“New Eden” was a chaotic, contrived, and thoroughly nutty episode of Star Trek: Discovery that moved at just a little too much of a breakneck pace for its own good.
This recap of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 2, “New Eden”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Well, blimey, there was a lot going on in “New Eden”, so much so that it began to strain even my famous tolerance for made-up scientific hogwash. It certainly didn’t help that the episode rocketed along at a breakneck clip and seemed eager to pile on one impending catastrophe after another, which prevented the crew – or, for that matter, the show – from really focusing on any of the multiple problems enough for the audience to care about them too. Eventually I just switched my brain off to most of it and tried to enjoy the jokes and the silliness and the visual effects and so on, which I recommend.
What I don’t recommend is meddling with samples of a weird asteroid, much less allowing the ship’s lovably excitable but famously dopey ensign to do so unsupervised. But Tilly (Mary Wiseman) getting herself into trouble while Stamets (Anthony Rapp) moodily pines for his lost love and distances himself from the Discovery and its crew seems to be a recurring theme of this second season, and “New Eden” duly rewards Tilly for her flagrant breaches of protocol and common sense by having her stumble upon the solution to the episode’s Big Science Problem, which in this case is an imminent extinction-level event that is about to bestow a nuclear winter upon a planet housing a Luddite community that has been transplanted from 21st-Century Earth.
This all relates to the nebulous “Red Angels”, an obsession with which led the still-missing Spock to a Starfleet psychiatric facility and has thus far led the Discovery to two planets both on the brink of collapse. New Eden, so-called because the 11,000-or-so humans who live there were taken by what they perceived to be an angel just as they were about to be extinguished by World War III nukes, is a charmingly low-tech throwback community governed by a hilarious mega-faith comprised of all Earth’s known religions. This is unashamedly silly, and made even more so by the po-faced seriousness with which Captain Pike (Anson Mount) treats the overlap between science and religion and Starfleet’s directives not to meddle with developing worlds. (At the end of “New Eden” he nonetheless leaves the local sceptic with a futuristic super-battery to power the community, which is just hilarious and never mentioned again.)
All turns out rather well, thanks in part to the Discovery performing a donut in space, which I assure you is a thing that really does occur – and right in the nick of time! Some of this episode’s ticking-clock dramatics and cascading calamity felt a little contrived to me, but I liked some of the small character beats on New Eden, the dynamics between the away team – Pike, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Lt. Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) – and Tilly’s thoroughly batshit solution for the planet’s potential destruction. As always I can overlook contradictions in Star Trek lore and tone and regulations and whatnot just so long as I’m entertained, and I was certainly entertained by “New Eden”. The problem is that quite often I was entertained for entirely the wrong reasons.
You can check out our thoughts on the next episode by clicking these words.