Movie Reviews

Star Trek: Discoverys Rayner Captains Chair Joke Has A Real Life Inspiration

WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 9, “Lagrange Point”.


  • Rayner’s evolution from avoiding the captain’s chair to finally taking command reflects real-world inspiration from Sonequa Martin-Green who waited for a significant character moment.
  • Rayner’s no-nonsense style and tragic backstory have made him a respected and effective captain in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, earning the trust of his crew.
  • Callum Keith Rennie’s portrayal of Rayner as a great captain in Discovery season 5 is a highlight, showcasing his redemption and leadership skills during challenging missions.

A running joke about Commander Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) avoiding the captain’s chair in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 9, “Lagrange Point” has real-world inspiration. In Discovery season 5, episode 9, “Lagrange Point”, written by Sean Cochran & Ari Friedman, and directed by Jonathan Frakes ends by finally putting Rayner in the center seat aboard the USS Discovery. Since his demotion in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 2, Rayner has avoided the captain’s chair “like the plague“, preferring instead to pace around the bridge during missions.

Rayner’s refusal to sit in the captain’s chair is a reflection of his anxieties that the USS Discovery’s crew aren’t “his”, and that his previous actions mean he doesn’t deserve the chair. Thankfully, by the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 9, Rayner finally moves past this and sits in the center seat. It will be Commander Rayner who leads the USS Discovery on a rescue mission to save Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the Discovery finale. As well as Rayner’s character motivations, there’s also a real-world inspiration behind his refusal to sit in the captain’s chair.


Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Returning Cast & New Character Guide

As Burnham seeks the universe’s greatest treasure in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, she’ll need help from a host of new and returning characters.

Star Trek: Discovery’s Rayner Captain’s Chair Joke Is Inspired By Sonequa Martin-Green

Rayner’s avoidance of the captain’s chair in Star Trek: Discovery is a nod to a decision made by Sonequa Martin-Green during the show’s first three seasons. Sonequa Martin-Green deliberately avoided sitting in the captain’s chair for three years, believing that the moment would have more impact if she waited until Burnham’s official promotion. In an interview with the Television Academy (via, Sonequa Martin-Green explained her decision to avoid the USS Discovery’s center seat:

I just remember thinking: ‘When it’s Michael’s turn, it’s my turn. And that’s when I’ll take the seat, when she does.’ It wasn’t lost on me how important a moment that was for the character, for me, as the actor, and for the story and Star Trek as a whole. So I wanted to experience it when Michael did, and I am very happy and satisfied that I did.

The moment at the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 3 in which Burnham is finally captain is certainly a satisfying moment that proves Sonequa Martin-Green was right to wait. Callum Keith-Rennie doesn’t have the same luxury of time in Discovery season 5, but it doesn’t detract from the impact of his own captain’s chair scene. Rayner’s captain’s chair moment in Discovery is incredibly satisfying to watch, as it reassures the audience, and the ship’s crew, that command of the USS Discovery is in very capable hands.

On the suggestion of his director Jonathan Frakes, Callum Keith Rennie does a “Picard maneuver”, by tugging the front of his uniform before sitting in the captain’s chair.

Star Trek: Discovery Proved Rayner Is A Great Captain

While Rayner may have made mistakes as the captain of the USS Antares, he very quickly redeemed himself in Star Trek: Discovery season 5. Rayner’s no-nonsense style may have put him at odds with the Discovery crew at first, but it was an efficient way for him to gain an understanding of each member of his bridge crew. Rayner’s tragic backstory was also a strength, not a weakness, during the diplomatic crisis with the Breen Imperium. Filling in for his captain on the Discovery, Rayner has rescued the ISS Enterprise from a pocket universe, and staged a daring attack on a Breen Dreadnought.

Star Trek: Discovery

season 5, episode 7, “Erigah” revealed that the Breen Imperium conquered the Kellerun home world, killing Rayner’s entire family.

From promises of Kellerun citrus mash to an acknowledgment of his crew’s achievements, Rayner has earned the trust of every officer on the USS Discovery. That’s the sign of a great captain, and it’s only the great captains who can convince their crew to crash their ship right into a Breen Dreadnought’s shuttle bay. Rayner has been the best addition to the Star Trek: Discovery cast in season 5, and it’s hugely disappointing that the cancelation of season 6 means we won’t get any more Rayner, captain or otherwise.

Star Trek: Discovery

‘s finale streams on Paramount+ from Thursday, May 30th.


Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is an entry in the legendary Sci-Fi franchise, set ten years before the original Star Trek series events. The show centers around Commander Michael Burnham, assigned to the USS Discovery, where the crew attempts to prevent a Klingon war while traveling through the vast reaches of space.

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