This Discovery Episode is When the Show Truly Became Star Trek

Star Trek: Discovery has struggled to be accepted as “real” Star Trek by some fans, but the introduction of Captain Christopher Pike in the second season signifies the show’s commitment to embracing the history and canon of Gene Roddenberry’s universe. The first season of Discovery surprised fans with its serialized and emotionally intense storytelling, which deviated from the traditional episodic and optimistic nature of previous Star Trek series.

However, the second episode of Season 2, “New Eden,” marked a turning point for the show. It presented a classic Star Trek story in which the crew of the Discovery encounters a human settlement in an unexpected location. This concept has been explored in previous Star Trek series, such as The Original Series episode “The Paradise Syndrome,” Voyager’s “The 37s,” and Enterprise’s “North Star.” “New Eden” offered a fresh twist on this familiar concept and demonstrated a clear shift in Discovery’s storytelling approach.

One of the main story arcs of Season 2 involves mysterious signals in space and the discovery of a time-traveling being known as the Red Angel. The crew of the Discovery finds themselves on a planet called Terralysium, where a group of humans from World War III has been brought against their will. These humans remember Earth and their rescue, which they have taught to future generations as a religious belief. The Prime Directive, which governs non-interference with pre-warp civilizations, poses a dilemma for the crew as they investigate the distress call they heard upon arriving on the planet.

Captain Pike, unlike the previous captain Lorca who was from the Mirror Universe, adheres to Starfleet principles and insists that the crew maintain a “lie” about their origins to preserve the illusion of the settlers’ faith. The crew faces peril and ultimately saves the planet from an extinction-level event by capturing a “dark matter asteroid.”

“New Eden” not only reintroduced classic Star Trek elements but also showcased a lighter tone with the inclusion of humor. The episode features a comedic scene where Ensign Sylvia Tilly runs out of sickbay only to run back in the opposite direction because she went the wrong way. This scene, improvised on the day of shooting, adds a lighthearted touch to the episode without erasing its unique identity.

The episode reflects a course-correction from some of the more controversial aspects of Discovery Season 1. However, it is evident that this was always the show’s intended direction, as filming for Season 2 began shortly after the first season finale. The first season of Discovery sought to establish the show as a distinct series within the Star Trek canon, and the introduction of familiar elements, such as the Enterprise and Captain Pike, allowed for a balance between traditional and unique storytelling.

In conclusion, “New Eden” solidified Discovery’s place as a true Star Trek series by integrating classic elements while maintaining its distinct identity. The familiarity of the story elements introduced in Season 2 was seen as an homage rather than unoriginality, and the episode demonstrated the show’s commitment to honoring the legacy of Star Trek while forging its own path forward.