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REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’

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It’s the end of the road for Paramount’s flagship Trek series. Star Trek: Discovery finale “Life, Itself” brings the series to an action-packed and poignant close. After a season of chasing down the Progenitor’s technology, it is finally within their grasp. At the end of last week’s episode, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) jumped through a portal into the unknown. On the other side lies the secrets of the universe, but can she decode them before the Breen armada destroys the USS Discovery? Writers Kyle Jarrow and Michelle Paradise, and director Olatunde Osunsanmi take us to the edge of existence.

However, this episode doesn’t just need to wrap up the season’s story. While not originally the plan, the season was made the series’ last due to Paramount’s cost-cutting initiatives. Thankfully, the cast and crew were afforded the opportunity to film more to update the ending and have it serve as a better finale. This might go some way to explain the mammoth 87-minute, basically feature-length, runtime of the episode. With such a massive episode to tackle, it’s time to get into how well “Life, Itself” wraps up Star Trek: Discovery!

WARNING Full spoilers below for the series finale of Star Trek: Discovery “Life, Itself”.

The Corridor

Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) – Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

After traveling through the Progenitor’s portal, Burnham arrives in a sort of corridor. The rules of gravity don’t quite apply, with paths extending up the walls and on the ceiling. It’s gorgeous, and the variety of rooms on show was dazzling. I take it that this was a place outside the universe, a sort of world between worlds. Every room is like a portal to another world, presumably touched by the Progenitors at some point.

Some of these locations include a planet devastated by rain and hurricane winds, an absurdly pink forest, and a place where half the ground is on fire. Of course, as we know, Burnham’s not alone here. There was a Breen soldier who wandered through mid-way through last week, who’s dispatched pretty easily. But then there’s Moll (Eve Harlow), who isn’t going to go down quite so easily. She’s determined, desperate to find the technology for herself to resurrect her fallen lover.

In this desperation, she battles Burnham through the corridor, entering through all of the rooms. As far as fights in this show have been, this is really quite cool. Changing scenery and the corridor’s weird gravity added to how nice this was to watch. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and was very well shot. Soon after, Burnham and Moll form a very uneasy alliance and resolve to find the technology together. Although, they’ll both render each other unconscious before the episode’s out.

The Action

Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) – Star Trek: Discovery
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

It’s not all about Burnham and Moll, though. Battling the Breen armada is the rest of the Discovery crew, trying desperately to protect the portal. In charge is Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie), who absolutely shines in command. It’s a shame his character doesn’t get much in the way of closure. As usual, the visual effects work is gorgeous. it was refreshing to get quite so many more practical effects on the bridge. The production crew really ensured that the season ended on an absolutely gorgeous visual note.

In a last-ditch effort to protect the capsule and save the ship, the crew engineers a very clever solution. It’s something that I’ve been quietly waiting for them to do since the nacelles and saucer became separated in the 32nd Century. Instead of jumping away themselves, they split the ship up jump away from the Breen dreadnought. Literally sending their enemies to the Galactic Barrier, a 10-year journey away. This finale spared no expense when it comes to cool tech demonstrations, making it a joy to look at.

Saru (Doug Jones) & Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) – Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+.

Also, as was set up through last week’s episode, followed by a lot of standing around, Saru (Doug Jones) is a diplomat again. His scenes with Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) were some of the strongest episodes. It goes to show what an asset Jones is to the show, and what a shame his absence for most of this final season has been. Seeing him face down Tahal and be “action Saru” was the best part of the episode. Despite his absence, he’s still the show’s best character, and his hug with Burnham at the end melted my heart.

The Puzzle

Back by the Progenitor’s technology, Burnham and Moll find themselves in a field of flowers. With a big disc in the center, revealing the final puzzle. It ties into the idea of making the shape of the one between the many we heard last week. The whole affair feels like a very basic puzzle that even I envisioned the solution for minutes before the characters did. Thankfully, Burnham’s able to solve it before it gets too annoying, sending her to commune with the Progenitors.

Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+.

Well, it’s more of a singular Progenitor (Somkele Iyamah Idhalama), who says they’ve been waiting for Michael. It’s here we learn that the Progenitors didn’t actually invent this technology. Basically a statement that the universe could be infinitely old and nobody knows who created anything. It’s an interesting middle ground to take, one that feels designed to not rock anybody’s worldview. Burnham then becomes the next steward of this technology, having passed the trials, she’s able to use it as she’s fit.

Being the hero that she is, and having witnessed the billions of years of evolution that led to humanity’s existence, she declines to use it. Apparently, in the 32nd century, the universe is diverse enough, and ethically no one person or culture should be able to shape the cosmos as they see fit. As massive a scientific discovery as it was, the chase was more about keeping it out of Breens’ hands rather than letting Starfleet control evolution. Making the technology inaccessible is where this feels like it’s been heading for a while.

The End

Kovich (David Cronenberg) – Star Trek: Discovery
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

The finale’s not without its reveals. Kovich (David Cronenberg) turns up and declares the Red Directive over. While I’d rather the series had kept him mysterious, letting him pop up in other shows inexplicably, they do reveal who he is. He’s Daniels, who was originally played by Matt Winston on Enterprise. Adorning his shelf was a bottle of Chateau Picard, Geordi’s VISOR, and Sisko’s baseball. I like the idea of him having more adventures, but they missed out on the opportunity to include something from Daniels’ time on Enterprise.

It’s implied he’s going to try to recruit Moll, now a prisoner of the Federation, too. I’m not holding my breath for this to lead anywhere. It feels like Wesley (Wil Wheaton) recruiting Kore (Isa Briones) at the end of Picard Season 2. Probably not going to see the fruits of that for some time, if at all. On a better note, there’s a beautiful wedding scene between Saru and T’Rina (Tara Rosling), with all the characters happily gathered. Everyone’s happy, brought closer together with the revelations of the Progenitors.

Saru & T’rina’s (Tara Rosling) Wedding – Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

Even Burnham and Book are happier, professing their love for each other in a very happy scene. However, that’s not quite the end of the show, with a time jump of decades into the future. Burnham, now an admiral, and Book have grown old together. Their son Leto (Sawandi Wilson) has been given his first command, and Burnham has one last mission. Discovery has been retrofitted to its original configuration and is set to be abandoned in deep space. After an emotional goodbye, the ship jumps away, and the series cuts to black.

Conclusion

Captain Leto (Sawandi Wilson) with Burnham & Book (David Ajala) – Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

I find myself walking away from Star Trek: Discovery pretty happy. While it would’ve been lovely to have the show run for another couple of seasons, it went out on a high. Full of action and enough moments to get some tears flowing. While not the greatest Star Trek finale, it’s far from the worst. It’s also worth noting that running for 5 seasons over 7 years in the age of streaming is no small accomplishment. The series opened so many doors for the Star Trek franchise, creating a whole new era of Trek.

I did appreciate that the series wrapped up acknowledging the events of the Short Trek “Calypso”. With a farewell to the ship and its entire cast of characters, I did get a little emotional too. The finale epilogue in particular was pulled off very well. More than that, it left an open for the show’s cast to return. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) is said to be the longest-tenured instructor in Academy history, might she return in the upcoming Starfleet Academy series? So this may not be the last we see of the Discovery’s crew after all.

Star Trek: Discovery Finale ‘Life, Itself’.
Photo Credit: Paramount+.

Star Trek: Discovery ‘Life, Itself (Season 5, Episode 10) streams via Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, France, Germany, Brazil, South Korea (via Tving), France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is also available on CTV Scifi / Crave in Canada and TVNZ in New Zealand. The show is also available on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe.


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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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