Star Trek Discovery: 2.11 Perpetual Infinity
This week Star Trek Discovery pays homage to Deep Space Nine's best episode and the Control story take a thrilling twist.
Following on from last week's big reveal that the Red Angel was none other than Michael Burnham's mother, Gabrielle, we quickly discover their reunion doesn't come without a price - and that price may be that it's only very brief. It turns out that despite being held in the present by various pieces of technobabble she Gabrielle is in fact tethered and anchored to a point almost one thousand years in the future, on a planet 50,000 lightyears away from the Earth.
Meanwhile Control has resurfaced, having 'infected' Leland, not before revealing its plan to us all - it turns out that Control needs the data from the Sphere; which in turn, we discover was put in Discovery's path by Gabrielle in an attempt to prevent Control getting its virtual hands on it. There are hints in Control's parasitic nature that we might be witnessing the origin story of the Borg - the way it takes over Leland with 'nanites' is very reminiscent of the Borg's assimilation tactics and Control's use of the phrase 'Struggle is Pointless' is pretty much a rougher, sillier, take on 'Resistance is Futile'.
Is Control the Borg? Maybe - there are logistical challenges to that whole idea given that the Borg are known to have existed in the Delta Quadrant for around 1,000 years before the time of their introduction in The Next Generation - BUT Discovery has handily given us lots of time travel this season so there's a strong chance that we could see Control-Leland being sent back in time by a few centuries. You could also argue that Control's goals are the end of sentient life, while the Borg's adoption of humanoid life puts them at odds; but another aspect of this season has been the idea of introducing chaos into logic and what better way of bringing these threads together would be Control's realisation that to beat sentient life it needs to introduce a little bit of chaos through the assimilation of other cultures into the mix.
Enough of the speculation! What is clear is that Discovery is now entering the end game for the culmination of this season - while most questions are starting to be answered and the final confrontation between Control-Leland and the crew of Discovery likely to take place in the next few weeks its safe to say that the second season of Discovery has been a thrilling ride despite one or two missteps.
Back to that DS9 homage - there are strong hints of the storyline of The Visitor throughout Perpetual Infinity. The DS9 episode saw Jake Sisko witness the apparent death of his father, only to later discover that he instead was stuck in a subspace realm and was tethered to his father, reappearing at various points throughout Jake's life. It was the final realisation that the only way to break the tether and save his father was for the elderly Jake (played brilliantly by Tony Todd) to commit suicide when his father was with him. It was one of the most affecting and emotional episodes in the history of the series. Here Gabrielle is not tethered to Michael, but to another point in time and as with Ben Sisko, she only gets to spend fleeting moments with her daughter. While it's not a direct parallel, it's pretty close and the episode conclusion here is equally as devastating as that of The Visitor.
The moments when the emotional barriers between Michael and Gabrielle finally break down are wonderfully acted by both Sonequa Martin-Green and Sonja Sohn; it's hard to believe this is the first time we've seen these characters together. It's a shame then that the rest of the episode is very heavy on exposition - it's become something of a trademark of the modern Trek that we're 'told' a hell of a lot of what happens without never getting to witness the events themselves. The series has again pretty much abandoned the standalone stories that were the highlights of the first half of the season, but the fact that the Klingons really have take a back seat has helped hugely with the levity of the show.
With just three weeks left, it feels like Discovery is sprinting for the finish. We still need to find out just what the red signals are and how they're related to Gabrielle's appearances now that she's revealed she knows nothing about them. And it's pretty certain that we'll be revisiting the events of this episode again more than once; not least now that Michael will certainly be dedicating a lot of her time to find a way of bringing her now-stranded mother back to the present.
In all Perpetual Infinity was a gripping episode that succeeded in pulling together a lot of threads and giving them satisfying progression...