Following Star Trek: Discovery’s Latest Wild Episode, Callum Keith Rennie Teases What’s Next For Rayner And Burnham And His Character’s ‘Gnawing’ Backstory

Following Star Trek: Discovery’s Latest Wild Episode, Callum Keith Rennie Teases What’s Next For Rayner And Burnham And His Character’s ‘Gnawing’ Backstory

Warning: SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Discovery episode “Face the Strange” are ahead!

The final season of Star Trek: Discovery has introduced a notable character to its main cast: Rayner, the former Starfleet captain-turned Michael Burnham’s new first officer, played by Callum Keith Rennie, who has previous sci-fi cred from Battlestar Galactica. A veteran of The Burn, Rayner’s command style sharply contrasts with how Sonquea Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham captains Discovery. However, the events of “Face the Strange,” which is now available for Paramount+ subscribers to stream, sees Rayner and Burnham overcoming their differences to deal with a time-twisty threat, and Rennie teased to CinemaBlend about not just what’s next for the two characters’ dynamic, but also how we’ll soon learn about Rayner’s backstory.

“Face the Strange” saw the USS Discovery being affected by a time bug, a weapon left over from The Temporal war designed to, as Rayner explained, “paralyze an enemy ship by cycling through time.” This particular bug took everyone through different points in Discovery’s past, present and future after Moll, who’s serving as Season 5’s main antagonist alongside L’ak, discreetly panted the time bug onto Adira on Trillin the last episode. Luckily, Burnham, Rayner and Paul Stamets weren’t impacted by its effects. The trio worked together to disable the bug, and now Rayner and Burnham are on better terms with one another.

So when I interviewed Rennie ahead of the episode’s arrival on the 2024 TV schedule, I asked him if this means it will be smooth sailing between the two or if more conflict could lay ahead, and he answered:

I mean, it’s set the groundwork to go, ‘We can actually work together.’ And I love 5x04 because it’s a bonding episode, and so much stuff is happening, and inside of that is two characters that are stumbling towards a type of unity… and they get the job done, and some of how she does it I understood. I learned a little something. I can learn.

It didn’t take long for Rayner and Burnham to start clashing with one another at the beginning of Star Trek: Discovery Season 5’s newest episode, which started when the former bluntly shot down a suggestion from Rhees about how to track down Moll and L’ak. This led to them debating about the different ways they handle leading, as Burnham encourages the crew to be engaged and speak freely, whereas Rayner thinks this familiarity is detrimental to their effectiveness. By the end of “Face the Strange” though, Rayner realizes Burnham’s style has his merits, and from what Callum Keith Rennie told me, it sounds like we don’t need to worry about them getting into any more fights going forward, although that’s not to say they still won’t occasionally disagree.

Of course, as one notices when looking closely at Rayner, he’s not a human but rather a Kellerun, an alien species that’s only been shown once before onscreen, in the Deep Space Nine Season 2 episode “Armageddon Game.” Later in the interview, I inquired about if Rayner’s Kellerun background would be explored in Discovery Season 5, and he had this to say:

You get a bit of backstory of what’s sort of gnawing away at him. So that gets explained through one of the episodes. But there wasn’t a lot on Kellerun history or style. They just left that up to whatever I designed for myself. I can’t remember which episode it is, but he’s held a grudge, he’s held a resentment for such a long time from a moment that happened when he was young that he actually may not have been functioning well for quite some time.

Because Star Trek: Discovery was cancelled after Season 5 finished filming, Callum Keith Rennie felt that decision led to “missed opportunities,” as he was getting used to working with this cast and crew. So it’s a shame that Discovery will just be a one-season affair for him, but it is good to hear that some light will be shed on Rayner’s past in the weeks ahead. As far as Discovery’s current events go, the end of “Face the Strange” saw the ship’s crew discover a warp signature that matches Moll and L’ak’s ship, although their trail has mysteriously disappeared. To complicate matters, Burnham and Rayner briefly ended up in a future where the Green obtained the Progenitor technology from Moll and L’ak and wreaked havoc with it, so now there’s extra incentive to stop the duo.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for our overage on Star Trek: Discovery’s last six episodes. It’s also important to remember that one of the upcoming Star Trek TV shows is Starfleet Academy, which will be set in the 32nd century too, so maybe that will allow certain Discovery characters to come back, including Rayner.