Interview: Michelle Paradise On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Series Finale Tweaks And Rayner’s DS9 Connection


In addition to speaking to Alex Kurtzman at the SXSW premiere event last week, TrekMovie also had a moment with his Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Michelle Paradise. The executive producer talked about what’s different in season 5, the changes they made to turn the season finale into a series finale, and some details on the new season regular, Callum Keith Rennie’s Captain Rayner.

Season five has a different tone and it’s a bit more episodic…


.. and there are more connections to Trek lore. Would you say this season has been influenced by recent seasons of the other Trek shows like Strange New Worlds, Picard, maybe even Prodigy?

No, It’s still fundamentally Discovery. And Discovery is built on serialized storytelling. So we still have that. Really, the shift in tone for this season was that we came into this season after season 4 which had a bit of a heavier tone in general. That previous season was written and shot during a time of COVID and we kind of knew coming into season 5 that we wanted that different tone. We wanted a bit more action and adventure, a bit more lightness–not to lose the things that make Discovery, Discovery. So really, it was a matter of thinking: What does that look like? So we’re sending our heroes on a quest. And so then the nature of a quest allows for a bit more of the episodic storytelling. But again, it’s Discovery so we don’t lose the serialized style.

David Ajala as Book, Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Wilson Cruz as Culber in season 5 of Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)

Regarding the additional footage shot to turn the season finale into a series finale, would it be fair to call this an add-on epilogue or were changes made to the original finale?

I would say, it’s probably more of the latter. What’s really interesting about this season is when we came in we didn’t know that it would be our last season. But as with every season of Discovery, we explore big themes, big ideas. This season has a lot about meaning and focus. So we had finished shooting and then we found out [it was the last season]. We actually felt like of all the seasons for it to happen, this was the best one because the themes are all so big. So when we got to the end and got to shoot some additional material, no, we didn’t have to change anything from the season. That is all just as we shot it with maybe a couple of tweaks for the finale that we ended up shifting just some things around, but it was very minor, very minor. But I do think that people coming into the season and not knowing that will feel very satisfied and like we had known going in. So that’s kind of cool.

Embed from Getty Images

What can you say about Rayner’s backstory? He’s not a Romulan or a Vulcan…

He’s a Kellerun. We were looking for a species that not a lot had been done with them. We definitely wanted another non-human on the ship and taking care of things. And Kellerun is one that had not been explored a whole lot. So we were able to also build some backstory for him and for his planet that we’ll come to learn more about later.

Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner (Paramount+)

NOTE: Kelleruns appeared in a single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Armageddon Game.”

Peter White as Kellerun ambassadaor Sharat in “Armageddon Game”

More from SXSW

You can watch full video of the SXSW Discovery panel. Also, read our previous red carpet interviews:

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuts with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and is also expected to be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

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Good interview.

Yes Christopher, she’s been good for this underrated series and I’m proud of her, and if she’s reading this:

Michelle, thanks for brining us this great Star Trek series over the past several years — awesome job — and most of us can’t wait to watch the final triumphant season of DSC!

She’s done a more than solid job and does not deserve all the fan negativity she gets from a handful of “loud” fans. And as I am sure she will be reading this, I would like to politely ask the small but vocal group with the incessant DSC negativity to please take a break on this article so that Joe and Anthony at Trekmovie are not embarrassed — thanks in advance for doing this!

The reality is that my other half her sister and my friends like Discovery more than any other recent series and they are not Trek fanatics like some of us here. Personally I don’t get the total negativity as it is much better than the TOS truly awful reboot movies. It’s not the best Trek but it is no way the worse and I would watch any Discovery season over the awful season 2 of SNW.
Not my favourite Star Trek series but it is better than Enterprise and SNW for me, looking forward to season 5.

Not my favorite Star Trek series but it is better than Enterprise…

Agreed, and by a long shot!

See for me I like ALL those better than Discovery. Both ENT and SNW are far ahead. Both have their flaws for sure but generally like them.

I also think the Kelvin movies are better but not amazing. Just more like a fun distraction. I don’t really take them that seriously and hope they just move on since it’s obvious they have no faith in them anymore. But if I had to choose to watch, those or Discovery, I would still pick the movies.

And that is why entertainment is subjective. I think the Kelvin films are not Star Trek at all or even decent Sci Fi .Discovery has it’s problems but it is not just a Guardians of the Galaxy action series. Those Kelvin films are pew pew nonsense in Star Trek form and hopefully they don’t make any more. The OS movies were actually really good and enjoyable films.the reboots are the opposite aimed at the dumb action crowd, all about the money🤮.True, Discovery has mindless action at times but at least it has a little bit more and does explore sci fi concepts.

Fair enough. As I said I like the movies but I’m not in love with them either for those reasons. I just don’t take them very seriously as I do the TOS and TNG movies.

And while I’m OK if they made another one I’m hoping they just finally move on because they are too divisive in the fanbase (as you just displayed lol) and I like something that’s a little more Star Trek and sci fi based.

It would be nice if we can finally get something completely new with new characters and setting but sadly not holding my breath.

As far as Discovery I actually agree I like seeing more sci fi concepts which we got in the last two seasons but they just been handled SO POORLY and exactly why I think Michelle Paradise is awful at her job.

If they are embarrassed by informed negative feedback then they can just ban me and be done with it. Geez, sometimes the disc crowd here has thinner hides than the disc powers that be.

Right there with you. And Michelle Paradise seems like a nice person but a complete mistake putting in charge of a Star Trek show.


Preach! 👍

Some people need to just get a dog to comfort them and tell themselves TV shows shouldn’t be this big of a deal in their lives.

Really it’s going to be OK and no one is forcing them to read any of it if you can’t just be an adult about it.

But it’s fun to watch the meltdowns over it. 😂

I’m in that category sometimes! And the bummer is, we haven’t lived anyplace in over a decade that allows dogs — and my wife and I are seriously in withdrawal mode over that, as we used to always rescue senior dogs, so there was frequent ‘turnover’ since they only lived another 4 or 5 years after adoption.

Well, for your sake, I hope Disco brings you the comfort of a companion animal denied.

But as with every season of Discovery, we explore big themes, big ideas.

I know the writers like to say this each season, but it’s never really been true. They PRESENT big themes and big ideas, but they don’t really EXPLORE them. A lot of the writing is superficial, which is one of the show’s big failings.

The last two seasons were about an anomaly, which ends up being resolved in some stupid way. Or so I think, I don’t remember much anymore. I’d rather rewatch Star Trek: Enterprise.

Agreed. A big reason the show has the problems it does. Hopefully this season will surprise me but I do remain very skeptical.

Hmm. I’ve seen more big ideas on the last two seasons of DSC than the last two seasons of Picard though, unless you count “let’s remake ROTJ, but with Zombies” as a big idea?

Did Matalas/Goldsman/whomever was the actual functioning showrunner in Season 2 (in particular) talk about dealing with big ideas?

It’s one thing to critique a show for trying to do something and failing. It’s something else entirely to critique a show for not doing something it wasn’t necessarily trying to do in the first place.

To be clear/head the conversation off, this is about a comparison of intent, and it’s about a comparison of goal-meeting.

Season 2 Interview Quotes:

Paramount+, and all of us, we feel very strongly that the story needs to represent everything that’s going on today. And how would you view that through the lens of Captain Picard? Through the lens of these people from an elevated society in which they’ve done away with these prejudices, and how do you shine a light on it through a different perspective? We thought it was important. — Terry Matalas

I’ve always wondered: What is it about Picard that Q keeps coming back to torment him. Hasn’t an immortal being got anything better to do? — Patrick Stewart

Perhaps it’s a desire on my part for you all to be better; to just to be more human, more better than what you’ve been in the past. In The Next Generation, in “Encounter at Farpoint” I say, “Why do deserve to be out here?” — John de Lancie.


That doesn’t do what you…forget it.

Lol, my how convenient (think SNL Church Lady….lol)

They did have big issues in S2 they wanted to cover and Matalas (who you specifically called out) himself covered that in the quote I provided.

I proved you wrong. Case closed.

Since Picard’s writers haven’t pushed the “big ideas” marketing, that’s a non sequitur.

Yet S1 of Picard had big ideas.

…S2 as well if you go back and look at the interviews (see my other post please).

It’s ok not to understand a conversation. Really.

And while it’s lame, it certainly is understandable for someone to just pretend stuff away when another provides actual quotes that refute your position.

That’s not what happened, but you’re barely literate, so I’m not entirely surprised that you think that’s what you did.

Remember that time someone said that it would be nice if stabbings were the worst things Americans had to worry about, and you thought they were saying you should be stabbed?

Anyway, adult literacy week’s not until September, but I can provide some excellent resources for you until then.

So that’s the best DEFLECTION away from you being proven wrong that you could come up with?

That’s just pathetic…LMFAO

I think season 1 of Picard went down the interesting road of artificial lifeforms but wrapped it up poorly. One thing you can say about all 3 seasons of Picard is that it is not just another Starfleet ship show which Discovery and SNW certainly are.
Picard should of explored extended life through artificial hosts more as that is a really interesting sci fi concept but that would be wasted on the Picard is a robot mindset out there.
Which is quite hilarious as they can except an omnipotent being but not extending human life through artificial means which has already been explored in TNG, it is not like it is anything new to this series.

Agreed! I thought it was interesting to bring synthetic lifeforms into the STU. But it went nowhere. I always thought it would be cool if they put Picard in a younger body, cast a new actor, and continue from there.

They have great ideas but always blow it.

Also agreed. Picard season 1 had great potential and a really interesting storyline but sadly badly squandered by the end.

Four seasons of Discovery and two seasons of Picard have all been major disappointments for me. I really thought season 3 of Picard was a huge improvement even with its flaws and hoping the same for Discovery soon.

I have just rewatched season 3 of Picard and am amazed how much of a character piece it is. Patrick Stewart really nails the change in Picard, he is 80 plus years and still my favourite character in Star Trek. The TNG cast really shine and to me it is by far the best modern trek series so far, way better than the 3 of the previous TNG movies also.
All the TNG crew really give it their all but wow Riker has never been better than in Picard season 3 and Tbh in 7 seasons of TNG I never really took to Riker.

Yep agree with all of that. It is amazing how no one in the cast had lost their step with amazing chemistry and you got real drama and adult themes again. Riker and Worf especially shined IMO.

All I can say for me it brought me back to Star Trek at its peak in the 90s. And I have said I generally like the new stuff and LDS, SNW and especially Prodigy has been generally good.

But Picard season 3 brought back both the gravitas and more mature story telling none of the new stuff has done yet like you got with the classic shows.

It’s exactly why one year later people still talk about it with such fondness and hoping to get more.

The modern Star Trek writers cannot write allegorical science fiction. They try, but it’s always poorly written and executed. They start with something, then it gets loss in an incoherent plot, then by the end of the season, they just come out and say it. Its like S3, they put a Roddenberry quote at the end about connection to tell the audience, “hey, it’s about connection, just in case you got lost in our convoluted and ridiculous plot.”

They are clueless indeed. These shows do such a bad job of telling a coherent story before it gets bogged down in convoluted plots, melodrama and ridiculous twists.

NuTrek tries to be like the golden era but fails miserably most of the time.

Well! I certainly did not have Kelleruns on my bingo card.

I thought he was just a bada$$ Vulcan.

Yeah I think most of us didn’t think of the Kelleruns. The hair for one thing is way different. Nice thing about going into the future though is that you can expand on these aliens. Let’s hope Discovery does a lot of world building this season.

LOL those hairdos were ridiculous. I hardly noticed their ears in that DS9 episode.

What’s crazy is I just learned they were actually nominated for an Emmy for best hair styling.

Tremendous CKR fan. I…might give it a shot. I think DS9 did a lot of good world-building, and I realized that SH Trek seems like it’s not really existing in that world, and that’s been a thing that’s put me off of SH Trek somewhat. We’ll see what happens!

Just really really hoping this season doesn’t suck. Please just go out with a bang!

It all sounds very promising but it always does.

Go watch your tng video tapes then. I know you have those video tapes.

Lol, yeah!

I am speaking in general here to you — If I said something like, “I am really hoping Trump’s next term doesn’t suck and that he becomes a great President,” everyone should know that I can’t stand the orange haired dictator and that I am not going to be down with nearly anything he does while president.

When I am seeing fan posts on the Trek sites I review, the false platitudes/backhanded complement thing is all BS in my opinion.

False equivalency and you know it.

Unlike Trump I have liked Discovery many times and has SAID so many times for literally every season noe.I have never liked Trump on anything. Also unlike Trump I have ROOTED for it many times because want it to succeed. I hated Trump’s policies and voted against him both times as I will yet again.

And also unlike Trump I have supported the show by paying for it, even to keep paying for the service when the show was off the air to show how much I supported it and Star Trek because I wanted more seasons. And this was before any other Trek show was on. Trump has never gotten a dollar out of me to pay for his campaign or all his legal bills. And finally unlike Trump I don’t think Discovery has broken any laws. ;)

So yeah it’s not even close to a good analogy lol.

But it’s just not a good show IMO. It’s had four seasons and it’s failed every season. But ironically I have liked every season in the beginning.

And I think Paradise is a horrible showrunner. But still better at her job than Trump lol.

And I’m addressing you directly because this is clearly aimed at me. Correct? Okay take it easy.

Fair points — OK, not the best analogy.

Sorry, didn’t see this before I wrote that. Apologies.

No worries – thanks!

False equivalency and you know it.”

No he doesn’t.

Which of course explains why I wrote to Tiger2 in a reply right here in this thread 2 HOURS BEFORE YOU POSTED THIS COMMENT this:

TOS Continues 2027
Reply to Tiger2
March 21, 2024 11:30 am
Fair points — OK, not the best analogy.

So genius, how can I not know it’s a false equivalency when I admitted that to Tiger2 two freaking hours before your comment? Can you not read? Sheesh!

how can I not know it’s a false equivalency when I admitted that to Tiger2″

See, everyone else thinks you’re a troll. I don’t assume bad faith. Which is why the answer to this is “because you’re a moron.”

We’ll to give you a bit of encouragement, I will say that’s a marginally more entertaining DEFLECTION away from me proving you wrong than that pathetically babyish literacy week remark.

Wow… what an absurd comparison. Come on, man.

It’s like you didn’t even bother to read my response to Tiger2 before typing this? Weird?

I hope she didn’t!

Lorna Dune is a “he,” Mensa.

Pay attention!

Dude, there is no place for current political nonsense here. Knock that sh*t off. This is my one refuge from it. I prefer the nonsense here.

I asked you to ignore me for the 39th time a few days ago did I not? Please do it.

Stop wasting my time. Jesus.🙄

Unfortunately, Tiger, there are some folks here who seem to revel in bugging people.

Sad but true. I don’t know why people are so thin skinned over these shows. If you like them great, no one is getting on your case about it. But the silly insults like this just says more about that guy and he can’t have a conversation like an adult, it’s why I choose to ignore him.

He’s been here forever and as much as he claims to love Discovery I can’t think of a real mature conversation he’s ever had about the show. It’s just the same immature insults and little else.

Waste of space.

Question. Whatever happened to tiger1 ?

How do you know Tiger2 has TNG VHS tapes? If so what does that have to do with anything?

I used to have all TOS on VHS but that was nearly 30 years ago now. WOW.

Yeah, me too. Sadly now I’ve replaced All of it with disc$$$. They keep putting the same content out on different media, and we keep buying it. I’ve been buying the same show for 35 years. I’m an idiot. 😄

Oh man, I taped all of TNG through Enterprise. Even drew covers for the tapes as a kid for TNG.

I admire that. I built an entire ENT bridge when I was a kid out of cardboard, and brought in the Mego action figures of the time to play in it. 1970’s. Loved it.

Oh that sounds amazing!

Before I found AMT/ERTL, I made what I thought was a fairly decent original Enterprise out of tin foil, paper towel rolls and paper plates.

I was definitely a child when I did that and not 36.

I had a vision while I was eating a snickers ice cream bar last week. It was just like that scene from The Shining.

At least you are more positive than I am. I still think this one will be as bad as the others.

(Sorry this is only two lines haha)

I agree it will be, too.

Right there with you guys lol.


Moving on but I wouldn’t really say I’m ‘positive’ so much as just being open minded. Because I have been here several times now and the early reviews are usually pretty good but by the middle of the season it just becomes a dumpster fire, especially season 4.

And I couldn’t tell you how excited I was for both seasons 2 and 3. I haven’t been that excited for Trek since DS9 went off the air. Both started really well. I remember how much praise I gave the first two episodes of season 2. I thought the show was making a huge turnaround. And while definitely better than season 1 it still crashed and burned for me.

But yeah we’ll see. The opening episodes have been positive and one of them says that it really does lean heavily into TNG. It’s trying to get that fanbase, probably because they need something to get the old fans onboard again kind of like what season 2 did so hopefully it will be successful.

It’s the comment about lightening up the show that piques my interest the most.

Yeah me too as well. And that is one of things people are saying about the episodes they seen so far and that the show is actually fun… something you rarely hear people describe Discovery lol.

Actually the first episode of season 2 Brother was indeed a truly fun episode. It’s a shame we didn’t get more episodes like that one.

The third season premiere was refreshing at least for how easygoing and free Burnham was made to be. When she puts on a Starfleet uniform sooner after that largely goes away. I might be imagining it, but I’d say SMG’s performance has been calibrated to be a *little* more relaxed since then, which is nice.

I have no idea when I’d ever do a rewatch to be able to look out for that, though.

She is responsible for ruining this show. I enjoyed season 1 and 2 of Discovery but the third season onwards is some of the worst tv I’ve ever watched

Agreed. Paradise is a horrible showrunner and the first one I wanted to see fired. I never loved the show but it was still better before she took over IMO.

Her priorities are all mixed up that’s for sure.

But you see, that’s an unfair rub given the hand she was dealt.

Following S2, Kurtzman and company made this mistake of “listening to the fans” — and the huge mistake there was them assuming that the small group of very loud, very vocal, very repetitive fans who hated the show was representative of all Star Trek fans, and also failed to include the tremendously positive group of new younger and diverse fans that DSC had brought into the franchise. The show was plenty popular, but those naysayer fanboys continuously drowned out the positivity all over the fan sites on the internet.

So you, I and others who really enjoyed the first two seasons — who never thought anything was broke and needed fixing — we got screwed by losing the type of DSC that we had all grown to love those first two seasons…and Michelle Paradise got screwed by Kurtzman and the marketing folks who directed her to soft reboot and change the tone of the series…so it’s not her fault at all — she did the best given that shitty hand that was dealt to her by her management and the DSC haters on fan sites such as this one.

I still have enjoyed the last two seasons, but they pale as compared to those great first two seasons — which were up until that time the best Star Trek I had personally watched since DS9. But the negative haters, which range from the fans who directly belittle and whine about the series, to the fakey fans who always start out by saying “well I am really hoping it’s improving, but…” — they are partially responsible for these unwanted changes from the past two seasons, with Kurtzman even more responsible since he listened to those clowns and told Paradise to make the major changes.

Agreed. She’s a horrible producer who made a bad show even worse.

The show is a laughingstock online for a reason. I can’t believe it wasn’t cancelled sooner.


They should’ve fired her after the whole Kelpian kid causing the Burn plotline. It was so ridiculous and embarrassing.

Someone like this shouldn’t be making Star Trek shows. It’s been really an awful show since she took over.

Yep definitely agree. Still one of the dumbest reveals to a really intriguing concept.

Paradise has created interesting storylines but the execution of them have been awful and has turned the show into more melodramatic schlock instead of riveting science fiction.

This is what happens you get someone from the CW to try and make a serious science fiction drama who instead turned it into the Lifetime movie channel in space. 🙄

This series should have never been canceled. It got me excited to watch Star Trek again. The other series only remind me of out dated old re-runs with different people.

It’s just ending. Five seasons is a good run.

I honestly think taking it off of Netflix is what doomed it faster. It probably could’ve went one more season at least. Maybe two more but I doubt it.

But listening to Kurtzman recently he thought there was at least one more season.

Agreed. Many thinks once Netflix wasn’t paying them for the show and wasn’t some big hit outside of America it was time to cut ties with it.

Not that I care lol.

I saw a video citing Michelle Paradise was already working ideas for season 6 before the show got the boot.

I still haven’t finished watching season 4 yet because it’s so bad. I talk to other people online and they say it’s not worth finishing.

I can’t decide if I will watch this season or not yet and maybe I need to finish season 4 to understand it.

This show started out with a lot of potential but it fell off for me by the middle of season 1 and never recovered. I have no faith in this season at all but the reviews so far are positive at least.

Reading these boards the past few weeks I’m obviously not in the minority nor anywhere else I post.

AFAIK it doesn’t sound like you need to watch the fourth season to know what’s going on. The is a small spoiler (but I doubt you care lol) that saw Book going to jail or something in the finale.

But I think that’s resolved really fast this season and it sounds like he gives a few lines why he’s not in prison and part of the mission.

It sounds like a cop out but it’s still Discovery. 😉

Lol spoil away dear. I doubt I would ever subject myself trying to finish the season. I gave up after episode 8 I think and that was two years ago.

I know the gist of what happened and seen clips of the final episode on YouTube.

I actually like Book as a character. Too bad he’s on a bad show.

S4 is one of my favourite seasons on NuTrek by far and the ending was pretty great. It was extremely “Star Trekky” in its feel and reminded me a lot of my favourite film, TMP. It had some pacing issues granted, but it holds together very nicely.

I will actually agree the season felt very Trek-y but sadly bogged down in some of the worse plot lines I seen and tedious melodrama.

When they went down to the emo dust planet to share their feelings for forty minutes is when the season became eye rolling for me and I basically checked out the rest of the season.

The season should’ve just been around 7-8 episodes because there was just not enough story to feel compelling.

Post DISCOVERY the series, I sincerely hope a periodic movie is not ruled out. I hope the novels continue and I hope Michelle Paradise writes one or more.

So I get using the Kelleruns from the perspective they are an established species in trek but one that has almost no previous exploration. That makes it intriguing.

But I am wondering if this specific background of the character makes this mystery of the show uniquely pertaining to him or his race somehow.

All we know about them is that they once had bio weapons and did everything they could including murder to bury it up.

I would bet the mystery is not a bio weapon but it does make me go hmmm…..

I never got why they didn’t just toss the bio weapons into a black hole.

Or fly them into their sun!

It’s Discovery so I really really doubt it lol.

But maybe we’ll be surprised.

Horrible showrunner. Keep her away from any future Trek projects, please.

Agreed! 👍

Michelle Paradise is one of the worst showrunners Star Trek has ever seen. The show has become unwatchable thanks to her.

I’m hoping season 5 won’t be another disaster but not very positive either.

Really sad about SXSW supporting genocide.

I still don’t get the rank gorget plus shoulder marks together. It’s egregious. If for no other reason, this show needs to be cancelled and the costumer’s union card revoked.

So what exactly is the official reason for Discovery’s cancellation?

I know that Picard was always supposed to be 3 seasons, but Discovery was never slated for 5 seasons, was it?

In any case, I generally really liked Discovery. In particular, I really liked the writing, the production, and the action. I was never especially enamored with the characters as a whole though. I still think the characters of TOS, TNG, and DS9 were much stronger. And, with respect to VOY, there were some characters there: Janeway, Tuvok, Seven, and the Doctor, who I loved (B’lanna and Paris were good too). My favorite character on Discovery was Empress Georgoue, and they got rid of her in Season 3. Michael Burnham was obviously a strong character played by a wonderful actress, but there were some things that just bothered me about her becoming a captain. I thought Saru’s and the Federation President’s observations of her letting her emotions overwhelm good sense, were pertinent. Stamets and Culber were ok, Jett Reno was awesome, and Book was cool. Never ever cared for Adira.

I’m almost done with season 1 of Picard and I really like (besides Picard, one of my top-5 ST characters easily and Seven) Raffi, Rios (really cool character), Elnor, and Soji.