The ‘Red Angel’ has been captured but there are conflicting ideas about the implications and what should be done next? Burnham wants to see her mother but a compromised Leyland (now under the influence of future AI ‘Control’) is telling everyone who will listen that if the future is at stake, then Burnman Snr. should not be simply trusted on her word. The Discovery team work on the idea that if they can download the Sphere’s IA data into the suit and project it far into the future, it will be beyond Control’s reach, but it seems that such a plan won’t work as well as hoped.
Georgiou, though having suspicions about Leyland, initially goes along with the plan to steal the data, but as time ticks away and the Burnhams have a long overdue family reunion, everyone will have to work out where they stand and what they are willing to risk…
After the previous episode that seemed to set-up the stage for a lot of forthcoming answers, Perpetual Infinity is largely lip-service to the main story-arc, the kind of episode that’s perfectly fine to watch and enjoy in the moment, but when you get to the end you realise it was largely exposition and actually felt like a placeholder, not actually moving things much further forward. It’s an episode that fills in blanks but still leaves all the recent quandaries intact without offering solutions. The truth is that while it delves into Burnham Snr’s timeline, it doesn’t really do a lot for anyone else. Tilly gets to have her weekly babbling moment, Michael gets to have her weekly cry and and there’s earnest looks between all of the crew, but it’s a baby-step forward with the main development that Alan van Sprang’s Leyland is now an unpleasant guy controlled by Control rather than an unpleasant guy running Section 31.
The episode feels like a narrative middle act spread out over an entire episode, full of ‘can we trust her?‘ conversations. What threatens to be a significant moment, a heroic end for Tyler, confronting Leyland and successfully warning Discovery as he collapses, bleeding to the ground is largely undone by the fact that a) Leyland miraculously gets away and b) there’s convenient and unlikely ‘Tyler made it out in escape pod’ caveat that returns the status quo.
But it’s an episode that also has some holes, or at least a rationale that’s so complex that it’s somewhat hard to follow. Where did Admiral Cornwell disappear to between episodes? It’s one thing to zoom in on moments where Michael is in trouble, but how exactly is Dr. Burnham able to see all those events in her daughter’s life? If mom is effectively ‘quantum leaping’ time and time again, over and over with only slightly different outcomes – trying to put right what once went AI – how does that tie in with continuity, is it constantly being rewritten or defaulting? There seem to be examples of both (Time-travel stories can be a headache, but the flowchart on this must be baffling). Equally Doctor Burnham’s suit, devised as a way to travel in time also seems to have more abilities than Batman’s utility belt… as well as being able to store unfeasible amounts of data, just how did she transport the ‘New Eden’ survivors across the universe or save Saru’s species?
There’s some gunplay and genuine tension in the mix and it’s all fine ‘in the moment’ – The Wire‘s Sonja Sohn making an impact as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham – but with this and the next episode seemingly returning us to the Klingon story-arc, one feels that the current run could have tightened up its story-telling rather than stretching out the time between the more epic moments and pay-offs as much as it has…