A refreshing blend of season one’s serialised storytelling and classic trek’s stand-alone episode style.
For those that lamented the lack of stand-alone episodes in season one of Discovery, with its very heavily serialised story-telling style, ‘New Eden’ should satisfy that itch. It has many of the tropes of an episode from all of Star Trek series that have come before. An away mission consisting of a handful of the crew? Check! Displaced human’s from Earth’s past? Check! Discussions about the prime directive? Check! Questions about morality? Check!
And yet it doesn’t abandon the serialised elements, there is a season arc to be getting on with after all, and so this episode feeds the arc with an event on the ship provides more information to this ongoing plot. The two paths blend together well. Let’s hope for more of the same in the rest of the season to come.
Episode 2 focus was very much science versus religion and from future trailers and episode clues this theme will continue to be explored throughout the series. There was perhaps a bit too much signposting in the opening scenes, with lots of references to faith in various forms. Once into the crew reached the settler’s planet, the debate crystalised without trivialising either viewpoint. Star Trek has always been known for the morality-play aspect and this time it materialised in the discussion between Burnham and Pike about the future of the lost humans.
Pike continues to shine in this episode. Anson Mount has been an excellent addition to the cast and his portrayal of Pike as calm, collected, friendly, with just the right amount of humour and some philosophising thrown in for good measure, was just what the show needed to lighten its tone from the very dark first season. Burnham’s character shows some development having learnt from her previous mistakes, she follows orders even when she disagrees.
The side plot on the ship with Ensign Tilly was less successful in its execution but is likely to be more of an overall series driver. While the revealing twist was certainly interesting, the presence of two very quirky characters in all the same scenes grated somewhat. Depending on the episode, Tilly can swings from a unique and interesting character to rather annoying one. So teaming her up with another strange character was just a tad too much
If Discovery can deliver more of this blend of serialisation and stand-alone style, combined with the almost movie-level visuals, then it promises good things for the rest of this series.