Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham sitting in the Captain's chair

10 Best Episodes of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (So Far)

Let's fly!

The show that launched Star Trek‘s next “next generation,” Star Trek: Discovery, is embarking on its final voyage with its fifth season, and the year leading up to its final season in 2024 was meant to be full of celebrations of the series. Not all those celebrations came to pass. Instead, Hollywood’s creatives have spent most of 2023 bargaining with executives for their livelihoods (something that our fictional heroes, who live in a post-capitalist world, would 1000 percent get behind, even if the corporate bigwigs took down that excellent article penned by the Star Trek Communist). With the writers’ strike over and actors expressing “optimism,” per Variety, about the next round of SAG-AFTRA contract negotiations, maybe Trekkies will finally have a chance to celebrate one of the Federation’s sexiest captains and her diverse crew alongside the franchise they love.

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To prepare you for Hot DISCO 2024, here are the 10 best episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, ranked.

10. “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (Season 1, Episode 7)

Pictured (l-r): Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets; Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd; Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
(Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS)

Some of the ways James T. Kirk (William Shatner) described self-ascribed entrepreneur Harcourt Fenton Mudd, a.k.a. Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel), in his Star Trek: The Original Series season 2, episode 12 debut, “I, Mudd,” were “thief,” “swindler,” “confidence man,” and “liar.” Set before Mudd’s introduction, Star Trek: Discovery season 1, episode 5, “Choose Your Pain,” reintroduced the character to the franchise when Klingon POW Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) saves himself, rescues a man whom he believes to be a fellow Starfleet officer, Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), and leaves behind Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), who vows revenge on Lorca—and he follows through in “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” trapping the U.S.S. Discovery crew in a time loop, giving Wilson time to show off his comedic chops.

Bonus: check out Star Trek: Short Trek‘s “The Escape Artist,” written by Star Trek: Lower Decks helmsman Mike McMahan and directed by Wilson.

9. “Brother” (Season 2, Episode 1)

Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
(Jan Thijs/CBS)

My heart is all-in for Starfleet engineer Jett Reno, played by comedian, writer, and cancer survivor Tig Notaro, who joined DISCO‘s cast in “Brother,” the show’s season 2 premiere. A lesbian (another feather in the cap of DISCO‘s representation arsenal) and all-around badass, Reno is discovered by a Discovery away team after managing to stay alive for months in the wreckage of a Starfleet vessel.

Although the U.S.S. Enterprise made its first new Trek appearance in the show’s first season finale, “Will You Take My Hand?,” Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) didn’t appear onscreen for the first time until this episode. Although his hair wasn’t perfectly coiffed yet, it was an emotional moment as a long-time Trekkie.

8. “All Is Possible” (Season 4, Episode 4)

Mary Wiseman as Tilly leads three cadets on an away mission on an icy planet
(Michael Gibson/Paramount+)

DISCO‘s fourth season knocked out banger after banger, each episode living up to the quality of the last, and season 4, episode 4, “All Is Possible,” is the first of the penultimate season’s several episodes to appear on this list. It follows two thematically interweaving storylines, built on Gene Roddenberry’s vision of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations,” especially as applied to modern-day political theater: (1) the negotiations regarding the now unified planet of Ni’Var joining the United Federation of Planets, and (2) Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) leading a team of Starfleet cadets on a team-building mission.

Through its IDIC plotlines, “All Is Possible” delivered a message that was incredibly poignant in 2021 and 2022 about forging connections, working together, and finding purpose in the chaos.

7. “Point of Light” (Season 3, Episode 2)

Mary Chieffo wears a gold dress inspired by Elizabethan design as L'Rell of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
(Michael Gibson/CBS)

When it comes to DISCO‘s Klingon designs, creature designer Neville Page said at WonderCon 2023 that he won’t even talk about the Klingons after the Trekkie outrage when the hairless, exaggerated double-nostril versions first debuted. Nevertheless, “Point of Light” is the first time DISCO‘s Klingons donned hair, which L’Rell actor Mary Chieffo told me during an interview for Geek Girl Authority was a treat for the actors since it meant less time in the makeup chair. 

When L’Rell’s position in power on Qo’noS is threatened, she must take drastic measures to ensure her place as High Chancellor. All of L’Rell’s political maneuverings led to one of the greatest female empowerment moments in franchise history. After stopping a potential insurrection, L’Rell tells the High Council she’d born the Torchbearer’s child, but Tyler murdered her son and betrayed her to the Federation, killing the head of a Klingon house in the process. She continues her address, declaring all Klingons her children and that she plans to raise her new “family” to greatness, who should now address her as “Mother.”

6. “That Hope Is You, Part 1” (Season 3, Episode 1)

Pictured (L-R): Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; and David Ajala as Book; of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
(Michael Gibson/CBS)

DISCO‘s third season premiere, “That Hope Is You, Part 1,” takes the crew to the 31st Century and puts Star Trek in an era the franchise hasn’t previously explored. While this episode does solid world-building, introducing viewers to the Star Trek Universe post-The Burn (the event that caused most dilithium to go inert across the galaxy), what stands out most is the series introduction of fan-favorite characters Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala), Burnham’s new love interest, and Book’s partner in crime Queen Grudge (Leeu and Durban).

5. “Coming Home” (Season 4, Episode 13)

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Stacey Abrams as United Earth President stand side by side in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
(Marni Grossman/Paramount+)

Pulling together season 4’s multiple plot threads for a heart-pounding climax, “Coming Home” sees the Discovery crew scattered across the galaxy. On the edge of known space, Burnham and other crewmembers race against time to make first contact with Species 10-C before United Earth and Ni’Var are destroyed by the Dark Matter Anomaly. Meanwhile, Tilly and Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) work to rescue as many citizens as possible in case first contact fails. Without giving too much away, the episode ends with one of the best cameos in Star Trek history when fans are finally introduced to the United Earth President, played by none other than voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams.

Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Michael Burnham, told Deadline that the cameo was also a critical moment for her as an individual. About working with Abrams, she said, “She’s a legend in the making, and a civil hero, and she was an absolute delight to work with … and she whipped out some acting chops too!”

4. “Terra Firma, Part 1 & 2” (Season 3, Episodes 9-10)

(L) Paul Guilfoyle as Carl, Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou; (R) Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Burnham, who is getting tortured by Yeoh as Georgiou

Mirror Georgiou’s (Michelle Yeoh) story arc concludes in “Terra Firma,” offering an exciting return to DISCO‘s compelling depiction of the Mirror Universe. In Part 2, Georgiou is subjected to a test from the Guardian of Forever (Paul Guilfoyle) to determine whether she’s been materially changed by her time with Discovery, leading to an interesting examination of the relationship between Mirror Georgiou and Burnham.

3. “New Eden” (Season 2, Episode 2)

Pictured: (l-r): Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun stand in a church in Star Trek: Discovery
(Russ Martin/CBS)

In “New Eden,” directed by Star Trek: The Next Generation alum and one of the all-time great Star Trek directors Jonathan Frakes, Burnham, Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), and Pike visit a settlement of inexplicably deep-space located humans. This episode balances the season’s overarching plot thread with a standalone story and great development for Burnham, Owosekun and Pike.

2. “Choose to Live”(Season 4, Episode 3)

Ian Alexander as Gray Tal, is undergoing a transition procedure

“Choose to Live” elaborates on the traditions of the Qowat Milat, a group of warrior nuns, when Vance briefs Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal), T’Rina (Tara Rosling), Michael’s mother and Qowat Milat nun, Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn), and Michael herself, about recent attacks led by a Qowat Milat serving as a “qalankhkai” for the last Abronians. The mission is challenging for the Greenhorn leader, who is forced to team up with her mother, but ultimately, she must reconcile her concept of justice with that of another culture.

This episode also includes a major moment for Gray (Ian Alexander) and Adira (Blu del Barrio). After a long time sharing headspace, Gray has started the incorporation process to transfer his consciousness to a synth body, a process that Adira must come to grips with.

1. “… But to Connect” (Season 4, Episode 7)

Ian Alexander as Gray, Blu del Barrio as Adira, Anthony Rapp as Stamets, David Cronenberg as Kovich, Doug Jones as Saru and Wilson Cruz as Culber of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
(Michael Gibson/Paramount+)

DISCO‘s season 4 mid-season finale, “… But to Connect,” is an incredible science fiction exploration of the transgender experience. In the episode, Kovich (David Cronenberg) reveals that if he deems Zora is in violation of Starfleet’s sentient AI ship integration protocols, he must authorize the extraction of her consciousness into another form. However, in a metaphor for the trans experience (after all, the ship chooses her pronouns), this forced de-transition doesn’t appeal to Zora.

Ultimately, Adira and Gray speak on behalf of Zora’s rights, making impassioned pleas based on their experiences with prejudice and acceptance. Kovich concludes that Zora is an entirely new life form, and if Zora is a new one, there’s no reason to extract her from the ship.

(featured image: Brendan Meadows/Paramount+)

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Image of Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he) is a comics critic and entertainment writer, who's dipping her toes into new types of reporting at The Mary Sue and is stoked. In 2023, he was part of the PanelxPanel comics criticism team honored with an Eisner Award. You can find some more of his writing at Prism Comics,, Comics Beat, Geek Girl Authority, and in Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority, which she co-authored with her wife, Avery Kaplan. Rebecca and her wife live in the California mountains with a herd of cats.