Friday, January 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Discovery' - Michael and Pike Debate the Values of Science and Religion in 'New Eden'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 2.02 "New Eden"

A new signal appears, prompting Stamets' emotional return to the mycelial network and leading Burnham, Pike and Owosekun to a pre-warp planet, where they face a complex ethical dilemma. Tilly's overeagerness lands her in trouble but when the planet - and Discovery's landing party - are threatened, her curiosity may be the one thing that can save them.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery.

"New Eden" was directed by Jonathan Frakes with story by Akiva Goldsman & Sean Cochran and teleplay by Vaun Wilmott & Sean Cochran

Science and religion have long been placed on opposing sides of one another. They both offer explanations for what humanity cannot explain. People of science have the understanding that anything can be explained with the right kind of technology and insight. People of faith trust that everything happens for a reason. Star Trek wades into this debate in a pretty blunt way with the Discovery finding a new planet that is home to a human civilization. It's a population that is small but came out of the third World War from 200 years ago. It's a planet that hasn't been explored by Starfleet. It's not on any map. The Discovery has to use Stamets and the spore drive just to get to this location. They only find it in the first place because another mysterious signal pops up here. This episode starts with the question of how Spock is somehow involved with everything that is currently going on. It doesn't provide any more answers in that regard either. Pike just mentions that Spock has been institutionalized instead of simply being on leave. That's a major shakeup. However, it still doesn't pave the way forward with his actual onscreen debut. The show can only tease out his importance for so long before the audience gets annoyed with the show for talking about this without him being present. So instead, the main plot sees Michael and Pike descend to a planet that features a faithful and peaceful population. They have no idea that their lives could end in just an hour. Michael and Pike don't even realize that until they make it back to the Discovery. There are many different aspects at play throughout this hour. It's a lot of fun to watch as Tilly comes up with the solution to break up the apocalyptic radiation that is bound to descend on the planet. This is essentially the reason why the Discovery was brought here. The show is still just teasing its main mystery this season. There is still no explanation for what these mysterious signals are or how they connect to the Red Angel. However, it has become apparent that they have been occurring throughout the universe for much longer than Starfleet has existed. It's just notable now because so many of them happen to be popping up for some reason. And yet, they appear to be giving the crew of the Discovery missions to complete. In the premiere, that was saving Jet Reno and the other officers who were stranded on the asteroid. Here, it's saving this planet from destruction. The Red Angel brought these people to New Eden over 200 years ago for a reason. They all have the sense that they are living amongst miraculous experiences that can't be explained. Pike respects that belief as well. As a well-regarded captain, he honors the rules of Starfleet and knows exactly how to handle this situation. Michael follows his orders as well. That proves that she has learned her lessons from the mistakes of the first season. She knows that she can trust Pike at his word. Everyone now leading the Discovery upholds the ideals of Starfleet to protect every corner of the galaxy. That means saving this planet even though the people on the surface have no idea that this threat is coming. The Red Angel probably does though. That's the only signal that offers the crew any glimpse at what's going on in this region. New Eden may become important again at some point this season. However, it would also be very interesting to see if this season became more episodic as the crew just pieced together this mystery while embarking on some simple but character-defining missions each week. This has been a solid start to the season. Hopefully, the creative team can keep it going even though the impulses are still clearly there to produce these big mysteries that need stunning twists in order to work.