In the flurry of Star Trek news over the past few months, the upcoming Section 31 spinoff starring Michelle Yeoh has been somewhat lost in the shuffle. In a recent interview, some of the lead Trek people talked a bit about how things have been going on that front and shed some light on the show’s development.
The interview, conducted by Vanity Fair, is a wide-ranging review on the state of Star Trek media with Alex Kurtzman, the lead guy of all things Trek right now, and Julie McNamara, executive vice president of CBS All Access’s original content. In it, they talk about the tone and style of the show, as well as the way in which it got off the ground.
“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,” Kurtzman said. “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.”
Yeoh’s enthusiasm was infectious, Kurtzman said, but tricky, as it was happening before the first season of the show had even aired. “No one had seen it,” he said. “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.”
Unforgiven, of course, being a classic revisionist Western starring Clint Eastwood, where his character takes on the proverbial “one last job.” I’m guessing this won’t be Georgiou’s last job—CBS is bound to want a second season if the first one goes well—but that’s a good vibe for an espionage show regardless.
As for the show’s progress, Julie McNamara explained that “[Yeoh] 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.”
No word yet on when the show might be slated for (streaming) air, but I’d imagine we’ll start hearing a lot more about it around the time Discovery season 3 gets going.