What The Star Trek: Discovery Finale Got Right And Wrong

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

After watching the Star Trek: Discovery finale, we feel a bit cast adrift as fans…after all, it’s going to be a long wait until we get to “boldly go” into another series or film. That left us plenty of time to ponder whether or not the finale lived up to the high expectations fans had as we watched one fast-paced episode after another. Now, we’ve made our decision, and we’re sounding “Black Alert” for the last time as we explore everything this finale got right (and wrong).

Out-Of-This-World Visuals

We’re going to start with the good stuff, and if you want our review in a nutshell, the Star Trek: Discovery finale was mostly pretty solid. For starters, this was probably the show’s most gorgeous episode, both in terms of the (admittedly always excellent) outer space sequences and the interior of the Progenitor portal. Taking artistic cues from M.C. Escher, the Discovery crew delivered sumptuous visuals for the last leg of Captain Burnham’s journey in scenes that evoked genuine awe.

The actual resolution to the Progenitor mystery wasn’t completely satisfying (more on this soon), but the actual visuals were among the best in the franchise.

Satisfying Standout Moments

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Many of our favorite Star Trek: Discovery characters got standout moments in this finale. Critics have often complained about how this is basically the Michael Burnham show, and while she still dominates the episode, it’s great to get scenes where the once-meek Saru bluffs an entire Breen fleet and when Dr. Culber and Booker travel into an irradiated war zone in order to save their friend. Even David Cronenberg’s Dr. Kovich gets a standout scene, complete with the revelation that he has secretly been the Enterprise character Daniels (a temporal agent) all along.

A True Easter Egg Hunt

Speaking of that revelation, one of the things we really loved about Star Trek: Discovery’s last season in general and the finale in particular has been all the fun Easter eggs referencing earlier shows. Haters will say we just love fan service, but we can’t deny the pleasures of seeing things like Geordi La Forge’s VISOR and Captain Sisko’s baseball in Kovich’s office. We even enjoyed seeing that bottle of Chateau Picard, though we might need to drink more than one of those wine bottles before watching the first two seasons of Picard again anytime soon.

Open For More Adventures

Wrapping up our list of good things about the Star Trek: Discovery finale is that it managed to simultaneously tie up several loose ends while leaving room for us to imagine more adventures. The entire ending with an older Burnham and Booker was shot after the show was canceled, and it was used to give these two “will they, won’t they characters” the same kind of happy ending that Saru got. 

The ending even unexpectedly helped set up the infamous Short Treks “Calypso” episode, confirming that nothing bad had happened to our beloved crew when the man named Craft later discovers that Discovery has been abandoned for nearly a thousand years. By showing that a much older Admiral Burnham ordered this mission, the finale also lets us imagine many more adventures with this crew after the end of the fifth season.

Progenitor Payoff Denied

With all that praise out of the way, there are still a few things we didn’t love about the Star Trek: Discovery finale. Number one with a bullet is that we were disappointed by Captain Burnham’s decision to avoid using Progenitor technology and basically burying these secrets for good. This tech had been advertised as something that could completely change the face of the 32nd century, but now it seems like the writers are scared to make major changes…like, why set your show 800 years after The Next Generation if you’re going to remain afraid to upset the status quo?

What About Stamets And Tilly?

Also, in typical Star Trek: Discovery fashion, the finale left us wanting to see more of our favorite characters. Obviously, the writers didn’t originally know this would be the last season, but for every character who gets to shine, others get shafted. It’s cool seeing Burnham, Saru, Culber, and Booker getting big moments, but longtime fan faves like Stamets and Tilly are just sort of there.

That problem is particularly noticeable when you get to the final scene and Burnham is remembering her with the crew that became her family. It’s cool to see Owosekun and Detmer onscreen again, but these characters went from being essentially main characters early on to characters we barely saw in season five. Bringing them back for a non-speaking cameo at the very end just underscores how poorly they have been utilized the entire time.

Rushed To Conclusions

Our last real gripe about the Star Trek: Discovery series finale isn’t entirely the writers’ fault due to the surprise cancellation…nonetheless, everything seemed rushed. Saru’s wedding was teased all season but we barely saw any of it; the Progenitor mystery drove the entire season, but it only took a super-brief conference for Burnham to decide (almost unilaterally) to decide against using it.

The tacked-on ending also rushed through Burnham and Booker’s relationship (we literally jump to them as an old married couple with a kid), and the attempt to set up the “Calypso” Short Treks episode is rushed and makes less sense the more you think about it.

More Hits Than Misses

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Where, then, does the ending of Star Trek: Discovery rank among franchise finales? It’s not as good as the finales to The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, but it’s a bit better than the finale for Voyager and almost infinitely better than the endings for Enterprise and The Original Series (neither of which ever felt like proper finales, anyway). In the end, Discovery had more hits than misses with this finale, and we find ourselves surprisingly sad to give this show the Vulcan goodbye.

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