Warp Factor Trek

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The quest for the secrets of creating and restoring life itself (hence the episode title) reaches its conclusion in the final episode of Discovery. Does it stick the landing? Well…

Log Entry

Burnham awakes in a weird construct on a vaster scale than anywhere she’s seen before. She tries to contact Discovery but there’s no response. So, she explores the area, walking a narrow path. On either side, there are flowers and openings to different environments, which Burnham suspects are worlds visited by the Progenitors. She leans too far and falls into a rocky world where a storm is blowing. Burnham finds a dead Breen from Primarch Ruhn’s ship and is attacked by a live Breen. Although she tries to reason with him, she ends up having to fight him, returning to the path. There, Moll kills the Breen attacker and unites with Burnham in search of the Progenitor technology.

Moll and Burnham on the Progenitor walkway

Discovery, meanwhile, is being affected by gravitational turbulence from the two black holes in the system. The ship tries to catch up with the portal, which is between the black holes. While the disabled Breen dreadnaught affects repairs, Discovery is attacked by fighter craft from the dreadnaught.

At Federation HQ, Ambassador Saru prepares for his mission to dissuade Primarch Tahal from taking control of the Breen soldiers. Nhan volunteers to be his pilot and they prepare to leave in a shuttle equipped with the pathway drive.

Saru and Nhan arranging to depart on their mission

In the portal, Moll and Burnham observe that the narrow path is seemingly endless. Burnham attacks Moll and they fight through several of the portal’s environments.

Still under attack, Discovery tries to protect the portal. Commander Rayner decides the ship must fight off the Breen fighters. Book volunteers to fly a shuttle to extract the portal. Culber insists on going too.

Culber insists on leaving Discovery, in the hope that he will understand what’s been happening to him

Moll and Burnham fight until both are too tired to continue. Burnham manages to persuade Moll to give up her weapons and collaborate. They then find a hidden environment between dimensions in the portal.

Aboard his shuttle, Saru makes contact with Primarch Tahal, who simply dismisses him and terminates their communication. Saru tells Nhan that the mission isn’t over.

Burnham and Moll contemplate a see-through puzzle

In the hidden environment, Burnham and Moll encounter a console in the form of a physically transparent puzzle. Moll knocks out Burnham and materialises L’ak’s corpse before trying to solve the puzzle… but she gets it wrong and is frozen in place by energy beams as massive energy columns become activated. They cause gravitational chaos around the portal and start drawing power from the two black holes.

Discovery fires at a region of plasma when the Breen fighters are inside it, which blazingly takes out the fighters. The late Ruhn’s dreadnaught is restored and sets off in pursuit of the portal, which – thanks to Culber – Book’s shuttle secures.

Using information gleaned from when the Trill scientist Jinaal occupied his mind, Culber proves instrumental in locking a tractor beam onto the portal

Saru speaks to Tahal again. This time, he convinces her that, as a Kelpian, he is from a predatory species and that, unless she stands down, all the neighbouring cultures will fight her. She turns her fleet around but Saru chooses to stay and watch what happens.

Burnham wakes and pulls Moll away from the energy paralysing her. Moll collapses and Burnham solves the puzzle. Transported to another time, she is greeted by a long-dead Progenitor.

The Progenitor individual

The Progenitor is a guardian personality to train the worthy finder in operating the technology but also tells Burnham that the tech can’t restore a dead person. They could genetically replicate the body but it wouldn’t have the same memories or experiences. The guardian additionally reveals that the Progenitors didn’t build the portal nor its environments. They simply found them – the leftovers from an even older vanished civilisation – and learned to use them.

Saru contacts Discovery to report that Tahal’s fleet has turned around but has left a cloaked scout ship. Rayner, Tilly, Stamets and Adira figure out that they can separate Discovery and use the spore drive to jump something else in between the two sections – such as the Breen dreadnaught. Saying it will take the Breen years to get back, they prepare to jump both the dreadnaught and the scout into the galactic barrier.

Near one of the black holes, the saucer-separated Discovery causes the two Breen vessels to jump

As the Progenitor explains to her while Discovery’s plan succeeds, Burnham has a decision to make about the Progenitor tech. She is returned to her original time, rouses Moll and tells her that L’ak cannot be resurrected.

With the black holes stabilising, Book and Culber beam Burnham and Moll out of the portal. Burnham returns to Discovery, greeted by Saru. Whereas the ship’s mission was to secure the Progenitor tech for the Federation, Burnham concludes that no-one should be trusted with it, so she lets the portal drop into the closest black hole.

Discovery launches the portal towards one of the black holes

The ship then jumps home, where Burnham reports back to Doctor Kovich. He plans to cover up the existence of the Progenitor tech and to talk with Moll, believing her skills may prove useful in the future. Burnham offers to return her infinity room key but, revealing that he’s lived many years and many lives, Kovich says to keep it, just in case. His office contains a Chateau Picard bottle, Geordi La Forge’s VISOR and Sisko’s baseball. The pair exchange formal greetings, he introducing himself as Agent Daniels.

Several weeks later, a wedding reception is held for Saru and T’Rina. The attendees include Discovery crew members and Admiral Vance. Burnham leaves with Book for a walk on the beach, where they make up, declare love and agree to be together. The infinity room key activates and they head off on a new adventure…

Burnham and Book, a loving couple

Later, they wake on their homestead, clearly older, their hair greying. Burnham is now an admiral. Their son visits, about to take command of his first ship as captain. Admiral Burnham leaves with him, scheduled to command Discovery on her final mission.

Aboard Discovery, Burnham instructs Zora to take the ship to a certain set of co-ordinates and wait. She then finds herself surrounded by the ghosts of her crewmates, before jumping away from Federation HQ…

Discovery embarking on its final voyage

Status Report

For a ninety-minute finale, it’s kind of odd that the fifth season’s story arc is wrapped up in the first thrilling hour, with action, twists and all manner of developments. All the regulars are on top form, as are director Olatunde Osunsanmi and composer Jeff Russo. Acting-wise, as in much of the season, only Eve Harlow remains less good, with her highlights in terms of intelligence and character developments having passed in earlier episodes. The physical fight between Moll and Burnham is dragged out too long.

Filming scenes in the Progenitor portal

Leaving questions unanswered isn’t a bad thing but the climactic revelations from the Progenitor, and Burnham’s decision, are utterly predictable; you can see it coming from the beginning of the season. Also rather obvious is how to solve the glass puzzle. Likewise, the non-appearance on screen of Tahal’s threat-for-three-episodes fleet is disappointing and the giant pipes in the portal’s skies look like an old Windows screensaver from twenty years ago. The rest of the effects are fine, of course.

All that said, this isn’t all bad. The revelation of Kovich as Daniels is a total blinder, giving Enterprise a better roundup than “These Are the Voyages…” ever was. Also, leaving the ship in place for the Short Treks episode “Calypso” feels right. It’s not specified how far into the future the last sequences are, but it has to be at least thirty years or more, for Burnham and Book’s son to reach captaincy.

Filming scenes involving the old-age Burnham

The last half hour, while full of nice little mini-wrap-ups of elements that go back several seasons – also teasing us with some references to some of the other Star Trek series – doesn’t quite hold up as a solid thing. It just jumps around too much, some of it – in particular the final scene, which puts the ship in place for “Calypso” – for a reason. Other sequences in the last half hour seem more a case of either “oh, we forgot to sort this earlier” or “hey, this’ll be cool and funny.” Reno’s blink-and-you-miss-it appearance doesn’t even seem to have been specially shot and it’s left open as to whether Burnham ever leaves the ship, or what Book or their son would think and do. Of course, it’s sad enough when you realise that, after that thirty-year jump, Grudge must be long dead.

Rating: 4/5

Overall, this isn’t a bad finale and mostly sticks the landing. It’s just that it does so about twenty minutes before the end of the episode, so the actual end feels dragged out and anticlimactic. But we have awesome music, great direction, a good – if overlong and padded – fight sequence, so there’s still always something to love. And that thirty-ish year jump leaves a nice gap for anyone to appear in the upcoming Starfleet Academy series.

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