The Inverse Interview

Discovery Was First in the Door.” The Most Divisive, and Important, Star Trek Show Comes to an End

The long and winding road of Star Trek: Discovery comes to an end.

A promotional poster for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 5.
Star Trek

Ten years ago, the state of Star Trek was very different. It was the year after the second J.J. Abrams-directed reboot film, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), hit theaters. But now, in 2024, one of the co-writers of that film, Alex Kurtzman, is the admiral in charge of all the television adventures in the Final Frontier. Since 2017, when Discovery debuted on CBS All-Access (now Paramount+), there have been four more new Star Trek TV series, with at least one more new show — Starfleet Academy — on the way.

“I feel like there wouldn’t be this new era of Trek without Discovery,” Kurtzman tells Inverse. “Discovery was first in the door, and it tried so many different things, and we had amazing successes, and I think that all the other shows, in different ways, kind of organized themselves around what Discovery did first.”

And now, the Trek show that brought the franchise back to TV is dropping its fifth and final season, starting April 4. Inverse caught up with Kurtzman, showrunner Michelle Paradise, and cast members Sonequa Martin-Green, Blu del Barrio, Mary Wiseman, and David Ajala, to get a sense of what the final voyage of Discovery will feel like. Light spoilers ahead.

The Discovery Family

One last ride for the Disco fam...


From its very first scene, Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 hits the ground at warp speed. As seen in the trailers, a space-suited Capt. Burnham (Martin-Green) is riding atop a renegade starship, desperately trying to knock it off course by any means necessary. She’ll even use a hand phaser if she has to! But Burnham has limits. The chase isn’t worth interstellar reckless endangerment. The crew — the found family of the USS Discovery — comes first.

“I actually can’t imagine having to do this show if we didn’t feel like a family,” Wiseman tells Inverse during a press day at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2024. Although it seemed like Tilly was maybe stepping away from the show in Season 4, she’s very much back in Season 5. Wiseman also makes it clear that the cast is just as close behind the scenes as they are on screen. “It would be so weird to act these deep relationships when they weren’t completely backed up by the deep, intimate relationships we have in real life.”

Del Barrio, who joined the cast in 2020’s Season 3 as Adira, adds, saying with a smile: “Not to be mean to our own acting skills, but I do think it would be bad — like if we didn’t really like each other, it would just be bad.”

Discovery is known for wearing its heart on its Starfleet sleeve, which is part of why the found-family element is so strong on-screen and off. But, being emotive doesn’t mean the characters can’t be badasses, too. As Booker, the resident Indiana Jones-esque privateer, Ajala feels that his character represents a balance between action tropes and real humanism.

“Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise were very intentional to introduce a character that is as well-rounded as possible,” Ajala says. “And I think that’s a bit of a rare quality sometimes, especially in a character that may come across as physically looking strong.”

The Last Days of Disco

Phasers out! Discovery’s final season may be the most action-packed yet.


Although Season 5 wasn’t initially crafted as the finale for Discovery, it was eventually decided, after production, this would become the final season. As such, an extended ending was filmed for the final episode, which Martin-Green calls “graceful.” For showrunner Paradise — who came to Discovery midway through Season 2 — the ending of the show is bittersweet. But she feels that the uniqueness of Discovery will become its legacy.

“On any given episode, I’m proud that we’re able to finish the episode and make it awesome,” Paradise says. “Same with any given season. These shows are very, very challenging to make. So even just making them and making them awesome is an achievement.”

She adds, “As a whole, I’m so proud of the stories that we’ve told, the diversity we’ve shown on screen, the diversity of stories themselves, and I’m proud of how people respond to it. It’s something that has touched people on a very, very deep and personal level, and that is something I’m personally going to take with me.”

Martin-Green is reflective about the past, too. Because Discovery began as a prequel to the original Star Trek and, via time travel, has become a sequel to the entire canon, there’s a sense that the past seven years and five seasons have stretched over centuries. If Martin-Green could really time travel in the Red Angel suit from Season 2, what would she say to her younger self, the version of her who just started playing Michael Burnham back then?

“I would tell her to slow down because a wild ride is coming your way,” Martin-Green says. “Slow down and be in the moment.”

The Trek You Take

Sonequa Martin-Green with Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise at SXSW 2024.

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Every Star Trek series has had a final episode, and the debates about which of those finales are the best will rage until Q himself decides to burn down the entire universe. But because the finale of Discovery is almost upon us, what will this ending feel like? To put it another way, if Discovery Season 5 is a rock album, what’s the vibe?

Kurtzman, reliably, has an answer.

“I would never compare us to The Beatles. The hubris would be too much,” he says with a laugh. “But what I will say is that I could actually never get my head around the fact that the Beatles, the last thing they ever said in Abbey Road was, in the end, the love you take is equal, the love you make. And then they walked out the door and that was it. Right? That’s the last thing they ever left us with, and I think in some ways that’s a fairly corollary message for us with Discovery.”

So, Discovery Season 5 is poised to end with love. But like a great rock album, the journey to that point will be anything but smooth.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 debuts with two episodes on Paramount+ on April 4.

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