Star Trek Discovery: Perpetual Infinity

Burnham: "Hamlet. Hell yeah."

By nature I love brevity: Discovery continues its trends of late. 'Perpetual Infinity' is entertaining to watch with some good heart and some mild plot holes, and it's well-paced and has its exciting moments.

Returning us mostly to something resembling a status quo after last week's adventure built up to the big reveal and ended there, 'Perpetual Infinity' is given the task of unpacking all the standard emotional baggage that comes with a 'my parent is alive and is x key figure in my life' plot. As I said last week, stories like this depend entirely on their execution to make them cliched and boring or fresh and interesting. 'Infinity' doesn't fumble the ball, but not all of the emotional punches land the way they were supposed to. As a result, this plot is very mixed, and the episode as a whole is as well.

Still, Sonja Sohn delivers a solid performance as Dr. Burnham, giving her character just as much depth as the script allows her, and not trying to venture further. We can see a little bit of Michael in Dr. Burnham, too. Both are deeply scientific and impossibly stubborn, and Sohn even gives Dr. Burnham the same 'weight of the world' approach to life that plagues Michael. But we also continue to see how childish our Burnham really is, emotionally, especially when set up against her mother's maturity. Sure, Dr. Burnham has her issues, but she recognizes and processes them like an adult. Michael cannot seem to do that, especially when it comes to her mother. If her childlike emotional state is indeed a deliberate choice, and I believe it is, Sonequa Martin-Green's performance is to be commended.

But of course, Mama Burnham isn't the only motherly figure around. Georgiou is definitely on a redemption arc at this point, although I still don't think she's earned it. Still, it's always nice when Michelle Yeoh gets better and more nuanced material, and she does good work with it here. It seems we're looking at Georgiou and Tyler vs. Control-Leland (Controlland?) here, which will undoubtedly lead to Georgiou's ascendancy to the leadership of Section 31 at the end of this season. Speaking of which, the pairing of Georgiou and Tyler actually works surprisingly well, and Shazad Latif's performance here is one of his best in recent memory. More, please; he works way better with her than he does with any of the other characters.

Alan Van Sprang continues to get utterly thankless material, likely wrapping up his turn as Captain Leland and veering into full Controlland mode. Luckily, he does what he can with what he has, and it works relatively well. I don't anticipate I'll be missing Leland any, so this change is welcome. It's also good because with three episodes left, the show needed a face for the villain so the audience could direct their hatred at it. It's wise of them to bring that now, so we have time to get accustomed to the new face of Control before we see him get a-sploded. So many shows have their disembodied villains possess their hosts just before or during the finale, and they often fail to have an impact because of it. Good on ya, Discovery.

Our season theme of faith made an appearance again this week, or at least the word did. The show does seem to be settling in on its definition of 'faith' as a general belief in yourself, humanity, and goodness. The science vs. faith aspect from the season's outset is all but forgotten now, in favor of this vague definition. The problem with this is that the show doesn't yet seem to have anything to say about this version of the theme. Tyler says in this episode that he has faith in his crew, and Controlland's response is that faith is not a viable strategy. I hope the distinction between his position and that of the heroes will be better defined in the three remaining episodes, because so far very little of it has actually been explored. It's just been mentioned and occasionally lightly commented on.

With the increased focus on the Burnham family, Spock, and Section 31, most of our main cast and almost all of our supporting cast has had to take a backseat for the past few episodes. I do appreciate that most of our main characters have had their episodes to shine this season, but I hope Pike, Saru, and Tilly get some good stuff in the weeks to come. I find myself missing the interesting character dynamics that characterized the first half of this season, even though I prefer the back half's slow and measured approach to character moments.

Strange New Worlds:

Doctori Alpha was a Human-Vulcan research outpost where Burnham's parents were stationed by Section 31. Also, RIP Essof IV's research station.

New Life and New Civilizations:

No new species this week, although we don't really know what the heck Controlland is.

Pensees:

-When young Burnham looked into her telescope, I half-expected a spike to come out and stab her in the eye.

-Why was Dr. Burnham 'anchored' to that specific time and place? It doesn't seem to make sense, especially considering that it's not where she started out.

-So... is Michael Burnham named after her father? Also, the guy who played Mike Burnham (Kenric Green) is Sonequa Martin-Green's real-life husband. That's kind of weird.

-I like that we're back to normal Trek-style technobabble; it doesn't make a lick of scientific sense, and nobody cares.

-So the sphere from 'An Obol for Charon' was put in the Disco's path by Dr. Burnham. Interesting.

-The most interesting revelation in this episode is that Dr. Burnham doesn't even know about the signals. I'm going to bet that means they're part of the final solution, which is still to come.

-Why didn't Dr. Burnham get back in the suit before she and it were being sucked away? Seems to me it would have increased her chances of survival.

-When they said they'd need the energy of a supernova, I expected young Burnham's early comment about supernovas occurring every second to come back.

-Maja Vrvilo's direction is just right, in accordance with the last few episodes.

-Disco fires its torpedoes from its nacelles? That's interesting.

Quotes:

Saru: "I believe, Captain, this is a classic example of Newton's Third Law of Motion."
Tilly: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Sorry, it's just my second favorite law of physics. My first is-"

Dr. Burnham: "Einstein couldn't have been more right. Time's motion depends on the observer. On the action."
I like the visuals of the Disco crew moving at superspeed over this.

Culber: "You have to consider the fact that the person your mother was when she stepped into that time suit, may not be who she is now."

Dr. Burnham: "Captain Christopher Pike, USS Enterprise. In temporary command of Discovery, but soon you'll return to your ship. I could say more about your future, but you won't like it."

Spock: "I like science."

Georgiou: "And if she is who she claims to be?"
Leland: "Then you are still only the second most powerful woman in the universe. Is that who you want to be?"

Dr. Burnham: "I can't come home now, honey. Not yet."
Probably our best view of Dr. Burnham's character.

Tyler: "You won't win."
Controlland: "Leland said the same thing."

4 out of 6 favorite laws of physics.

--
CoramDeo hates temporal mechanics.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Liked Sonja Sohn as Michael's mother. Interestingly, this was the first time I liked Georgiou, mostly because of her truly enjoyable interaction with Tyler. More of this, please.

There must be some reason why Dr. Burnham is tethered to 950 years from now. I think she didn't get in the suit because a hole had been blown in it.

Spock: "I like science." LOL.

BrianN said...

"But we also continue to see how childish our Burnham really is, emotionally, especially when set up against her mother's maturity."
This is how real life victims of trauma act as well, having a part of them stuck at the point that said trauma occurred and difficult to change. I dobut that this was planned out (inter seasonal connectivity is rare in TV shows) or perhaps even realized, but it holds up well in reality.