Burnham's ta'al

“Perpetual Infinity” or How I Learned to Love Time

Marie Brownhill
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Marie's blog, Fan Collective Unimatrix 47.
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I admit that I am struggling to write this review. While “Perpetual Infinity” is a better entry than the previous two episodes, that is not exactly a high bar in my estimation. With two more episodes to go, I’m not entirely certain how the season is going to wrap up everything because this season’s plot has become almost painfully complicated, but I’m willing to give the writers room some benefit of the doubt.

Let’s talk specifics. Michael Burnham wakes up in Sickbay after reliving the day the Klingons murdered her parents to Dr. Culber once again wearing Medical Whites. Guess who’s been reinstated! Furthermore, Dr. Burnham is waking up in her energy cage back on Essof IV, but she only wants to see Pike. Cue more Michael tears. She tells Pike that they have to destroy the Sphere data to prevent the terrible AI from accessing it, and ultimately, Pike and Co. agree. Saru miserably starts the delete command only to have the Sphere partition the drive, because apparently the Discovery runs on 21st century hard drives, and lock them out of the partition. Note that they’re running out of power to keep Dr. Burnham and the suit in this time because Time itself wants to drag them back to Terralysium. That prompts DISCO’s crew to come up with plan B: transfer the sphere data to Dr. Burnham’s suit and shoot the suit so far into the future that the AI can’t get it. Without really exploring why they’re able to transfer the data while not being able to destroy same, they do share a staple Star Trek moment—the Science Confab where they science the heck out of the problem–and determine that they can in fact shoot the suit into the future while using the dark matter particles from the season’s beginning to sever Dr. Burnham’s tether to the future.

Meanwhile back on the Section 31 ship that still has no name, Control is stealing Leland’s body using nanites, the same Leland who apparently survived and somehow managed to keep his sight after getting speared last episode. Leland then orders Tyler to hijack the data transfer, and Tyler struggles with the order. When he refuses, Leland tries to talk Georgiou into doing it by playing on her vanity. Georgiou then goes down to talk to Dr. Burnham, realizes she’s right, and enlists Tyler to help her stop the transfer. This, of course, does not go as planned. Leland stabs Tyler, transports down to the planet, kicks Georgiou’s butt, and re-initializes the data transfer. The episode ends with Dr. Burnham getting yanked to the future, sans suit, Control getting slightly more than half of the Sphere data, and Tyler’s fate hanging in the balance. Despite Discovery’s destruction of the research outpost, Leland survives and takes off in the Section 31 ship, leaving Discovery in pursuit. Things certainly look bleak for our heroes, but as Spock explains to Burnham, their resistance and efforts matter. We know they do because we have three more episodes left in the season.

It very much looks like Discovery is setting up a Borg origin story. Control even observes that “struggle is pointless,” which is strongly reminiscent of the Borg catchphrase “resistance is futile.” We know from Voyager that the Borg originate in the Delta Quadrant and from TNG that they do not, at least in the 24th century, know Earth’s location. However, the spore drive answers the first issue—Stamets managed to land them in the Mirror Universe, surely he can handle something as simple as the Delta Quadrant. The second element, I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The episode’s heart is, of course, this peculiar three-way relationship between Burnham, her mother, and Georgiou. While Dr. Burnham comes off as being cold and hostile at first, Sonja Sohn imbues her with a weariness and take-no-prisoners attitude that is both believable in light of Gabrielle Burnham’s trauma and the strength with which she gifted her daughter. I don’t know that we’ll see much more of her, but I can live in hope. You already know that I adore Michelle Yeoh’s Philippa Georgiou, and this episode is no exception, despite the return of the terrible hair extensions. First, any episode in which Yeoh gets to show off her kung fu skills is a win, but Yeoh manages to portray Georgiou’s burgeoning affection for Michael as being both in spite of herself and somehow redemptive.

Spock and Tyler both get to accomplish something in this episode. Spock finds Dr. Burnham’s logs to give to Michael, and Tyler warns the Discovery about Leland. I still think this season fails to capitalize on Shazad Latif, but it’s good to see him function as something other than walking awkwardness in an episode. Spock steals the episode with the perfectly deadpan line: “I like science.” Peck manages to convey Spock’s excitement without breaking Spock’s Vulcan composure, so the line, despite being calmly delivered, reverberates like a shout in the scene. Spock and Burnham also reconnect, and in their renewed relationship, the episode finds hope for the future.

I’m definitely looking forward to next week, but seriously, the show needs to start wrapping up some of these plot threads.

Stray Observations from the Couch:

1. Kenric Green, Sonequa Martin-Green’s actual husband, plays Mike Burnham, which is kind of fun.
2. Did anyone else wonder where Admiral Cornwell was? Did she disappear while I wasn’t looking?
3. I love how much it pained Saru to destroy the data. That’s seriously the most Star Trek thing about the episode, aside from the Confab.
4. I love that Dr. Burnham referenced Pike’s eventual fate. Sad and accurate.
5. There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of a crew member in a wheel chair. I’m glad that Discovery is paying some attention to folks with disabilities. Star Trek hasn’t always been great about that.
6. Dr. Burnham’s home base is 950 years in the future, which seems to be roughly around the time “Calypso” takes place. They’ve incorporated all of the other Short Treks into the season thus far—Tilly’s place on the command program, Saru’s sister, and Harry Mudd’s Time Crystal (a stretch, I know, but accurate), but anything from “Calypso” has yet to make an appearance. I’d love more Aldis Hodge, so I’ll be interested to see what happens.

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