Discovery’s Final Epilogue Was Almost Its Next Season Arc

Star Trek: Discovery ended this week, with an episode that, perhaps in true Discovery style, threw some wild curveballs and equally wild pacing together to give us a bumper episode of ups and downs. But it really did save its weirdest moment for last: and even weirder, it’s what might have been Discovery’s next big story if it had made it to another season.

The final act of “Life, Itself,” the hour-and-a-half-long ending to Star Trek: Discovery, gives way to a flash-forward well after the events of the rest of the finale have come—and arguably, been rushed—to end. Picking up with now-Admiral Michael Burnham, living an idyllic life of semi-retirement with her husband Book, and with a son who’s just been promoted to captaincy, life is good for Discovery’s ever-put-upon hero. But we find she’s been tasked with one last mystery mission from Agent Kovich: dump Discovery at a distant spot in space, abandoned, and re-fitted back into its original 23rd century design, leaving the ship and its sentient computer Zora untouched, given nothing to go on but a single word, “Craft.”

It’s a peculiar way for the series to end, but it’s made even more peculiar by context: this is in fact setting up the events of a mini-episode released as part of Star Trek: Short Treks in 2018 between seasons one and two of Discovery. That short, “Calypso”, written by former Star Trek: Picard showrunner Michael Chabon, is set approximately a thousand years after the end of Discovery, and sees a lone, stranded soldier named Craft (played by Aldis Hodge) come across the long-abandoned Discovery and build a connection with Zora. It’s absolutely insane as the last note Star Trek: Discovery goes out on, retroactively squaring the circle on a timeline discrepancy—arguably not even a discrepancy, given the vast swaths of time between the show’s end and the events of “Calypso”—spurred on by a six-year-old short that was, at the time, infamously difficult for viewers to access outside of the United States (they’re still kind of awkward to find on Paramount+ right now, unless you’re actively searching for them). But it was, apparently, something Discovery showrunner Michelle Paradise was insistent the series tackle before it ended.

“We always knew that we wanted to somehow tie that back up,” Paradise recently told Variety about the decision to make the show’s epilogue what it was. “We never wanted ‘Calypso’ to be the dangling chad.” And if Discovery had been renewed for a sixth season, apparently the road to setting up where the ship is left off by the time of “Calypso” would’ve served as the season’s major story arc. “The story, nascent as it was, was eventually going to be tying that thread up and connecting Discovery back with ‘Calypso,’” Paradise confirmed.

Instead, we got what was an already a peculiar choice of ending for Discovery, which left so many doors open as it rushed to close this one in particular. But for Paradise, at least, it was a door that needed to be closed before Discovery was no more. “I truly don’t feel like we missed out on something by not having one more day [to shoot],” Paradise concluded. “I feel like it ends the way it needed to end.”

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