Star Trek: Discovery “New Eden” Recap
While pursuing the red signals, Discovery finds a civilization of pre-warp humans who are far from home.
The second episode of Star Trek Discovery season two, New Eden, not only continues the journey to uncover the mystery of the elusive red bursts but delivers a solid tale that manages to hit a classic tone that should feel familiar to Trekkies.
The aforementioned classic tone strongly lies in how the prime directive drives every facet of this episode. General Order 1 states that “No starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society.”
The clever story spin on the prime directive in this episode is the realization that the people of New Eden are a group of humans that were taken away from earth by an unknown entity. This raises the stakes. Pike and crew struggle with the fact that these people are their long-lost brothers and sisters, and how to deal with that, while maintaining the prime directive.
As the story goes, this group of people was hidden away in a church two hundred years earlier during World War III, when an “angel” saved them from certain death, somehow moving the church and its occupants over fifty-thousand light-years away.
I couldn’t help but think of Q making his case to Picard about our troubled past and the human race being put on trial, or Archer and crew doing their best to combat the xenophobic deeds of Paxton and Terra Prime.
So what can be done to help the group of humans, or enlighten them that earth survived the war? Nothing. As Captain Christopher Pike states, since the society is pre-warp we have to assume general order one still applies.
The rest of the time on New Eden is about Pike, Burnham, and Owosekun uncovering the mystery of this almost Amish-like civilization and how they relate to the red bursts while maintaining cover under the prime directive. Also, this episode may have even seen the first away mission with two black female officers.
There is also the symbolism of all of these people of various religious backgrounds, coming together after such a life-changing event. The stained-glass windows show the residents of New Eden have bound their religious beliefs into one, in an attempt to make sense of it all. Captain Christopher Pike employs an understanding and gracefulness around the topics, which he may have learned from his father, who taught comparative religion when Pike was growing up.
Meanwhile back on Discovery, things are just as complicated. Discovery finds that an extinction-level radiation event is headed toward the planet, unbeknownst to the people on the surface, with no means of rescuing the Captain and crew. But Ensign Tilly, and her newfound friend, are on the case!
Tilly comes up with her third brilliant feat of the episode, by suggesting they use the asteroid that is currently hovering in the cargo bay to redirect the radiation wave away from the planet. Other feats include being able to harvest a bit of the previously mentioned asteroid and coming up with the idea to alter the deflector dish to pinpoint the second red burst location. Yes, Tilly kicks some serious butt in this episode.
In addition to Owosekun getting a very substantial role on the away mission, other crew members continue to fill in the gaps. Voices are starting to become distinct, and faces more recognizable. We learn that Detmer has had her pilot’s license since the age of twelve, moments before she is given the go-ahead from Saru to execute a donut-maneuver with the Discovery.
Other notables from the episodes are the use of the spore drive, which cuts down the otherwise 150-year journey just a hair. The jump sees Stamets once again enter the spore chamber, where he hopes he might be able to reconnect with Culber.
Finally, the theory of this season being “the search for Spock” is quickly dispelled as Pike reveals to Burnham that he knows exactly where Mr. Spock is located, a mental ward on Starbase 5.
If you think a bit more about what these initial red-burst encounters have meant for the USS Discovery and crew, it’s starting to feel like a series of tests. Can you save the USS Hiawatha and its survivors from being consumed by a nearby pulsar? Can you save the residents of New Eden before this planet is irradiated? So far Pike and crew have passed with flying colors. The idea of more tests in this vein, certainly feels like something that is going to very enjoyable to watch, while also seeing the truth unfold as to how Spock has received these visions.
All in all, this was a very “Star Trekkie” episode. Maybe even more than anything that we’ve seen in Discovery so far. What’s beautiful is that it can present this updated cinematic take, while staying true to the feel-good stories we have grown accustomed to over the years. This episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, which may contribute to the feel and flawless execution of an updated TNG-era feel. Let’s hope the season continues in that trajectory.
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