The Famous Artist Who Inspired The Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Star Trek Discovery

Whether you’re its biggest fan or its biggest hater, it’s impossible to deny that Star Trek: Discovery is a show that has always looked beautiful thanks to its killer special effects. The fifth and final season was arguably the prettiest yet, and for one iconic scene, the show’s crew had a secret weapon to achieve this awesome aesthetic.

Here’s the secret behind our favorite Star Trek: Discovery finale scene: the design of the set where Captain Burnham finally spoke to a Progenitor was influenced by famous artist MC Escher.

MC Escher’s Impossible Art

If his name doesn’t immediately ring a bell (we can’t blame you if your brain is still processing this Star Trek series finale), MC Escher was a Dutch artist who wasn’t appreciated in his time. In the decades after his death in 1972, audiences and artists worldwide have come to appreciate Escher for his unique perspective. MC Escher is famous for creating seemingly “impossible” looking art, including endless stairways and gravity-defying vistas.

A Specific Painting Was Never Mentioned

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Michelle Paradise didn’t mention a specific painting, but in a recent interview, she mentioned how the crew was inspired by Escher’s art because “We wanted a sense of a smaller exterior and an infinite interior to help with that sense of power greater than us.”

This is about Captain Burnham and Moll’s strange journey: from the outside, both of them simply walked through a glowing door into a relatively small cylinder. It looked like a big barrel from the outside, but the interior was an expansive space that included portals to other worlds.

Discovery’s Mind-Blowing Finale

discovery finale

If we had to guess which painting Star Trek: Discovery’s finale was most inspired by, it is probably MC Escher’s “Relativity.” In that painting, we see characters traveling through gravity-defying stairs and accessing windows to other areas. The finale took the “windows to other areas” idea to a sci-fi extreme, showing giant portals that transport Burnham and Moll to areas like a fire world, a rain world, and so on. 

How Discovery Used Escher’s Themes

star trek discovery season 6

Aside from the portals, the other main reason we think this Star Trek: Discovery episode was inspired by MC Escher’s “Relativity” is that this painting famously has three different sources of gravity. That is meant to explain why different characters in the painting may be walking up the stairs while someone next to them will be sitting on the wall, like Spider-Man. The episode similarly cleverly uses gravity, showing how Burnham accidentally falls up through a portal into a rain world.

Discovery Stuck The Landing

Star Trek Discovery

Some Star Trek fans joked that this whole idea seemed more inspired by Doctor Who than MC Escher (what with the “bigger on the inside, instantly take you to other worlds” stuff), but we think the influence of this famous artist in this ambitious finale is very obvious.

Regardless of who inspired what, we were blown away by the sight of Progenitor technology, and its sheer beauty is almost impressive enough to make up for Burnham’s boring decision to never utilize the technology. For fans, all of this serves as a reminder that sometimes, art is the strangest new world of them all. 

Source: Variety

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