The following analysis has spoilers (and potential spoilers) for Discovery season three.
One of the fascinating characters introduced in last Thursday’s episode (“Die Trying“) was Kovich, a mysterious man played by legendary film director David Cronenberg. He has us—and many fans—thinking. Before we dive into theories, let’s first take a look at what we know for certain.
The facts: Kovich oversaw Georgiou’s “rigorous debrief”
Taking the scenes with Kovich at face value, we can assume that it was standard protocol for Terrans to get a “rigorous debrief,” which is why Emperor (and Section 31 operative) Phillipa Georgiou’s experience was different from that of her shipmates. In addition to the more aggressive nature of the debrief, it was the only one that had two hologram debriefers and the only one with anyone else present: Kovich, who appeared to be supervising the process. After Georgiou was able to deactivate the holograms, Kovich took over.
Kovich showed a keen interest in Georgiou, stating, “I’ve been fascinated with Terran history and methodology since I was a boy.” He was clearly an expert on the Mirror Universe and the history of the Terran Empire—as well as the physiology of Terrans. His holographic controls even showed a database that had an image of what appeared to be Georgiou’s flagship, the ISS Charon.
However, we think there is something more going on. And of course, we have theories, some of which aren’t mutually exclusive…
Theory 1: Kovich is the head of Section 31
Kovich’s holograms asked Georgiou about her connection to Control, perhaps testing her Section 31 loyalty. We know that Section 31 remained active into the 24th century, even after being exposed by Dr. Julian Bashir, so the organization could easily still exist in the 32nd century. And if there is a Section 31, Kovich seems to fit the bill as its leader.
Evidence: The uniforms. Kovich’s holograms had different uniforms than the other debriefers. If we assume that the other officers were being questioned by members of Starfleet security or Starfleet intelligence, then Kovich’s team was from some other branch, and this theory would suggest their uniforms are specific to Section 31. They were also very aggressive in their questioning, something that fits in tonally with Section 31. As for Kovich himself, he seemed well versed in the kind of mind games and manipulations that Section 31 leaders such as Sloan were known for.
Motivation: As the head of Section 31, Kovich could be looking to see if Georgiou would make a good addition to his team. He may also feel that her connection to the Mirror Universe can help him with some project, possibly related to The Burn.
Theory 2: Kovich is President of the Federation
“Die Trying” started with the USS Discovery docking at a station that functioned as both Federation and Starfleet headquarters. Saru noted these are “separate entities that must abide together” in the difficult post-Burn era. Starfleet is the peacekeeping arm of the United Federation of Planets, which has always been governed by civilians. We met Admiral Vance who is the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet, but we didn’t meet anyone from the civilian leadership of the Federation… or did we?
Evidence: Kovich’s attire. Unlike everyone else, Kovich wore civilian clothing, which could indicate he is part of that leadership, possibly even at the top level. That could also explain Kovich’s badge, which was uniquely gold, unlike the silver ones worn by Starfleet officers and holograms, including Admiral Vance.
Motivation: The Federation president could have just been curious about a Terran showing up, which he noted had not happened in over 500 years. His knowledge of Terrans could just be a hobby. Perhaps Kovich feels there is something to be gained by his struggling Federation from the Mirror Universe and he hopes that Georgiou can help him get access to the Mirror Universe. Another possibility could be that if Section 31 is no longer active, President Kovich might be interested in starting it up again with Georgiou’s help.
Theory 3: Kovich is from the Mirror Universe
Even though Georgiou had had close contact with an AI that threatened to destroy the universe and was a member of Section 31, almost all the discussions with the holograms and Kovich had to do with the Terran Empire. Kovich knew quite a lot about the Empire, and obviously more about its history following the Emperor’s crossing over the 23rd century. This could come from a thorough study of all information garnered from those who have crossed over or interacted with those who had. However, he could have been working from first-hand knowledge.
Evidence: The glasses. Even by the 23rd century the need for corrective lenses was all but eliminated. When asked by Georgiou why he wore glasses, Kovich said, “They make me look smarter.” But one of the physiological differences between Terrans and humans from the Prime Universe was a sensitivity to light. The Mirror version of Captain Gabriel Lorca used eyedrops to deal with this, so maybe Mirror Kovich uses these glasses. Kovich also seemed to know how to handle Georgiou, and seemed unruffled by her no matter what she did.
Motivation: Perhaps Kovich wants to return home to the Mirror Universe, and thinks Georgiou can help him do it. This would be similar to how Mirror Lorca recruited Michael Burnham as part of his plan to return home. Kovich could be telling the truth that there hasn’t been a crossing in centuries—it’s possible he was that last crosser and jumped forward in time only to find himself in a century without any more time travel tech or means to get back to the Mirror Universe. In that case, he might believe Georgiou can somehow help him.
Our favorite theory?
With the limited information we have, theory number one is looking most likely. Kovich is head of Section 31, or possibly some new hybrid of Starfleet Intelligence and Section 31. But there is probably more to it than simple recruitment. He has an agenda that has yet to be revealed.
Something to keep an eye out for: What did Kovich do to Georgiou?
At the end of “Die Trying,” we saw Georgiou completely zoned out and a bit shaken. It took Michael several attempts to just get her attention. Given that the Emperor isn’t the contemplative type, this is likely something beyond simple preoccupation. Kovich and his holograms made it clear that they know a lot about Terrans down to a genetic level; it appears they have done something to her and we are seeing the side effects. They insinuated that the Terran nature was rooted in their biology (which Georgiou dismissed), but perhaps they attempted to manipulate this part of her. Based on the preview for next week’s episode, we will be seeing more of Georgiou and possibly more of these side effects. How this plays out can help refine our Kovich theory.
Moving beyond ‘Discovery’…Are they sowing the seeds for the Section 31 series?
At the beginning of 2019, CBS announced they were developing an untitled series starring Michelle Yeoh which “will expand on Yeoh’s current role as a member of Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation, on Star Trek: Discovery.” Since then, Discovery has jumped into the 32nd century, leaving behind the Section 31 that Georgiou was a part of. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman said in August that work continues on the Section 31 show and “people are going to be very surprised about the world that it occupies.”
When it became clear that Georgiou was jumping into the future with the Discovery, many wondered how she would return to the 23rd century and pick things up with Section 31, but perhaps she isn’t leaving at all. Keeping Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou in the same century as Michael Burnham and the USS Discovery makes sense for a lot of reasons, so it’s quite possible that the 23rd century will be left to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Kurtzman’s “surprising” world could be this new future. Kovich could be recruiting Georgiou for his Section 31, or to perhaps reconstitute a new Section 31. It’s also possible Kovich wants Georgiou’s help in traveling to the Mirror Universe to set up Section 31 there, which could be a different surprising world to occupy.
CBS has yet to confirm if the Yeoh Section 31 project has moved from development to a pilot order or full series order. It’s possible they could introduce some elements of the Section 31 show on Star Trek: Discovery to gauge audience reaction and build buzz for the series.
What do you think?
Are you as curious about Kovich as we are? Do you think he is just some guy interested in the Mirror Universe? Do you buy into any of our possible theories, or do you have your own? And what do you think is going on with Georiou? Sound off in the comments below.
New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. Episodes are available on Fridays internationally on Netflix.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.