Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Full spoilers follow for this episode.
Star Trek: Discovery regains its stride with “Perpetual Infinity” after last week’s exposition-heavy outing, and while this segment is also chockfull of plot and technical techings of the tech, it’s got enough action and character to balance things out nicely.
It all starts with a flashback to Burnham’s childhood, and more specifically to that fateful day when her parents were killed by marauding Klingons while she hid in a closet and listened to them die. It’s nice to see the family just being a normal family at first — until it all goes horribly wrong and Michael’s life is irrevocably altered. But whereas we previously believed Michael’s folks were both killed that day, we see here that her mom attempted to escape via the Red Angel time-travel suit that she was working on. Alas, her plan went awry, and she essentially wound up lost in time.
It’s actually all pretty confusing, and indeed, not to belabor the point, but Disco’s Season 2 plot really has gotten so very intricate that it’s a bit difficult to follow everything from week to week.
Regardless, the biggest takeaway here is that Sonja Sohn, perhaps best known as Kima on The Wire, is playing Michael’s mom. It’s a pretty great bit of casting, as she just feels right as the senior Burnham… she even acts like Michael to a certain degree, and one can see where Burnham got her smarts, her stubbornness, and her independent streak.
The interplay between the two is also the episode’s greatest strength, as both actors are terrific. Martin-Green, in particular, continues last week’s excellent work here, proving that she truly has come into her own as Michael Burnham during these first two seasons. The fact that her mom won’t even see her at first — a mother who she thought was dead for the past 20 years — is heartbreaking, and Martin-Green really conveys all the resulting mixed-up emotions Michael is feeling as a result.
That Dr. Burnham has given up on hope itself is a fairly crushing concept, especially in the utopia-ish world of Star Trek. But one supposes that seeing your child die over and over again would do that to you. Of course, Momma Burnham comes around in the end — perhaps it’s the love that Michael shows for her that brings her back from the edge of emotional desolation. And while all is seemingly lost for Dr. Burnham by the close of this episode, with her sucked back 950 years into the future, I figure not only will we see her again, but she’ll also somehow wind up actually dying in the past at the hands of those Klingons, just as Leland said she did. The question is, and to paraphrase Jim Kirk himself, will she make a difference with her final act?
It’s also nice to see how Spock and Burnham’s relationship has sort of been flipped, and now he’s the one who’s counselling her on how to move past her current predicament, whereas it wasn’t that long ago where it was the other way around. Ethan Peck has settled into this iteration of Spock pretty well at this point, a somewhat less rigid version of the Vulcan who, when he calmly says something like “I like science,” gives the impression that he’s yelling it with all of his heart. Great moment.
And then there’s the business with Leland, who while it turns out wasn’t killed last week by the Control AI, sure seems to be in a bad state this week. He’s filled with Control nanites here and his mind is completely subsumed by the computer intelligence, which then begins to impersonate him. But Georgiou and Tyler to a lesser degree are on to him, and it all culminates in a bang-up phaser fight down on the planet, complete with emergency beam-out and carpet-bombing the site from orbit with photon torpedoes. You can’t go wrong.
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Tyler is in a bad way by the end of the episode. Perhaps L’Rell will be back to help heal him and his mysterious Klingon body? (We know Mary Chieffo has at least one more episode this season.)
- So is Michael’s dad dead or not? Dr. Burnham never bothers to answer that question!
- Speaking of which, her dad is played by Martin-Green’s real-life husband, Kenric Green.
- Can someone explain how the Red Angel’s log recorders work? Does it have Adobe Premiere Pro in it for cutting between different angles, etc.?
- Oh, Dr. Burnham. Don’t tell Pike he isn’t going to like his future. Low blow!
- Check out that look Tilly gives Saru when he cuts her off on the bridge. Bahaha!
- Dr. Culber is back on active duty! And acting like the CMO once again, who apparently is off doing something… else. All is as it should be.
- If Dr. Burnham is “stuck” 950 years in the future, isn’t that roughly when the Short Trek “Calypso” was set…? Just saying.
- It’s also after the Temporal Cold War of the 31st century established in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Where’d the admiral go?