Michelle Paradise on Star Trek: Discovery Series Finale

Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Michelle Paradise spoke about the series finale and her emotions heading into Thursday’s release.

When Paramount+ announced that the fifth and final season would be the end of the series, it came as a shock to both the cast and crew. Thankfully, both Paramount+ and CBS Studios allowed Star Trek: Discovery to come back for a few days to wrap things up with a coda. It’s a big reason as to why the finale runs closer to an hour and a half. The first part serves as the regular finale with the final half hour serves as the coda.

The fifth and final season finds Captain Michael Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery uncovering a mystery that sends them on an epic adventure across the galaxy to find an ancient power whose very existence has been deliberately hidden for centuries. There are others on the hunt as well…dangerous foes–L’ak and Moll–who are desperate to claim the prize for themselves and stop at nothing to get it.

Star Trek: Discovery season five cast members include Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), Blu del Barrio (Adira) and Callum Keith Rennie (Rayner). Season five also features recurring guest stars Elias Toufexis (L’ak) and Eve Harlow (Moll).

The series is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, Heather Kadin, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Sonequa Martin-Green, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers. Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise serve as co-showrunners.

All episodes are now streaming on Paramount+.

L-R: David Tomlinson, Doug Jones, Trevor Roth, Sonequa Martin-Green, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Aaron Baiers, Orville Cummings, Ronnie Rowe Jr. Tig Notaro, Mary Wiseman, Michelle Paradise, Frank Siracusa, Oyin Oladejo, Blu del Barrio, Emily Coutts, Anthony Rapp, Callum Keith Rennie, Alex Kurtzman, and John Weber at the Star Trek: Discovery season 5 stage, 2023.
L-R: David Tomlinson, Doug Jones, Trevor Roth, Sonequa Martin-Green, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Aaron Baiers, Orville Cummings, Ronnie Rowe Jr. Tig Notaro, Mary Wiseman, Michelle Paradise, Frank Siracusa, Oyin Oladejo, Blu del Barrio, Emily Coutts, Anthony Rapp, Callum Keith Rennie, Alex Kurtzman, and John Weber at the Star Trek: Discovery season 5 stage, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

It’s so nice to meet you today. How are you doing?
Michelle Paradise: I’m good, thanks. How are you?

I’m doing well.
Paradise: Excellent.

I did not have a dry eye while watching the finale.
Paradise: That’s good? (Laughs) I hope that’s a good thing.

Yeah, especially the whole final half hour.
Paradise: Oh, yeah. Good. I’m glad it landed. Thank you for sharing that.

You’ve been with Star Trek: Discovery since season 2. What emotions are you having now that the series finale is going to be shared with the world on Paramount+?
Paradise: Oh, wow. At the moment, I’m excited—I don’t know—nervous and all the things. I’m eager for it to be out there and for people to get to see it. And then, I think once it’s aired, that’s probably when a lot of the emotions of it ending will hit just because we finished shooting this and editing over a year ago, but with press and things like that, it’s been very present for me. After Thursday, it will be done, But really, I’m excited for people to see it. I hope they all have the same emotional response that you did to it because we really put a lot into making it and we had that same response, too.

I felt the series finale did a nice job not just wrapping up the main arc of the season but with the whole jump forward into the future. Was there any thought of catching up with more of the Discovery crew or was it always going to be about Michael Burnham taking the ship on its last mission?
Paradise: It was always going to be about Michael. The challenge is that we only had three days to shoot. We really wanted to see what was going to happen with Michael and Book. What was her future going to look like? We wanted to, of course, tie up the Calypso thread. And so the question was, we felt it was very, very important to be able to see all of our heroes—all of our bridge crew and all of our main characters—but to do that in a way where we saw all of their lives, logistically, would have been not possible to do. We thought, okay, well, how can we see them and give the audience the opportunity to see them one more time and say goodbye in a way that feels emotional but also that fits with a coda and doesn’t then become another episode in and of itself. Alex actually pitched that—he had a vision for that and I think it just turned out beautifully.

When was that vision?
Paradise: Oh, you mean when did he have that?

At what point in the process? I know there are some that have that last scene set in stone from the moment they develop a series.
Paradise: Yeah. I couldn’t speak to when he first had the idea, but I know that it didn’t come out when we found out that we were going to be shooting a coda. He had that in his head for a while. I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him if it was in the very beginning of the show or not.

Yeah. That was one of the moments when I definitely had those tears.
Paradise: Yeah. Yeah, we did, too, on set as well.

Yeah. I mean, it’s always sad having to say goodbye to a series that you enjoy. These finales, for better or worse, always come with tears.
Paradise: Yeah, they do. Absolutely.

What would you say was the biggest challenge in putting the finale together?
Paradise: Oh, wow. It’s a huge episode. I think probably—there are the logistical challenges of carrying out an episode like that. I think I would say probably the biggest challenge was the coda only because we found out after we were done shooting. We were, I think, in the process of editing episodes eight and nine when we found out it would be our last season. And again, I can’t possibly say it enough that Paramount+ and CBS Studios letting us go back and shoot a coda to that was just incredible. That never happens, or almost never. Because of the fact that there was a strike coming, no one knew if there would be a strike, but it was a possibility, we all were acutely aware that we had to have it written and shot before that. Because if there had been a strike, which of course there was, we didn’t know if we would get to do it. From the moment we found out, there was a ticking clock on it. I would say writing something that would feel super satisfying and then the logistics to get everything up and running and get it shot before May 1 rolled around was probably the biggest challenge. Thankfully, I was working with just incredible people. Kyle Jarrow, who wrote the episode with me and Alex, of course, our director Tunde, everybody who came together and made that happen.

What would you say is your favorite memory of working on the show over the past few years?
Paradise: Oh, wow. I don’t know that I could pick one. Everything from just amazing days in the writers room to being on set with Tunde to taking story walks with Alex and talking about story,. Talking with our actors when they had questions about things. Sitting in the editing room learning more than I ever thought possible about visual effects and the AR wall. There was so much that I’m so grateful for and I’ve learned a ton. These are just absolute gems of human beings, all of them.

Did you take anything off the set to keep.
Paradise: You know what? I did not. But when we were shooting the finale, when we were shooting that scene on the beach with Burnham and Book. I’ll show it to you in just a second. Apparently, it was the same beach where ten or 20 years ago, they shot this movie called The Love Guru, Apparently the beach was scattered with these little ganeshes. They cleaned them all up and again, this is ten or 20 years ago, something like that. We were there shooting, and I saw something pink in the sand. It was freezing cold, early morning. I went over and I found this in the sand. Someone on set actually told me, Oh, yeah, this was the beach where they shot The Love Guru. There were a hundred thousands of these things, but they were all cleaned up. This one must have gotten carried out to sea and then come back. I have my little ganesh on my desk, which apparently is supposed to bring good luck so we’ll see.

Thank you so much. Live long and prosper.
Paradise: You too. Thank you.

All episodes of Star Trek Discovery are streaming on Paramount+.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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