What the Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Finale Ending Means for Season 5

Here's how the crew made it through that Star Trek: Discovery season 4 finale, and a look at what it means for season 5.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 13 - Coming Home
Photo: Paramount

This article contains Star Trek: Discovery spoilers.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 13

It’s been a long road. Because of a mid-season break, and a contemplative, slow-burn plot, Star Trek: Discovery season 4 probably seems a bit longer than it actually is. If any old school fans were worried Discovery couldn’t do a big-idea science fiction story without resorting to an action-adventure plot, the totality of season four proves those haters wrong. Fans will probably be split if this is the best season of Discovery, but, one thing’s for sure, from a tonal point of view, it was easily the most consistent. And, by the end of episode 13, “Coming Home,” the series seems to be confidently stepping into yet another new direction. 

Here’s what happened at the end of the Star Trek: Discovery season 4 finale and what it might mean for season 5…

The DMA averted 

After President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) does a big scary mind-meld with the alien species known as the Ten-C, it appears, at least, for a moment, that the united front of the Federation and their allies won’t be able to convince these aliens to stop the DMA from destroying Earth and Ni’Var. T’Rina’s mind meld attempt was noble however and totally references Spock doing similar large-scale mind-melds in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “One of Our Planets Is Missing,” and, of course, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But, in the end, the crew has to communicate their intentions through the most classic model of Star Trek diplomacy; brutal honesty, and some actual apologies.

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In the end, the Ten-C narrowly shut off the massive Dark Matter Anamoly hurtling toward both Earth and Ni’Var, which saves everyone’s lives. On top of this Book also insists that the Ten-C not just scale back their massively destructive mining procedures, but also, shut it down entirely. This moment is a pretty clear statement about climate change and alternative energies, but in the Discovery version, the stakes are much broader. This season, we learned that the Ten-C were using the DMA to mine for boronite and were unaware this process caused destruction because they didn’t view any of the life in our galaxy as “higher lifeforms.” Burnham, Book, and the rest of the crew convince them otherwise, but shutting down the hugely destructive mining process was the bigger win. 

Book’s punishment 

Back in episode 7, “…But to Connect,” Book (David Ajala) disregarded the Federation’s vote to pursue diplomatic relations with the Ten-C, and instead, opted to join up with Tarka in trying to deliver an isolytic weapon to destroy the DMA and harness the power of the DMA controller. This put Book at odds with Burnham and the crew of the Discovery for pretty much the entire second half of the season. In the end, Book realizes Tarka has gone too far, and with a little help from Reno, prevents the rogue scientist from ruining any chance at diplomacy.

Book is also instrumental in getting the Ten-C to change their ways. However, when the smoke clears, he’s still broken a ton of Federation laws, regardless of how it shook out. At the very end, we learn what his punishment is: He’s tasked with helping refugees displaced by the DMA. This easily makes one wonder if David Ajala will still be a series regular in Discovery season 5. He’s no longer on the ship, so will he still be around?

The return of Tilly (But Where’s Gray?)

Although Tilly (Mary Wiseman) left the ship to teach at Starfleet Academy in “All Is Possible,” (episode 4 this season) she returns triumphantly in the finale to assist Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) with the excavation of Earth. To be clear, Tilly doesn’t rejoin the crew formally, either. Which, like Book, makes you wonder, is Mary Wiseman a regular in season 5, or a recurring guest star? Right now, Michelle Paradise, the showrunner for Discovery can’t reveal anything about the next season, but has gone on record saying that once characters enter the DISCO universe, “they’re always part of this world.”

This seems to indicate that the entire DISCO gang, no matter how spread out, can still reunite in some way shape or form. Obviously, this includes Gray (Ian Alexander) who left for Trill earlier in the season, but also means that  Lt. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) and the mysterious Dr. Kovich (David Cronenberg) could be back in the mix for Season 5, too. 

Earth and the United Federation of Planets

The biggest news of the Discovery season 4 comes at the very, very end. Here we learn that United Earth — previously separated from the Federation after the Burn — is now a full-fledged UFP member again. The President of Earth (played by real life politician Stacey Abrams) doesn’t even hesitate in rejoining the Federation. And, because Vance and Tilly reallocated Fed HQ to Earth’s orbit, it seems to indicate that Discovery season 5 could, at least partially, take place on the Earth of the 32nd Century. 

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In theory, this has been coming for awhile, and in the season 3 episode, “People of Earth,” the crew even visited the location of where Starfleet Academy used to be. But now, we’re all one big happy fleet again. The return of the Federation to Earth also means the return of Starfleet, which suddenly could make Discovery season 5 a show about something we’ve never quite seen before: A Star Trek series that actually digs into what Earth of the far future could be like. 

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 is streaming now on Paramount+