In the aftermath of last week’s episode it is clear Discovery wants to focus on a mystery. What is the asteroid that damaged the USS Hiawatha made off? What or who is the angelic figure Michael Burnham saw on the asteroid and why did her foster brother Spock take leave from the Enterprise and check himself into mental health facility.
That is just for starters. The season premiere did plenty of other things correct as well. To a degree – the season’s second episode falters. Now don’t get me wrong. The episode is ounces of fun. It’s just that is plays a little loose with the Star Trek canon. As a follow-up to last weeks episode the crew, now led by Captain Pike (Anson Mount), find a signal that has a connection to the weird asteroid. It just happens to originate from a star system 150 years travel at maximum warp.
A B-plot to forget
Unless of course they use the spore drive. The cheat that defeated the Klingons in the first season. This will give both Stamets and Tilly a reason for appearing in a B-plot. While Pike and Burnham are exploring the planet in the star system the B-plot kind of plough along with melodrama and failed attempts at humor. The fact that the Discovery determines the planet has only hours left until it becomes uninhabitable by radiation does not feel convenient to the plot at all.
And so the episode takes place on a mystery planet that it occupied by a small group of humans at a distance of at least 150 years from Earth. As the humans do not have warp-drive First Contact protocol applies – which ends up being conveniently broken for dramatic effect near the end. And yet, the acting is superb. Both Sonequa martin-Green and Anson Mount develop a rapport that reminds me of Kirk and Spock.
It is interesting to see Captain Pike as a character beyond the pilot episode of TOS. It feels like the viewer is watching a road not taken. As for the plot. Saru, Tilly and Stamets on-board the Discovery manage to prevent the irradiation of the planet. Meanwhile Pike and Burnham help out a local who descended from scientist in return for a camera from the time the Earth was at World War 3. It shows an alien ‘abducting’ humans and settling them on the planet for some unknown reason. The existence of the footage allows Burnham to admit she had seen a similar alien on the asteroid. If there is any impetus given is that Burnham will now confront Spock about what he knows.
So it took a while for the episode to become meaningful. I think it could have been accomplished by other means, but the episode had it merits. The fact that Jonathan Frakes directed it felt like a nice reminder to First Contact which also featured Starfleet crew undercover.
And yet, despite the improvements and anticipation for the remainder of the season I feel like there is something missing. New Eden kind of felt like a demo episode. It is relatively short as there is both a recap at the beginning and a preview at the end. The story is something we have seen before, just with a few twists. I suppose it comes down to the little pieces of mystery that are provided.
I have no doubt that season 2 of Discovery will be fantastic. From the preview snippets we have Section 31, Phillipa Georgiou, Spock and color coordinated uniforms to look forward to. Episode 2, New Eden, wasn’t bad but also not the jump in improvement I was looking for.