Thursday, 11 April 2019

Mum's the Word: Perpetual Infinity S02 E11

It's impossible to review episode 11 without ruining it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen The Red Angel. 

If you haven't then look away right now - and shame on you for wanting to ruin the twists and turns of Discovery!   

We’ve now uncovered the real identity of the Red Angel and its not Michael but her mother who is inside the suit. We’re treated to a series of flashbacks to family life for the Burnhams culminating in the Klingon attack which - as we have been led to believe - cost her parents their lives. 

Now it seems that her mother escaped using the Red Angel suit and has been travelling through time unable to return to the ‘present’ as was and being tethered to a time 900 years in the future where Control has obliterated the Earth and humanity.   

Michael’s mother is heavily restricted due to the forcefield in place and all of the time we spend with her is on the Project Daedalus facility in pretty much one single spot. Sonjia Sohn who plays Gabrielle Burnham’s is...ok. There’s nothing spectacular here and after the big reveal of the previous episode there’s not a great deal that could top answering one of the series’ biggest conundrums. In fact it might be a bit of a letdown even though the occupant of the suit wasn't someone that anyone saw coming. That was a proper curveball into the show and all credit to the writers and producers for managing to keep it quiet until airing. Sohn manages to get through her scenes but I don't think her level of concern over Michael's near-death just to make her turn up is played to its full effect; I'd be a lot more p****d about the whole situation. 

The best bit about this story however, is how the series' B story manages to wrap itself around the A plot and, by the end of the episode replace it as the main objective of the show and the Discovery

The Control programme seemed to come from left field mid-season and while we were all distracted by the Red Angel it began to take hold, drawing Discovery and Section 31 into a much more devious plot in which we discover it is the dangerous element of season two and not the Angel as we might have expected from the teaser trailers. 

Lots has been posted that this might be the ‘birth of the Borg’ but it just can’t because we know they already exist in the 23rd Century and the 22nd since the escaping drones of Regeneration are heading that way. The effect of Leland being taken over by the programme is fairly graphic for a Star Trek episode with the network of greying veins across his face not unlike a well known assimilation process administered by half-cybernetic life forms. Taking over Leland is, ironically, logical since Control can't replicate humans "in the flesh" and can only get away with representing them in holo-communications - might this be a reason why The Original Series "dumbed down" in technology after this era because it became such a risk and dangerous to use? Were Starfleet forced to go backwards in development to stop the Section 31 strategy program?

Perpetual Infinity isn’t there to blow you away although it is a fine episode...again... but it’s a fulcrum of the season in which the Red Angel story is explained and probably closed with the snapping of the micro-wormhole elastic band effect and both Burnham’s mother and the suit vanishing back into time. As noted it feels like a large, missed opportunity here with the pair unable to truly come together but this 11 episode long cliffhanger reveal seems to be over far too quickly and we’re now off after the Leland/Control villain of the piece. 

Culber 2.0 returns to duty this week and immediately ends up on the away team to the test site with Stamets and Tilly. Now ladies and gents, while I love all three characters I'm in the belief that this is an away team immediately doomed to failure even without the inclusion of Nahn or an obligatory Red Shirt. Where's the sense in sending down a very inexperienced ensign plus two former lovers one of whom has some memory issues to work out since he was abandoned in the mycelial network. Burnham needs to up her insurance premiums on this one before beaming down.

There's a fantastic, climactic hand-to-hand sequence between Leland and Georgiou which has Michelle Yeoh's handiwork at choreography all over it. It's fast-paced, filled with martial arts moves and keeps the tension in play to the dying seconds - but it while the Red Angel has escaped Control's clutches (for now) I would put money on it coming back. 

But what can the final handful of episodes have in store for us? Somehow the crew will stop the destruction of the galaxy that Spock has foreseen. The readings that showed Burnham was in the suit still play on my mind and I am still mulling over the belief that she will end up using it as I wouldn't see it likely that the instruments would be that out to mistake her mother for Michael.

Could we have played out the arrival of Michael's mum just a bit more?

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