‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Boss Breaks Down the Season 4 Finale:

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 finale “Coming Home.”]

Heading into the Season 4 finale, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the Discovery crew are running out of time to save Earth and Ni’Var from the DMA. But since the franchise’s foundation is “optimism and hope,” as executive producer Michelle Paradise points out, it all works out.

The crew’s able to get through to the Ten-C and explain the damage the DMA has done, and it is stopped before they lose Earth and Ni’Var — and Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) and the returning Tilly (Mary Wiseman). The Ten-C also helps to save Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala), whose punishment could be much worse for going against the Federation (though it will separate him and Burnham for a time). And United Earth is ready to rejoin the Federation, the president (Stacey Abrams!) reveals.

Paradise breaks down the finale.

How will Michael’s experience this season shape the captain she is next season?

Michelle Paradise: This season for us was all about that journey of being in the chair. I can’t say too much about where she goes, but I can say that the question, “What is Burnham’s captain’s journey in this episode?” was where we started every single episode for her. We see by the end of the finale just how far she’s come. She was already obviously more than ready for the chair, but it is a different thing to be in that chair. Watching her grow and become a captain who understands not only how to lead in a different way — Burnham has always been a leader, but how do you lead specifically from the chair and understanding the stakes of the things around you, the political situation, all of the things that you have to deal with as captain that you don’t have to necessarily deal with as a commander or a first officer?

This season has let us get to know Burnham in new ways, in a way that feels super exciting to me. I love that every season we get to learn more about these folks and her especially, and you always wanna give Sonequa new material to play. We’ll take what she’s gained this season and then moving forward, it’ll just be continuing to add onto that.

David Ajala as Book and Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham in Star Trek Discovery

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Michael and Book’s relationship took a major hit, but they seem to be in a good place. Are they still together?

I can’t answer that question. That is a mystery, but yeah, we did want this season to really test them and, given the things that have happened, how could it not? Of course it would, but they do love one another deeply and what we felt was most important to convey in the finale is a feeling that both of them had strong beliefs in what they were doing throughout the course of the season. Neither of them intended any harm to one another, so their love for one another is very strong and real and still there. Of course the question is what now for them.

Can you say if David will be part of Season 5?

I can’t.

Tilly’s back and thriving in her new position. Talk about sending her off and bringing her back like you did.

Tilly’s been such an interesting character on the show and she’s grown in so many ways. What an arc for Mary, and you have someone like her and you’re just so excited to give her all the things. Giving her an opportunity to explore different things, to explore different sides of herself felt important to her growth as a character. But of course we don’t want to lose her from the show. She’s amazing. Sending her off was about that and we never wanted the audience to feel like she’s not coming back, and we see her and she’s thriving. And the question for her is also what now? She’s had this experience, she’s reunited with the crew at the very end, but she clearly finds so much fulfillment in teaching. I think that will continue to be a part of where she is and it’s just what does that mean to her moving forward.

Tara Rosling as T’Rina and Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek Discovery

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

I loved watching Saru (Doug Jones) and T’Rina (Tara Rosling) take small steps towards one another and that hand-holding at the end! How did you want to build that up?

I’m so glad it resonates. It’s so sweet. This is one of those really interesting and wonderfully magic things about casting, because when we brought her in for Episode 307, we had no idea [what] it was gonna be. But the two of them got onscreen together and there was just something magic that happened. So when we came into Season 4, we just thought, “Oh my gosh, what is this thing that happened in 307? We have to explore Saru and T’Rina.” As actors, they really connected and then onscreen, they just feel magical. At the start of the season, we knew where we wanted to get them at the end. We also knew that we did not want it to be easy. It felt almost quaint in a way, like an old fashioned slow burn for their romance. Then it was a matter of, where do we bring them together? How do we turn those moments? How do we not make it too easy? How do we create things for them to deepen their knowing of one another, but not make the end in 413 obvious from the beginning?

We saw how everything that happened this season affected everyone, but especially Culber (Wilson Cruz). I liked seeing that explored because he’s the one people go to, but he needs to go to someone, too. How much do he and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) need that vacation as individuals and as a couple?

A ton. We were very interested in exploring the physician heal thyself idea. As you just said, how does the person who’s meant to heal others take care of themselves when they are in the same muck that everyone else is in? Speaking to what the DMA represents in terms of the world around us, we are all in the same thing, so how do we take care of our loved ones and our friends while also taking care of ourselves? Culber felt like the right character to explore that. So yes, they both absolutely need that vacation. I’m excited for them to have it, more excited than for my own vacation.

I love their family with Adira (Blu del Barrio), and Adira, their reaction to “bobcat” was one of my favorite moments in the finale.

They’re so great. I adore them. They’re awesome.

Adira and Detmer’s (Emily Coutts) friendship is one I wasn’t expecting but love it. How did that come about?

Adira’s arc this season has really been finding their way in the crew and finding their place. Especially now that they’re separated from Gray (Ian Alexander), just physically and they are their own person, how do they find that? They’re an ensign, they’re gaining experiences, but how do they integrate with the crew? It was just an interesting question of who would they look up to? And Detmer seemed like a person that they would look up to because she’s confident, she’s badass, she’s the pilot. But we’ve also seen in Season 3 that she struggled with some stuff and there’s a real depth to her. As someone that Adira might look up to, it felt like she was a really good person for them to kind of look at. I thought the way they played those scenes was beautifully. I loved the end of 11. That was some ad-libbing on the actors’ parts, the end of that scene between them in the lounge, which I thought was just fantastic. I love that friendship too.

Are you making it a tradition to have people tell Detmer to “fly good”? Adira, Pike [Strange New Worlds Anson Mount in Season 2]…

[Laughs] Yes. Every season, someone is gonna tell her to do that.

Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham and Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer in Star Trek Discovery

Michael Gibson/ViacomCBS

There was that moment that it looked like we might have to say goodbye to Detmer. Was that ever a possibility?

No, we wanted her to have that moment and we wanted to convey the seriousness of what this is that we were about to do. It felt like a great moment for her to understand this is who she is as a character. This is how committed she is. She was representative of all of us on the ship in that moment. All of them are willing to give everything for the greater good, and if that’s what it requires, they’re willing to do it.

It was also a really lovely moment, not just to highlight who Detmer is as a person, but her friendship with Owo [Oyin Oladejo], because that moment, as much as it’s landing on Detmer herself, it’s also landing on Owo and what does that mean to be part of a family and then one of the family has to sacrifice themselves? We don’t take those things lightly. We would never want someone to run off and be killed in battle without understanding that there’s emotional resonance to that and emotional blowback for the people around them.

What can you say about Season 5? Anything about a tone or theme?

We’re into it. We’ve got some scripts already. We know what we’re doing, where we’re going in it and we’re pretty excited about it. I think it’s gonna be a heck of a lot of fun.

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 5, TBA, Paramount+

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