At the pace the Star Trek universe is expanding, there may not be many more places they can boldly go where no one has gone before. Yet they aren’t slowing down. The CBS All Access streaming service recently premiered Star Trek: Picard to much fanfare. Their next new Star Trek series will be Star Trek: Section 31 (still a working title), a series based on an idea that has some history in the Star Trek canon without being previously explored in detail. Follow along as we fill in the Star Trek: Section 31 blanks.
IS STAR TREK: SECTION 31 STILL HAPPENING?
It was in February of 2020 that we first heard CBS was working on a Star Trek: Discovery spinoff and since then all has been silent. We did however, get an update from Star Trek’s current head honcho Alex Kurtzman on August 12, 2020 in which he had this to say to Gold Derby…
“I think everybody in the world is dealing with some issue of logistical challenges from COVID, from the minor to the radically extreme. We have been running all of our writers’ rooms on Zoom. The silver lining is that we have actually been able to get quite ahead in scripts for upcoming seasons of Discovery, and Picard, and Strange New Worlds—which is going to be shooting next year—and Section 31.”– -Alex Kurtzman
There had been rumors that Star Trek: Section 31’s was being halted at CBS and that they’ve decided to take the Star Trek franchise in a different direction. However, those rumors may have been more of a fan wishlist than a reality, since Kurtzman seems to be clearly indicating that they’re planning to shoot Star Trek: Section 31 in 2021.
WHAT IS SECTION 31?
Section 31 is a secret organization which answers to no one in the Federation. They don’t require permission to start a mission. They never file reports after they complete a mission. Whenever they perceive a threat to the Federation, they take action.
Section 31 first entered into Star Trek canon as part of the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was created as a counterbalance to the utopia Earth was in the 24th Century. The inspiration for Section 31 came from a single line of dialogue, “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise.”
Deep Space Nine writer and executive producer Ira Steven Behr started thinking about that line. “Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it’s because there’s someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to think about.” That “someone” is Section 31.
Section 31 was introduced in the sixth season of Deep Space Nine and received a mixed fan reaction at best. What Section 31 represented didn’t mesh with the utopian ideals Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had in mind when he first conceived of his series. The fans were ignored and Section 31 continued to appear as a throughline in Star Trek: DS9.
Section 31 would go on to play a role in the series Star Trek: Enterprise. It was also a major part of the plot in the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness. It’s worth noting that Star Trek: Into Darkness consistently receives the lowest ranking from fans among any of the Star Trek movies. Critics hated it too. The biggest complaints about the film often revolved around the inclusion of Section 31.
Section 31 would then go on to be a major part of the CBS Trek prequel series, Star Trek: Discovery. It’s there that the organization has really begun to take on a front and center narrative role as a sometimes villain sometimes hero.
On Star Trek: Discovery you can spot Section 31 operatives by the black Starfleet badge they were. It’s an oddly visible choice for an organization filled with supposedly secret operatives.
THE STARS OF STAR TREK: SECTION 31
Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is bringing her Philippa Georgiou character from Star Trek: Discovery to Star Trek: Section 31. For those who follow Discovery (and those who don’t), Georgiou lost her life early on in the series only to return as her Mirrorverse counterpart. Her return saw her first as the Emperor of the Terran Empire, a title which she eventually gave up. Georgiou then became a cabaret owner and before being recruited by Section 31.
At this point, Yeoh is the only actor officially announced to star in Section 31. Expect more names to be dropped as they get closer to production start date. Star Trek overseer Alex Kurtzman gave Space.com an update on casting: “I think that’s going to be happening soon.”
It could be assumed, though, that Shazad Latif’s Ash Taylor/Voq and Jayne Brook’s Katrina Cornwell may see some action in Star Trek: Section 31 as during the course of Discovery they’ve developed definite ties to the clandestine organization.
THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF STAR TREK: SECTION 31
Again, Star Trek: Section 31 is early in development. And while there hasn’t been a director named, Kurtzman told Space.com where they stood so far with the new series. “It’s well on its way, I can tell you that. And Erika [Lippoldt] and Bo Yeon [Kim] have written a great script and we have a writers’ room, and it’s exciting.”
Lippoldt and Kim will also serve as executive producers/showrunners. It sounds like they are moving along quite well but they are waiting for the end of Discovery’s production to start their own.
THE PLOT OF STAR TREK’S NEW SHOW
Nothing is confirmed, but given the nature of Section 31 expect the show to focus on showing us the nefarious side of Star Trek’s previously utopian galaxy. An organization that is beholden to no one opens up a lot of potential to go places Trek has never explored before. The question remaining for fans is: Do they really want Star Trek to go there?
WHEN AND WHERE WILL SECTION 31 WILL BE RELEASED?
Like Discovery and Picard, Star Trek: Section 31 will be exclusively released on CBS All-Access streaming if it gets made. But whether it gets made is now in question, so there’s no way to know when it might show up if it does.