Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a look at the second episode of the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, on now on CBS All Access in the US and on Netflix in the UK. Warning: spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode…
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two
Episode Two: New Eden
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Stars: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Anson Mount, Shelia McCarthy
So we come to the second episode in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. The first episode introduced viewers to the new Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and a different status quo for the ship. So now the new set-up is out of the way, the show is freer to explore the themes of its second season.
Pike is now more settled in the captain’s chair and the ship is drawn to a planet, Terralysium, inhabited by human survivors of World War III who somehow found themselves on this distant planet. The planet is run by mother (Sheila McCarthy), who acts as a sort of spiritual leader for its inhabitants. So Burnham, Pike and Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) find themselves stranded on the planet as beaming up is impossible. New Eden deals with religion as the planet’s inhabitants have combined the main faiths of Earth (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) to create a new one. Original Star Trek creator Roddenberry was an atheist but this religious theme doesn’t jar with the tenets of Trek here and the themes of faith and culture are explored here.
Mount is coming into his own in this show with his presence here adding some much needed empathy and warmth. There is also another subplot with Ensign Tilly, trying to get to grips with the asteroid that they parked in the ship’s bay in the first episode in order to work out how to find a new source of power for the Discovery. This leads to an encounter between her and a seemingly impossible figure from her past.
New Eden is directed by former Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes and feels like a classic episode of Star Trek, more than any Discovery episode to date. We find out a little bit more about the ongoing mystery of Spock and where he is so presumably that will be explored further in future episodes.
With two episodes under its belt, Star Trek: Discovery is already feeling like a much stronger series than its progenitor and characters like Burnham and Saru are beginning to develop personalities of their own. It will be interesting to see how they tackle Spock once Ethan Peck is introduced on screen and how the interplay between him and his human step sister Burnham will work. In this episode, we also see Burnham reveal to Pike her strange angelic vision she thought she saw in the first episode when she was in jeopardy. This is also a theme presumably that will be pursued as the season moves along. Star Trek has explored religion before in shows like Deep Space Nine and so that is why incorporating it here fits in perfectly with a Star Trek show.
Genre shows and films, especially ones which have existed in so many different iterations across decades, have to evolve and adapt with the mores and attitudes of the time. Star Trek: Discovery feels at last like a worthy cultural successor to Star Trek: The Original Series and its makers should be proud of what they have achieved so far. Let’s see if they can keep this up for the rest of the season.
Star Trek: Discovery is available now on Netflix in the UK and Ireland and on CBS All Access in the US.