Warning: Full spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery season 5 episode 10.


The Star Trek: Discovery finale Life, Itself opens in the midst of battle.

As the USS Discovery and her crew take on the Breen, Michael Burnham wakes up in a strange and unfamiliar environment. She’s unable to get in touch with anyone from Discovery, or make sense of any of her tricorder data – she’s in a vast, seemingly infinite corridor, the walls made up of a series of a windows.

The windows, Burnham speculates, are portals of some kind: possibly viewing stations for the Progenitors to monitor the progress of different planets, or maybe the mechanism they used to seed life through the galaxy in the first place.

It’s an extended sequence that follows Burnham alone, a reminder as the series comes to a close of how important Sonequa Martin-Green’s expressive performance has been as an anchor for Star Trek: Discovery over the years.

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Read on for our spoiler-filled summary of the Star Trek: Discovery finale, with a full breakdown of what happened to Michael Burnham, the answer to the mystery of the Progenitors’ tech, and where the crew of the USS Discovery eventually find themselves.

What happened to the Breen in Star Trek: Discovery?

Outside the Progenitors’ realm, the crew of Discovery and the rest of Starfleet are taking steps to find Burnham.

Things are looking increasingly tense because of the imminent arrival of Tahal, a brutal Breen primarch – as Commander Rayner prepares the Discovery for battle, Saru argues with Admiral Vance that he should be allowed to attempt a diplomatic approach.

Both are risky ventures, but everyone is running out of options – the Progenitors’ tech can’t be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Book resolves to fly directly towards the Progenitors’ portal – Doctor Culber insists on joining him, believing that this is the answer to the spiritual absence he’s felt since the zhiantara ritual on Trill.

Meanwhile, Saru – accompanied by Commander Nhan – engages with Tahal, and though the Breen primarch is quick to shut down discussions, they glean some important information about her motivations.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery embracing each other in red tunics
Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery. Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Elsewhere, Saru and Nahn confront Tahal – steely and determined, Saru intimidates the Breen primarch into backing away from the fight. It solves one of their Breen problems, but not the other, with Discovery still under attack from the original group.

Rayner has an idea to deal with the Breen, but it’s unorthodox: using the spore drive to jump something that isn’t the Discovery.

After some back and forth with Tilly and Stamets – can they really reverse the polarity of the quantum entanglement? – they action one of the riskiest black alert procedures has ever attempted. Discovery’s hull and saucer section separate, and position themselves on either side of the Breen dreadnought – and manage to warp it to the other side of the galaxy.

What was the Progenitors' tech in Star Trek: Discovery?

Burnham steps through one such portal, finding herself on a wet and windy gravel planet – for a moment, it seems like she’s gone to a Welsh quarry for a Doctor Who crossover – before being confronted by the Breen.

A brief struggle follows, and Michael escapes back to the central hub of the Progenitors – where she’s confronted by Moll, in pursuit of the same Progenitor technology, hoping to bring her partner L’Ak back to life.

The ensuing fight sees Burnham and Moll find themselves falling through different planets, a montage of bright pink forests and scalding lava pits. Burnham appeals to Moll directly, promising that she personally will do whatever she can to help L’Ak – and the pair tentatively agree to work together.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery riding a vehicle through a sandstorm
Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery. Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Burnham and Moll find the source of the Progenitors’ power, seemingly in a field of yellow shrubbery. There’s one last riddle to solve: using a series of triangular tiles, they must "make the shape out of the one between the many".

They argue about what this could mean, whether it might have been a mistranslation, before a garbled hail attempt from Book – distracting Michael enough for Moll to attack her, knocking her unconscious.

Moll attempts to use the technology, making one big triangle with nine of the smaller tiles – but she’s misunderstood the riddle, and is zapped unconscious herself.

From the outside, the portal to the Progenitors’ realm begins to fluctuate and appear to move. Book and Culber attempt to steady the portal, using a subspace frequency that Culber remembers from the zhiantara ritual.

Michael regains consciousness and attempts her own solution – not making the shape with the tiles, but arranging them such that the larger triangle is constructed from the negative space between the tiles, a more literal interpretation of "the one between the many". Her idea works – and summons a Progenitor, swathed in white, calm, almost holy in appearance and mannerisms.

The Progenitor reveals the extent of the technology: they didn’t create it themselves, but rather found it, speculating that it was left behind by whatever ancient race once created them. (It’s tribbles all the way down.) The limitations of the technology also become clear, though – there’s no way for Moll to bring back L’Ak, not really, not how he was.

As the Progenitor shares more with Burnham about the history of their technology, it gradually becomes clear what they’re really asking her to do – to decide what should happen with it.

Burnham is invited to become its steward, to protect it and to use it as she sees fit, but she doubts her own readiness – though after considering the things that are most important to her, science and duty and love and beauty and change, she returns to Discovery convinced of what should happen to the technology.

Reuniting with the crew of the Discovery, Burnham explains her decision: rather than study the technology as Stamets would, or weaponise it as Rayner believes Starfleet might, Burnham insists they need to let it go.

They push the Progenitors’ technology into the twin black holes it orbits – a neat parallel to the binary stars where Discovery’s voyage began – trusting that if it’s ever truly needed, its original creators would return for it.

Who is Dr Kovich in Star Trek: Discovery?

When Discovery returns to Federation HQ, Burnham meets with Dr Kovich to debrief. All information about the Progenitors’ tech has been deemed classified, never to be discussed again – much like the USS Discovery and the experimental spore drive once was.

Kovich reveals he’s taken Moll into his care too, with the hope that she’ll put her courier skills to work for the Federation.

Turning to leave, Burnham takes a look around Dr Kovich’s office, noting artefacts from different eras – a bottle of Chateau Picard wine, a visor, a baseball that might once have belonged to Benjamin Sisko. She realises that "Kovich" is likely a code name (another red directive level secret, in fact) and asks him who he really is.

Kovich reintroduces himself to Burnham – revealing that his real name is Agent Daniels, a character last seen on Star Trek: Enterprise (then played by Matt Winston), where he was a key player in the Temporal Cold War and orchestrated the early adventures of Captain Archer.

Did Saru and T'Rina get married in Star Trek: Discovery?

Life, Itself comes to a close with Saru and T’Rina’s wedding, a celebration attended by the crew of Discovery and many more senior Starfleet officials.

After the ceremony, Burnham circles the room, checking in with the various assembled guests – Tilly tells her that, after watching Burnham and Rayner push each other in command situations, she’s going to institute a mentorship programme at Starfleet Academy.

Book arrives – late, but looking smart – and goes to speak with Michael. The pair step outside the ceremony hall, taking a walk on the beach, and discuss their relationship. Though for both of them "future is still a scary word", their experiences with the Breen and the Progenitor tech has made them realise what’s important – each other.

Doug Jones as Saru and Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, looking at each of other while stood next to a tree
Doug Jones as Saru and Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery season 5. Michael Gibson/Paramount+

What happened to Michael Burnham and the crew of the Discovery?

Star Trek: Discovery ends with a time skip, its final scenes taking place decades after Saru’s wedding. An older Michael Burnham wakes up in a stylish house on an alien planet, passing Georgiou’s telescope as she goes downstairs – where she’s joined by Book, waiting for her with a coffee in their shared kitchen.

Burnham – now an admiral – has one last mission to complete. A Starfleet captain beams down to join her: he’s not just any captain, though, but Book and Burnham’s son, accompanying her to the USS Discovery for the last time.

For classified reasons Michael doesn’t entirely understand (but viewers who remember the Short Trek Calypso might), she’s piloting the USS Discovery into deep space, where the ship needs to wait for a thousand years.

After looking round the bridge one final time, remembering the crew that made her time there so special, Burnham issues the last command of the series: "Let’s fly."

Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream on Paramount Plus. Get a seven-day free Paramount Plus trial at Amazon Prime Video.


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