‘Star Trek Discovery’ Season 5 Review — One Hell of a Final Ride

Estimated read time 8 min read

The Big Picture

  • Star Trek: Discovery
    ‘s mystery in Season 5 is more lighthearted than Season 4 while still maintaining the series’ high stakes.
  • Sonequa Martin-Green shines in her role as Michael Burnham, one of Starfleet’s best captains.
  • Season 5 is well-paced and structured, with each episode offering a satisfying piece of the full puzzle.

Let’s fly, one last time. The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery is right around the corner, with Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) gearing up to take us on the adventure of a lifetime. Discovery premiered back in 2017 and kicked off the current Star Trek renaissance that has seen six new shows brought to life along with a spin-off movie starring Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh. While it’s bittersweet to see Discovery come to an end, showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise have crafted one hell of a ride for the show’s final run.

Where Season 4 saw Michael and the crew of the Discovery stitching the federation back together in the wake of a devastating disaster, Season 5 sets up a more light-hearted adventure in the style of an Indiana Jones movie. Despite not knowing Season 5 would be the show’s last, the cast and crew behind the series have set up a story worthy of the legacy of Discovery that stays true to the very best of Star Trek. The mystery laid out in the first four episodes of Season 5 stitches the franchise together in a creation myth that tangles Burnham and her crew with destiny itself.

What Is ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 5 About?

One of Discovery’s biggest strengths is telling a captivating season-long, self-contained story, and it looks like the same stands true for Season 5. The premiere episode sends Michael and her crew on a mission that will bring them face-to-face with some of the most powerful forces in the galaxy. In a race against time, the crew of the Discovery enters a veritable treasure hunt for one of the franchise’s greatest mysteries. Legendary filmmaker David Cronenberg returns as Doctor Kovich and acts as the architect for the mission that will likely span the entirety of the show’s final episodes. Kovich is as enigmatic as always and Cronenberg’s chemistry with Martin-Green is filled with the type of starry-eyed wonder that makes Star Trek so compelling.

In addition to the return of Cronenberg, Season 5 also introduces a few enemies and reluctant allies in the form of Eve Harlow (The 100), Elias Toufexis, and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica). Harlow and Toufexis play Moll and L’ak, respectively, with the former both hardened and bold, shaped by a hard life in a challenging universe but knowing exactly how to get what she wants. L’ak is almost blindly devoted to her and that devotion makes him extremely dangerous. Not only are they formidable antagonists, but the duo is also set up as an interesting narrative foil to the relationship between Book (David Ajala) and Burnham, which is going through a rough patch following their fallout in Season 4.

While Burnham leads her crew on a planet-hopping scavenger hunt that will have audiences eagerly attempting to crack the riddles within each episode, she also has to deal with another rough-around-the-edges Starfleet captain. Rennie plays Captain Rayner, a war-weary leader with a single-minded focus that has Burnham calling upon 900 years’ worth of patience. While they share the same goal, their command styles (and their personalities) couldn’t be more different. But part of Star Trek’s ethos is learning to look beyond those differences and make connections. Connecting with Rayner certainly won’t be easy, but if the early episodes are any indication, it will be worth it in the end.

With Episodes 1-4 written by Michelle Paradise, Alan McElroy, Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Wilkinson, and Sean Cochran Season 5 is remarkably structured. Each episode adds another piece of the overarching puzzle while also providing some stellar character work and thematic connections worthy of a final season. While there are a lot of characters to catch up with, and several narrative threads to keep track of, Discovery Season 5 is well-paced. Each storyline gets the breathing room it needs without making the show feel unbalanced or creating any lulls in the less action-packed sequences.

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 5 Keeps the Crew at the Heart of the Story

The driving force behind Discovery — and honestly, every Star Trek series — always comes back to the characters. Season 5 keeps Burnham and her crew at the heart of the story, allowing their complex relationships to move the narrative forward in an easy give-and-take. Martin-Green is phenomenal as always, imbuing Burnham with a level of empathy and grace that makes her one of the franchise’s very best captains. Not only does Burnham show that it’s possible to lead from the heart, but that’s exactly what makes her so good. In the new episodes, we’ll find out exactly how far Burnham has come since the show’s inception as she comes face to face with some of the skeletons in her closet.

Though Season 4 saw Book and Burnham split up after the events with the DMA and Species 10-C, the spark between them is still there. Ajala and Martin-Green’s chemistry is electric, and their characters have the kind of connection reminiscent of TNG‘s Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Book and Burnham actually working through their issues and digging into the complexities of loving someone who’s hurt you feels like a real treat, especially for TNG fans who longed for more depth in that show’s episodic narrative.

Book and Burnham aren’t the only relationship getting the spotlight in Season 5, either. The romance that sparked between Saru (Doug Jones) and T’Rina (Tara Rosling) in Season 4 is one of the show’s sweet spots and the unconventional alien couple takes some big steps forward in the first four episodes. Meanwhile, love certainly plays a role in the intensity between Moll and L’ak, and Tilly (Mary Wiseman) also dabbles slightly in a little rom-com moment with a fellow teacher from Starfleet Academy. If the upcoming Academy-set series is confirmed as a Discovery spin-off, it would be lovely to see this little connection carry over.

The little family unit established between Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Culber (Wilson Cruz) and their baby gays, Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Grey (Ian Alexander), is still present, but time apart has shifted things for the younger couple. While the steps they take make total sense within the narrative of Discovery, it does play into the apparent sanitization of queer relationships within the Star Trek franchise. The latest seasons of Picard and Lower Decks saw previously established queer relationships end, and to see Discovery follow suit (to a degree) is disheartening, as a queer viewer — especially when Star Trek’s most comparable counterpart, Doctor Who, is openly embracing the community. We’ll have to wait for the full season to play out to know the endgame of these relationships, so hopefully, not all is lost for LGBTQ+ romance in the 32nd century. Tig Notaro‘s Jett Reno also makes a return, and Cruz, in particular, gets to flex his acting skills with a very sci-fi twist.

Another drawback of the final season is that it’s unlikely we’ll ever get the full backstories of the Discovery’s bridge crew, like Owo (Oyin Oladejo), Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), and Detmer (Emily Coutts). These characters have been part of the show since it began, but we know little about their lives outside their roles as Starfleet officers. That said, Burnham does connect with these crew members in an episode that is both incredibly Star Trek and one of the series’ best.

How Does ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 5 Hold Up as the End of a Series?

Despite not being planned as the show’s final installment when production began on Season 5, it seems to take up the mantle remarkably well. Discovery took a bold turn within the franchise by introducing a serialized narrative when it first premiered, despite all previous series being episodic. That’s worked beautifully in Discovery’s favor, as each season has delivered a satisfying story that keeps audiences consistently engaged across all 10 episodes.

On top of a compelling treasure hunt-style story and its complex characters, Discovery Season 5 also delivers some incredible action sequences and truly breathtaking visuals. The scale of the series feels massive in its final episodes, and viewers will no doubt want to rewatch each episode just to take in the beauty of it all. Without giving anything away, the season’s plot is tied to a mystery that bridges multiple parts of the franchise together in a way that will have even the most niche Star Trek fan excited. Season 5 appears to be heading towards a very natural full-circle moment for the series — and if Starfleet Academy is confirmed as a spin-off for Discovery, saying goodbye to this chapter might just get a little bit easier.

Star Trek Discovery TV Show Poster

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 sets up a thrilling adventure while keeping the characters at the heart of the story.


  • The show’s mystery, while full of high stakes, is more light-hearted than Season 4.
  • Sonequa Martin-Green proves once again why Michael Burnham is one of the best captains in Starfleet.
  • Season 5 is well-paced and well-structured, with each episode offering a satisfying piece of the puzzle.
  • Season 5 delivers breathtaking visuals and heart-pounding action sequences.
  • The characters and their relationships drive the plot forward naturally.


  • With only 10 episodes remaining, some characters won’t get their time in the spotlight.
  • Star Trek as a whole appears to be pulling back on LGBTQ+ relationships.

Season 5 of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on April 4, and you can catch up with the first four seasons on Paramount+ right now.