The second season of ‘Discovery’ is set to shine some light on one of the darker corners of the ‘Star Trek’ universe. Since it was introduced in the 1997 ‘Deep Space Nine’ episode ‘Inquisition’, Section 31 has fired the imaginations of fans and ‘Trek’ writers alike, inspiring everything from fan theories to the plot of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘. But despite its prominent place in the fan consciousness, the organization has only actually appeared on a handful of occasions. That, however, is about to change.
Section 31 made its ‘Discovery’ debut – sort of – in the show’s first season. A deleted scene from the finale saw the organization recruit the deposed Emperor Georgiou, who at that point has taken over a cabaret on the Klingon homeworld. Though the extent to which any deleted scene should be taken as canonical is always a subject of some debate, this scene and the way it was released (at a convention, to much fanfare, and later on the blu-ray box set) made a few things clear. Namely that the producers were not yet done with Georgiou and that their plans for the show included Section 31.
Since then, of course, we’ve had several trailers confirm Georgiou’s presence in the second season, at least one of which sees Pike namecheck Section 31. And then, of course, there was the news earlier this week that a spinoff focusing on Georgiou’s adventures with Section 31 is in the works. All of this combines to raise one very big question: Why delete that scene?
When it was first released, after all, that scene was a curiosity that hinted at directions the show might take in the future. But knowing what we do now? More casual viewers (which is to say anyone who simply watches the episodes as they air rather than seeking out every scrap of bonus footage they can find) will have missed a fairly important piece of the story. Besides which, it’s not as if ‘Discovery’ is as beholden to the sort of runtime restrictions that typical network shows face (i.e. “You have to wrap up your story in forty minutes so that we can fill the other twenty with ad breaks.”). We may never know, but we do know that (for now, at least) Section 31 is here to stay.
So with that being the case, just what does this clandestine crew bring to the table? For showrunner Alex Kurtzman, it’s the contrast the organization presents with not only the ideals but the methodology of Starfleet. As he noted in an interview with SFX Magazine (via GamesRadar), Starfleet can be somewhat “black and white” in their approach, and as a result, in Starfleet there are “certain things you can’t do.” Section 31 instead operates “entirely in the grey area.” Adds Kurtzman:
“They’re affiliated with Starfleet, but loosely. They’re the Jack Bauer of the Starfleet universe! And what they’re doing to keep people sage is something that bears a lot of scrutiny.”
As for what form that scrutiny might take, we’ll have to wait for the new season of ‘Discovery’ to find out. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait that long, as the show’s sophomore year kicks of later this week on January 17!