DISCLAIMER: This recap of Star Trek: Discovery holds enough spoilers to keep Section 31 busy for a decade. Jump to black alert at your peril.

Welcome, Trekkies! In the final episode of Season 4 of Star Trek: Discovery, “Coming Home,” the U.S.S. Discovery and her crew must work together to make first contact with Species 10-C before it destroys United Earth and Ni’Var. And excitingly, there are some extraordinary guest stars to make sure things go smoothly!

RELATED: Keep up with Star Trek: Discovery with our recaps!

Ready to dive into this week’s recap? Vamos voar!

REd ALARm!!!

“Coming Home” picks up where last week left off, with both of Captain Michael Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) homeworlds in peril from the oncoming DMA (Dark Matter Anomaly)! Ni’Var, Earth and Earth’s Moon, Titan, have less than four hours before the DMA hits.

Federation HQ is hurtling through space at warp speed, although this isn’t bad news for fans: onboard is Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), and she’s still working with the same Cadets we met in the fourth episode, “All Is Possible“! Tilly informs the Cadets that each deck of the HQ can operate independently, so they’ll be serving as lifeboats and evacuating people from the endangered planets.

Tilly is all business, yet cool as a cucumber and in command as she informs the Cadets how they’ll contribute during the crisis. She tells the Cadets that they get to offer these people hope and that they’re no longer Cadets (LOWER DECKS! LOWER DECKS!). 

Adrian Walters as Gorev of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Next, as HQ drops out of warp, shuttlecraft immediately head towards the populated surface of Earth and Earth’s moon, as the rescue operation begins. Aboard HQ, Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) leads the evacuation efforts. Vance informs Tilly if first contact fails, they only have the resources to rescue a small fraction of the population: Titan’s population and roughly 450,000 citizens on Earth and Ni’Var.

Aboard Discovery, Burnham is quickly assessing the situation. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is still trying to figure out how to free them from the orb in which Species 10-C has entrapped them, and further communication with the 10-C isn’t going well.

Meanwhile, Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) has seized control of Book’s ship, with Cleveland Booker (David Ajala) and Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) still “temporarily detained.” He’s heading to destroy the DMA’s power source using a gravimetric beam, which may destroy the planets at stake, the 10-C and Discovery. Trying to stop them are the 10-C, with another orb. 

On Discovery, Burnham orders everyone onboard to gather in the mess hall. She wants to confine them in quarters because there’s no way to know who sabotaged the ship’s nacelle, causing it to vent plasma and allowing Book’s ship to escape from the orb in which Discovery is still ensconced. 

Speaking of Book’s ship, Tarka attempts to escape the 10-C’s orb while Book argues with him over whether his plan will be successful. Still, Tarka isn’t listening: he’s “going home” to Oros (by which he means a parallel universe copy of Oros, his late lover, played by Osric Chau in the flashbacks we saw in “The Galactic Barrier“).

Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka and Osric Chau as Oros of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Book says there must be a way out, and Reno says she wishes she had some Hot and Sour Soup (which wouldn’t help, it would just be tasty). Reno comforts Book by pointing out that hitting the hyperfield will at least cause them to be vaporized quickly, so less pain will have to be endured. But that’s when Book conceives of a plan!

Back on Discovery, Burnham and President Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) argue over Burnham’s plan to confine everyone to quarters, which Rillak says will erode trust. But suddenly, General Ndoye (Phumzile Sitole) arrives and admits that she was the one to vent the plasma, negating the need to confine everyone.

Ndoye explains she aided their escape because she felt powerless in the face of destruction and didn’t believe in the peace talks. She adds Book assured her it would work, but Burnham reveals Tarka took him hostage. Too late, Ndoye realizes the error of her ways. Burnham confines the general to her quarters, and Ndoye states that she remains “ready and willing to serve.”

A call from Mr. Saru (Doug Jones) summons Burnham and Rillak to Discovery‘s briefing room, where Dr. Hirai (Hiro Kanagawa) and President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) await them. Saru explains the 10-C responded to their request to be freed from the orb, stating they’re “already free.” Theories abound: perhaps they suspect Discovery is working with Tarka, or maybe they misunderstood the message (unlikely, since there was a 96% likelihood of accuracy).

Pressed for time, T’Rina suggests a mind-meld with the 10-C, and most of the team agrees they have no choice. Despite Saru’s objections, T’Rina conducts the mind meld, and she immediately receives visions like those experienced by Saru, Burnham, and Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) in “Rosetta.” She is eventually pushed back, green blood dripping from her nose.

She explains that the 10-C are confused and upset because they cannot stop Book’s ship and have lost trust in Discovery. T’Rina emphasizes the urgent need to reach them another way, or the DMA will destroy their worlds.

Disco Ponders the Orb

The 10-C Ponder the Orb

Photo: imgflip.com by Avery Kaplan

As T’Rina comes to in Discovery‘s medical bay, she explains the mind meld was unique: she did not feel one of the 10-C, but all of them. In other words, the 10-C don’t comprehend individual existence as the Discovery crewmembers understand it.

In the medical bay, Saru and T’Rina also get a moment alone. Get ready, T’Saru fans: this is the scene you’ve been waiting for! Saru admits his feelings for T’Rina, who listens (with Vulcan passivity).

On Book’s ship, Tarka again attempts to convince Book to join him, tempting him by saying the people he lost will be present in the parallel universe. But Reno denies what he’s saying: the people they lost are gone, but they’re different people in the parallel universe. Reno counters the people they’ve all lost are gone, and nothing can bring them back—not even another timeline.

Kingpin, I mean Tarka, concedes it isn’t them “exactly,” but it “is them.” Book isn’t brought in by the argument the grief-roasted Tarka has trotted out, however, and agrees with Reno: “They’re gone.” Book tries to talk Tarka out of it once more, but it’s ineffective. Still, Book has an ace up his sleeve.

In Discovery‘s engineering section, Stamets and Adira (Blu del Barrio) tell Burnham and Rillak they have a plan that “should” free them from the orb. However, they’ll need even more energy to allow Discovery to escape than it took for Book’s ship to escape, and there’s only one possible source: the spore drive!

Chelah Horsdal as President Rillak, Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham, Blu del Barrio as Adira and Anthony Rapp as Stamets of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

But there’s a catch; it will burn out the spore drive, which they can’t repair without a space dock. Worse still, traveling home at warp would take decades (a total VOY situation). 

Still, they have no choice. There is too much at stake. Burnham orders Stamets and Adira to do it.

Reno, 911!

On Book’s ship, Book explains his plan to Reno. Because Queen Grudge hates holos, Book made her a unique disruptive collar to fend off holo-couriers. Book activates the collar, and it opens a cat-door-sized opening in the forcefield Tarka has trapped them inside.

On Discovery‘s bridge, the 10-C are still not responding, and Burnham gives the order for Black Alert. As the spore drive activates, things start to get messy! They can’t stop, though; this is their only shot. Sparks fly as the Red Alert klaxon blares. But eventually, the plan succeeds, and Discovery escapes from the orb.

The 10-C let them go. Discovery sets a course for Book’s ship.

Speaking of Book’s ship, Book and Reno have escaped! Book punches Tarka and Reno says thanks to the holo-disrupter, she might start to like Grudge. Reno reports Tarka has set the autopilot and locked them out of navigation, comms and all systems.

Book gives Reno his badge and instructs her to beam back to Discovery and tell Burnham that he loves her. After arguing with him for a bit, she agrees.

Coming Home with David Ajala as Book and Tig Notaro as Reno of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Reno beams into the bridge and updates the crew on the situation on Book’s ship. Before she goes to help get Discovery’s systems online, she approaches Burnham and tells her Book said he loves her and said to do “whatever it takes.”

They can’t beam Tarka and Book over, and a tractor beam is no good. But Rillak suggests they ask for guidance from someone with a singular mind for military tactics, Ndoye. Burnham agrees.

At HQ, Vance and Tilly instruct all personnel to prepare for incoming debris. Earth puts its shields up as the U.S.S. Mitchell arrives for a perfect Hero Ship moment! Tilly informs Vance that Earth’s President is still on the planet, assisting with the evacuation and refusing to leave until the last possible moment.

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On Discovery, Ndoye suggests sending a shuttlecraft to collide with Book’s ship. Still, there are several catches: someone will have to pilot the craft, and Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) says it’s unlikely that Book and Tarka can be beamed out after the collision has taken place. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) volunteers for the job, except Ndoye steps up and volunteers instead.

The situation at HQ has grown increasingly dire; with bridge propulsion giving out, they’re stuck. Vance orders all remaining vessels to cease evac efforts and abandon Earth. Vance thanks them for their bravery as he gives the order to abandon the ship. But Vance isn’t leaving, and neither is Tilly: she’s staying behind and helping Vance with covering fire. A suicide mission.

On Discovery, Book tries to revive Tarka to help them stop the destruction. Tarka hasn’t abandoned hope of reaching Oros, but Book says it’s a lost cause: “Love always ends in grief, but we can’t let the pain do this to us.” Tarka mourns for Oros, and while Book has convinced him, Tarka says that he’s set the system so they can’t deactivate it.

Shawn Doyle as Tarka of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

When Ndoye arrives on the shuttlecraft and successfully collides with Book’s ship, saving the power source, Book and Tarka are knocked aside by the explosion. Owo has Ndoye’s teleporter signal and beams her to sickbay, but they can’t get a signal lock on Book or Tarka. 

With 90 seconds until they collide with the hyperfield, Book says they must beam back to Discovery, but Tarka says there isn’t enough power. He cuts life support and reserves the remaining energy to save Book. Tarka says Book’s life is still in this world, while Tarka’s is in the next, then beams Book away and resigns himself to his fate.

Owo receives Book’s faint transporter signal, but before she can beam him to the bridge, Book’s ship explodes, and the signal is lost. The bridge crew looks on in heartbreak as Burnham cries for the late Book. Her mourning is interrupted by the arrival of another orb, and she quickly regains her composure.

Star Trek: Discovery: Second Contact with the 10-C

At Federation HQ, Vance tells Tilly that all their ships made it to the rendezvous point. They’ve lost weapons systems, but Vance says they should celebrate with some Risian whiskey given to him by Tarka after the space dock’s construction. 

They’ve bought Earth all the time they can, and Vance and Tilly have a couple of hours to air their regrets before the arrival of the DMA. Tilly says she’s satisfied with her life, the people she connected with and the goals she’s accomplished. Vance says he’s glad he found his purpose, being a father, but wishes he had spent more time with his daughter. 

Onboard Discovery, the 10-C are transporting the entire crew to a large structure, like the one they found on their homeworld in “Rosetta.” Thousands of life signs are detected. The 10-C seem to understand that the Federation is not one. 

Down to the planet’s surface, the Discovery crew stands amid a strange and alien landscape, and the enormous 10-C then begin to rise in front of them. Zora’s hologram also joins them on the surface.

Adira and Stamets provide support for the communication from Zora from Discovery. Culber also stays on the ship, citing Burnham’s recent loss. He wants to be close to his family if something goes wrong with the first contact. 

Coming Home with Blu del Barrio as Adira, Wilson Cruz as Culber and Anthony Rapp as Stamets of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

During the official first contact, the 10-C understand the Federation is not “one,” but how many are they? Rillak tells them that they both are and are not one; they are individuals unified through a common cause.

Communication with the 10-C is successful, who inquire about Book and Tarka’s attempt to destroy the DMA. Burnham explains they were once part of the whole but subsequently separated, motivated by loss. She compares the Federation’s current situation with Earth and Ni’Var to the feelings they experienced in “Rosetta,” telling the 10-C if they don’t stop the DMA, many will die: history cannot be repeated.

The 10-C receives the message; they will move the DMA away. The debris begins to move away from Earth, as witnessed by Vance and Tilly. Reno says she’s already making a cocktail to celebrate their success, nicknaming Stamets “Bobcat,” which will hopefully stick.

On the surface, the 10-C can tell Burnham is still sad even though they stopped the DMA. She explains that she remains sad because “her one,” Book, is still lost. But then a deeply confused Book beams in! The 10-C reveal they intercepted Book’s transporter signal and preserved it, assuming its importance.

In a moving conversation, Booker addresses the 10-C responsible for destroying Kwejian. The 10-C promise to scan more broadly for lifeforms in the future, but Book says the DMA always leaves behind a toxic mess, and that’s not good enough.

The 10-C protest they need the resource to power their hyperfield, but Book says they can’t hide behind a wall forever. They must shut off the DMA and accept the risk of living without a hyperfield: they can’t harm others in the name of the memories of those who they loved and lost.

Suddenly, Book’s glowing forehead pattern appears, indicating he’s achieved deep empathy with the 10-C. Filled with regret and sorrow over the harm they have caused, the 10-C resolve to make it right. Book and Burnham embrace, and it’s a lovely moment.

Book Glowing Head

Photo: Paramount+

At HQ, the debris clears away from Earth. Vance and Tilly celebrate with a swig of Risian whiskey.

Back onboard Discovery, Burnham cancels Red Alert. They watch as the 10-C drop their hyperfield, revealing their world to the larger universe. Owo reports a wormhole is forming, and the method of sending the DMA is used one last time to send Discovery home, as the opening notes of the classic Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage play…

Coming Home

Discovery arrives at HQ, joining many Starfleet vessels in Earth’s orbit. In the lounge, we see our crew relaxing and enjoying drinks and conversation after accomplishing their mission. Saru confirms that while the threatened planets sustained damage, the survivors are coming together to help repair the damage. Tilly rejoins the Discovery crew, and Rillak and Vance express mutual respect. 

In the next scene, Saru and T’Rina reunite. T’Rina says she has considered Saru’s words and wishes to engage in a personal relationship with him, no matter how difficult the effort may be. YES!

Elsewhere, Rillak and Burnham reflect on the conversation they shared in “Kobayashi Maru,” but Burnham says she still wouldn’t accept command of Voyager. Burnham asks about Book’s sentencing, and Rillak says justice can only be just if motivations are considered.

Coming Home with Chelah Horsdal as President Rillak and Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Star Trek: Discovery — Coming Home. Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

In the next scene, Book tells Burnham that he’s to travel away to assist the Federation in relocating families displaced by the DMA for an indefinite period. Burnham is relieved the punishment isn’t more severe, and while Book says he’ll miss the freedom of his ship, he regrets the harm he caused in the name of his pain. 

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Burnham says she doesn’t know how to say goodbye. Instead, Book teaches her a phrase used by Kwejiani hunters, “we’ve parted a hundred times; may we rejoin to part a hundred more.”

Then, Book and Grudge leave on the shuttlecraft as we transition to a montage under Burnham’s conclusive Captain’s Log. The Discovery crew is getting some well-deserved time off, with Stamets and Culber preparing to spend time together and Vance with his daughter. 

Then, we head into the VERY SPECIAL final scene. We learn Ni’Var is back in the Federation, and Andoria is in talks to return. And at HQ, a shuttlecraft arrives to meet Burnham, Rillak, T’Rina, Saru and other key Federation figures, and onboard the shuttlecraft is the President of United Earth, played by Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams (!!!!!!).

Earth’s President says Earth is prepared to fully rejoin the Federation, repairing a rift gnawing at Burnham since Season 3’s “People of Earth.” Earth’s President pulls Burnham aside and says she can only imagine what this must mean to Burnham, having come from when Earth was already a part of the Federation. The pair agree there’s a lot of work to be done, and Burnham says, “Let’s get to it.” 

The camera then pulls out of HQ, through the Starfleet vessels, until Earth fills the screen, positioned so that Africa occupies the globe, with its East coast oriented upwards, before fading to black. As the season ends, we see the dedication: “For April, with love.”

 

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Rebecca Kaplan