“New Eden”, the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, generates many intriguing new questions about the mysterious entity called the Red Angel as well as other events aboard the titular starship.
The whereabouts of the missing Spock (Ethan Peck) are addressed immediately in “New Eden”; the Vulcan is being held in a Starbase psychiatric unit. As they chase the second of the seven red signals in space, the Discovery jumps to the Beta Quadrant to find 11,000 humans living on the planet Terralysium, who were brought there in 2053 by the Red Angel. The episode centers on the theme of “science vs. faith” as Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) debate the moral quandary of whether the human survivors should be made aware that the Earth wasn’t destroyed during World War III. Meanwhile, an accident infuses Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) with energy from the dark matter she brought aboard the Discovery and Tilly has to race to find a way to save Terralysium from an extinction-level event.
Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 2 feels like a classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode with its thoughtful ethical debate while showcasing the CBS All Access show’s trademark propulsive action and the second season’s lighter tone. Here are the biggest questions “New Eden” left us asking.
- This Page: Questions About Spock and The Red Angel
- Page 2: Questions About Tilly, Stamets, and Culber
- Page 3: Other Questions About Discovery Season 2
Why Is Spock In A Starfleet Psychiatric Facility?
Captain Pike knew Spock’s whereabouts all along, and in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 2 revealed to Burnham that her foster brother is in a Starfleet psychiatric unit on Starbase 5. He took leave two months prior and has been confined for the last month. Neither Michael, Sarek, nor Amanda were notified at Spock’s request. In his log, Spock confessed that the nightmares which plagued him as a child have returned. If these nightmares were enough to break Spock’s Vulcan reserve, they are indeed serious, but if he planned to seek out the source of the nightmares, why would he voluntarily place himself in a psychiatric unit?
It’s possible Pike still hasn’t told Burnham the whole story; maybe Spock is being involuntarily confined because seeking out the source of the red signals would place the Vulcan in danger. Could Pike have committed his Science Officer himself in order to protect him? While Pike could be keeping vital details from Burnham, she similarly hasn’t revealed the reason why she and Spock no longer have a relationship (which could be because Spock developed feelings for his foster sister).
Has The Red Angel Appeared To Anyone Else Besides Spock And Burnham?
Burnham has now seen the Red Angel twice in Star Trek: Discovery season 2: the first time when she was injured during the rescue of the U.S.S. Hiawatha before Pike saved her and the second time in a brief flash after Jacob, one of the survivors on New Eden, knocked her, Pike, and Lt. Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) out with a flash grenade (although it’s not clear if this was a second vision or a memory). Presumably, Spock has also seen the Red Angel, although that won’t be confirmed until he actually appears on Star Trek: Discovery. Up until this episode, the Red Angel had only shown itself recently to Sarek’s two children – why?
Pike has now also seen the Red Angel; at the end of the episode the captain was able to access the video circa 2053 from a soldier’s helmet and saw a few minutes of the people in the church fearing a nuclear bomb detonation. The Red Angel appears in the doorway of the church before it transported the building and everyone in it to the Beta Quadrant. But was Pike meant to see the Red Angel, which apparently has been revealing itself deliberately? Will the Red Angel now choose to reveal itself to Pike in the present and will Pike knowing what it looks like factor into the Discovery’s investigation into the red signals?
Is The Red Angel A Retcon Of Star Trek’s Space Gods?
Burnham and Pike raised Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law, which has been updated in Star Trek lore to state that “any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial technology is indistinguishable from God”. This plants the seed that, despite its heavenly form, the Red Angel isn’t divine but an alien with technology Starfleet doesn’t yet understand. This could recontextualize the many seemingly-omnipotent space gods in the galaxy, a number of which Captain Kirk‘s Starship Enterprise will run into.
From the Greek god Apollo, the Metron, the Organians, and the Guardian of Forever, to name a few, the 23rd-century era of Star Trek is rife with extraterrestrial beings that style themselves to be gods, right up to Captain Jean-Luc Picard‘s nemesis Q (John de Lancie) and the Q Continuum in the 24th century. Could the Red Angel really be nothing more than an incredibly advanced alien? What Star Trek: Discovery reveals about the mysterious being and its abilities could reverberate into the rest of the Star Trek series set after it and shed new light on the slew of “omnipotent” aliens the Enterprise will meet.
Page 2 of 3: Questions About Tilly, Stamets, and Culber
Does Tilly Being Infused With Dark Matter Mean She’ll Replace Stamets?
Aware that Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) intends to leave the Discovery and the spore drive needs a new non-human interface, Tilly beamed a chunk of dark matter asteroid aboard hoping to engineer a substitute for Stamets. Instead, an accident struck Tilly with dark matter and knocked her out. She awoke the same but also different; she began hallucinating a Starfleet Officer in the form of her childhood friend May Ahearn. Tilly was then able to solve the crisis of radioactive particles nearly causing an extinction-level event on Terralysium but she didn’t have herself medically re-examined.
If the dark matter remains part of her, will Tilly become the new interface to the spore drive that she was trying to construct? And what would that mean for Stamets? Will that further strengthen his resolve to leave the Discovery?
Is Tilly’s Hallucination Tied To The Red Angel?
However, it’s possible the hallucinations Tilly has been having aren’t about the dark matter and could be the result of the Red Angel. When Tilly was trying to work the problem of how to counteract the radioactive particles, “May Ahearn” appeared to nudge her thought process. When Tilly said, “You read my mind!”, the vision responded, “Your mind is so much fun”. Tilly didn’t realize she actually was having her mind read.
Tilly then searched the Federation database and learned her friend from school in San Francisco, May Ahearn, was actually deceased? So what was manifesting in May Ahearn’s adult body and talking to Tilly? Perhaps it wasn’t a result of the dark matter at all; it could be the Red Angel taking a different form and reading the mind of Tilly, who is arguably the kindest and brightest person aboard the Discovery.
Did Stamets See Culber Again In The Mycelial Network?
Stamets is planning to leave the Discovery because everything about the ship reminds him of the late Dr. Hugh Culber; he confessed to Tilly that he sees Hugh inside the mycelial network, which was the reason they were able to jump out of the Mirror Universe back home. The pain of seeing Hugh caused Stamets to hesitate when he was asked to interface with the spore drive once more so the Discovery could jump to the Beta Quadrant, but after the jump was completed, an upset Stamets stormed off and hardly said a word for the rest of the episode. Hugh didn’t appear in the episode; did something happen between Stamets and Hugh while Paul was in the mycelial network? Or possibly worse, did Stamets not see Dr. Culber and that’s what upset him?
Will Pike Stay As Captain of the Discovery Permanently?
Only two episodes in, Captain Pike has already been a well-received success as interim Captain of the Discovery. So far, his “joint custody” of the starship with Saru has been seamless, with each of them taking command depending on the mission and Saru remaining to lead the ship when Pike is on an Away Team. Anson Mount has redefined Captain Pike as a courageous, charismatic, and extremely likable commanding officer, so will Pike remain as Discovery’s Captain even beyond season 2?
Pike staying on the Discovery actually wouldn’t violate Star Trek canon. The events of “The Cage”, the original Star Trek pilot where Pike encountered the illusion-casting aliens of Talos IV happened in 2254, three years before the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2. The Enterprise is currently under repairs and technically, it could remain unused and retrofitted for Kirk to take command of in 2265, which wouldn’t contradict that Pike was Kirk’s immediate successor as Captain of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Pike could remain aboard the Discovery.
However, if Pike keeps the Disco’s captain’s chair, what happens to the unnamed person waiting on Vulcan who was supposed to be captain of the Discovery before Pike showed up?
What Was World War III In Star Trek Canon?
World War III is referenced in “New Eden” and the First Saved were transported to Terralysium by the Red Angel in the waning days of the war in 2053. In Star Trek mythology, World War III did happen; it was first mentioned in The Original Series episode “Assignment: Earth” when Kirk’s crew stopped it from igniting in 1968. However, the war ultimately started in 2026 over human genetic enhancement (continuing the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s that created Khan Noonien Singh) and lasted until 2053.
World War III destroyed most of the world’s cities by nuclear catastrophe and by the end, 600-million people were dead (Earth was still picking up the pieces a decade later when the Vulcans made First Contact in 2063, as seen in Star Trek: First Contact). World War III was referenced in The Next Generation episodes “Encounter at Farpoint” and “Up The Long Ladder” and throughout Star Trek: Enterprise, which was set roughly a century after the war ended.
Are The Discovery And Her Crew Being Tested By The Red Angel?
In both of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 thus far, the red signals the starship has followed lead them to rescue missions. In “Brother”, they saved Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) and the surviving crew of the U.S.S. Hiawatha. In “New Eden”, the Discovery saved the humans living on Terralysium from an extinction-level event. Saru even postulated that they “were brought” to New Eden. Two red signals equals two successful rescue missions; are the Discovery’s crew being tested by the Red Angel?
All that’s known about the Red Angel so far is that it mysteriously saved the humans ancestors of the people on Terralysium from dying during World War III. The First Saved believed it to be a miracle, but now Starfleet has technology that allows them to work “miracles”. Perhaps the Red Angel isn’t the mysterios entity threatening the galaxy but is working against the threat and is testing whether the Discovery’s crew is worthy to defeat this threat? If this theory holds, the crew of Star Trek: Discovery have five more red signals and five more tests to pass before the Red Angel might fully reveal itself and its true intentions.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix