Discovery Season 5 Explained by Sonequa Martin-Green


Sonequa Martin-Green is all kinds of emotional. The Star Trek: Discovery star is jazzed about discussing the action-packed fifth and final season of the hit Paramount+ sci-fi series. But she’s also sentimental about this Trek’s end game. “It was certainly sad on the [last] day and bittersweet,” the actor shared about the final shoot in a recent round table interview with journalists. ‘We laughed and we cried, and we sang songs and danced and recited poetry, and everything. We were really there with each other, but thankfully, it’s never over, and we don’t really have to say goodbye.”

True. Especially in the Trek-verse. Anything can happen. To be sure, it has been a wildly entertaining, if not surprising, run for Discovery or, to use Trek vernacular, Disco. The series was thoroughly embraced when it debuted back in 2017, 12 years after Star Trek: Enterprise bowed. It was also a curious beast, landing on CBS All Access before helping launch Paramount+, becoming its greatest hope for the streamer’s future.

It succeeded on that front, paving the way for Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Star Trek: Prodigy. Disco also gave us Michelle Yeoh in its first few seasons. We’re eagerly awaiting Yeoh’s stand-alone film on Paramount+, Star Trek: Section 31, which the Oscar winner calls “Mission: Impossible in space.” Yet another new series, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, is expected to blast off in 2026.

In this wildly inventive final season, Captain Burnham (Martin-Green) and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery race to uncover a mystery about an ancient power whose very existence has been deliberately hidden for centuries. Others are on the hunt for it, too, and that’s not good. In the wrong hands, the power can be destructive. Sonequa Martin-Green reveals more about the season ahead, how playing Burnham changed her, and so much more in this exclusive interview. Dive in.

‘This Is Our Indiana Jones Season’

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In addition to Sonequa Martin-Green, the final season of Disco includes Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), Blu del Barrio (Adira) and Callum Keith Rennie (Rayner). Recurring guest stars Elias Toufexis (L’ak) and Eve Harlow (Moll) are a hoot, recalling some of Trek’s most memorable villains, such as Q, Khan, and Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor from TNG. Journalists have vowed to remain tight-lipped about Season 5 until certain episodes air. However, we can say that something from the Star Trek canon takes center stage.


12 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series

Here’s some lesser-known behind-the-scenes trivia about the show that spawned the iconic space-opera franchise.

Beyond that, going into Season 5, none of the cast members knew it would be their last season together. When official word dropped, most of the cast returned to shoot extra scenes. However, Season 5 was intended to stand out from any other season of Disco. Sonequa Martin-Green explained:

“We spoke a lot before we started shooting because, of course, we didn’t know that it was our last season, but we knew that we wanted to make a tonal shift. [Executive producer/writer] Michelle Paradise was really vocal about that. She let us in on that process, and she said, ‘We really want this to be an adventure. We want this to be our Indiana Jones season. We want everybody to have fun. We’re going to be dealing with some huge subject matter.’ Now, we went even bigger with our subject matter than ever before, which is crazy when you consider the storylines of Seasons 3 and 4.”

The showrunners and actors went “bigger,” but they also brought some levity. “We wanted there to be a sense of thrill, a sense of fun, a sense of joy and adventure,” Martin-Green added. “So, we had to approach it that way. And it’s funny…It became a mantra for us. ‘Remember, it’s an adventure.’”

How Disco Changed Sonequa Martin-Green

Sonequa Martin-Green became the first African American female captain in Star Trek history. Michael Burnham started as a mutineer, and after Season 3’s 900-year time leap, the character eventually found her way to becoming captain. In between, Martin-Green exhibited remarkable emotional range—from sparring with Michelle Yeoh’s Emperor Philippa Georgiou and those scenes as Spock’s (Ethan Peck) half-sister to morphing into the kick-ass captain fans have come to love. When MovieWeb asked how this role stretched her as a performer or as a person, Martin-Green said:

Oh, my goodness, I mean, stretching is what happened… if I started out as a tiny rubber band, I’m a rubber band the size of a room at this point now. It stretched me in every single possible way that you can be stretched

“I had not experienced being the lead of a show before, I did not know what it was like to lead a sci-fi show. I certainly didn’t know what it was like to lead a Trek show. I didn’t know what being in the Star Trek franchise was like. I didn’t know what it would be like to create such an intense character, a character that evolves in such a deep way,” she added, saying:

“I didn’t know what it would be like to have such a physical component to my performance because it was even more physical than the work that I had done on
The Walking Dead
, and the stage combat I had done before that… from the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to sort of model, as crazy as this might sound, or as funny, or sort of esoteric as it might sound, I wanted to model my leadership after Christ, because it was like, nobody’s better here than Jesus. And the greatest leader is the greatest servant.”

Captain Burnham surely will go down as one of the most compelling, if not gutsy, Star Trek captains in history. Expect more surprises from the character this season. “We all just went in there together and gave our all because we knew that it was important,” Martin-Green added. “I grew in every way. I feel that I can handle so much more now as an actor, as an artist, as a Black woman, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, as a professional, as a producer, as an executive producer, I feel like it [Star Trek: Discovery] was my doctorate degree in this artistry and in this business.”

A Deeper Message Within Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation did a stellar job of setting a certain Trek tone. Sci-fi and action, yes, but it also made a point to include messages about hope, teamwork, and diplomacy. So, what was it like for Sonequa Martin-Green and the cast to produce Disco, especially at a time when the country is so divided?

“I feel that I can speak for all of us [the cast] confidently when I say this… that if you are going to be an artist, then there’s an element of activism with it. And I think that that’s how it should be. Art in its purest form is there to serve. And it’s there to affect positive change. It’s there to sort of help people heal… grow… see themselves, see each other, and help people reach higher, right? And if that is what we can achieve as artists, then that is a dream come true. That’s the opportunity that we’ve been given here. That’s what
has done already.”

“Oh, my goodness, we were in desperate need to do it, too,” added Martin-Green. “We were in desperate need to contribute to the franchise in that same way and push that needle forward, right? And we all took it seriously. We took it equally seriously. There was no ego. We were like, ‘This is really important. Okay, let’s go.’ We hope we do it justice, you know? And I can confidently say, without boasting, I’m so proud of everyone. I think that we did. I hope that people think that we did.”

On Co-star Callum Keith-Rennie and Biggest Hopes

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham with the Enterprise flying behind her in Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green also shared how excited she was to work alongside Californication alum/Umbrella Academy star Callum Keith-Rennie, who comes aboard this season as the steely Captain Rayner. Expect some sparring with these two, as well.

“I just love Callum. I love him so much,” Sonequa Martin-Green. “He’s such a brilliant actor, and we’ve been blessed with such brilliant actors coming in and giving their all and making our story what it is, helping us be bigger and better and brighter and deeper. And I also have to give a lot of respect to Eve Harlow and Elias Toufexis, who were such a major part of our final season as well… We were all having dinner at the very top of the season… and Callum was looking around, and he was like, ‘So this is for real? So, you guys just like, really love each other? Huh? I don’t know about this.’ He was laughing; he was joking. I bust out laughing… by the end of it, we were all hugging and crying together, you know?”

As for what she hopes audiences will get out of Disco’s final season, Martin-Green shared:

“So many things. I want them to get everything that we try to give them, you know, because it’s such a multi-layered, complex, grand, epic season and we pose some of the biggest questions known to life and to existence. And I hope that people… walk away with a renewed sense of self, with a renewed sense of purpose, with a renewed sense of hope, and with a renewed or an even greater desire to look up. Not just look out but look up as well. That’s my hope.” The final season (10 episodes) of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on Apr. 4 on Paramount+.

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