Amid countless cancelations and pushed-back release dates, the Star Trek universe has been somewhat lucky in the tumultuous year of 2020. Star Trek: Picard debuted before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, while Discovery Season 3 completed principal photography in February 2020. Meanwhile, Lower Decks is an animated show and was able to finish its post-production remotely. Overall, even though 2020 has made it hard for TV shows and movies to come out on time, there have been three different new seasons of Star Trek shows airing throughout the year, something which has never happened in the history of the franchise.
And now, it looks like have a solid indication of what's next after Star Trek: Discovery Season 3. Today, CBS confirmed that Discovery Season 4 will start filming on November 2, 2020. Here's what that (probably) means for the rest of the new Trek shows in-development, including Picard Season 2 and Strange New Worlds Season 1.
In an officially released video from CBS, producer Alex Kurtzman, showrunner Michelle Paradise, and series stars Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones all confirmed they are beginning to shoot Discovery Season 4 on November 2, 2020. Here's the video.
"Things are just starting to shoot again. We would have been in production already on Picard, but we couldn’t be because of COVID. It’s pushed our Discovery and Strange New Worlds dates just a little bit, but I think we’re actually planning on staying on track for those. By the time they shoot, we will have innovated with a couple [non-Star Trek] shows, and we will know where we are. And we will be a little bit more down with a process."
The innovations Kurtzman is referring to is the idea that extensive safety procedures have to be in place for things to continue to shoot. But fans probably expected to see Picard Season 2 before Discovery Season 4 simply because the season finale of Picard Season 1 has already happened and Discovery Season 3 has just started.
So, what does this DISCO Season 4 announcement mean for the other Trek shows?
Discovery Season 4 will likely debut before Picard Season 2
Most of the new Star Trek productions have filmed in Toronto. That's where the Discovery sets are, and where most of Season 1 and Season 2 was shot. Parts of Season 3 were shot in Iceland, but the soundstages for Discovery are in Toronto. In fact, Jonathan Frakes even shot his cameo for the finale of Star Trek: Picard on a redressed Discovery set. That said, most of Picard Season 1 was shot in California. So, if you do some dot-connecting, it seems likely that Discovery Season 4 is filming ahead of Picard Season 2, partially because of location.
Obviously, plenty of other shows and movies have resumed filming in California. Still, if Discovery starts filming in November 2020, it feels like a March 2021 Season 4 release date isn't out of the question.
So, when will the other Trek shows come out?
The short answer is: We don't know. And, there's nothing to prevent Strange New Worlds, Picard Season 2, and Section 31 from filming roughly at the same time as Discovery Season 4. In other words, CBS has confirmed Discovery Season 4 will start filming in November, but other confirmations of other shows filming soon could come any day now. In the '90s, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine had overlaps where they filmed at the same time, as did Voyager and DS9. Just because Discovery is filming first, doesn't mean it will come out first.
In terms of pure prediction, the outlier here is Section 31. We know that series will focus on Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and we know that she is very much in Discovery Season 3. But will she be in Discovery Season 4? Kurtzman has teased a "surprising" setting for the Section 31 series, so it seems possible we'll get some kind of plot resolution about where Georgiou ends-up in Discovery Season 3. But, could that mean Section 31 will go into production soon, too?
In other words, because Section 31 will have crossover elements from Discovery, it seems possible – if unlikely — that it could debut ahead of Strange New Worlds and Picard Season 2.
Then again, this is Star Trek. Maybe all these shows will hit in 2021 and CBS will use time travel to make it happen.
Discovery Season 3 is airing new episodes now on CBS All Access.