This week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery had a surprising cameo by acclaimed sci-fi and horror director David Cronenberg. The episode sees Discovery making contact with the new Starfleet of the 32nd century. However, the Temporal Cold War is still fresh in the officers' minds there. Time travel is illegal, and thus Discovery's arrival in this new era comes under scrutiny. The crew is questioned, and Philippa Georgiou, the Terran Empire's former ruler, is interrogated by Kovich, who has a particular interest in the Mirror Universe. This is the character played by Cronenberg, with iconic glasses intact.
Cronenberg has had a varied filmmaking career. His work includes iconic genre movies like The Fly, Videodrome, and Scanners. He also directed other acclaimed movies such as Crash and A History of Violence.
Cronenberg's role as Kovich could prove to be more than just a cameo, but the beginning of the setup for the in-development Section 31 spinoff starring Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou. Kovich offers lots of interesting information about Mirror Universe and the Terran Empire, some of which come from Star Trek's past episodes and some new. He recounts the first contact between Terrans and Vulcans, as seen in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly." He informs Georgiou that the Terran Empire fell centuries ago, which Star Trek fans learned via the Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Kovich implies that Terrans' evil disposition is the result of a biological quirk. He also says that there hasn't been a crossing between the Mirror Universe and the Prime Timeline in 500 years. What happened in the Mirror Universe since then? And who is Kovich working for? Is he part of Section 31? And what does this mean for the spinoff series?
At last update, Discovery writers Erica Lippoldt and Bo Yeon Kim were writing Section 31's pilot. A writers' rooms were in place, and there were plans to film the pilot after Discovery wrapped its third season. With production on Discovery's fourth season already underway, it is unclear if the spinoff had the opportunity to film or if priorities shifted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Star Trek television head Alex Kurtzman previously compared the series to the classic Western movie Unforgiven.
"Erica [Lippoldt] and Bo Yeon [Kim], two writers on our Discovery staff, started writing a pilot, and it’s really different," he said. "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.”
New Star Trek: Discovery episodes stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.