“Star Trek: Discovery”: Alex Kurtzman, Julie McNamara Update Michelle Yeoh Spinoff “Section 31”
CBS All Access has been having a pretty good time playing in the Star Trek sandbox since the streamer’s debut. From the success of Star Trek: Discovery (warp-factoring its way to a third season) to the highly-anticipated Patrick Stewart-returning Picard, the franchise has been burning red hot on the television front. With anthology series Short Treks and upcoming animated comedy series Lower Decks, the streaming service has shown a willingness to have a little fun while they’re at it.
But just like the franchise, we can’t help looking to the future. In this case, we’re talking Section 31 – a Discovery spinoff series that would have Michelle Yeoh returning as Philippa Georgiou to expand upon her character’s current position as a member of the “shadow intelligence group” that operates from within the Federation.
With CBS and Viacom preparing for a merger that will bring their respective movies and series under the Paramount shingle, Star Trek showrunner Alex Kurtzman and CBS All Access’ Julie McNamara sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss the franchise’s past, present, and future on the streaming service.
During the course of the interview, Kurtzman and McNamara offered fans an update on the series – here are the highlights:
● While Yeoh is still working on the “current season” of Discovery, McNamara revealed that Kurtzman’s assembled a writer’s room and scripts are in motion:
“We are very excited about the Section 31 show and Michelle Yeoh is excited to do it. She is in the current season of Discovery so she’s working on that right now but we have scripts getting written, and Alex has a writer’s room. We love what we’ve heard so far. It’s yet another tonality of Trek. As Alex has mapped it all out, each show has its own unique sort of voice and vision.”
For Kurtzman, Section 31 represents the darker aspects of the franchise’s universe that hasn’t really been explored before so it was important that it had a different tone and its own unique mythology:
What we don’t want is for you to watch one show and be like, well I don’t really need to watch that other Star Trek show cause I’ve already watched Discovery or whatever. So to me Section 31 is sort of like the black ops CIA division of Star Trek and it was established in Deep Space 9. Full credit goes to Michelle Yeoh for coming to me and saying in season one, before we even launched, “I want to do a spin off of my character!” With Michelle Yeoh, it’s very hard to say no.
This was like a year before Crazy Rich Asians came out and we had not launched Discovery yet. No one had seen it. So I was like, let’s have one show that hopefully people like and we can talk about it. Once Discovery happened, I brought it to Julie and she immediately said, great, let’s develop it. Erica [Lippoldt] and Bo Yeon [Kim], two writers on our Discovery staff, started writing a pilot and it’s really different. It occupies an area of the Trek universe that’s never really been explored geographically. It has a new mythology to it, which is very interesting. And it puts Michelle’s character to the test in a lot of ways that Discovery can’t. In some ways it will be her Unforgiven, I would say.”