringer

    Will he be like Puma Man who was established to sense danger but could not sense danger when being attacked. Sounds a bit like season 1 Deanna, stating the obvious.

  • Pedro Ferreira

    Oh boy he’s the kind of guy who’s going to be fun to have around. Does this mean every time they go into battle he’s going to go crazy with hysteria?