On Thursday, April 4th, 2024, just in time for First Contact Day, Star Trek: Discovery season 5 debuts with two episodes.

In advance of the season premiere, The Beat’s Star Trek team held a roundtable to look back at the show’s preceding four seasons and chat about what we hope is in store for the crew this season. Let’s fly!

A modernist poster of Discovery in the sky above Burnham.
Discovery season 5 key art. Photo Credit: James Dimmock/Paramount+

What is your personal history with Star Trek: Discovery?

GEORGE CARMONA 3RD: Initially a very reluctant one because of the CBSAcess paywall. I was able to watch it here and there on the internet, and while it wasn’t the best image quality I was enjoying it alot. When the dvd box set came out it was an automatic birthday gift to myself, and that’s when I fell in love with the show because of how beautiful it is. Before season 2 came out I was able to speak with the cast at New York Comic Con for the Beat where I fell in love with them. And to really cement me being all in, I got to catch a screening of the 1st two episodes on a big screen, which blew me away.

D. MORRISOkay so I am very late to the Discovery party. My wife and I finally bit the bullet and got a Paramount+ late last year. After getting through Strange New Worlds we spent most of January watching the whole series voraciously. Discovery is the Star Trek series I’ve wanted for years, especially the jump that happens in Season 3. This show and Strange News Worlds really relit my enjoyment and love for Star Trek.

KELAS LLOYD: I started watching Discovery right away, and stopped, disappointed and frustrated, when they killed Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). Too many gays have been buried and I was not into that. When I heard they were bringing him back I gave it another chance and don’t regret it; I’ve been watching it as it releases ever since.

DERRICK CROW: As someone who didn’t grow up watching Star Trek, I thought Discovery could be a good gateway into the Franchise for me. A couple of times I tried to start it but to be honest I don’t like the first two episodes and they were a big deterrent for me. However, late last year I finally decided I’m getting into Trek and part of that was finally, actually watching more of this show. I finally got past those episodes and low and behold I really enjoyed myself once they got on the Discovery in episode three. Lol

I ended up really disliking season two but seasons three and four were incredible and really made me truly love the show. I was ultimately happy that I put my time into it and got caught up in time for the final season.

AVERY KAPLAN & REBECCA OLIVER KAPLAN: Our Disco journey began with Star Trek: Voyager. In a previous roundtable, we discussed that we have been watching Trek since childhood. In mid-2020, for what we are assuming will be obvious reasons, we returned to Voyager in search of “leadership porn.” When we had rewatched all seven seasons, we decided to fill the void with the two seasons of Discovery that were already available.

At the time, we had set up a projector in our bedroom, using the doors of the closet as a screen. Coming off the 90s era effects of Voy and augmented by the generous characteristics of projection, it’s fair to say that the “Battle of the Binary Stars” blew both of our minds. We were instantly hooked. However, the show quickly became remarkable for its ability to make both of us cry in nearly every episode (complimentary). As the show progressed into the third season and trans characters were introduced, it only became more meaningful to us.

Who is your favorite character from Discovery?

D.: Without a doubt, her Empress of the galaxy, Philippa Georgiou as played by her majesty Michelle Yeoh. A character that is the living embodiment for me of the TikTok audio “He’s hellua a guy.” “What about all the murdah?” “WHAT MURDAH???”

KELAS: While I think Saru might be my top favorite, my answer sometimes changes based on the episode. Michael’s great, Tilly’s great, I have a massive crush on Ren–I mean I admire Jett Reno a lot, and so on. There isn’t a character in the main cast I actually dislike except for the ones that are fun to dislike and meant to be disliked, like Lorca.

REBECCA OLIVER: Jett Reno rules! Jett Reno all the way! The character got even better when I learned that Tig Notaro improvs a lot of the lines—and listening to the behind-the-scenes stories makes the experience of filming with the comedian seem like so much fun (and that definitely shines through in the quality of performance, but sadly, it’s also been noticeable that Notaro hasn’t been on set as much the last couple of seasons). I also learned a lot about licorice from the character.

KELAS: Yeah! It’s neat that they’ve eased up on the ‘lines must be verbatim’ policy of years/shows past. And I’m hoping that since it’s the last season she’ll be able to hop in more.

DERRICK: Man, this is a tough question. Saru, Michael, Tilly, Culber, Owosekun, Detmer and so on. There’s a lot of good characters in this show. Stamets, I would say is my favorite character tho. He’s super intelligent in his work, but also pretty dumb sometimes when it actually comes to human connection. When he builds those connections, they’re incredibly strong and you become his family and I find that very relatable. Anthony Rapp is also just infectious and really brings his role to life.

Burnham on a sand runner in Star Trek: Discovery season 5.
Photo Credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

GEORGE: For me it has to be Captain Michael Burnham. The show is built around her and she’s carried them when needed, from stopping the Federation from committing genocide, saving all sentient life from a runaway AI, to taking them to the future and helping to rebuild the Federation, her will to make things happen is legendary level.

What’s your favorite relationship between characters?

KELAS: I love Michael and Saru and Michael and Tilly. Both relationships challenge the characters involved in really great, healthy, encouraging ways, and there’s mutual respect there too. A very close third is the rainbow fam of Culber, Stamets, and Adira. I really hope Reno has more time with them in this last season, and Gray as well.

DERRICK: Stamets and Culber, Saru and Michael, those are among my favorites. Stamets and Culber have such a beautifully loving relationship and I’m glad they brought Culber back so that could be explored and flourish even tho it had – understandably – rocky moments. For Michael and Saru it’s been gratifying to watch Michael go from – again, understandably – a terrible monster in the eyes of Saru to a loving friend who can share wonderful, intimate moments together like shouting in frustration together when things are going awry around them.

Shout out to Stamets and Reno’s frenemy status, it’s so funny anytime they’re on screen together. And Michael and Georgiou, they helped each other grow in very surprising ways and their goodbye is one of the best two-parters of the series.

Burnham stands in front of a groovy alien design.
Discovery season 5 key art. Photo Credit: Dimmock/Paramount+

GEORGE: For me it comes down to Burnham/Empress Georgiou and Stamets/Culber. Stamets and Culber have one of the greatest sci-fi love stories, overcoming death and finding a place for themselves in the future, building a family and still staying on mission. With Burnham and Georgiou their mentor/mother/daughter relationship is so powerful it spans universes, they don’t take crap from one another and always have each other’s backs. They both learned lessons from this relationship that shaped their new courses in life.

D.: It’s really hard for me not to say Jett Reno and Paul Stamets because I love how frustrated they make each other. However, if I’m being honest it’s Saru and Burnham. Their relationship developed into one of the most beautiful and complex in Star Trek history. It started with a deep distrust to becoming one of mutual respect and admiration. Both the writers and actors Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones let this wonderful connection unfold over the series. It’s a friendship, with all of the various emotions, that reminds you Star Trek is about building bridges.

What is your favorite episode of Discovery?

KELAS: The problem (that isn’t actually a problem) with Discovery being pretty much completely serialized with few episodic elements is that I can’t say any specific episode stands out to me. There are elements of episodes I’ve enjoyed, like Adira’s Xahean look, the reluctant bond that Empress Georgiou formed with Michael, Tilly’s growing confidence, or specific scenes like the gathering around the tree on the former/future Starfleet Academy grounds, Michael choosing “Let’s fly” as her tagline, and just about any time Culber and Stamets have shared the screen together, but I don’t know that I have a favorite episode.

DERRICK: I genuinely love the Mirror Universe mini-arc in season one, so all of that is great and wonderful. I think for a stand out episode I dunno…I echo what Kelas is saying that a lot of the episodes have stand out moments rather than singular episodes standing out above the rest. I really enjoyed the finale episodes to season four with Species Ten-C, that was some of the best writing this series has had and I love the Ten-C and how that was all handled. Really any of the Mirror Universe stuff in this show those episodes stand out to me. There was also the episode in season two where they return to  Talos IV, because that was a pseudo-sequel to the original Star Trek episode ‘The Cage’ which I like, it stands out to me fondly.

AVERY: Derek, I adore the throwback “previously on” for that “The Cage” episode (“If Memory Serves”) so much. And Kelas, I think you have a super valid point about the serialization!

Still, I do have a couple of favorite episodes. The first is from season 1: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.” This clever time loop episode features the Disco crew having a party, a gormagander and the perfectly recast Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson). On top of that you get Mirror Lorca being disintegrated (plus beamed into the vacuum of space and various other grisly deaths). Plus, Star Trek: Short Treks gave this episode an excellent sequel in the Mike McMahan-penned episode “The Escape Artist.”

The other favorite is from season 4: “Stormy Weather,” directed by Jonathan Frakes. I love the way this episode gives Gray Tal (Ian Alexander) the chance to share the benefit of his journey of self-discovery with newly sentient ship’s computer Zora (Annabelle Wallis). It also has plenty of Grudge and a fantastic climax set to the titular song.

Burnham on an alien planet with an alien language behind her.
Discovery season 5 key art. Photo Credit: Dimmock/Paramount+

GEORGE: Everything Mirror Universe all at once, from when we hit the twist of Lorrca’s true identity, to the Georgiou reveal, and of course everyone in the Mirror Universe is an uber smokeshow in their Terran Empire uniforms.

D.: I’m with Kelas, it’s hard to pick one episode. That said the arc that closes out season 3 is a lot of fun. The decaying starship with malfunctioning holograms which warms the cold dead heart of this horror lover. Also you get to see Jones out of makeup for once!

REBECCA OLIVER: I do have a favorite episode. It’s the episode where there’s a therapy session between Book and Culber. It was a powerful exchange of vulnerability between two male characters, and we don’t typically don’t see masculinity represented that way in media. As a trans person, it can be hard to find positive masculine role models. Book and Culber offer something different than the norm, and their stories got me through a dark time.

GEORGE: If we’re doing scenes or moments, then I have to go with Admiral Vance and Osyraa’s meeting at Federation headquarters, their intensity mixed with a dash of comedy always gets me.

What are you hoping to see from Discovery season 5?

D.: Definitely the return of Philippa Georgiou even if it’s only for a scene. I’d love more screen time from this new kid named David Cronenberg who steals every scene he’s in as Dr. Kovich. However, I hear he leveraged his success on this show to direct a movie last year so we’ll see if that happens. But all kidding aside, honestly I want to see satisfying conclusions to everyone’s arcs. Also Grudge becoming captain of Discovery.

KELAS: Long live Captain Grudge, agreed! More seriously, I’m hoping that the stakes for the last season aren’t galaxy-threatening, that they’re more personal and they let all of the crew get some good, final growth and arcs as the show wraps up. The bridge crew really deserves chances to shine. I also need more Jett Reno.

DERRICK: From the trailer it sounds like they might do some “treasure” hunting and being very adventurous and that actually is very excited to me. I kind of wanna see galaxy-spanning National Treasure-style Star Trek. It could be fun. I would like to see Burnham and Book get back together, they’re a good couple. And I hope Saru and President T’Rina stay together, they’re cute. Again, I’ll echo sentiments already stated that hopefully character arcs will come to natural conclusions and I would love the knowledge that this crew is still out there exploring the galaxy but we don’t necessarily need to see their adventures anymore.

But, I do wonder if narratively it might be better if they all go their separate ways at the end since everyone is already beginning to drift apart naturally as they find their roles in this new time period. Now I’m speculating. You know what I want? I want more cool alien designs like the Ten-C or the Ba’ul that are just so alien and not just humans with different foreheads. Yeah, that’s what I want.

Burnham and Saru in Saru's quarters on Discovery.
Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

GEORGE: With the Federation rising from the ashes, I would love to see a few old favorites like the Klingons, or a quick trip to the Gamma/Delta Quadrants to see the shape of things there, maybe a free Jem’Hadar society or an isolationist Borg territory.

AVERY: I want to see Discovery itself survive the series, and not just Zora (who could be downloaded to another “host”) — the whole ship. I know the Enterprise-D came back from the Black Mountain, but I’d like to see Disco go directly into the hands of Commodore La Forge’s 32nd century successor at the Fleet Museum.

Are you hoping to see more beyond Discovery season 5 in the future, and if so, anything specific?

KELAS: While I really hope Star Trek chooses to tame down the legacy focus and move away from it, I still do want cameos. I want to see Stamets grudgingly fond of a whole flock of queer younger people while Culber is openly fond. I want Admiral Burnham sipping her drink of choice while giving advice to a new captain setting off on their own ship. I want Gray giving a concert. Don’t focus on them, but do let us see glimpses of them/their lives in the future.

DERRICK: I’ve heard before that Paramount was throwing around the idea of doing a Star Trek: Starfleet Academy at some point. An Academy series set in this time period with Tilly as one of the main characters, maybe in a Miss Bliss type of role would be really cool. You could get cameos of the other characters, but one constant is an established older character and the rest are a new generation getting into hijinks at space school. [After I typed this I read the recent Variety article on the future of Trek and it looks like we may be getting exactly this!] 

GEORGE: With the limits of the Spore Drive establishing it’s only good for the Milky Way, maybe a new drive that lets them travel between galaxies, getting back to exploring on a level beyond anything our previous captains have dreamt of.

REBECCA OLIVER:  I hope to see more Zora, and learn what happens to her. Will we see other sentient ships? Maybe on Lower Decks?

AVERY: I think “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris” teases that the Cerritos is sentient.

Here are my very specific hopes for the Disco future: first, I want to see them in guest appearances in Starfleet Academy, which I hope runs for a good few seasons. Then in about a decade or so, the casts of both Disco and Starfleet Academy can come together for  some galactic-sized big screen outings.

D.: I would really love the next batch of Star Trek shows to explore the world Discovery set up in the last few seasons. The legacy shows are fun and Strange New Worlds is better than it has any right to be. But Star Trek is at its best when it boldly goes where no one has gone before. If there’s one thing Gene Roddenberry did right with Next Generation, it was set it 100 years after the original series. Star Trek is about possibilities. Let’s explore them.

In advance of the premiere of the first two Star Trek: Discovery season 5 episodes on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, you can catch up with the show’s first four seasons, currently available for streaming on Paramount+.

Keep up with all of The Beat’s Star Trek coverage by clicking here.