On this week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery, the show's cast, and the ship's crew said goodbye to Michelle Yeoh as Terran Emperor Philippa Georgiou. With the help of the Guardian of Forever, Georgiou proved capable of change and was granted a second lease on life. That meant leaving the Discovery crew, including Michael Burnham, behind in the 32nd century. Speaking to Wil Wheaton on The Ready Room, Yeoh hinted that her exit from Discovery is, in part, to help set the stage for the in-development Section 31 spinoff, which she will lead."It wasn't always planned this way," Yeoh said. "It came [to] a point where it was necessary if we were to go on more journeys with Emperor Georgiou that some things have to happen.”
While she's saying goodbye to her Discovery family, she's not giving up on playing Georgiou any time soon. “It’s never going to be goodbye," Yeoh said. "Not if I have a hand in that. But at that moment, it was really tough. Knowing that I won't be seeing my new family for a while, I mean, we will always be in touch with each other. But it is more difficult because I related on so many levels with the different characters we played and the actors who gave some of the most amazing performances and brought all these characters that were on paper to life and our writers were just brilliant. They painted the canvas and allowed us to step into these new worlds with characters that have so much background and complexities. In my 30 years of being in the business, Georgiou has been so fulfilling as an actor that it’s been awesome, and so for that reason alone, I’m never going away!”
Georgiou wouldn't have gotten that second chance if her time on Discovery hadn't changed her profoundly. She discussed Geogriou's character arc through Discovery, and how her time in the Prime Timeline helped her realize what she'd been missing out on.
“We all know what the Terran world is about," Yeoh said. "She was born into a world where a sign of weakness, any vulnerability means instant death, and she did not become Emperor by being kind to the people around her. She threw her weight around and she was skilled and she was masterful in manipulation and I think she learned how to read people instantaneously, who were the people she could trust and people she had to destroy.
"Then, of course, here comes Sonequa Martin-Green, or Michael Burnham, the good Michael Burnham, and it changed her. It completely showed her this is the Michael, this is the daughter that she had always wanted. Why do you build an empire? You don't live forever. You build it for the people that you love. And, for her, the one person that she truly loved was Michael Burnham and upon meeting the good Michael Burnham she realized we have to change. So when she was given the second chance by our glorious guardian of the portal [the Guardian of Forever], that was when she was being weighed to see if she had changed."
Here, Yeoh may be hinting again at the upcoming Section 31 spinoff, as she says, "It is very obvious that Emperor Georgiou’s journey has not ended. It has not come to an end." She goes on to say, "But it depends on her whether it will end abruptly. I loved when she walks through the portal and she realizes, ‘Oh my god, I am dressed as the Terran emperor, and I can see all my soldiers in front of me expecting the badass Emperor.' And you can see in her eyes she has changed dramatically and drastically.”
New Star Trek: Discovery episodes stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.