Star Trek: Discovery's series finale ruins a potentially good final season

Live long and prosper, Discovery crew. Your journey may be ending, but your legacy will shine brightly in the vast expanse of the final frontier.
L-R Doug Jones as Saru and Rachael Ancheril as Commander Nhan in Star Trek: Discovery steaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+.
L-R Doug Jones as Saru and Rachael Ancheril as Commander Nhan in Star Trek: Discovery steaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+. /

Well... This is it.

As the curtains close on Star Trek: Discovery, it's time to celebrate the fantastic voyage that has been this series. From the very first jump through the mycelial network to the epic battles against galactic threats, Discovery has taken us on a rollercoaster of emotions, space battles, and jaw-dropping twists. Set decades before the adventures of Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek, Discovery brought a fresh perspective to the Trek universe while keeping the spirit of exploration and diplomacy alive. With groundbreaking special effects and a diverse cast, it redefined what it means to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Remember the moment we first met Michael Burnham, a fierce and brilliant officer who constantly challenged herself and others? Her journey from a disgraced officer to a revered captain has been nothing short of inspiring. The show also touched on deep themes such as identity, unity, and the struggle between duty and morality. It wasn't just about space battles and alien encounters; it was about what it means to be human (or Kelpien, or Andorian) in a vast and often hostile universe.

Discovery never stayed in one place. The jump to the 32nd century in season 3 was a bold move that paid off, giving us a fresh look at the Star Trek universe's future and introducing us to the tall, dark, and handsome Book and his adorable cat Grudge.

But... as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the series and its characters, it would be a lie to say I enjoyed how it ended in "Life, Itself." Let's talk about the season and series finale, and how it went so wrong so fast. Beware SPOILERS ahead.

I never thought I'd write a bad review for an episode of a Star Trek show that's been near and dear to my heart for the last seven years, but here we are.

Life, Itself
Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery steaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+. /

Star Trek: Discovery recap, Episode 510 — "Life, Itself"

We pick up where the previous episode left off: with Burham having entered the Progenitor's tech after Moll, who's still desperately trying to bring her dead Breen Royal husband, L'ak, back to life.

Michael and Moll have the usual "I'm the only option you've got" chat, and Moll agrees to not point her gun at Michael while she tries to get them to the tech. The two of them play a lot of mind games with each other and end up having a weird gravity-defying fight inside this portal, entering different dimensions as they continue their brawl. Meanwhile, the Discovery is still trying to escape Primarch Tahal's wrath as she approaches with her fleet. Saru volunteers to try and intercept Tahal's path and get her to leave the Discovery alone. There's only one small problem: this could quickly turn into a suicide mission. So of course, Action Saru is ready to go, along with Commander Nhan.

We go back to Michael and Moll, and they're still dramatically fighting each other, pointlessly.

On board the Discovery, we finally get to see Rayner as one of the crew. He trusts them, they trust him. To this very moment, I still think it's an absolute tragedy that we were only introduced to Rayner in this fifth and final season. His character is so perfect for the show and I love his rapport with the crew... It was a true waste to only include him for these last 10 episodes, especially when this finale completely renders this entire last adventure useless.

Culber decides he needs to go with Book in order to try and get the two Black Holes to stop ingesting the portal and buy time for Michael to get out of there. They have no idea what's going on with Michael, what she's doing, where she is, and if she's even alive. There's only been guessing on Book's part, saying he feels that she's alive. My buddy, you gotta do more than feel if you're going to give the Breen everything you've got right then and there. Back to Culber, I don't really know how to feel about him after the events in Episode 3, "Jinaal." He's gone from a man of science to a believer in the spiritual, which is fine, great for him. But the change is so sudden and forced, it makes no sense and it doesn't really get explained. Stamets and Culver try to have an emotional moment — I say try because literally everything in this finale feels so damn forced — in which Culver promises Adira and Stamets that he'll be fine and right back.

Lagrange Point
L-R Zahra Bentham as CMDR Jemison, David Ajala as Book and Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 9, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

Michael and Moll are still fighting. They finally stop and Moll agrees to let Michael do her thing to try and bring L'ak back to life. They find some sort of cloaked area within the portal that seems to be ancient, so of course Michael walks right in.

We then shift to Saru and Nhan, both in a tiny shuttle, intercepting this new mega threat: Primarch Tahal and her fleet. She's been trying to get to the Discovery in order to see what the Federation is hiding from her, and that's definitely not a good idea. Aboard a small Starfleet shuttle, Saru and Nhan intercept Primarch Tahal's ship. Saru embraces his Kelpian side and becomes the predator he was always meant to be: fearless, smart, assertive, and threatening. He successfully recounts every bit of information she unintentionally gives him and intimidates Tahal and her crew into changing course and leaving the Discovery alone. Good job, Action Saru. This is probably the only part in the episode that brought me joy, except I felt like this was too easy.

Back to wherever the hell Michael and Moll have found themselves, they roam around a field, walking towards a puzzle: a podium with clear, small triangles. The test? Build the shape of the one between the many. I don't usually consider myself a very puzzle-savvy person, but I understood the shape they had to recreate in two seconds, and if you're telling me Michael went through all these trials just to build a giant "shadow" triangle using the smaller ones...This is lazy writing. Anyway, I digress. Moll is dead-set on bringing L'ak back, so she knocks Michael out and tries to solve the puzzle alone, but she builds an actual triangle out of the smaller ones and gets punished for it. I thought the punishment for getting it wrong was automatic death, but I suppose I was wrong as Moll proceeds to be...shocked by the console?

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5
L-R David Ajala as Book, Mary Wiseman as Tilly, Doug Jones as Saru, Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham, Wilson Cruz as Culber, Blu Del Barrio as Adira and Callum Keith Rennie as Raynor in season 5 of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Credit: James Dimmock/Paramount+ /

Back on the Discovery, the crew uses the plasma oozing from the Black Holes to set fire to the Breen fleet, but the Dreadnought survives. From their shuttle, Book and Culver try to lock onto the portal with the tractor beam, but are unable to do so...until Culver gets a magical number in his brain in the form of the correct frequency they're supposed to use to be able to actually... grab the portal?

" "I can't explain it, I just feel it. Please!" "

Culver, in the shuttle with Book

Do you see what's going on here? There are so many things happening all at once, so many things we're expected to just accept and care about, and not enough time to process it all. Sure, the finale is a whopping hour and a half long, but for what? Why is Culver now so spiritually connected to the world after allowing Jinaal to take over his body once? Why is there no more explanation of what's going on with him, of what he's becoming after that incredible experience?

Honestly, it seems like the finale was rewritten to add little details to try and get the viewers more interested in the story and to give them more risks, but it only backfires and makes us frustrated.

Star Trek: Discovery review, Episode 510 — "Life, Itself"

Too many times in this season, there has been a new threat made out to be an ultimate enemy capable of ending all things. Too many times this season, we were presented with Michael and the Discovery crew putting their lives on the line to solve an issue or to parlay with enemies, only for everything to be resolved in some childish manner. All these little things have started to pile up. It became so hard to actually care about what happens in this finale. Things were painfully predictable, blown up out of proportion, and there was so much in this tale that wasn't properly ironed out. We were supposed to worry about Primarch Tahal finding the Discovery? We had never heard of this Primarch until a couple of episodes ago, and now we're supposed to be afraid of her? When she was talked down from pursuing the Discovery so damn easily? Hard pass.

We go back to Michael and Moll. Michael finally solves the puzzle, irritatingly talking to herself the entire time like there's a big chance she could get this childish puzzle wrong, and is teleported to somewhere that looks like the same place she was just in but at night. She comes face to face with a Progenitor, who materializes out of nowhere and explains she's been waiting there for a really long time. She's there to teach Michael how to use the tech, which will take a while. Michael explains that Moll used the interface differently and it's altering her dimension's space-time somehow. The Progenitor explains that this tech creates life, and though it can bring the dead being back to life, the creature will have none of its former memories.

Lagrange Point
Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 9, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

The Progenitor tells Michael they found the world in which they're currently in, and that it was built by a species that created them.

Saru alerts Rayner and the Discovery crew that Primarch Tahal has been told to leave, but she's left a small scouting ship in the area which makes them think she's coming back with her fleet. Rayner then comes up with the craziest idea: taking all the safety precautions off the spore drive so they can try and jump Tahal's Dreadnought light years upon light years away. I swear, any attempts at logic or explanations go out the window in this finale, but it's been a curse looming over the entire season. By separating the saucer and the secondary hull and sandwiching the Breen Dreadnought between them, the Discovery is able to jump the Breen all the way to the galactic barrier, from where it'll take them about 20 years to get back at full speed. That's actually really cool.

The Progenitor tells Michael there was a Betazoid scientist who came to her years ago and said her civilization wasn't ready for the technology and that, eventually, someone else would find it when the time was right. The Progenitor tells Michael she is to become its steward and learn how to use the technology. What happens next is just the usual dialogue where the same thing that has already been said gets repeated in a different way. It's the kind of sci-fi babble that the viewer hears and says, "okay, whatever, I don't understand it but I'll accept it" so they can continue to watch the episode.

Michael says she doesn't know what's the most meaningful thing for her and that she needs time to think about this, that she can't do this while her friends are in danger. The Progenitor, who has been waiting for her, for someone, for ages, seems to not even be phased by her reaction and calmly tells Michael she can stop using the tech by removing her hands from the console. That simple. The Progenitor tells Michael that her training will continue when she's ready; there's no rush here. It's up to Michael to be the steward if she chooses to be, which means she can absolutely have nothing to do with the tech and the world will go on as it has been.

Lagrange Point
Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 9, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

Michael breaks the news to Moll that L'ak will not be able to be brought back from the dead, and there's... little to no reaction there. Both walk away from the console, and Book is able to beam them onboard the shuttle where he and Culver have been keeping the tractor beam on the portal. All four of them beam back to the Discovery where Michael reunites with Rayner and Saru, and Stamets claims this is the greatest scientific discovery of their lifetime.

To which Michael says, "nah, we don't really need this technology."

Michael decides the tech is too powerful for one species to control and that they must... let it go. Stamets is the only person seeing reason here as he kind of loses it, not understanding why they're about to just turn their backs on the technology they all risked their lives for because Michael wishes it. She said the Progenitor trusted her to make this decision, and she's sure it's the right thing to do. The Discovery then leaves the portal, and it goes beyond the Event Horizon, probably inside one of the two black holes, as they trust what the Progenitors created for them is enough, and that this kind of technology can be remade by those who first made it as long as they still exist and there's a need for the technology. What?!

Moll and Book have a moment. She's surprisingly in excellent spirits even after finding out that her husband, her obsession, can't be brought back to life. Dr. Kovich and Michael have a chat. The Red Directive was officially closed and no one will ever know that the technology existed. He's got plans for Moll, as long as she agrees to work with him. Michael asks Kovich what his real name is, which he says is a Red Directive in it of itself. Turns out he's Agent Daniels from the USS Enterprise ("and other places").

Who's Daniels? He was that mysterious Temporal Agent who kept popping up to help Captain Archer and crew with all those tricky time travel messes in Star Trek: Enterprise. Daniels, with his calm demeanor and vast knowledge of the timeline, was always a bit of an enigma. Fast forward (or backward, depending on your point of view) to Discovery, and we meet Kovich, a character just as mysterious and knowledgeable about the intricacies of time and the universe. Turns out that Daniels, after all his adventures with the NX-01, continued his temporal work and eventually became Kovich. Kovich’s sharp intellect, no-nonsense attitude, and deep understanding of timey-wimey stuff are the result of Daniels’ experiences across countless timelines and centuries. He's seen it all and still has a few tricks up his sleeve. It’s a thrilling connection that ties the past and future of Star Trek together, but it doesn't get explored because... series finale.

Saru and Trina get married, everyone hugs it out, and Michael and Book make up. Fast-forward years later and we see an older, now Admiral Michael and Book, still together. As much as I want to say I was interested in seeing the last 12 minutes of the episode, I had to fight to keep focused. We see Michael and Book's son come to visit. He's a Captain and he's actually a pretty good mix of both of them. For someone who so badly wanted to see Book and Michael end up together, I was so disappointed by this time in the episode that it became more of an afterthought.

""Those pips can bring pressure, but they're supposed to. And at the end of the day, every member of the crew has to find their own sense of meaning.""

Michael Burham

Michael has a heart-to-heart with her son on their ship. A kind of heart-to-heart she herself could have used all those years ago when she was lost. They go to Starfleet Headquarters and we see the Discovery, still looking like a beautiful pizza cutter. Michael reflects on how lucky she is to be the one to take the Discovery to its final mission, a nice way to say goodbye as she tells Zora for the last time, "Let's fly."

So what's the actual point of this entire fifth season? For the Federation to find this ancient technology, to risk the entire crew's lives just to get to this tech and then to...get rid of it?

The finale undid everything the previous 9 episodes had done and made this fifth and final season a wash.. Camila Domingues | Winter-is-Coming. Star Trek: Discovery series finale, "Life, Itself". DS. C-

While I do have issues with how the fifth season and the series came to an end, I will miss this show painfully. Star Trek: Discovery stayed true to its name. It was the perfect show to explore the franchise, explore the fandom, and do things that had not been done before. It showed Trekkies that Star Trek is forever evolving, forever looking to take its next step in the quest to stay relevant and entertaining.

With Lower Decks also coming to an end, we now rely on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to give us our dose of Trek goodness.

And I have to admit, as upset as I was with this finale, I cried my little eyes out at the end, when the entire crew was just hugging each other. I've spent seven incredible years with the Discovery crew, and they're leaving a mega-sized hole in my heart.

As we say goodbye to Star Trek: Discovery, we celebrate a series that honored the legacy of Star Trek while carving out its own unique place in the stars. It reminded us that no matter how dark the universe may seem, there’s always hope, unity, and a new adventure just around the corner. Live long and prosper, Discovery crew. Your journey may be ending, but your legacy will shine brightly in the vast expanse of the final frontier.

Star Trek: Discovery Episode 509 review, "Lagrange Point". Star Trek: Discovery Episode 509 review, "Lagrange Point". dark. Next

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