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“New Eden” was another fantastic Star Trek: Discovery episode that delivered a Next Generation-style storyline involving a pre-warp civilization of humans who left Earth during World War III, as well as more information about the red bursts, the Red Angel, and the Search for Spock.
This episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, my first crush, so when I saw his name on screen, I yelled, “MY BOO” and woke up my sleeping baby. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get to talking about the episode.
It turns out that everyone’s favorite Handsome Dad, Captain Pike, actually knows where Spock is, and despite the hints in the trailer, I didn’t see this coming. Spock is apparently in a psychiatric unit, committed at his own request. His family wasn’t notified, also at his own request.
(The look on Burnham’s face when she finds this out was MY FACE.)
Now Pike knows that Spock’s dreams are connected to whatever the Discovery is tasked to investigate. Might this mean they’ll be bringing him along for the ride? I have a feeling that we won’t be waiting as long as I originally thought to see Spock again.
But first, another red burst! The intrepid crew uses the spore drive to jump to a new set of coordinates in the Beta Quadrant (“If you’re telling me this ship can skip across the universe on a highway made of mushrooms, I kind of have to go on faith” is the kind of remark I have now come to expect from my favorite Handsome Dad), where they find a pre-warp civilization of humans who fled Earth and somehow found their way to the Beta Quadrant. They’ve combined many of Earth’s major religions to form a new one worshipping the Red Angel, the same figure Burnham saw on the asteroid.The tone of this episode — and the battles with the Prime Directive — really felt familiar to me in a great way. We’ve seen so many captains in every era of this franchise battling with the conflict between doing what they think is personally right and Starfleet’s General Order 1 (which is basically non-interference in the natural development of other cultures). I loved that it was front and center in this episode. So far, the season has done a great job balancing between action, heart, character development, and making sure the overarching story doesn’t overwhelm the episodic narrative (or vice versa).
Tilly got a few moments to shine in “New Eden,” and I have to admit the scene between her and Saru in sickbay brought tears to my eyes. “Before we can care for others, we must care for ourselves,” he told her, advice we all probably need to heed. He then proceeded to admit to her that he had been insecure as the only Kelpien in Starfleet and felt the pressure to represent his entire race — to the point where he learned 90 different Federation languages. It’s a thoughtful and insightful look into Saru that culminates in an incredibly powerful moment when he tells Tilly, “You are important.” To me, it meant “You are enough,” which is something you can tell Tilly doesn’t hear often.
It seemed that Tilly had her very own Tilly in May; that is, until she realized that the blow to the head may have had a very disturbing aftereffect. Why is Tilly seeing this old friend who has since died? Does it have anything to do with the Red Angel, or is it merely a result of her head trauma? The fact that May was leading Tilly to answers and helping her figure things out makes me think there's more going on here than an injury.And speaking of the Red Angel, Burnham finally admitted to Pike that she saw this creature on the asteroid. But, thinking it was a hallucination, she didn’t mention it. Pike points out that this creature could be a powerful alien intelligence, and it seems to be leading them on a chase around the galaxy. The first red burst led them to a downed starship, the second to a human colony in peril. Is there a method to this madness?
I was surprised that the captain didn’t consult with Stamets before ordering him to use the spore drive; after all, it’s his mental and physical health that are at risk. And it clearly takes a toll: Stamets knows he needs to accept Hugh’s death and move on. But how can he do that when he knows Hugh exists in the mycelial network? We didn’t get to see what Stamets experienced during those jumps, but from the look on his face after the first one, it can’t be great for him.
The episode ends with Pike looking at the footage from the soldier’s helmet camera and seeing the image of the Red Angel for himself before it cuts out. The question is where will this creature lead them next? And how is it connected to Spock? And will Captain Pike continue to provide us with charming Handsome Dad moments through the rest of the season? I certainly hope so.