Star Trek Missed A Section 31 Series Set Up

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3, Episode 6 – « Hear All, Trust Nothing »Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) didn’t appear in Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Deep Space Nine episode, and it was a missed opportunity to provide an update on Star Trek’s long-delayed Section 31 TV series. To be fair, setting up Section 31 was not Star Trek: Lower Decks’ agenda. The USS Cerritos visiting Star Trek’s beloved space station was a chance for the crew (and the audience) to walk the Promenade once more and catch up with familiar faces like Colonel Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Quark (Armin Shimerman), and Morn. But Lower Decks could have been an ideal vehicle to set up Section 31.

Section 31 was created in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a secret organization dedicated to protecting the interests of the United Federation of Planets. Represented by an agent named Luther Sloan (William Sadler), Section 31 plagued Dr. Bashir in the final seasons of DS9, and Sloan recruited the unwilling doctor once it was revealed he is genetically engineered. Section 31 played an insidious role in the Federation’s victory in the Dominion War, and the concept of Star Trek’s black ops CIA was too good to end with DS9’s cancelation. Section 31 returned in the alternate Kelvin reality of Star Trek Into Darkness before it resurfaced in the 23rd-century era of Star Trek: Discovery.

Emperor Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) became an agent of Section 31 in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, along with Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), and this was rumored to set up a Section 31 spinoff. Georgiou then leaped into the 32nd century with the USS Discovery before she was written off the series, presumably so that Michelle Yeoh could be free to lead the Section 31 series as Emperor Georgiou. Unfortunately, that show has yet to materialize. Star Trek: Lower Decks coming back to Deep Space Nine, where Section 31 began, could have been a chance to provide some sort of update on Section 31, either by an appearance by Dr. Bashir or Sloan. In What We Left Behind, the 2019 documentary celebrating DS9’s legacy, an apocryphal concept for DS9 season 8 revealed Dr. Bashir as the new leader of Section 31. Unfortunately, Star Trek has revealed nothing new about Section 31 or the spinoff for years.

Presumably, the Section 31 spinoff series on Paramount+ is still in the works. The in-demand Michelle Yeoh has moved on to roles in Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Witcher: Blood Origin but she has indicated she is open to return to Star Trek in the future. With five Star Trek shows on Paramount+, there seems to be no great rush to put Section 31 into production, but Star Trek: Picard is ending after season 3, so it leaves an open slot that could be filled by Section 31. However, other Star Trek spinoffs, including a series about Starfleet Academy, have also been announced or are rumored, and there’s no indication which show will eventually replace Star Trek: Picard’s slot.

If Section 31 does finally happen, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans hope that Dr. Bashir is involved and joins Emperor Georgiou. When she exited Star Trek: Discovery, the Guardian of Forever (Paul Guilfoyle) sent Georgiou to a time when the Prime and Mirror Universes were still aligned, and this could mean Philippa was dropped into the 24th century to meet Dr. Bashir. All of this is speculation, of course, and there’s maddeningly no new info about Section 31 to go on. However, to keep hope alive, perhaps Star Trek: Lower Decks’ DS9 episode not including Julian Bashir at all could mean Section 31 is still in the genetically-engineered doctor’s future.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.