Star Trek Discovery Review: “New Eden”

“Initiating donut maneuver.”

As far as produced Trek goes, Christopher Pike was Kirk 1.0, but in this episode, which very much hearkens to the classic series, we see a critical difference.

Pike actually follows the Prime Directive which, apparently, applies even to star-lost Terrans who have sent a distress signal.

Head now to Eden
Yeah brother…

Title: “The New Eden”

Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Written by Sean Cochrane, Akiva Goldsman, Kirsten Beyer

Cast
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Doug Jones as Commander Saru
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly
Sheila McCarthy as Mother
Andrew Moodie as Joseph
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun
Ronnie Rowe as Lt. R.A. Bryce
Raven Dauda as Dr. Tracy Pollard
Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
Noah Davis as Lieutenant (2053)
Bahia Watson as May
Kiara Groulx as Rose
Claire Qute as Teen May
Ethan Peck as Spock (vo)

Premise:

Discovery uses the spoor drive in order to follow a red signal to an earth colony that should not exist. As far as its inhabitants are concerned, however, there’s no place they’d rather be.

High Point:

I’ll take one more opportunity to note that this season incorporates some of Trek‘s key elements. We have danger and issues, but also, characters who are fun to engage. The showmakers will have to raise the stakes a bit next week, but I’m on for this season.

As for Ensign Tilly: Yeah, Wesley Crusher is far more interesting as a socially-awkward woman.

Low Point:

For the second week, we have an episode that wants us to know this season will be more like Treks of yore and, in the process, crams a little too much into one hour. I know we’re watching serialized Trek, but a little more character development and world-building in the episode would be good.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 We have an episode heavy with tropes, and a classic Trek Make Sh*t Up solution. And yeah, that link is moderately NSFW.

Effects: 6/6 This week combines state-of-the art effects with old-school location shooting.

Acting: 5/6 I’m liking this version of Pike, and it’s good to see Sheila McCarthy, even in a bit part.

The crew continues to develop a rapport, but it will take time.

Production: 6/6

Story: 4/6 Good, but a little crammed. This one would have worked better as a two-parter.

Joseph gets accused of attacking strangers and stealing their things, but all gets overlooked. It’s a good thing Terran theocracies have always been forgiving and non-legalistic.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 4.5/6 We have angels, theological quasi-discussion, and the second appearance of a dead person.1 They have some classic SF exploration, but it could easily go awry, or play as simplistic.

I’m hoping.

In total, “New Eden” receives 31.5/42

Lingering Questions

1. So some of us will survive to see Trek‘s World War Three? That sounds like even less fun than that Eugenics War back in the 90s.

2. These humans have developed their own culture in the last two centuries. Should the Prime Directive apply?

3. Will the angels be Organians? Metrons? Vorlons? Gorgon’s “Friendly Angel” Species?2 Something entirely new?

4. What do angels need with a starship?

Notes

1. Tilly doesn’t know her middle school friend died a few years after she last saw her. That’s how much a paradise Trek‘s future is: people aren’t addicted to social networking anymore.

2. And if so, will they let us know about the Zodiac?

12 replies on “Star Trek Discovery Review: “New Eden””

  1. Angels need starships when they aren’t angels and are a slightly younger Q Continuum.

    • In a more serious reply, I have been loving this season. I actually had to stop watching Orville afterwards because Orville is good for off-brand Trek, but I can’t enjoy it this close to the real thing. It’d be like grabbing a restaurant pasta dish vs. a home cooked Grandma Italian feast.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      I deliberately didn’t include the Q, because (1) that would be too obvious and (2) problematic for continuity (but so would the others, and, yeah, Star prequels and continuity).

      However, that does not rule out the Q, so I guess we’ll see.

      • I enjoy Q episodes, much like I enjoy the Borg episodes. Neither seems good for Discovery. Q’s episodes largely take the from Science Fiction to Science Fantasy, and just throw out conventional science. The Borg don’t typically have that particular problem, but are such a big deal that they can’t show up early as it derails everything. I felt that way about the Ferengi, but they appeared in Enterprise without too much of a timeline issue, but much more than that and I’d be annoyed.

        I described a story to my wife; I wouldn’t mind seeing would be Discovery SporeJumping to the mid 2450 (a generation later than when Voyager returned to Earth) and meet up with a new ship/crew, hand off the spore drive because of some Mulligan and Discovery gets zapped back home., and we spin off with this other Spore Drive ship is a new series set in that Next Generation 2450. It could be The USS Discovery NCC-1031F, with new captain, retired Admiral Picard.

      • zocalo says:

        Q seems a bit too problematic to me as well. They did, however, hammer home the point about Arthur C. Clark’s line about suitably advanced civilizations, so despite all the religion I think we’re going to end up with an outcome that can be grounded in science. That seems to mean a nominally benign race shepherding the younger races along, AKA Trek’s version of the Vorlons/Shadows depending on their ultimate goal. They’ve reimaged characters before, so I’m not reading too much into appearances – e.g. the Metron’s lack of wings in “The Arena” – either.

        It’s also going to be interesting to see if they tackle the issue of why an intervention was warranted in the case of the inhabitants of New Eden, yet not for all the other people in similar scenarios that were left to die. Especially given the “we’ll meet again” lines in the final scene on New Eden.

        • Same reason The Doctor only got one family out of Pompeii, they happened to be there at the time. Sort of like giving your bread crust to a squirrel, but not feeding every squirrel in the park.

          • zocalo says:

            Possibly it’s entirely random, but given the relatively tight plotting of the first season I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s a method to it that will be revealled later. If so, that’s likely to be right around an episode where the Discovery returns to New Eden and delivers on the “we’ll meet again”.

            Wild guess, but maybe their version of the Prime Directive means when they acquire lab rats there’s no evidence of the abduction. The original population of New Eden (and the church they were sheltering in!) were unlikely to be missed on account of being transported from what was soon to become a large blast crater, for instance.

            • Or, to steal more Whovian examples, everyone from the season shows up in the finale the way we saw all of the season’s guest stars return in “A Good Man Goes To War.”

              Hopefully it isn’t as heavy handed as that episode was.

            • JD DeLuzio says:

              That would work, but we’ll have to see if they thought of it.

    • Blackadder says:

      Am I the only person thinking Sybok and the center of the universe?

      • zocalo says:

        I’m trying not to because implications for the events of The Final Frontier in the Trek canon – haven’t they broken the timeline enough already? The parallels are definitely there though, not least the ring of red signals around the galactic core and the visions. Still, I suppose if Spock can have two siblings he never bothers to talk about in ToS, he can also boldy go into the same trap twice as well.

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