Rehabilitating the Emperor
When we first met Georgiou, she was Emperor Georgiou of the Terran Empire, a ruthless dictator who was soon pulled into the Prime Universe against her will. From there she joined Section 31, the mysterious black-ops Federation agency, and then she was pulled into the future along with the rest of the Discovery crew. So the question has always been whether or not someone from the Mirror Universe like her could truly be redeemed for their past acts.
“It was a journey that I think she really, really needed to be able to make,” says Yeoh. “We always said it’s nature versus nurture. She came from an environment where it was about violence. It was about fear. It was about if you didn’t kill, you would be killed, and that was the only way to survive. And when she came to the Prime Universe, she brought that with her because she felt that’s the only way to do things. In her entire life, that was how she raised to power and that was how she became the emperor. I think as time went on and she looked… Because she’s a very astute, very smart character. She learned. She noticed. She sees things.”
This journey for Georgiou to being less bad, if not a downright Starfleet goody-two-shoes, culminated in the “Terra Firma” two-parter when she tried to turn her Mirror Universe daughter (Mirror Michael Burnham of course) towards a better path like she had taken.
Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3 Photos: “Terra Firma, Part 2”
“I think in her journey in the Prime Universe, when she went through the portal, she realized that if I don’t make a change, my whole empire, my whole universe is going to be destroyed and I have to start from here,” she says. “And where is a better place to start from than the person closest to you? Michael.”
Georgiou’s Future and Section 31 Show
In her final Disco episode, Georgiou learns that the only way she can be cured of the malady she is suffering from is to travel through a portal created by the mysterious character named Carl, who turns out to be the classic time-travel machine known as the Guardian of Forever from the original Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” For viewers, this may seem like the end of the character’s journey on Discovery, but for Yeoh it’s the beginning of a whole new venture.
“She is such an amazing character that I know that we really want to see,” says the actress of the spin-off show she is heading to. “I really want to see more of how this person can have redemption. I think when she goes through the portal, Carl tells her, you can die in there, but it’s the way you use it. Can you change? Can you make a difference? And if you can’t make a difference in the past or the future, then you have no path. So it is up to you. And I know for a fact that we love this character. My team, my executive producers, my writers have been so amazing. I think we got into a stage where we loved this character so much, and there’s so much potential in stories and adventures that she can have.”
Obviously Yeoh and the Section 31 team have big plans for the character, but the actress is also not ruling out returning to the Discovery sets one day.“So I have great hope that this is not the last you’ll see of Philippa Georgiou,” she laughs. “It can’t be. When she walked through that portal, when she said goodbye, even to Michael Burnham, is it really goodbye? I don’t know. I honestly believe that if one day Michael Burnham and the whole future was in [danger], she would claw and fight her way back to play a part in how to be part of their salvation.”
Tears on the Bridge
Still, leaving behind her costars wasn’t easy, and Yeoh gets emotional when she recalls her last day on Star Trek: Discovery. She says that while doing something like a movie, you spend three months with people and then you move on, on a show like this you spend years together and can really form a bond.
“Oh my God, it’s like the one thing I abhor,” she says. “I was like, ‘Okay, when we read the script, no one is allowed to cry. No one is allowed to do anything.’ But the send-off, I was like a blubbering little, I don’t know what, because the whole crew and cast, they had put together a video of what Philippa Georgiou meant to them and it was a very, very special day indeed. And I think mother nature also had such a great plan because when we went on set to do our final scene of walking through the portal, it was just a barren, rocky environment. And then it started to snow and it snowed and snowed and snowed, and it was magical.”
You can catch Star Trek: Discovery on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S.