As we reported yesterday, ViacomCBS is already thinking ahead towards the next phase of the Star Trek Universe on Paramount+, with multiple shows in consideration. The only known project in this category is the Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh, which was announced to be in development in 2019. Now the showrunners of that project are talking more about Section 31 in Discovery and beyond.
Showrunners talk Section 31 possibilities
Wednesday’s big Paramount+ event focused on the five Trek shows currently in production (Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds). But executive producer Alex Kurtzman and Paramount+ EVP Julie McNamara confirmed that they are already talking about the next phase of the Star Trek Universe. And according to Variety, both Kurtzman and McNamara confirmed there are still ongoing “conversations” about the Section 31 project.
Even though the Section 31 show hasn’t been ordered as a series, a writers’ room was put together, headed up by Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt, who have been with Star Trek: Discovery since season one. Last August Kurtzman talked up the writers, saying they have “been doing an amazing job building the show,” adding ” I think people are going to be very surprised about the world that it occupies.”
In a joint interview with Gravity City Magazine, the writing duo talked a little bit more about Section 31. When asked if they have any “dream projects,” Bo Yeon Kim pointed to the Section 31 show:
[F]or the most part, Star Trek is an accumulation of everything we love, and working on Section 31, we get to do a lot on that show. There’s not a lot we can’t do on Section 31 that we’d be dying to do somewhere else.
If you’re looking for more clues via their influences, both Boey and Erika talked about Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica. Kim said their long-term goal for life after Trek would be “to create something like Battlestar.” In fact, she said, “Battlestar is what made me want to write television.” Lippoldt also pointed to another show Ronald D. Moore was involved in, saying: “I was a huge Deep Space Nine fan… It was really Deep Space Nine that got me into the Star Trek world.”
While being influenced by Battlestar and Deep Space Nine could indicate a penchant for the darker side of sci-fi, a good fit with Emperor Georgiou and the notorious Section 31 organization, the pair also cited Stargate SG-1, a show with a much lighter tone, as a “huge influence.” And back when the Section 31 show was first announced to be in development Boey emphasized that they are not looking to do something that moves away from Star Trek optimism.
Yeoh’s return wasn’t always tied to Section 31
The Section 31 storyline was introduced to Star Trek: Discovery in a bonus scene released after season one wrapped up, in which former Terran Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) was recruited into the notorious organization. In the same interview with Gravity, the writers revealed that unlike her Mirror Universe storyline, the Section 31 element was not something they’d planned for from the start. According to Lippoldt:
The Mirror Universe was always baked into the concept in different ways. It changed as we went, but it was always going to be part of the show, whereas Section 31 is something that came about later in the process… Very early on when it was decided that Georgiou was going to die at the end of the second episode, and we always knew we wanted to use the Mirror Universe to bring her back because two episodes was not enough for Michele Yeoh and we needed her more. So that was very intentional, that we would use the parallel universe concept to bring a version of Georgiou back.
… [I]t was at the end of Season One that we decided we were going to make [Section 31] a focus of Season Two. And, as you know, Section 31 does offer so much story opportunity that, in thinking of Season Two and what can be a major thrust for the season arc, and realizing the potential of Section 31 and that we were really going to focus on that. But that was later on in the process.
The black badges used by Section 31 were actually first seen (but never explained) onboard the USS Discovery in episode 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. However, the writers confirmed at the time they actually weren’t thinking of them as Section 31. Bo Yeon Kim told Gravity, “That was a bit of a retrofit, actually, later on.”
Yeoh remained with Star Trek: Discovery through season three of the show, which included two episodes featuring a return to the Mirror Universe. Her season three storyline and exit from the 32nd century was designed to set up the Section 31 show. For now, the series remains in development, with all indications that Paramount+ is likely not going to introduce any new Star Trek shows until one of the current five shows they have in production (most likely Star Trek: Picard) wraps up.
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Keep up with the Star Trek Universe on TV here at TrekMovie.com.