Star Trek: Discovery Boss Breaks Down That ‘Calypso’ Nod, Kovich’s Surprising Reveal in Emotional Series Finale

The following contains major spoilers from Star Trek: Discovery’s series finale on Thursday. Proceed accordingly.

After five ambitious seasons, Star Trek: Discovery has sent its last transmission.

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In Thursday’s 90-minute series finale, Burnhum found herself cut off from her crew after following Moll through the portal that contained the Progenitors’ life-altering tech and, to her astonishment, doors to other worlds. While the captain fought the latter inside, her Discovery cohorts battled Breen warriors out in space.

Desperate to revive L’ak, Moll haphazardly set off the Progenitors’ device, which not only left her severely injured but sent the galaxy’s gravity out of whack. Burnham solved the puzzle which then enacted a safety protocol that bought her friends time. It also linked her consciousness with — gasp — a long-dead Progenitor. During their thought-provoking conversation, Burnham was given the choice to do what she felt was right with their tech. She, much to Stamets’ dismay, opted to let it go altogether.

When the dust settled — Action Saru having fended off the Breen army — later scenes set in the future reveal that the Kelpian ambassador and T’Rina married. Book and Burnham also wed, then settled on Sanctuary Four (where Book planted Kwejian’s World Root) and had a son named Leto. The series wrapped with an older Burnham, now an admiral, taking Discovery out to space one last time, where it will sit abandoned for a thousand years until someone else finds it.

Read on for our interview with co-showrunner Michelle Paradise, who breaks down the episode’s biggest reveals and how it all came together.

[Note: Season 5 was originally filmed as a season finale. Following its cancellation, cast and crew were given an opportunity, aka a coda, to film additional scenes that wrapped up the show.]

TVLINE | At the very end, we see Burnham decommission the Discovery, and it feels like a tie-in to the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “Calypso,” as well as an earlier reference this season about it being abandoned for a thousand years. Why did you end the series that way?
MICHELLE PARADISE: We always knew that, at some point, we were going to have to tie back to the “Calypso” short because people who had loved the short would always have the question, ‘How did Discovery NCC-1031, not 1031-A, get out there and wait for Craft (played by Aldis Hodge) to be able to have that experience?’ It was always something that we knew we were going to have to do. When we found out that we were ending the series and we had the opportunity to do a coda, that was one of the important elements that we knew that we needed to have.

The other thing it gave us is the chance to resolve the character of the ship because Discovery itself, Zora, is a huge character in the show. In the same way that it was emotionally important for us to wrap up Burnham’s story and know what had happened with her and Book, and just to know that they had their happy ending and she’s become an admiral, we wanted to have an emotional wrap-up for the ship Discovery and know what was going to happen to [it]. And so, tying it in with “Calypso” felt like a way to honor the fans who had seen the short and had that question, and it also felt like honoring fans who hadn’t ever seen the short but would want to know, ‘What’s going to happen to the ship now?’ Well, it has a very important mission. She’s going to go out and it’s going to take some time, but she has something very important to do as well.

Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale
Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale

TVLINE | You had a very short window for this coda, so was there any story that you wrote but had to unfortunately leave out?
No, because we were very clear. We knew from the time we found out that we were going to have three days to shoot, which tells us, ‘OK, we can do maybe 10 to 12 pages or so.’  We knew that there were certain limitations with the sets because some sets had already been struck, but we had the bridge. [EP Kyle Jarrow], [co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman] and I just sat down and said, ‘OK, what are the most important things?’

Most important is that we honor Burnham. She’s the heart of our show, and we want to know what has happened with her — and her and Book, of course. Addressing the “Calypso” piece of it is number two. And then we knew that we wanted to be able to somehow see all our cast again and to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to everyone as we know them now. What happens on the bridge there in that moment, Alex just saw it so clearly and I thought it was so beautiful when he pitched that. It was a great way to say goodbye to everyone. Knowing that those were our three North Stars, then we just we constructed the coda around that. It didn’t feel like there were things that we were leaving out because we had a very clear target for ourselves.

TVLINE | We did learn that Book and Burnham have a son who is now going to be a captain. Talk to me about the importance of that and carrying their legacy. Is this setting him up to potentially be seen somewhere else in the future?
We wanted to know what would happen with Burnham and Book in the future. It felt like, ‘Oh yeah, they would start a family,’ that their son would be the combo platter of the two of them. And we were very intentional about all of that, including his name Leto, which is the name of Book’s [nephew], who we met back in Season 3 and who was on Kwejian [in Season 4, Episode 1 when the DMA destroyed the planet]. Being able to honor his [nephew] in that way by naming their son after him, and that their son is going into Starfleet and following in mom’s footsteps by becoming a captain, it all felt right for the characters and also like a happy ending for us to be able to see that.

Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale
Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale

TVLINE | Tilly becomes the longest tenured Starfleet Academy instructor, and we do know that the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series is happening in the same timeline. Do you think there’s a possibility of her appearing on that series?
Talking about Tilly in that way, we wanted to know, at least for Discovery purposes, what was happening with our characters. We couldn’t give an update on everyone, but it felt like the Tilly update was very important because teaching had been such a huge part of her arc over Seasons 4 and 5. These characters will continue to exist. They all exist in the same world. I don’t know what they have planned over at Starfleet Academy, but I will be tuning in myself.

TVLINE | I loved the reveal of Kovich as Agent Daniels, the temporal agent from Star Trek: Enterprise. How early on did you know that would be his true identity? Where’d that come from?
It was a pitch in the writers’ room. Carlos Cisco and Eric J.  Robbins know every iteration of everything, and they really love Enterprise. And from the moment David Cronenberg started playing that role, we all found ourselves leaning in whenever he was on screen. He plays that character so wonderfully and mysteriously that from moment one, I was asking myself, ‘What is happening? Who is this guy? There is a mystery here.’ We wanted to answer that question and we knew we would be doing the fans a disservice if we didn’t answer whatever that mystery was going to be.

It was probably Season 4 when this idea for him to be Daniels came up… In Season 5, we started planting little seeds: him writing with pen and paper as opposed to the holoPADDs that everyone uses. Even just his choice of wardrobe. When we meet him, he’s in glasses and a tie. This is a guy that, from the moment he joined the show, has been a little out of time. And so, Daniels felt like the perfect choice to highlight all of that.

TVLINE | Going back to the Progenitors, we get the reveal that there was an unknown creator before them, which felt very spiritual. What were you saying with that?
That was very intentional and felt very important for us to do you. The story itself comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation and in that story, they created life as we know it. It felt important that we’re not seeing them as gods with a capital G. It was something Sonequa Martin-Green and I talked about early on. Her faith is very important to her, and we all felt like it was important to, in the story, leave that door open so that the story was accessible to all. Whatever one’s personal beliefs, that we’re not saying these are Gods. Someone else created, and these individuals found it here. So, whether that is a spiritual thing or another alien race — whatever it might be — that people can see into that choice whatever they want. So, it felt important to us to leave the question open ended rather than deciding that we were going to answer [it].

TVLINE | Do you think that this series finale will be a satisfying ending for longtime Star Trek fans? Why so?
I hope it is. I hope it feels emotionally satisfying for people who have invested seven or eight years in the five seasons of this show. We didn’t want any hanging questions. We wanted it to be an emotionally satisfying, happy ending for people who have loved the show [and] these characters. And for folks who are fans of Discovery and all the other iterations, we hope it will also be satisfying. We’ve put our hearts into it and we are fans of the show as much as we also work on the show. We know what this show means to people, and what the characters mean to people and what they represent to people. And so, we really wanted to honor the characters and the fans in the way that we ended. I hope it will feel satisfying and that people won’t feel like anything was left out. Hopefully, they’ll come away and feel joy for having been on the ride with us.

What did you think of Star Trek: Discovery’s series finale? Grade the episode below, and then sound off in the comments.

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