a review by the Crow.
Captain‘s log, Stardate 96667.05: Following the more-or-less alright first episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, certain events have happened that have kept me away from The Corvid Review (readers who follow us will know that a few things have been weighing on me for some time), and will for the near-future. The Azure-Winged Magpie has already returned, but has temporarily been sent back to sickbay for today to start her path towards recovery.
She’s elected to return us to a two-day posting schedule and will resume handling our Star Trek movie reviews starting again Sunday with The Voyage Home.
With all that said, let’s power up the warp core and jump straight into:
SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE
(We still have no Captain’s log or equivalent, which I had thought might return to the show. Until that happens, consider my protest indicator to be at Yellow Alert.) New Eden begins with a voice-over by Spock (Ethan Peck; yet to appear), speaking about how drawing was a method taught to him by his mother to control the emotion of fear. This voice-over is revealed to be sourced from the audio file Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) discovered aboard the Enterprise at the end of the previous episode; an audio file she presents to their now-mutual Captain, Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). It’s revealed to us that Spock has committed himself to the psychiatric unit at Starbase 5. We are then immediately shown the episode’s thematic hand: a mild debate on religion as opposed to science, which is an argument I find to be rather tired (or at the very least, am tired of).
Here, allow me a slight moment to hover on that point: I contest (as a veteran of such arguments in the past) that anyone who thinks science and religion to be diametrically opposed to one another — in any way that should be argued — to be a bit of an idiot. However, I do have a ‘side’; a side that anyone who has read my posts will know. I maintain this side because I find that people on the other side (especially those who argue this topic) can be guilty of mis-education, as well as other fields that can become dangerous.
However, there are nuances to the original point of argument, as there always are. A more specific discussion would warrant actual conversation, because the argument must be tailored to the individual in question, I find. Cover-all arguments are quite useless on this topic.
However, as far as New Eden is considered, I find the way the episode handled this quite old — once-natty — topic to be rather well-balanced and not presented in as stupid a light as it usually is. I hope that level of handling continues as the season goes on, given that we’ve been told that it will become a large part of Discovery Season 2.
Immediately following Burnham and Pike’s conversation, they are summoned to the bridge by First Officer Saru (Doug Jones). A red signal has appeared. There’s a little talk that suggests that the notion of gravity ‘waves’ has led to the world of Star Trek to apply linguistic patterns we typically apply to matters of sound in the exact same vein. This is something I’m fine with, especially since this is Star Trek we’re talking about.
However, a question: how does Pike not know a little more about the Discovery? Sure, the Discovery is a secret project only known of by a choice few, but Pike has read about the “ordeal” that the Discovery went through, according to Brother; surely he knows at least a little about the ship and its capabilities. It’s not as if he knows nothing, but he treats a good deal of it with a measure of surprise.
Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Tilly (Mary Wiseman) have a few moments of dialogue, which begins to set up for the return of Culber (Wilson Cruz), however it happens. There is certainly something larger playing out behind the scenes. But before we can let it sink in, we are given the one little Discovery-specific moment I’d liked to have seen peppered into the show a little more: the Black Alert.
Pike’s reaction to the whole scenario is a succint summary of my thoughts in regards to the mycelial storyline as it’s been presented so far. As you were, Star Trek. And with that said: five jumps in two episodes (by the end of this episode) already. Not bad. (And as the episode plays out, it seems at least 90% of the promotional material has already been covered on-screen.)
And so: we get to the main story of the episode.
World War III is expanded on a little bit, establishing its existence a little firmer in the canonical overview of Discovery (saying that, I wonder if it was ever put into doubt, even though I seem to think so). In light of the pre-warp nature of the “settlers”, General Order 1 is applied, and the first of my more serious questions is raised. However, following a little thought in regards to the episode, I think I’m fine with how General Order 1 is dealt with in Discovery, given how fast-and-loose it has been played with in previous iterations of Star Trek. And so, we skip to the next question that was raised in my mind.
I’m not sure if ten settlements spread out over a planet (no matter how Earth-like it is), given little resources apart from what can be scavenged or found naturally — and distinctly no methods for generating electrical power — would even survive, much less scale to a total of 11,000 people over two hundred years. That number raises far too many questions in my mind. However, it’s what we’re given. And cleverly, the episode keeps itself from showing us anything that would lead to questions. This is the stage, set.
We are also shown some strange “interweaving” orbital rings which do not have an explanation, but can be left as they are, racing one another around a planet (with a clear winner amongst them).
We continue to explore the asteroid that the Discovery captured in the previous episode, and I’ll leave my usual little statements about dark matter out of today’s discussion (I imagine I’ve made my exhaustion with the very idea of dark matter in SF quite clear).
Tilly is delivered to sickbay as a result of her toying around with the dark matter-charged “Metreon” asteroid, where she meets May (Bahia Watson) — or, as I’m going to call her: the little green mycelial pea. I’m not sure I like the character or even Ms Watson’s performance (granted, she may well be only twenty-six), but I’m interested to see how Tilly’s path down the mycelial rabbit-hole ties in with Stamets’ own.
For the most part, we’re left to spend the rest of our time on New Eden, exploring the rather-interesting — and rather impossible, at least here in the real world — multi-faith community that has sprung up in the two hundred years since the first settlers arrived. (I also particularly like the sound of Terralysium.) Unlike most other episodes of Star Trek that have come before it, New Eden tells us the backstory of how the settlers came to be here in their own — clear — words.
It takes the form of a communal prayer, and it works, as far as I see it.
Hints about the Red Angel (if it is an individual) are shown to us over the course of the episode, and its power — even though it isn’t expressly stated — are nothing short of god-like, which is a term I believe the team behind the show would like me to use. What is interesting is the fact that this so-called Red Angel has no firmly been established as a benevolent figure; one who is only now acting as a beacon to spread messages of distress rather than intervening directly. But the question is why? And the question should also include: why should we be scared of it, eventually?
…say my religion is science
— Specialist Michael Burnham; USS Discovery
I abhor that string of words.
The episode is a rather good installment in the series, and yet it doesn’t attempt to be anything greater. It truly is an “episode”. There is a scene of ‘aggressive‘ gravitational “finessing” (the act of redirecting an object in space by parking a mass next to it — preferably one that can change vetors — and using the gravitational attraction between the masses to alter the object’s flight path) which is rather well done. Okay, maybe with the exception of one tiny caveat I have: it’s called a torus — a shape of which I’m greatly enamoured — not a donut. Star Trek has inspired a great many people to pursue the STEM fields, myself included, more real-life lingo would be nice to see.
Doctor Pollard has another nice appearance, small as it might be, Saru is given a solid scene of “scolding” someone, and he continues to grow on me. There is a doll that is reminiscent of Sulu (George Takei), which — if correct — is a nice Easter Egg. However, the real star of this episode is Jacob (Andrew Moodie). He has a relatively short role, but does such a good job of it that his character is the anchoring point for New Eden. Pike began to annoy me a little at some points in the episode, but ultimately does his job as Captain.
New Eden continues to be more set-up for the greater arc of the season. I now want to know what Stamets saw in that jump at the beginning of the episode, and of course I have questions about the Red Angel. It’s a return to more “comfortable” production ideas we’ve seen before in Star Trek, and is a welcome addition to the show. Directed by Star Trek‘s own Commander Riker (Jonathan “Two Takes” Frakes), New Eden comes well-recommended from us at The Corvid Review. It’s good, short fun, with a dramatic Black Alert thrown in for good measure.
Another good job along the way as Discovery begins to boldly go into the mystery of the Red Angel.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 7/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 8.5/10
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