Interview: Doug Jones On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Finale, Saru’s Happy Ending, And If He Was Ready For More

The finale of Star Trek: Discovery (“Life, Itself“) was a big moment for Doug Jones and Saru. TrekMovie had a chance to speak to the actor about wrapping up the season and series (with the “epilogue”), if he was ready to return full-time to the role if there was another season, and more. You can listen to the full interview here. 

Picking up on our last conversation about how you always wanted romance for Saru, was the wedding with T’Rina everything you hoped it to be? Or were you hoping for a bigger affair?

I don’t know how much bigger it could have gotten. Of course, as you saw, we kind of pick up reception after the actual vow. And that’s okay. It’s implied we had a great ceremony and now we are celebrating and that celebration starts with a kiss I think all the fans have been anticipating. In fact, Jonathan Frakes, who directed episode 9 of this season, and Olatunde [Osunsanmi] directed episode 10, and the two of them were arguing over which one got to direct me and T’Rina for our first kiss scene. Well, Tunde won, but I think the anticipation of the two of us kissing has been as a fun element to the season for sure.

Where did the wedding take place? That wasn’t Vulcan, was it Kaminar?

It was on a beach and reminiscent of Kaminar. Kaminar is a very beautiful planet with water, but I don’t think it was ever said… It’s not Vulcan, and weddings are usually a home game for the bride, right? [laughs]

L-R Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, Tara Rosling as President T’Rina and Doug Jones as Saru in “Life, Itself” (Michael Gibson/Paramount+)

Looking back at shooting the season 5 finale, what was the mood on set compared to the previous finales? Was there a sense it could be your last?

When we were filming season 5 we did not know that that was going to be the last season. So it felt very similar to seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 ending. Because all four of the previous seasons came to a conclusion that made you wonder, “Is that is that the end of it?” They wrapped up an awful lot. Season 5 had wrap-ups that felt satisfying, forever. Especially for my storyline, for Saru, I’ve gotten my promotion, I’m an ambassador with the Federation, now. I’ve got the romance and that’s come to a happily ever after type of place. I don’t know where you go from there, that feels pretty good to me. But we knew that there were more seasons planned for the show, originally. So it was kind of a bittersweet thing when we heard that would be our final one. I felt, “Okay, then I’m satisfied with where it ends for Saru, for sure.” And then getting to go back and shoot that epilogue to wrap up the entire series and see where Captain Burnham ends up in the future and she had her happily ever after as well. That was, that was a very nice gift from Paramount Plus to give us that extra time to do that.

Had you talked to the producers about plans for Saru in season 6?

No, from one season to the next the writers often didn’t know it was coming because they wanted to get through the one season they were in because there’s so they’re so complicated. The storylines are so layered and complicated. So, no, I did not have any clue what was going to happen in season 6 for Saru, especially.

When I talked to you at the Saturn Awards you seemed to be ready to say goodbye to the character, and all that time doing makeup. And I know you had limited time for this season. If it had come back for season 6, would you have returned, and done all 10 episodes?

Um, I feel that yes, had we come back, I would have been ready to do all 10 episodes again. Remember we started season 1 with 15 episodes. So the 10-episode model was much more palatable, living away from home in Toronto.

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For this season you did have limited time. Was there an alternate plan originally for Saru or did they know ahead of time?

I had a lovely sit-down conversation with Michelle Paradise at the end of season 4, during the last week of filming for season 4. We had a conversation about where Saru goes from here. I had been first officer for season 4 with captain status. Do you keep a captain as first officer forever and ever, after I had already been a captain in season 3? I had come back as first officer as more of a favor to Burnham, who was like a sister to me, and she was happy to have me for the big mission of season 4. But after that, where does he go? Maybe captaining my own ship? Or this perfect answer of an ambassador. I think it was a very dignified, diplomatic place for him to live with all of his gentlemanly wisdom and his and his negotiation skills. I think that was a good fit for him. So we came to that, in that conversation.

But also, I’m now 64, so wearing rubber bits all the time—it was nice to have a little bit of a break in the middle of the season, to be honest with you. Also it gave me a chance to come home back to the US and visit doctors, the things that older people need to do here and there. Whereas when we were filming for many months at a time, all that had to wait before. And the older I get, the more I wanted to be more available to my US amenities. And it really worked out well too, because during that time I was able to promote and do all the press and premiere for Hocus Pocus 2, which worked out, time-wise, really well.

So due to your limited availability, does that mean that Rayner and Callum Keith Rennie was introduced because of you? And did you ever like talk to him about stepping in your shoes?

Yeah, he and I chatted quite a bit. I was never told this directly, but it seems logical if Saru is leaving the ship, someone has to take that position. Could it have been an advancement for someone who’s already on the crew? Maybe? Sure. But I think that it was perfect that Callum playing Rayner would come in as a character who was a captain in his own right already, that had kind of a falling down, like Burnham has. She understands what it’s like to be demoted, and fight your way back. So the two of them—I love the relationship that they’ve had throughout the season. And it was really a great addition. Would that have been there if I was still in all those episodes? I don’t know. But I’m glad it worked out as it did. I think it came out perfect.

You mentioned returning to shoot the epilogue. That scene with all of you on the bridge is presented as a sort of memory of Burnham, or maybe even a dream? How did they describe it to you? What’s happening in this moment?

I saw it in script form and without a conversation about it, so I could kind of interpret for myself what this was. Some in the press have equated it with the end of Titanic, where everyone’s happy to be back together again. Is it a memory that we’re all sharing together somehow? Or is it Burnham in her in her nostalgia remembering all this? It wasn’t important why, it’s just important that we did it, to me. That’s how I felt about it. Getting a chance to see her gray-haired with a very, very happy, long, successful life and then to go back to what all of our fans know of our five seasons. Back to that era, back on the bridge with all of her crew that she had grown with so much to hug it out. Oh, that was so satisfying for all of us. Trust me.

Doug Jones as Saru and Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham “Life, Itself” (Michael Gibson/Paramount+)

The fifth and final season of Discovery is available exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. The season is also available to stream on SkyShowtime in select European countries and via the CTV app in Canada.

Note: The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.  

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I don’t feel the need to see any more of Michael Burnham, but I’d love to see more of Saru!

I’m 66, myself, so I understand what Mr. Jones means about being 64 and needing to go to his doctor more often. That was very honest of him; most stars wouldn’t share a detail like that.

I’d love to see more Saru, Stamets and Jett Reno. The rest of them I gladly bid goodbye.

I will miss all the characters, but it didn’t really feel like Stamets got much this season.

Yeah, they’ve been short-changing Stamets ever since the 32nd-century jump. He was a big presence in seasons one and two, but he’s been a background player ever since, for some reason. Hell, he and his husband even stopped having many scenes together.

Great interview! I’d LOVE to see all the DISCOVERY characters together again. Really looking forward to the season 5 release on disc.

In the finale’s future Admiral Burnham scenes at her house we see Geogio’s telescope. I had thought that she had given it to Saru. Makes you wonder if Saru has passed on?

Tony and I noticed that too!

Maybe it wasn’t the last adventure with the Discovery crew after all. Streaming movies could provide an opportunity for individual adventures.

I would love to see a streaming film with some of the DSC characters (like Saru, Stamets, Reno) mixed in with some new faces.

After season two, Saru, Reno and Kovich/Daniels became the show’s best characters (and, really, the only good ones). I’d love to see more of them. But they’re pretty much the only characters I’d ever be interested in seeing again, unless the writers ever revisited Lorca or Harry Mudd.