Article 14, Section 31 of the Starfleet charter formed their official intelligence and espionage branch that officially doesn’t exist, more brutal than Cardassian Obsidian Order, more secretive than the Romulan Tal Shiar.
First seen in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Inquisition which featured Luther Sloan (William Sadler) undercover posing as the Deputy Director of Starfleet Internal Affairs while covertly assessing Doctor Bashir (Alexander Siddig) for a career in the spy business. Before that moment the organization worked in such secret that even devout fans had never even heard of them.
Section 31 quickly became established in Star Trek canon as an organization that didn’t work in black and white, right and wrong, it simply did whatever was necessary with no oversight and operated entirely within the grey area. From discrediting a foreign powers senator to an attempted genocide to end a war nothing was ever off the table for this group.
The next time we caught up with Section 31 was on Star Trek: Enterprise episode Divergence when we learned that a Section 31 agent and former Starfleet Security officer only known as Harris (Eric Pierpoint) had previously recruited a young Ensign Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating) to the organization. Though Reed had left Section 31 when he accepted his posting on Enterprise Harris attempted to leverage him into slowing an investigation into a missing crew member to facilitate a deal between Section 31 and the Klingon Empire.
They’re not just limited to the Prime Timeline…Copyright Paramount – USS Vengeance Star Trek Into Darkness
The Kelvin Timeline version of Section 31 was led by Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) who in a misguided attempt to defend the Federation against the Klingon Empire had awoken the crew of the SS Botany Bay which held the cryogenically frozen, and illegal. human augments and their leader Khan Noonien Sing (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The waking of the augments would lead to the events of Star Trek: Into Darkness, culminating with the Enterprise facing off against the colossal USS Vengeance, a Starfleet warship designed by Khan himself. Taking the agents of Section 31 to the edge of destroying Starfleet’s own flagship.
So It’s safe to say they’re not exactly the good guys…
***** Spoiler Alert for the Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Finale*****
For those who missed the bonus scene from the Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 finale Will you take my hand?, The mirror version of Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) was approached by a man named Leland (Alan van Sprang) who offers her a place within the secret organization.
Catch the scene here:
Now Star Trek: Discovery is set to shed more light on this clandestine group within Starfleet…
We’ve already seen the former Emperor Georgiou coming aboard Discovery in the trailers for season 2 with show runner Alex Kurtzman’s comments in a recent interview with SFX Magazine it looks like we’re going to be learning about a whole new plot they’re putting together.
“They’re affiliated with Starfleet, but loosely. They’re the Jack Bauer of the Starfleet universe! And what they’re doing to keep people safe is something that bears a lot of scrutiny”
Alex Kurtzman – SFX Magazine
Could section 31 be somehow related to the mysterious red lights the Discovery is being tasked with investigating? or with the strange disappearance of Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck)? By all appearances Agent Georgiou will feature prominently during season 2, which will cast a light on their activities at this time.
We’ll find out for sure as the season goes on, but it looks like fans intrigue and espionage will be excited to see what happens when Star Trek: Discovery returns on January 17, 2019.