Discovery's Final Episode Breaks an Infamous Star Trek Curse

Stick the landing.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham.
Star Trek

The finale of Star Trek: Discovery was given the impossible task of concluding Season 5’s 10-episode story while also serving as a capper for the entire show and wrapping up a handful of Short Treks anthology episodes. But while Trek series finales can be a mixed bag, Discovery fans can rest easy. Its series finale, “Life Itself,” manages to stick the landing. Here’s a spoiler-free look at why you can’t miss the Discovery finale, which makes for an impressive but concise balancing act that ends the show with confidence and class.

While the series finales of The Next Generation (“All Good Things...”) and Deep Space Nine (“What You Leave Behind”) were generally well-received, not all Star Trek series finales have been compelling. 2023’s Picard finale was a slam-dunk, but it was an extension of The Next Generation. The Original Series and The Animated Series didn’t have planned finales and just stopped on somewhat random episodes. Opinions are divided on the Voyager finale, “Endgame,” but Chakotay and Seven’s sudden romance is unrealistic, and Janeway’s time paradox story feels like a retread of “All Good Things...” Most infamously, the 2004 Enterprise series finale is considered a bad finale and perhaps one of the worst Trek episodes ever, as it focuses on guest stars dragged in from Next Gen instead of its own cast.

So making a good finale to wrap up a Star Trek series isn’t exactly a high bar to clear. The circumstances surrounding Discovery’s series finale are an odd combination of the planned finales for TNG, DS9, and Voyager, and the unexpected conclusions to TOS, The Animated Series, and Enterprise. Thankfully, that cocktail seems to be effective.

It’s no secret that the final episode of Discovery wasn’t planned to be the series finale. Nearly a year after Season 5 finished shooting, it was decided that Discovery would come to an end. And so, while the season was being edited, showrunner Michelle Paradise and Alex Kurtzman created an extended coda for Episode 10. As reported back in 2023, Discovery was given “additional filming to help craft a conclusion for the series.” Discovery’s last episode was retroactively transformed into a series finale.

While hardcore fans might be able to see where the original season ending and new series ending were glued together, the finale is still extremely satisfying. Nothing about “Life Itself” overstays its welcome, nor does it feel like the story of Michael Burnham and the Discovery crew is being short-changed. It’s actually hard to imagine what certain characters would have done afterward had there been a Season 6. The final moments do hint at stories that could be explored in future Trek series, and the Final Frontier's distant future is still in flux. But when faced with the task of wrapping up an epic action-adventure series set inside a sprawling franchise, Discovery’s finale does it all with grace.

The Star Trek: Discovery finale, “Life Itself,” hits Paramount+ on Thursday, May 30 at 3:00 AM EST.

Related Tags