Mark Watches ‘Discovery’: S02E11 – Perpetual Infinity

In the eleventh episode of the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, I hurt. Forever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Holy shit. I mean… what the fuck do I even say? This was one of the best Star Trek episodes I’ve ever seen? This ties up virtually every plot and mystery in this season except for the Red Bursts and the eventual fate of Control? I think this burned every emotion out of my body? 

What an episode, y’all. I don’t have organized, coherent thoughts yet, so let me just throw some bulleted items at you while I continue to reel from what I just experienced.

  • That opening scene… oh god. I knew what it was going to be just from the little caption in the lower corner. I admit that I do have one question about all this: Why was Michael so certain her mother died? Why did anyone else believe that if she’d literally not been there? It’s a small, nitpicking thing, and if it’s never answered, it doesn’t affect the rest of this story in the slightest. 
  • This scene is followed by another one that is just as devastating, which is where Michael wakes up, believing she hallucinated her mother, only to find out THAT SHE DIDN’T. Look, Sonequa Martin-Green and Sonja Sohn give the BEST performances imaginable in this episode, and I am in awe at what they accomplished. Watching Michael deal with the most impossible of dreams coming true was CRUSHING. I understood how complicated this was for her, as much as it was unbelievable. 
  • The Control twist with Leland… yeah, that’s partially a twist for me because I assumed he was dead. He got stabbed in the eye!!!!! Okay, yes, it was a needle and I guess you could survive that, but holy shit, this was actually a way worse fate than death? Controlled by Control’s nanobot things??? HORRIFYING. It was interesting, too, how Control chose to infiltrate the Section 31 ship. Not only did it hide there, but it chose the most morally gray person onboard to “possess,” so to speak, because that person would be most likely to achieve what Control wanted. Which felt pretty damning of his character, you know? 
  • The mission logs were a brilliant way for the show utilize a flashback device in a way that made sense within the episode. They also broke my heart? “Perpetual Infinity” does a fantastic job communicating Dr. Burnham’s experience, both from the initial shock of traveling 950 years into the future to all of Dr. Burnham’s attempts to stop Control from the future genocidal timeline. But I now understand why that needed to happen. This part of the story would later explain why Dr. Burnham’s priorities were what they were. I have no sense of how much time has passed relative to Dr. Burnham, but it’s enough that she’s aged, and she has also tried countless times to fix what Control broke. Later in the episode, it is even confirmed that Dr. Burnham used short bursts in time in order to watch key moments in Michael’s life. 
  • (Which hurts my soul so deeply, y’all. SO DEEPLY.)
  • All of this means that Dr. Burnham’s perspective is vastly, vastly different than anyone expects it to be, especially Michael. I loved so much that it was Dr. Culber (back in his medical officer uniform!!!) who did his best to help Michael understand this key fact about her mother. He was right, too, and of course he was! He was living proof that these sort of singular, unique experiences create a feeling in the affected person that makes them feel separated from others around them. As far as we know, Dr. Burnham is the only human to have experienced time travel like she has, so it stood to reason that her opinions on and perception of time differed greatly from the others. 
  • While this is all unfolding, there’s also the Leland/Control deception happening, so truly, “Perpetual Infinity” offered not a single reprieve during its run. I WAS SO STRESSED.
  • Yet even within that, there’s so much depth! I love that this part of the story challenged Ash Tyler, especially after his confrontation with Michael in the previous episode. He had said he disagreed with some of Section 31’s tactics, but what happens when Tyler is pushed past the point of what he’s comfortable with? Does he support Section 31’s mission even in that case? Control—as Leland—tried to manipulate Ash Tyler into doing its dirty work, but where I believe it failed was in failing to recognize that Ash did have a limit to his loyalty. Yes, Ash wanted to ensure that Control had no future, but spying on the Discovery? Stealing from them? That’s where Control misjudged human behavior.
  • I’d argue a similar thing happened between Control and Georgiou, who nearly helps Control gain the data from the Sphere. But here, Control misjudges and underestimates Georgiou on multiple fronts. Firstly, Control utterly does not understand the complicated love that Georgiou feels for Michael. (Though, in a utterly compelling twist, Dr. Burnham ABSOLUTELY DOES. That “From one mother to another” line? good BYE.) I also think Control leaned too hard in appealing to Georgiou’s Terran qualities. Maybe they worked at first, but I recall that Georgiou picked up on how “resolute” Leland was being. That later came back to bite Control in the ass because it contributed to Georgiou’s realization that something was off here. 
  • I still remain deeply impressed with how this show has utilized Georgiou this season. It’s so satisfying!
  • I’m also really satisfied with the resolution of the appearances of the Red Angel. They make so much sense, and now, I can see intent where no one else could in the first half of the season. Even Terralysium fits in perfectly with all of this, once you realize that that was Dr. Burnham’s attempt to prove that time was fluid and can be changed. I do think that this makes her journey all the more tragic, though. She did change time in countless ways and in various scopes, from the small to… well, Terralysium. She saved a ton of people!
  • And yet, she still keeps failing. Again, the personal logs helped to ground Dr. Burnham’s behavior, and then that little bit really cemented her characterization for me. I say all this because it’s what made the big reunion between Michael and her mother as believable as it was. Crushing? Oh, absolutely. That was truly one of the most viscerally upsetting scenes in Trek, and I am acknowledging I said something similar when Airiam died. It hurt to hear Dr. Burnham’s rejection of the present as meaningless not just because the rejection stung, but because I got it. I understood why she saw this huge moment—the first time that both of them had ever interacted since Dr. Burnham was flung through time—not as a joyful thing, but as yet another drop of water in the massive ocean that was time. Of course it would seem meaningless to Dr. Burnham if she was just going to jump through time again and change the timeline. 
  • That’s honestly what made this such an emotional experience for me. The writers kept these characters legible and consistent, so even when I desperately wanted Dr. Burnham to give Michael what she wanted, I completely understood why she didn’t.
  • I would also say that this is what made the big Spock/Burnham scene just as good. Spock’s shifting perspective on Michael has been slow, but because it isn’t rushed—and because it’s all rooted in his brand of logic—it comes across as natural when he finally tells Michael that he understands her, that he can’t imagine the emotions she is going through. All of this leads to that INCREDIBLE scene at the end where Spock rejects Dr. Burnham’s assertion that the present doesn’t matter.
  • UGH, I AM JUST SO HAPPY WITH HOW SPOCK IS WRITTEN AND PORTRAYED ON THIS SHOW. 
  • Honestly? I’m happy with everything. I know I had some issues in season one, and not only were those addressed, but this season has gone above and beyond what I could have expected from a Trek show. 
  • Like… this entire run of season 2 has been emotionally devastating over and over again, and yet none of the twists feel cheap. The fight scenes are always layered with like twenty different meanings, so it’s not just action for the sake of it. Watching Georgiou go after Leland, knowing that he’s actually Control, for example? EXHILARATING. She’s clearly working out her distaste for him while also wanting to stop Control. AND SHE ALSO DOESN’T WANT MICHAEL TO DIE. 
  • Even this episode—which felt like it was full throttle the entire time—saves one of the most devastating things for the end. Dr. Burnham’s time crystal is destroyed, rendering her suit useless, and then, just before she’s yanked back to her time period, she reaches out to her daughter.
  • BUT IS YANKED AWAY BEFORE THEY CAN TOUCH
  • Oh my god, y’all, I need to fight EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING
  • I truly don’t know what’s next. At all!!!!

The video for “Perpetual Infinity” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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