TV REVIEW Star Trek Discovery: S2 Ep2 New Eden

About: A new signal brings the Discovery to a distant planet, Terralysium, that is inhabited by the descendants of human survivors of World War III, which was fought on Earth 200 years earlier.

Picking up from last week’s reveal, Discovery follows a second inexplicable signal that Spock. Discovery does what Discovery does best and hops across the quadrants to discover a planet over 200 years away and the only way our crew got to it was through use of the spore drive. So, how are their humans on the planet whose lineage implies they’ve been settled on the planet before the development of warp drive on Earth?!

One of the key parts of this episode could retcon all of the franchise and put to rest fan frustration that has existed since the first series. The concept that Kirk on the Original Series was exploring ‘new life and new civilisations’, yet in almost every episode came across humans who got there before Enterprise. It’s a retcon I can get on board with; especially if it stops my father grumbling about this exact thing every time he watches Trek.

It is Pike’s response that wins me over.

“Someone wanna tell me how they got here?”

He implores right before we cut to the credits and my inner, and outer, geek dances. I love the idea that they are clearly discovering a new planet, as so they should, but there are humans already there and everyone is as confused as fuck; and unafraid to show it.

Pike is our every man. For the love of Spock, I hope he’s not a bad guy. I wasn’t sure about Pike in the series 2 opener. I’m more familiar with the Bruce Greenwood incarnation and I was feeling the loss. No longer. Having watched The Original Series double episode, The Menagerie last week along with New Eden, I can safely say Anson Mount is a welcome addition to the bridge of Discovery. Not only does Mount seem to blend both Greenwood and Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayals; he brings something of his own to the role.

It’s through Pike we get the main theme of Science versus Religion. I have a feeling this wouldn’t suit all audiences but I, being someone who has spent the last 9 years teaching RE, adored the exploration of this theme and the fact that Pike’s character clearly has more history when it comes to this. I admire the creative team’s development of a new religion that blends all of the sixth main world faiths. It logically and emotionally feels organic when you consider that there was an amalgamation of people who were moved to the planet. This is seen best in the redacted and edited scripture.

In fact the exploration of the church was my favourite scene. Not only was it able to give us an idea of what the colony was going to be like, it provided a teaching moment. Michael goes to read the scripture and Pike informs her just to look at the windows before explaining that the stained glass was there for that purpose.

“It was how they would teach the Gospels to those who couldn’t read.”

I was a passive viewer of Star Trek until I was 11 years old. I’d become a fan of Deep Space Nine, 3 years earlier, but it wasn’t until an episode of The Next Generation helped me in a Science lesson that I embraced the whole franchise. Worf was injured and spent most of the episode in sick bay where the doctor explained about the spine and its relationship with the brain. The next day, our Science lesson looked at the spine and I received a number of credits for correctly answering a question. One I would not have been able to answer without the episode. Any time an episode has a teaching moment, I inwardly smile and wonder if there’s some teen out there who’ll benefit from that nugget of information.

This plot strand brings with it one other major debate that is seen time and time again; the prime directive and the ethical standing it brings. This clearly isn’t a normal situation and is one that should be discussed. It’s a problem that when you break it down is something any viewer can relate to; an absolute rule to fit situational ethical problems. Or, square peg, round hole. I love that no one finds the directive easy to follow but more so, I love that it’s the Vulcan raised Michael that finds it hardest to follow.

On the ship, it’s a Tilly focused episode. There isn’t a character I don’t like on this show, but I bloody love Tilly. She’s The Doctor; it will forever be head canon for me and a dream casting that Mary Wiseman will be given the keys to the Tardis someday. Her caffeinated problem solving brings the two plots together and ensures the episode is neatly wrapped up; for now.

The plot develops not only Tilly’s character but reinforces some amazing relationships that are strengthening this show. Last week we saw her sadness of Stamet’s announcement that he was transferring. Her ‘I don’t want you to go.’ Was heart breaking and its clearly the motivation for her actions that see her in the med bay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Rapp on my screen full stop, but his chemistry with Wiseman is delightful, charming and something I would never have expected this time last season. Tilly has broken down Stamet’s hard and frosty exterior and I can’t wait to see them become firm friends.

Viewers also get some wonderful interactions between Tilly and Saru. Saru is a mentor for Tilly; she respects him and wants to learn from him. However, there’s that parental undertone that I can’t help but smile at. Tilly doesn’t want to disappoint Saru, and Saru just wants her to be safe. While there’s not much to the interaction, I think it’s forming a foundation for the rest of the series. I’d love for the show to last long enough to see her take command.

Not only is this my favourite episode of Discovery, I think this might be my favourite Trek episode of all time. The story is fascinating, the special effects, sets and costumes are nothing short of beautiful. Not only that, I’m invested in the characters and I cannot wait for the next episodes.

Love Han x

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