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Recap / Star Trek: Discovery S2E02 "New Eden"

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The crew of the Discovery track a new Red Burst and discover a distress call at its location. (This requires reviving the spore drive, as the location is deep in the Beta Quadrant and 150 years away at top warp speed.) There, they discover the eponymous New Eden, a hidden, primitive human settlement. Beaming down, Pike, Burnham, and Owosekun attempt to find more about the Red Burst, despite being bound by "General Order One," Starfleet's Alien Non-Interference Clause. Meanwhile, Discovery must save the planet from annihilation after radioactive debris threatens a Colony Drop.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Ace Pilot: Detmer states that she's had a pilot's license since age 12.
  • Alien Abduction: A church and all the people inside it were taken from Earth in a beam of light in 2053. The people believe that God (or at least some god) saved them from being killed in World War III. An ancient helmet cam recording shows that the Red Angel was present when it happened.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Pike rationalizes that, because the original people who were transported to the planet arrived there before Earth discovered faster-than-light travel, the Prime Directive applies just as it would to any other pre-warp civilization.
  • Alien Sky: Terralysium is Earth-like, except for the planetary rings visible from the surface.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Is the vision of May just Tilly's addled mind conjuring someone to help her bounce ideas off of, or is there something more to her?
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  • Apocalypse How: Detmer and Rhys detail an "extinction-level event" threatened by radioactive material headed for the planet.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The helmet cam video from 2053.
  • Badass Boast: Detmer would like to remind Commander Saru that she got her pilot's license when she was twelve.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Pike finds it difficult to understand why people so isolated for 200 years speak "Federation Standard". Of course, that's because they were taken from North America and they're speaking English. Particularly funny since, in the very next episode, it's called English.
  • Call-Forward: Another dark piece of foreshadowing to Pike's eventual fate: when he's injured and we see him in sickbay, after the doctor tells him that he's lucky to still be alive, Pike's injuries mean that he can't even speak.
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  • Central Theme: Faith is the driving concept behind the different plot elements, whether it's faith in a religion (Mother), faith in science (Jacob, Burnham), or faith in your crewmates (too many to mention). In particular, Discovery saves the entire planet from an extinction-level event that they can't even warn Captain Pike about. They resolve the crisis just in time for the away team to call them for help when Pike is wounded, something that they would have been unable to do had their faith in their crewmates been misplaced.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The material of the asteroid is established to be incredibly dense, such that a tiny fragment weighs several tons. When the crew need to find a way to divert radioactive debris from the planet's rings, Tilly realizes that the entire asteroid sample has enough gravitational pull to draw off all the debris.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Specifically brought up and even name-dropped by Pike. He then goes on to quote Shermer's Last Law, which seems very apropos for the Star Trek universe: "Any sufficiently-advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The ancestors of Terralysium's residents were originally taken from Earth during the Third World War, the aftermath of which was shown in First Contact. Specifically, they're mentioned as having been taken in 2053, the exact year that the war ended.
    Riker: Six hundred million dead... little resistance.
    • Also, we first met Captain Pike when the Enterprise intercepted a distress call from a group of pre-warp humans stranded on a distant planet.
  • Dare to Be Badass:
    Pike: Be bold, be brave, be courageous.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The audience finds out more about Owosekun, and she's the one who comes up with the way of escaping the basement that they're locked in, not the uber-competent Burnham or experienced Pike.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Tilly has a conversation with another crewmember who gently prods Tilly to come up with the solution that saves all life on Terralysium. Tilly eventually recognizes her as a childhood friend.
    Tilly: Computer, locate quarters for Ahern, May.
    Computer: Ship's manifest has no such name.
    Tilly: Computer, search Federation database for the whereabouts of Ahern, May, originally from San Francisco, California, Earth.
    Computer: Working. Ahern, May Theresa. Born April 30th, 2236. Deceased, June 9th, 2252.
  • Distress Call: The Discovery intercepts one of these, leading them to New Eden.
  • Divine Intervention:
    • The people of Terralysium know that their ancestors were saved by the Red Angel, who they believe was a divine messenger.
    • When they accidentally witness a wounded Pike and his away team being beamed up to Discovery, Mother assumes that it's another case of this trope.
  • Earth That Was: The people of Terralysium believe that they are the only humans left in the universe, saved by unknown angelic beings during World War Three. But there are a few, like Jacob's family, who believe that the Earth and the rest of the human race are still out there.
  • Entertainingly Wrong:
    • Burnham argues that if the red burst was indeed meant to bring them to help the people of New Eden, it likely means reuniting them with the rest of humanity. She's unaware that the real reason that the Discovery is there is to stop a planetary disaster.
    • Jacob believes that the red light that he saw in the sky prior to their arrival was from the landing party's ship. As they're maintaining their cover, they can't correct him.
    • When Pike is seriously injured, the away team take him into the church to pray for deliverance, locking the locals out. Jacob forces his way in just in time for him and Mother to witness the away team being beamed up to the Discovery. Since the transporter beam is red-tinted, Mother takes this as proof that the Red Angel rescued Pike and his friends.
  • The Exit Is That Way: Having devised a solution to the crisis at Terralysium, Tilly rushes out of Sickbay to the Bridge... and a few seconds later, she runs past Sickbay in the opposite direction, having gone the wrong way.
  • Foreshadowing: When May first appears, she isn't acknowledged by either Saru or Pollard, despite being in plain sight. In her next appearance, you can't hear the door opening as you could with Saru and Pollard.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: One of the colonists gets her hands on Pike's phaser and inadvertently triggers a discharge while examining it. Pike barely has enough time to tackle it out of her hands, frying his stomach in the process.
  • Insistent Terminology: For unexplained reasons, the crew always refer to the Alien Non-Interference Clause as "General Order One," never once using its more widely-known name (and the original trope name), the Prime Directive. (At least one fan has hypothesized that this is because General Order One has yet to become the Prime Directive at this point in the franchise's timeline, which Strange New Worlds would later confirm.)
  • Interfaith Smoothie: While the people who were saved from Earth agree that they were saved by Divine Intervention, because there were people of a number of different beliefs who were taking shelter in the church, they realized that they didn't know what deity or faith might have saved them. As a result, they created a religious text that brought in aspects of, among others, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and even Wicca.
  • Internal Reveal:
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In-Universe— Pike expresses confusion about Stamets integrating the DNA of a tardigrade with his own.
    Pike: Tardigrade?
    Saru: I suppose you had to be there, sir.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Pike does this with the phaser that he tackles out of the hands of a colonist. When it discharges, he's sent flying.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Captain Pike is a bit put off when he first hears about the spore drive and how it works, but since it will get them to where they need to go immediately, rather than the 150 years that it would take with normal warp engines, he decides to just roll with it.
    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 kinda have to go on faith.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Or locking three people that you strongly suspect to be from a more advanced society in a basement full of old technology.
  • Loophole Abuse: Stamets points out that the ring that the radioactive debris is coming from isn't visible from the surface of the planet. He then mentions that this means that the people won't see it coming, but the subtext is that they also won't see Discovery trying to do something about it.
  • Lost Colony: The titular settlement of New Eden, which was founded by the people saved from imminent death during the Third World War by the Red Angel and transported to another planet.
  • MacGyvering: Owosekun gets the team free from the basement of the church with a piece of wire and a magnet.
  • Metaphorically True:
    • Spock is on approved leave from the Enterprise. Pike simply didn't mention that, a week after he left the ship, he checked himself into a psychiatric facility on Starbase 5 and requested that his family not be informed. Pike only tells Burnham because her discovery of Spock's personal log means that Spock is connected to their mission, and the privacy granted to him by Starfleet regulations is therefore superseded.
    • When Pike is wounded, Burnham does fully intend to retreat to the church to pray for intervention. But she's not expecting the Almighty to intervene, but rather for the Discovery to.
  • Mood Whiplash: Tilly runs out of sickbay after her brainstorm about the asteroid to dramatic music. Then runs back past the hatch going the other direction, having turned the wrong direction when she exited.
  • Not So Above It All: Tilly gets Detmer to become enthusiastic about her plan when she points out that Detmer will get to pull donuts. In a starship. Detmer even refers to it as the "Donut Maneuver" when executing it.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is Owosekun's reaction when she sees one of the colonists fumbling around with a phaser. Doubly so for Pike when the colonist inadvertently triggers a discharge.
  • Omniglot: Saru reveals that he learned to speak ninety Federation languages.
  • Pet the Dog: Pike gives a battery to Jacob so the people of New Eden will have electric lights, trading it for the helmet cam.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Once the Discovery saves the planet from devastation, a still-weakened Tilly says that she's going to go pass out in her bed.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: All of Jacob's relics are two centuries old but function just fine. The helmet cam's data is intact, though it ran out of power long ago. The transmitter has been kept running all that time. Even an old flashbang functions flawlessly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: After Saru reads the riot act to Tilly about her actions, he explains that he understands why Tilly was trying to carry out her work by herself, and offers her some advice based on his own experience of having put too much pressure on himself.
  • Scenery Porn: The opening shot of Discovery sailing out of a cloudy red nebula. Also, the orbital shots of Terralysium with its multiple rings are quite stunning.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Pike decides that using the Spore Drive will be forgiven by Starfleet because they need to know what the red bursts are.
    • Despite his own insistence that they not interfere with New Eden, Pike trades a power cell to Jacob for the helmet cam recording because he knows how important lighting their church is for them.
    • Despite having received a direct order from Saru to rest and relax, Tilly not only starts worrying herself silly over the radioactive-debris problem, she devises a solution and dashes to the bridge in her hospital gown to distribute and supervise said solution. For added bonus points, Saru commends her for her disobedience.
  • Shout-Out: Tilly appears to have gone to a junior high school named for Elon Musk.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Tilly doesn't recognize May until she calls her "Stilly", a nickname from high school.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jacob confronts the landing party and says that they aren't from Terralysium because the skin on their hands isn't roughened and weathered from the hard manual labor that the colonists perform on a daily basis.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Tilly enters the bridge turbolift, and when she turns around, "May" is standing right in front of the door just before it closes.
  • Stock Sound Effect: The static sound from the transmitter comes from the original series.
  • Stunned Silence: The usually talkative Tilly is left staring in shock when the computer informs her that the woman she's been talking with through the episode has been dead for five years.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Red Angel was able to teleport a church and everyone inside it from Earth to a planet over 51,000 light years away.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Pike is convinced that the red bursts wouldn't twice lead them to people in need unless some higher intelligence was guiding them. Burnham is skeptical, but comes around at the end.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Of the landing party, Burnham is driven by logic and seeks rational explanations, and Owosekun comes from a family of non-believers. Pike shows the most sympathy for the religious beliefs of the people of New Eden and willingness to believe that there might be something greater at work. He's also the first one to call the building that the signal is coming from what it obviously is, a church, and he understands the purpose of the stained-glass windows. (This could be because he's simply the first or only character to figure out what it was; Roddenberry's vision of the future was that humans had Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions.)
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: While the away team tries to learn about the human settlement and how they got there, Discovery and her crew discover an imminent disaster that they cannot warn the away team about due to radiation interfering with their communications. Both plotlines reach their climaxes and wrap up at the same time, with Discovery reestablishing contact with the away team just in time to beam a seriously wounded Pike aboard.
  • Wham Line: Tilly has the computer search for the whereabouts of May Ahern, who Tilly has been bouncing ideas off of. The computer finds her, but not where Tilly expects.
    Tilly: Computer, search Federation database for the whereabouts of Ahern, May, originally from San Francisco, California, Earth.
    Computer: Working. Ahern, May Theresa. Born April 30th, 2236. Deceased, June 9th, 2252.
  • Wham Shot: Pike recovers a soldier's helmet cam recording from the day that the people in the church were saved, and it shows that the Red Angel was some kind of physical presence, not simply a mental projection or hallucination.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Saru dresses Tilly down for engaging in a dangerous task by herself, stating that it nearly got her killed.
  • Whole Plot Reference: This isn't the first time that a Star Trek crew has stumbled upon a planet of pre-First Contact humans who were taken from Earth by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.