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Star Trek: Discovery ending explained (and major epilogue twists!)

The show that relaunched Star Trek on Paramount+ finishes its run with high action, big reveals, and a lot of hugs

After a five-year run that saw Star Trek introduce its first black female protagonist (and greatest action hero), a new half-sister for Spock; an insanely cool new version of space travel; and, after its second season, a leap 900 years into the future, Paramount+ mainstay Star Trek: Discovery has bid a fond farewell from the final frontier.

The fifth season of the show has involved a season-long series of quests in the service of, well, discovering the whereabouts of the technology from the ancient species known as the Progenitors that was used to create all intelligent life in the universe. Along the way, Burnham and company have also been dealing with a pair of thieves, Moll and L’ak, intent on getting the technology for themselves so that they can trade it for their lives to the scary-masked and massive-warship-driving Breen.

After L’ak is revealed to be the scion of the now-dead Breen Emperor before dying in a misjudged attempt to escape, Moll allies with a Breen Primarch to be the first to get the Progenitor technology, believing it can be used to bring back her boo. But after the Patriarch repeatedly broke his promises, his crew turned on him and allowed Moll herself to take over in the service of resurrecting their Scion.

As it turns out, the technology is not a tool but some kind of gateway, which Moll and Burnham both leap into - leading into a finale filled with action, big decisions, a time jump, and a big reveal about the secret identity of one character.

Warning: This article contains major, major spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.

What happens in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

Burnham finds herself in Star Trek’s version of Star Wars’ World Between Worlds, a seemingly endless space in which portals into others worlds lie in every direction - including above and below. After fighting her way out of one such portal, Burnham ends up being attacked by Moll.

When Moll won’t agree to work together, the two battle between amongst and between worlds, in a sort of Inception meets The Matrix meets Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse sequence, before Moll finally agrees to chill and let Burnham help her bring back L’ak, who exists in a pattern recognition buffer Moll carries with her.

Realizing there’s maybe somehow something behind the worlds they’re seeing, Burnham discovers the location of the command panel for the Progenitors’ device. Moll knocks Burnham out (of course) and tries to make the device bring back L’ak. But because she doesn’t really understand how it works, she gets electrocuted instead.

Burnham figures out how to work the device safely and finds herself face to face with a Progenitor, who reveals that having completed all the quests, Burnham can now use this technology any way she sees fit. Believing that this is way too much power to have, Burnham tells the Progenitor she needs some time to figure out what she wants to do with it. She also learns that the Progenitors did not build the device, but found it themselves, its actual origins and creators perhaps thousands of years in the past; why answer a question about lore when you can simply kick it forward some more, after all?

Meanwhile, Discovery under the guidance of Rayner has been battling Moll’s Dreadnaught. Eventually they somehow use the spore drive to throw a lasso of quantum-entangled spores around the Breen and jump them to the galactic barrier, which will take them decades to return from... or something. It's very science. As this is going on, Saru and Commander Nhan work to stop another Breen Dreadnought from arriving at Discovery’s location and starting an all out war. When diplomacy doesn’t work, Saru goes full predator Kelpian and warns the Breen Primarch he has species poised to destroy her bases.

Booker and Hugh are able to rescue Burnham and Moll in a shuttle after Hugh realizes the Trill Jinaal who took over his body earlier in the season left in his memory the exact subspace frequency for their tractor beam to lock onto. They all return to Discovery, where Burnham decides that what the Progenitors created with all of their species is enough and lets the Progenitor's tech get sucked into a black hole.

The present-day story ends with the whole gang at Saru and President T’rina’s wedding, where Booker reveals that his sentence has been commuted. He and Burnham admit they still love each other and decide to be together — with Grudge — “no matter what.”

What happens in the Star Trek: Discovery time jump?

After Saru’s wedding, the episode shifts to what we are told is a “few years” later, but looks to be actually at least a couple decades, as Michael and Book now have a full-grown son, Leto, who is about to get his own command in Starfleet. Burnham is now an admiral, and she and Booker live on Sanctuary Four, the planet in which Book planted that last cutting of the Kwejian World Root that he received in the Archive in 508.

Burnham comes back to the Discovery, which is being retired, sort of? She explains to Zora that they’re going to be leaving her and the ship somewhere in deep space. When Zora wonders why or for how long, Burnham reveals this is a Red Directive. She herself doesn’t know anything but a single word somehow connected to the mission: “Craft.” But she believes Zora will be waiting for whatever is supposed to happen to her for longer than Burnham’s lifetime. (Is this weird? Yes, it is. It is very weird.)

As Burnham sits on the empty bridge, she imagines a reunion with all our old friends, all of them young once again. Then she returns to the present and with a “Let’s fly,” sends Discovery out one last time.

Does anyone die in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

Nope. Everyone lives happily ever after. Except for Zora. She is abandoned. I get it: story to follow. But it really is very weird.

Does Star Trek: Discovery have any big twists or nods to Star Trek lore?

Oh yes, my friends. A big one.

In the episode’s most fascinating and unexpected moment, Burnham visits the enigmatic Dr. Kovich’s office, and discovers on his shelves such things as Sisko’s baseball, LaForge’s visor, and a bottle of the Picard family wine. Burnham hazards a guess that Kovich is not who he says he is. Kovich admits that in fact he is Agent Daniels, the operative from the 31st century who appears in Star Trek: Enterprise.

Do Michael Burnham and Booker end up together on Star Trek: Discovery?

Yes! At the end of Star Trek: Discovery, the two of them have been happily living alone on a forest preserve planet for decades.

Do Paul and Hugh stay together in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

Though Drs. Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber have had some ups and downs over the course of Star Trek: Discovery — Paul became the heart of a spore-driven space travel device; Hugh died and was brought back to life — the two have stayed together through thick and thin.

The final season has seen Hugh struggling to deal with the existential mysteries they're confronting and afraid Paul won't be able to handle the questions he’s asking. In the finale these issues come to a head, as Hugh decides he has to go with Book to try and save Burnham because he just knows he’s meant to be there. But Paul relents, and Hugh is indeed inexplcably in just the right place at the right time.

Does Burnham give an inspirational speech in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

Honestly, she gave three in the flash forward alone, two to her son and one to Zora. Yes, there are many heartfelt moments in the Discovery finale, and Sonequa Martin-Green lands them all with her characteristically warm intensity.

Does Spock return in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

Given the fact that as of the end of season 2, Star Trek: has taken place in the 32nd century, nearly a thousand years in the future, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for guest stars to show up, because they’re all long since dead. (Sorry.)

And so unfortunately, as lovely as it might have been, the Discovery finale offers no reunion with Spock, or with anyone from the first two seasons.

Are there any other guest stars in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

As mentioned, the end of the episode has a brief moment in which Burnham imagines herself reunited with all her old friends. All the series regulars and current bridge crew are there, plus Bryce and of course, the 32nd century’s OTP, Owokesun and Detmer.

The reunion is without words, just a lot of hugging. But it’s sweet.

Do Owo and Detmer get together in the Star Trek: Discovery finale?

While Owo and Detmer have long been interpreted as a couple by some (including your humble scribe), nothing has ever been made explicit. The brief glimpse of them in the time jump scene does nothing to either confirm or deny those beliefs, but there is one tantalizing moment of the two of them together telling a story, and it absolutely has the feeling of a couple sharing a funny story of something that happened to them.

Will we see the characters from Star Trek: Discovery again?

While this was the series finale of Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount is currently producing a new show, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, which focuses on students at Starfleet’s San Francisco-based Academy in the 32nd century. So yes, there's every chance Discovery characters will appear there. (Please sign my petition for Professor Linus.)

Most speculate Mary Wiseman’s Sylvia Tilly will be anchoring the series, as she works at the Academy—also we're told in the future she becomes its longest running teacher. But as of now the only confirmed cast member is Holly Hunter, who will play the chancellor of the academy.

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