'Star Trek's' Sonequa Martin-Green says goodbye to 'Discovery' (exclusive interview excerpt)

Futuristic figures crouch before rocks brandishing laser weapons
David Ajala, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Wilson Cruz in "Star Trek: Discovery." (Image credit: Paramount+)

"Star Trek: Discovery" touches down on Paramount Plus for its fifth and final season on April 4.

The season features an interstellar treasure hunt that follows "Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery uncovering a mystery that will send them on an epic adventure across the galaxy to find an ancient power whose very existence has been deliberately hidden for centuries."

Back in 2017, "Discovery" was at the vanguard in returning the popular space fantasy universe to its proper place in pop culture via the small screen, where the franchise was first hatched back in 1966 on NBC with "Star Trek: The Original Series." 

For this cosmic swan song, Sonequa Martin-Green reprises her role as the valiant Starfleet commander exploring outer space in the 32nd century in one last 10-episode mission for Paramount Plus' flagship "Star Trek" series.

Related: 'Star Trek:' History & effect on space technology

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The official poster for "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 5. (Image credit: Paramount+)

Joining Martin-Green in “Star Trek: Discovery's" final season are 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).

In the new issue of "Star Trek Explorer," Martin-Green fondly reflects on her time with "Star Trek: Discovery," teases elements of the fifth season's "Indiana Jones-type adventure," and admits to getting seasick from the production's dizzying AR Wall.

Here's our exclusive interview excerpt:

"Star Trek Explorer:" What were your expectations heading into "Star Trek: Discovery," and, as we start to say goodbye, what’s the reality been like?

Martin-Green: I first came into this at the tail end of 2016. We started rehearsals for the pilot, and I believe we reported to Toronto on January 2nd, 2017. I had all kinds of expectations of it being this Goliath of an experience because it is a Goliath of a franchise. I was overwhelmed, excited, shocked and nervous. I was all these things. As we started our journey and started defining ourselves as our iteration of "Star Trek," I started to expect even more from our show, especially by the time we hit Season 3, because we were finding our identity. We were figuring out exactly who we were, as it relates to the franchise as a whole. Once that happened, my expectations grew from there. "What are the possibilities now? The possibilities are even greater because we really established ourselves at this point." 

Fast-forward and it's so surreal to be finishing up Season 5, though it's year seven. For Season 5 to be the final season, I expect a lot of emotion. A lot of emotions certainly went into it. I expect the response to be full of emotion, and I've experienced that already from people I've had the privilege of talking to. I expect there to be a lot of feelings and possibly debates. It'll be a bit of an emotional roller coaster for a lot of people.

Official cover for "Star Trek Explorer #11." (Image credit: Star Trek Explorer)

We don’t want to spoil anything about Season 5, but give us a taste of what fans are in for.

Martin-Green: I’ll piggyback on some things Michelle Paradise, our brilliant showrunner, said, which is that this is a season of adventure. They wanted this to be like an Indiana Jones-type adventure. Though what we're dealing with is big, intense, serious, and impactful, we also try our best to have fun throughout it. There is a sense of leaping forward in Season 5. I wish I could say more, because it was a difficult story to tell for me, if I'm being brutally honest. There are these little keys I was able to latch onto. Even though what we're dealing with is so big, the fact that there is that sense of fun and adventure is helpful. People will be glad that element and tone are there because it's a departure from Season 4, which courageously was meant to mirror what the world was going through during the pandemic.

The AR Wall came into play during the show's run. How did that change the game?

Martin-Green: Oh, my goodness! How did it not change the game? A round of applause to the designers of our AR Wall, because that’s a serious piece of technology. We saw it first on "The Mandalorian" and then had our own in-house AR Wall built in a fraction of the time, with much fewer people and much fewer resources. I applaud them because it's a cinematic wonder. You go in there, you take a look at it, and you're like, "What?!" It’s 10,000 or 11,000 screens all together. It takes six weeks to program for a particular location. You're standing there in real life, in front of it, and the production design that goes along with it — that set design — is so important. All of it comes together to tell the story, but you go to the monitor in the Video Village and it looks like it’s ready to be released on TV right there, without going through post.

Post is so much of it. It's such a feat when you add in visual effects, special effects, and practical effects on the day. All these things are coming together. There were many times where we were perhaps overly ambitious. It’s hard to explain without giving things away, but there are all these sequences in Season 5 where it's easily 10 different elements going on at the same time. I will say the only thing that's sort of funny about the AR Wall is that if there was something moving on it — if it's programmed to have movement in any kind of way and you have to look at that movement, in the scene as an actor — you’re going to get nauseous. I was not expecting it, speaking of expectations. I was not expecting to get seasick from the AR Wall. 

Check out the full interview in "Star Trek Explorer #11" — on sale April 9. Plus, two all-new and exclusive "Star Trek" short stories; "Star Trek" cast and crew reveal the strangest places they've been recognized; the Hageman Brothers on the importance of "Star Trek: Prodigy;" an interview with "Strange New Worlds" director Valerie Weiss, your definitive guide to "Star Trek: Picard" Season Three; and much more!

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.