'Star Trek: Discovery' Bosses Break Down Season Finale's 'Exciting' Final Reveal (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
CBS All Access
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the finale of Star Trek: Discovery. Everyone else, you may continue...
Was that what we thought it was?
In the final moments of Sunday's season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, titled "Will You Take My Hand?," Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the USS Discovery crew -- after they successfully ended the war with the Klingons -- received a distress signal just as they were on their way to Vulcan to pick up their new captain. But the distress call wasn't just from any starship -- it came from decorated Starfleet Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise, the same starship Captain James T. Kirk would lead in just a little under a decade.
After realization hit the Discovery crew that it was the Enterprise seeking help, the iconic NC-1701 starship came into full view in front of the USS Discovery for a thrilling ending that will leave fans talking.
ET jumped on the phone with Star Trek: Discovery showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, who are already hard at work planning the sophomore season, to discuss the exciting finale reveal, what it means for season two and if this is goodbye for Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh.
ET: Why did you want to introduce the USS Enterprise now on Star Trek: Discovery?
Gretchen J. Berg: From the beginning, it was something that we knew that folks who are fans of Star Trek know the Enterprise is out there and it was kind of the elephant in the room. We knew eventually that we would want to address that and deal with it. Even though it's a giant, giant universe, it's something that's on everybody's minds. So we were glad to be able to take the whole season to get to know our crew because the storytelling is going to be told from the point of view from Michael Burnham and Discovery. Let everybody get to know our characters and our show and what we were doing before we brought in the Enterprise. We knew it would be exciting and provocative, for sure.
Aaron Harberts: We also knew that we couldn't hold off on this because there are so many questions about Burnham in regards to the notion of Sarek and Spock's family, which is not to say that we're introducing Spock at the moment. We don't want to spoil anything. But it's certainly time to get the audience understanding that we fully intend to respect the original series and respect where Discovery falls in that. To do that, we have to show the Enterprise and at least have these ships cross paths.
What is your intention with establishing the Enterprise in this way? What are you comfortable saying with regards to its place in season two?
Berg: Usually, we like to say sit back and enjoy the ride because it's one of those things... You know, as a writer, you work on something and work on something, and you're always like, but wait! We're working on it and we're going to show it to you and you'll see. We're certainly acknowledging that they exist in the same time. But always, always, always, the story on Discovery will be told from the point of view of Disco and our Disco crew. I think it's fair to expect something, but we probably couldn't go too much into detail about what it is.
Harberts: More than anything, it is about what new stories does this provide for our crew, for Michael Burnham, for Saru, for Tilly. Our main interest is Discovery. However, if the presence of the Enterprise can show us new things about our crew, the better.
It's notable that it's Captain Pike who sent the distress signal for the Enterprise. Is he a character we could meet in season two, along with Enterprise crew members?
Harberts: The thing to consider about Captain Pike is, from an audience and writer's point of view, there is something very exciting about a key character from [Star Trek: The Original Series] who's only been explored in two episodes of the original series -- three if you consider how [the rejected pilot for the original series] "The Cage" works into the puzzle in TOS. When we think about the idea of Captain Pike, it opens up some large possibilities. We will never say never to exploring him a little bit more.
Before they received the distress call, they were on their way to Vulcan to pick up the new captain for the USS Discovery. What can you divulge about that piece of intel? Is it something fans should keep in the back of their mind?
Harberts: This is a story about detours...
The Mirror Universe really allowed us to see Discovery characters in new lights, from Gabriel Lorca to Philippa Georgiou. Will you be revisiting the Mirror Universe again in the new season or has that chapter closed?
Berg: The Mirror Universe was perfect for season one because one of the themes of the season was literally self-discovery for Michael Burnham, figuring out who she was. The great thing about going to Mirror was to be able to live out the fantasy of "If we did this, should've, could've, would've," and "If I had an opportunity to say goodbye to somebody again or have closure with somebody again," and it fit perfectly with that theme. In order to return to Mirror, we would have to have a really good reason to go, better than the reason that we went this year. What we've learned on Star Trek is never say never about anything, but for now, I'm really proud of the story we told in Mirror, and we're going to let people sit with those for a while and maybe we'll be going back again in the future. But for right now, enjoy those episodes from the last year! (Laughs.)
Are you suggesting that the nine-month period in Prime during which Michael and crew were stuck in Mirror Universe won't be revisited?
Harberts: To be honest, Episode 14 ["The War Without, the War Within"] was all about what had happened. With the destruction that was wrought by the Klingons and the Federation during those nine months, we tried to paint the picture of that. I think what's exciting about moving into season two is we've got a fresh new palette. We've put the war behind us and we're excited to move on into some things that Trek fans have been longing for, which is more exploration, more diplomacy, more planets, more away missions. We're focused on serving up some new stuff.
What does this mean for the future of Jason Isaacs, whose Mirror Lorca was killed but the whereabouts of Prime Lorca are still unclear, or Michelle Yeoh, whose Mirror Philippa is still roaming the galaxy?
Berg: If they're out there, the possibilities are endless. Never say never. That's the great thing about this universe: there are so many more different ways to go. I can't confirm or deny anything, but...
Harberts: If we find Prime Lorca, I sort of want to find him making artisan sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco. That's how that storyline could start and we'd just build from there. (Laughter.)
Because it seems the Mirror Universe isn't a destination you'll go back to anytime soon, what about Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber's future? Wilson Cruz told us recently that their story isn't over.
Berg: Wilson's correct. We have just begun to tell the love story between Culber and Stamets, so I would just say hold tight.
Harberts: Stamets has got a lot to process that he hasn't had time to process yet, in terms of not being in charge of the spore drive and having lost Culber. We've got to take Stamets on a journey as well and then we'll see. But Culber is a character who is part of this Star Trek world, no doubt.
You're already knee-deep on season two planning. What are you looking to achieve thematically and creatively?
Harberts: Chapter 1 of this novel was war, and right now, we're thinking about Chapter 2. One of the themes we continue kicking around is the conflict between science and spirituality, and that's something that we're very interested, particularly after you finish a war. How do you rebuild yourself? What's required for that? What we're most excited to do is to continue thematic exploration and philosophical exploration and debate, and these characters are perfectly primed to carry storylines like that. That's one thing that we're thinking about. We have a few things up our sleeve, but we'd be lying if we knew everything, because that's the fun of it is as well. You go into it, you see what's working and you see what's interesting, and you build from there.
Berg: The joy is in the journey for us as well in creating it.
Now that an entire season is under your belts, what did you feel worked well creatively? What didn't work?
Berg: We knew this, in theory, going in. but I'm so impressed with our cast. We knew they were talented individually and were fans of them, but, man, getting them all together, it was such a privilege to work with these artists. They are so wonderful as talents and just as wonderful as people. That has been such a thrilling blessing and something you wouldn't even hope to wish for. I've been so happy about that.
Harberts: In terms of things that didn't work, what was so incredible about this season was that we came into it from a place of things weren't exactly working. Not creatively, but that we were up against it. Bryan [Fuller] had left the show and in order to make the show the best that it could be, we needed to push our airdate. Those were all things that, initially people were looking at as a sign that things weren't working. What's been so miraculous about this season is that it did work. It's kind of like Starfleet getting through the war. I'm really proud of all of our creative partners. So much credit has to go to the visual effects people, to our crew, to our casting agents, to our directors, to our writers. People just brought their best selves to the show at a time when it was touch-and-go for a second and it's been brilliant what people have been able to pull off and the love and care that they've given to the show.