Star Trek homeSkip to main content
SearchGo To Dashboard

WARP FIVE: Michelle Paradise Details Star Trek: Discovery's Epic Conclusion

The executive producer and co-showrunner sheds light on the biggest reveals from the series finale and more!

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for the fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery.

Collage of Michelle Paradise along with a behind-the-scenes Star Trek: Discovery photo of Alex Kurtzman, Aaron Baeirs, Olatunde Osunsanmi, and Michelle Paradise with Sonequa Martin Green

Getty Images /

Welcome to Warp Five,'s five question post-mortem with your favorite featured talent from the latest Star Trek episodes.

With the release of "Life, Itself," Star Trek: Discovery conclude its five season run, which saw the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery jumping from the 23rd Century to the 32nd Century across 65 episodes.

In the series finale, Michael Burnham and her crew learn the true nature of the Progenitors' technology, the infinite diversity in infinite combinations of life itself, and the strength and connection they all possess within themselves. We all discovered Kovich's real identity, saw Saru and T'Rina love of each other culminate with a beautiful ceremony, and a glimpse to Burnham and Book's future.

Ahead of the epic conclusion, had the opportunity to sit down with executive producer and co-showrunner Michelle Paradise on the series' conclusion, some of the finale's Easter eggs, what Discovery means to her, and more!

The Conclusion of Discovery

Michael Burnham finds herself in the Infinity Tunnel, assessing her surroundings, 'Life, Itself'

"Life, Itself"

Written by Kyle Jarrow and Michelle Paradise, "Life, Itself" had to not only wrap up the Red Directive mission, but the entire series and our ensemble cast's individual character arcs, within its 80+ minute runtime.

"It was a lot," states Paradise. "We didn't know, of course, going into the writing of the finale that it would be our series finale. Originally, we just had the season finale. Then, it was nearly a year later when we found out. We were [in the middle of] editing, and we found out it would be the series finale. Kyle was awesome and he came back for that, and we worked with Alex [Kurtzman] on it."

"It was just really important to us that we wrap everything up in a way that would not only address the plot things hanging out like 'Calypso,' for people who had watched the Short Trek, but also that it be satisfying for people who hadn't. And most importantly that we wrap up the character arcs and the emotions and give the audience an emotional experience that would feel satisfying. So that piece of it, we definitely felt the weight of that and hopefully we did all right with it."

And for the reveal of the Progenitors' gift to Burnham with the ability to create life, Paradise says, "Getting to answer that, and Burnham's decision on what to do with that technology, the choice that she made felt like the only thing really we could do. It was a really cool moment."

'Calypso' Callback

Sometime in the future, Admiral Burnham prepares Discovery and Zora for its final mission in 'Life, Itself'

"Life, Itself"

Before the coda, Star Trek: Discovery had hinted at the Star Trek: Short Treks' "Calypso" earlier in the season with "Face the Strange" in one of the time loops.

"We definitely wanted to make sure that we tied up that loose thread," explains Paradise. "The short had U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031, not 1031-A, out there in the future for Craft. It felt very important that once we knew that we were wrapping up the series as a whole that we address how Discovery got out there. Then once we knew that, there were other things that we needed to accomplish emotionally in that Coda piece. How can we tie up that loose end in the most efficient way possible? So bringing back the idea of a Red Directive felt like - Red Directive is now shorthand for important mission - so go do it. It felt like we could bring that back in and help use that to explain it."

Demystifying Kovich

Kovich sits at his desk, in front of his shelf of trinkets across time, with his hands folded in 'Life, Itself'

"Life, Itself"

In "Life, Itself," Burnham closes out the Red Directive mission with Kovich in his office. While admiring the meaningful relics adorning his shelves, the captain deduces 'Kovich' is his codename. He explains that his real name is its own Red Directive, before introducing himself as "Agent Daniels, U.S.S. Enterprise" to her.

"From the moment David [Cronenberg] joined as Kovich, we have all found ourselves leaning into the moment he's on-screen," Paradise reveals. "Anytime he's on-screen, the way he plays that character, we want to know more about this guy. So we knew very early, immediately, that we were going to need to eventually answer that question."

"We didn't have the answer to that question for ourselves right away," admits Paradise. "It might have been last season that we came up with that. And so this season, we have some Easter eggs along the way. He's writing on paper and it was really fun to get to do that."

Another one of Paradise's favorite Easter egg the creative team got to include was Geordi La Forge's VISOR behind Kovich on his shelf.

The U.S.S. Discovery Crew's Growth

Behind-the-scenes of Saru and T'Rina's wedding in 'Life, Itself' with the crew of Discovery and Federation HQ posing in a group photo

Behind-the-Scenes of "Life, Itself"

In a rapid-fire lightning round, Paradise explains the conclusion of several Discovery's crewmembers' arcs.

On the Kellerun first officer Rayner, Paradise shares, "Callum [Keith Rennie] is an incredible actor and just an awesome human force of nature. To watch him go from being taken down some notches in the very beginning of the season to finally sitting in that captain's chair and feeling like he belongs there again was, to me, just felt like a really powerful arc for him."

Paradise finds Dr. Hugh Culber's newfound spirituality and acceptance that he can't know everything "really human and really love." "Trek is science and mission," explains Paradise. "We're supposed to get answers, and this season has been a lot about meaning. It's got those life questions that come along with it, about where we come from. And the truth is that there are always questions that will not have answers that we can grasp at least now. To have a character, especially Culber, be able to articulate that and not just accept it, but embrace it. It's felt like something I think we're working on in ourselves."

Pivoting to Adira, Paradise says, "Adira is the quintessential ensign who comes in and has to find their place, find their voice, and feel comfortable, not only in themselves, but on the Bridge and in this world with the crew. I love the way Blu [del Barrio] has played that character throughout. And getting to watch Blu, the person, grow along with Adira, the character, and then watch Adira embrace who they are are and all the things they can do really feels like, by the end of this season/series, that they can step forward and say, 'I want to go on that mission. I'm qualified to go on that mission. I'm the best choice for that mission.' I found it inspiring and awesome, and I love the way Blu played that."

Book and Burnham's Happy Ending

At the conclusion of "Life, Itself," during Saru and T'Rina's wedding celebration, Cleveland "Book" Booker tells Michael Burnham how much clarity and renewed the Red Directive mission provided him. With his sentence commuted, he has a whole future ahead of him. At peace, they both proclaim they've never stopped loving each other. Following that, in an indeterminate time in the future, the coda shows us an older Burnham and Book enjoying a blissful life on Sanctuary Four before their son drops by with an expected visit to accompany his mom, Admiral Burnham, on her final journey with the U.S.S. Discovery.

Providing insight, "We knew going into the end of this season, we had wanted it to be a happy ending," offers Paradise. "And we wanted to bring them back together. That was the goal. So we knew at the beginning of the season, we wanted them to be as far apart as possible so that we could watch that over the course of the season."

"Then, once we found out that this would be our final season, we wanted to make sure that they had a happy ending in their [future] lives and that we got to jump forward and see that," Paradise adds. "It was really lovely getting to see them both in the aged makeup, seeming older, and giving their son the name Leto after his brother's son. It felt all very emotional."

What Discovery Means to Paradise

Behind-the-scenes Star Trek: Discovery photo of Alex Kurtzman, Aaron Baeirs, Olatunde Osunsanmi, and Michelle Paradise with Sonequa Martin Green

Behind-the-Scenes of "Life, Itself"

Closing out the discussion, Paradise reflects, "It's been the most rewarding professional experience I've had, and it has changed me so many ways, professionally and personally. How just the things that I've learned, the impact that our stories have had, just the ability to do this and to go to work every day with such incredible people, I don't even know where to begin with, how appreciative I am and how just how much I've loved it."

"I don't know that I could really put it into words," concludes Paradise. "It's been such a huge part of my life for the past 5+ years. Getting to work on this show and tell these stories and working with the people I've gotten to work with has truly been a dream. It's some of the best people you could ever hope to meet across the board. They're so talented and kind and collaborative, and a show of this size is so complex and logistically challenging. And we all came together as a team and a family unit, if you will, to make it, I think has mirrored so much of what you see on-screen as well. And it's been just truly a privilege to be part of it. I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss it a lot."