Star Trek Discovery: I Gotta Have Faith

Star Trek: Discovery | Season 2 | Episode 2 : “New Eden”
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For a quick read, go to Review.
For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“If you’re telling me that this ship can skip across the universe on a highway made of mushrooms, I kind of have to go on faith.” Captain Christopher Pike

Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) plays Spock’s audio and shows the sketches from Spock’s futuristic Etch & Scratch to Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). The sketches show that Spock knew about the red bursts before they began to appear. Burnham wants to talk to Spock about this as soon as possible. Pike tells her that Spock checked himself into a psychiatric unit on Starbase 5 about a week into his leave. Burnham asks why their parents and she weren’t notified. The captain says it was at Spock’s request that they not be notified. Because of the priority attached to finding out about the signals, Pike hopes Burnham talking to Spock directly will get them some answers. Burnham doubts it, she and Spock haven’t spoken in years and their dynamic is complicated. Pike understands complicated family dynamics, his father taught science and comparative religion. He and his father didn’t always agree. Pike hopes she’ll still be able to get through to him. He asks her is there anything else she needs to tell him, Burnham thinks about the red angel she saw on the asteroid but thinks better of it. She tells Pike she forgot to thank him properly for coming back for her. An alert sounds and the bridge calls for them. Another signal has appeared. It originates from the Beta Quadrant, 51,450 light-years away. Pike figures it would take Discovery 150 years to get there. Burnham and Commander Saru (Doug Jones) have a faster way, the spore drive. They explain the process. Burnham: “In order to guide us through the mycelial network, Commander Stamets injected himself with tardigrade DNA, a violation of Starfleet’s ban on genetic manipulation.”  Saru: “They were willing to overlook this during the war however.”  Pike: “A tardigrade?” Saru: “I suppose you had to be there.”

Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) excitedly asks Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) how excited he must be to pilot the spore drive again. She is surprised when he tells her he isn’t. Stamets tells her that when they were trying to get out of the mirror universe, he saw Hugh, and Hugh helped pilot them back to their own universe. He thought he must have hallucinated it, but now he doesn’t think so. Stamets: “Astromycology has taught me that nothing is ever truly gone. Fungi are the universe’s recyclers. This is how termination begins creation. It’s why life is eternal.” He admits that if he sees Hugh in the mycelial network during this jump, it will be hard for him to leave. The countdown to the jump begins. Saru: “Questions or concerns before we depart, Captain?”  Pike: “If you’re telling me that this ship can skip across the universe on a highway made of mushrooms, I kind of have to go on faith.” The ship is on black alert, they make the jump. Pike looks like he just finished a roller coaster ride. Saru: “You never forget your first sir.” Stamets walks out of the booth looking sad. He must not have seen Hugh. They jump in front of a class M planet. The signal is gone. They scan and discover human life on the planet. The crew detects a distress call. They identify it coming from a peaceful looking church. Saru says the distress call has been on a loop for 200 years.

Back in the captain’s ready room, Pike, Burnham, and Saru discuss the planet. How did these humans get here, 200 years ago without warp technology? Pike asks why the signal sent them here. Burnham cautions against thinking the signal has any motives, they don’t know what it is yet. Pike quotes from Hamlet, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Burnham wonders if Pike thinks a deity might be involved. Pike mentions Arthur C. Clarke and gives the altered quote that was decided on later after a future conference, “Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God.”  Pike orders Burnham to pick an away team. Burnham picks Lt. Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) because she grew up in a Luddite community. The community doesn’t appear to have any modern technology.

Tilly is in the cargo bay preparing to cut a piece off the meteorite they have there. Computer: “Your personal shielding is phase-locked with the gravity simulator. Any change in this gravimetric stability will result in…”  Tilly: “BOOM!”  Computer: … “Confirmed.” Tilly notes that the meteorite has metreon particles which react with dark matter and has temporal properties. A small piece of it is heavy, a small pebble lands on a table and crushes it. The computer advises her to stop, but Tilly carries on. She cuts out a small piece of the meteorite and puts it in a container. The meteorite in the container discharges and knocks Tilly across the room, rendering her unconscious.

The away team beams on the surface of the planet in front of the church. Pike reminds Burnham and Owosekun that this is a pre-warp society, so they must adhere to General Order 1 [the Prime Directive]. They walk into the church, Owosekun’s family were non-believers and Burnham was raised on Vulcan but knows about Earth religions. Pike is the only one who gets the concept of fate. The church has symbols of different faiths, Burnham sees Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, and Wicca. The bible on the pulpit is patched together with different religions ideas. Burnham wants to scan it. Pike: “Or we can look at the picture. [Looking at the stain glassed window.] That was the original purpose for a window like this. To teach the gospel to those who couldn’t read.” It has a picture of the red angel with soldiers and civilians surrounding it. A man from the community named Jacob (Andrew Moodie) walks in, asking why they aren’t working in the fields. Pike says they are travelers from the north. Jacob says he’ll get the All-Mother (Sheila McCarthy).

The community of New Eden holds a welcoming ceremony for their guests. The All-Mother explains New Eden’s history. In 2053 during World War III, an atomic bomb was about to be dropped on their town. Soldiers and civilians had sought refuse in the church. They were ready to perish when an angel saved everyone in the church, transporting them to this planet, Terralysium. Pike listens politely and intensely while Burnham asks questions, trying to get the scientific answers to what happened. Jacob tries to answer her questions, but he isn’t helpful. He mentions that there is a soldier’s helmet cam that captured the incident, but it’s broke now. Their power cells have gone out, so they don’t have any electricity to light the church up now.

Tilly is in sickbay, a young crew member, May (Bahia Watson) wakes her up. Saru enters to check on Tilly and scold her for doing something so dangerous. He tells her she could have killed herself and the crew. Dr. Tracy Pollard (Raven Dauda) confirms it. Saru asks her why she did it. Tilly explains that she is trying to design a coherent resonator to work with the spore drive as a dark matter interface. That way Commander Stamets won’t have to suffer each time he uses the spore drive. Saru appreciates what she is trying to do for Stamets. He also understands why Tilly pushes herself. She is the youngest person accepted in the Command Training Program, he was the only Kelpian when he was in the program. Saru: “My point is, I put an inordinate amount of responsibility on these slender shoulders, often to my detriment.” He advises her to slow down a little. Saru must leave her because of another alert.

“Discovery will not allow a catastrophe on her watch.”  Commander Saru    

When he gets back to the bridge, the bridge crew [Lt. Cmdr. Airiam (Hannah Cheesman), Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), Lt. Gen Rys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), and Lt. R.A. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe)] informs him that radioactive debris is breaking away from the planet’s outer ring and is heading back towards the planet, threatening imminent, extinction level nuclear winter. Saru orders the away team beamed back aboard immediately. They can’t because the debris is jamming the comms and the transporter locks. Saru suggest they send a shuttle down to get them, but Stamets runs in to tell Saru the shuttle’s ionized carbon exhaust will create a runaway positive feedback loop that will accelerate the particles arrival. They have about an hour to come up with a solution. Saru: “If we were brought here, perhaps this is why. We’re responsible — not only to our landing party — but to every living being on that planet. Discovery will not allow a catastrophe on her watch.”  Everyone gets to work.

The away team is down in the basement. Pike wants to turn off the distress call so that no one else will come to the planet to disturb these people. Burnham can’t believe that they are going to leave these people. She believes they should be taken back to Earth. Pike says they can’t interfere with these people since they are a pre-warp civilization, to do so would violate General Order 1. Jacob catches their debate. He knows they aren’t from here, he believes they are from Earth. His family has believed the past 200 years that Earth survived the war. Jacob can see their advanced devices. Pike lies and says they are from the north. To keep the away team from leaving, Jacob throws a stun grenade at them. When they wake up, Jacob has locked them in the basement. Owosekun uses a magnet to break them out. They realize that Jacob has taken their equipment. Pike knows they can’t leave without their equipment, but he orders Burnham and Owosekun that they cannot break General Order 1.

Tilly talks to May, who seems to be her biggest fan. Tilly is upset she is stuck in sickbay while there is a crisis going on, and the away team is stuck on the planet. May helps Tilly talk out a plan to generate a gravitational field, using the meteorite in the cargo bay. Tilly runs up to the bridge in her hospital gown to give her plan to an exasperated Saru. The crew can drag and fling the meteorite to create a gravitational pull that will drag the debris out into space. Detmer: “In order for the asteroid to exit at the correct angle, I would have to execute a sustained circular drift.”  Tilly: “A donut. You would be doing A DONUT in a starship!”  Detmer: “That’s true.” Detmer can’t get the ship in the field, but Stamets says he can use the spore drive to jump the ship into it.

Jacob tries to convince the All-Mother that the visitors are from Earth. Pike walks in and says there is a commandment against stealing. They just want their stuff and they are leaving. Jacob begs them to tell the truth. Jacob’s daughter Rose (Kiara Grouix) picks up a phaser and accidently turns it on. Pike sees this and runs to her. He grabs the phaser and dives on it. The phaser discharges, seriously injuring the captain. Burnham and Owosekun grab him and take him back inside the church, asking the All-Mother to pray for him.

The crew prepares for the jump. Stamets makes the jump into the debris field, Detmer succeeds in doing the donut maneuver, dragging the debris out into space. Jacob bursts into the church. He, All-Mother and Grace watch the away team teleported out of the church. All-Mother proclaims they were saved by the angel. The bridge crew celebrates their rescue of the planet and away team. Saru: “Perhaps you should disobey my direct orders more often, Ensign.”  Tilly: “No, I think your orders are probably really good. I need to pass out now.” May enthusiastically says, “Way to go Stilly!” Tilly realizes she knows May from somewhere. Pike wakes up in sickbay.  Dr. Pollard: “Welcome back, Captain, you made it. But your ribs? They’re going to feel like the xylophone in a Klingon marching band.”  Tilly talks to the computer and tracks down a classmate from middle school, May Ahern. She asks where May’s quarters are. The computer gives Mays date of birth and death. Has Tilly been talking to a ghost?

“Fortunately for you, I was raised on Vulcan. We don’t do funny.” Commander Michael Burnham

Captain Pike is in the ready room resting. Burnham comes in. Burnham: “You wanted to see me?”  Pike: “Yes. And don’t make me laugh.”  Burnham: “Fortunately for you, I was raised on Vulcan. We don’t do funny.” He tries not to laugh. Pike: “I wanted to thank you for following orders and maintaining our cover despite your captain’s impairment. And, by impairment, I mean having a phaser go off in my chest.”  Burnham comes clean about seeing the angel on the asteroid. He asks why she didn’t tell him before. She admits she thought it was a hallucination.  Pike now believes that the angels were involved in their last two missions. The people in New Eden would see this as a revelation. Burnham: “Is that how you see it sit?”  Pike: “At the very least, this new information creates more context. And the context can alter our perspective.” Burnham: “Well, what about Jacob? Isn’t he entitled to a little context? He knows in his heart who and what we are.” She convinces Pike that the urgency of the mission supersedes General Order 1. The helmet cam in the church basement recorded what happened two hundred years ago when they were taken to Terralysium.

Pike goes back to New Eden to talk to Jacob alone. He comes clean and explains that Jacob was right, they are from Earth. The planet survived and is now part of a Federation that protects planets like this one. Jacob asks how they got here, and he tells him on a starship. Pike explains that they can’t interfere in Jacob’s society, and that Jacob can’t tell anyone who they really are. “Thank you,” Jacob says. “Because of you, we know we’re not lost anymore.”  The captain has confirmed what his family has believed all these years. He turns off the distress call. Pike would like to make a trade, a power cell to light up the church, for the helmet cam. Jacob agrees and they shake on it. After the Captain is beamed out, Jacob connects the power cell to the church, and it lights up for the whole community to see. Back in his ready room, Pike looks at the video, and to his disbelief, an angel appears in the church and takes them away.  

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

Burnham shows Pike Spock’s sketches of the red burst signals and his audio recording. She finds out Spock committed himself to a mental hospital and requested his family not be told. They get an alert that another signal has been spotted in the Beta Quadrant. It would normally take the ship 150 years to get there, but the spore drive gets them there quickly. The signal is gone but they discover a class M planet with humans living there. Pike, Burnham, and Owosekun beam to the planet to find out what’s going on. The humans are descendants of survivors of World War III, two hundred years ago. An angel transported their families and this church to this distant planet. They have combined the many different earth religions to form their own. Pike whose father taught science and comparative religion is willing to listen. Burnham only worships science and doesn’t want to hear it. What she’d like to do is take the humans on this planet back to earth. Pike says they can’t interfere with these people because their families left earth pre-warp, so these people are under General Order 1. One of the citizens of this community, New Eden is Jacob, who is scientific minded himself. He realizes the away team isn’t from a northern community on the planet but are from Earth itself. He tries to get them to admit it, but they won’t. Even when Pike is injured, Burnham and Owosekun won’t treat him with their equipment, so as not to let these people know that they come from an advanced society. When they get beamed up, the leader of the community thinks the angel saved them. Burnham convinces Pike to go back to get a helmet cam that recorded when their ancestors were taken from Earth, and to tell Jacob the truth. Pike goes back and tells a relieved Jacob the truth. When Pike looks at the recording, he sees a red angel rescue them.

While the away team is gone, Commander Saru and the bridge crew must prevent the planet from being destroyed by radioactive debris from the planet’s outer ring. Tilly comes up with a plan to use the meteorite they have in the cargo bay to create a gravitational pull that will drag the debris into outer space. Lt. Detmer will have to do a donut with Discovery. [Very impressive Detmer.] The plan works and they save both the planet and the away team. Tilly had earlier hurt herself cutting a piece from the meteorite. The piece she had cut and put in a container discharged knocking her out. She was awakened by a young crew member named May. Tilly later realizes she knows May from middle school. She finds out that May died a few years ago. Who has Tilly been talking to? We know the meteorite has temporal properties, could Tilly be between two worlds, interacting with her old classmate’s sprit or could it be a symptom of a head injury. It would explain May’s childlike enthusiasm for Tilly.

This episode could have been on TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise, and I mean that as a high compliment. It is the type of Star Trek episode, longtime fans like me grew up on. Members of the crew go to a pre-warp society and try to adhere to the Prime Directive. There are usually debates amongst the crew on the proper actions to take. Through ingenuity and hard work, they find a way to help the populace while adhering to the Prime Directive. The type of story I like. The episode’s main theme and debate was between faith and science. The inhabitants of New Eden adhered to their religious faith. You had Burnham, who adheres to the tenants of science. You had Captain Pike in the middle. He’s a Starfleet officer who believes in science, but he understands and respects religion. He’s probably not a religious man, but he’s open to it. That led to an intelligent debate between him and Burnham. That’s the type of debates the other Trek series had all the time. That was lacking in Discovery. Last season they went more for big screen type action, and heavy melodrama. They didn’t appear interested in exploring the intellectual side of Star Trek. Hopefully it will become a common feature in the series again. Most Trekkies would welcome it. I believe the fans of Discovery who are new to the franchise will like it too.  

Episode 3 promo.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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