Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Theory: Discovery Season 3's Future Sets Up Section 31 Spinoff

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 could serve to launch the Section 31 spinoff series. Section 31 is the Federation's best kept secret, a black ops organization who go to any lengths to protect Federation interests. The name comes from the original Starfleet Charter - Article 14, Section 31 - which allows for extraordinary measures to be taken in times of extreme threat.

The secretive group were introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but their history was explored in both Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery. In truth, Discovery itself was a Section 31 project, with brief glimpses of the telltale Section 31 black comm-badges. They exploded to the fore in season 2, when Section 31 hired the universe-jumping Philippa Georgiou - the former Terran Empress - as one of their operatives. Section 31's role expanded as the season continued, with Discovery learning their actions were coordinated by an AI called Control, one that threatened all life in the universe. The USS Discovery was forced to travel into the 32nd century in order to escape Control's influence.

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Viewers can be forgiven for believing Star Trek: Discovery has left Section 31 in the past. And yet, that doesn't seem to be the case, simply because CBS is working on a Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh, aka Philippa Georgiou. The common assumption is that this will be set between Star Trek: Discovery season 1 and 2, exploring Georgiou's meteoric rise through the ranks, but there is another intriguing possibility; that this will spin out of Star Trek: Discovery season 3 instead.

There Are No Gaps In Philippa Georgiou's Timeline

In truth, it always seemed unlikely the Section 31 series would be set between the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. There's only a small time gap between them, meaning any series starring Michelle Yeoh's Philippa Georgiou would realistically only be able to run for a single - probably quite short - season. The issue was compounded by the release of John Jackson Miller's Die Standing, an official tie-in novel that actually fills that gap, revealing just what Georgiou got up to during her time with Section 31. While Star Trek books have traditionally been considered non-canon, that's not the case with the tie-ins for modern shows like Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard; in fact, the production team have worked closely with the publishers in order to ensure everything ties together, and some of the books have been subtly referenced in the shows. So the gap has clearly been filled.

Given this is the case, viewers could be forgiven for assuming Star Trek: Discovery seasons 2 and 3 have led to a course-correction. After all, Georgiou's new status quo is a radically different one; she's now living in the distant future, apparently separated from Section 31. That assumption would, however, be incorrect. CBS first began planning out the Section 31 series during production of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, and producer Alex Kurtzman planned to begin production after shooting finished on Discovery season 3. Speaking at the Variety Streaming Room Q&A at the Emmy Awards in August, Kurtzman suggested there will be quite a few curve-balls. "I think people are going to be very surprised about the world that it occupies," he teased. "We’ve seen stuff online where people have guessed certain things, but some they are nowhere even near guessing. So that’s that’s pretty fun."

Section 31 Could Be Set In The 32nd Century

There is another possibility, one that hasn't really been considered before; that the Section 31 series could spin directly out of Star Trek: Discovery season 3. Philippa Georgiou has traveled to the 32nd century with the USS Discovery, and it's become immediately apparent she quite likes this strange new world. Far from troubled by the collapse of Starfleet and other galactic powers, it's reasonable to assume Georgiou will recognize a power vacuum, and decide to fill it. It's important not to underestimate her ability; she is relentlessly ambitious, a woman who successfully conquered the entire Terran Empire in her own Mirror Universe, and who would no doubt be delighted to dominate the galaxy once again.

The Federation of the 32nd century may be a shadow of its former self, but that isn't to say Section 31 is gone. It's possible that, over the course of Star Trek: Discovery season 3, Georgiou will seek out the Section 31 of this time, and offer them a partnership in order to change the universe. Would Section 31 be able to resist a woman who claimed she could bring the Federation to greatness again, especially one who could legitimately say she worked for them centuries ago? If this theory is correct, then Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will end with Georgiou and the Discovery crew going their separate ways, with Georgiou heading straight into her own spinoff.

Discovery & Section 31 Would Be Competing Visions Of The Future

In thematic terms, this approach would be absolutely fascinating. Star Trek is regaining its edge of social commentary, charging its heroes with the responsibility to shape the future in the wake of a disaster. Burnham and her colleagues on the USS Discovery stand for the ideals of the Federation, and in the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 poster they are seen gathered beneath the tattered flag of the Federation, suggesting they aim to bring those ideals into the 32nd century.

But Georgiou represents an entirely different philosophy; she is out for herself first and foremost, and frankly considers the Federation weak and insipid. By running these two shows side-by-side, CBS would essentially be giving viewers two contrasting and competing visions of the future, with Burnham starring in one and Georgiou in the other. The interaction between the two would be both exciting and culturally significant, given it is playing out on the small screen in the context of a real world reeling from a global disaster.

This would certainly fulfil Kurtzman's promise that the Section 31 series will occupy a very surprising place in the franchise's history. A Section 31 show was always going to be unprecedented, much darker than your traditional Star Trek, and far less idealistic. This approach would take things one step further, turning it into the twisted mirror image of Star Trek: Discovery. Given it stars the former Empress of the Mirror Universe, that would be entirely appropriate.

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