Last week, I wrote what was only my second negative review for an episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY for season two. And the blog resulted in surprisingly passionate responses on Facebook, particularly in the “big” (107K member) Star Trek group and the (40K member) Star Trek: Discovery group. Some folks agreed with what I said. Others didn’t. But a disturbingly high number of posts were just plain mean and confrontational.

While I won’t harp on this point too much—because complaining about nasty posts on Facebook is like complaining about the smell of animal poop at a zoo—I’d just like to point out a few examples of how to respectfully disagree with someone…

And here’s some examples of how to be a mean person…

All of this vitriol simply because someone has a different opinion from you??? When I was growing up, not everyone thought “The Doomsday Machine” was the best TOS episode like I did. But if someone thought “Spock’s Brain” was the best episode, I might quietly think they were weird, but I wouldn’t call them an “irrelevant shrub” (what odes that even mean???) or tell them to “PISS OFF” or suggest someone blow them out an airlock.

It seems lately that Star Trek: Discovery (like so many things in this world) has polarized us. And for some people, any criticism of this show is seen as an “attack” that must be defended with a counter-attack. It’s ridiculous…and so discordant with everything Gene Roddenberry ever tried to teach us.

The irony here is that I’ve actually written seven very positive reviews this season (you can read them here). I’m not a Discovery “hater” and happily praise the show when I think it’s been a decent episode. And when I don’t enjoy an episode, I share those thoughts, too. My opinion might not match yours, and that’s OKAY. We’re allowed to disagree.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling strongly about Star Trek and Discovery. But I challenge anyone to defend being obnoxious to someone simply for writing a blog review that they didn’t like.

All right, let’s move on to reviewing this week’s episode, “Perpetual Infinity”—which many of you will be happy (relieved?) to learn that I felt was a much stronger and more watchable episode than last week, and here’s why…


Exposition as a concept is not a bad thing, and I certainly don’t mind it in reasonable doses and when handled well.

Where I had my problem with the previous episode (and not with this one) is that last time, the exposition scenes were just isolated and disjointed: the funeral, the briefing, the other briefing, Burnham gives Tyler the cold shoulder, Geoegiou talks to Burnham, Georgiou makes everyone feel awkward about their sexuality, Nhan talks to Burnham, Saru talks to Leland, Hugh talks to Cornwell, Leland tells Burnham about her parents and then gets sucker-punched (twice!), Burnham rips into Tyler, Spock comforts Burnham. These weren’t bad scenes (except the cringe-worthy pansexual nonsense). But they felt disconnected and jerky…like driving through an urban area and hitting a succession of red lights.

This week, people didn’t just stand around while talking and explaining (and occasionally punching superior officers) for three-quarters of the episode. Sure, there were still many scenes with complex exposition and explanation during this episode, but while people were talking, they were ALSO doing things that advanced the plot—hiding their daughter from Klingons and traveling through time, looking through Mommy’s mission logs, borgifying Leland, convincing Tyler to do something nefarious, figuring out how to keep Control from getting the sphere data, Control trying to get the sphere data, Georgiou sniffing out the truth…and then the climactic action sequence.

This latest episode was just as densely packed with talking and information as last week’s (perhaps even more so!), but the scenes were all interconnected and fit together, bringing the episode forward into a narrative where we could follow along with what was going on, see the pieces moving on the chessboard, and watch the game develop.


Pretty much every review I’ve read and every fan I’ve spoken with has raved about SONJA SOHN (from The Wire) as Michael’s mother, Doctor Burnham. (Did anyone catch a first name?) I am no exception. Her performance was outstanding and helped the already-talented SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN bring out some of her own best acting. SMG is still struggling at times to “find” the character of Michael Burnham, as the writers are throwing every ingredient into that soup: strong, vulnerable, serious, funny, determined, uncertain, hard, tender, put-together, falling-apart, cold and logical, hot-tempered and impulsive…all at the same time! In other words, Sonequa, just make Michael Burnham be every person who’s ever lived. Easy-peasy.

But in this episode, Michael’s relationship (or lack thereof) with her mother allowed Sonequa to focus singly on just one aspect of Michael’s persona: the abandoned daughter given a chance to reconnect with (and save?) her mother. And her performance was equally as powerful as Sonja’s.

In fact, both actresses played off each other to bring out the best in both, as Sonja intricately matched certain elements of her own delivery to corresponding aspects of Sonequa’s character to draw the link between mother and daughter. And while it must be challenging to find the “handle” of playing Michael Burnham, imagine how much more difficult it is for an actor to connect with a character who is trapped beyond time and has witnessed the death of her own daughter on hundreds of occasions while she struggles in vain to save the galaxy over and over again. How do you play a character like that? What personal experiences do you call upon? Somehow, Sonja not only found the “handle” but managed to make Doctor Burnham into one of the most compelling and intriguing characters to appear yet on Star Trek: Discovery (including Pike and Spock)…and she did it all in just one episode!


I think I’ve been most frustrated this season watching Empress-turned-Agent Philippa Georgiou—mostly because MICHELLE YEOH is such a gifted actress, and the writers just can’t decide if she’s clever and evil or if she’s inherently good and nurturing because she loves Michael. I know they want to play it BOTH ways simultaneously, but up until now, it’s been mostly a tug-o’-emperor between two extremes…like mixing ranch dressing and chocolate.

But this time, the writers and Michelle finally got the intermix ratio correct. By toning down both the conniving swagger AND the nurturing “mom” aspects of Georgiou and only hinting at both, the character has stopped being a caricature and is settling in on a more intriguing (as opposed to annoying) player in this drama. This came through particularly well in Georgiou’s intriguing dialogue with Michael’s “other” (real) mother, but also in general throughout the episode.

That said, not all was perfect with the ex-empress this episode, but I’ll get to that shortly.


Sure, there was still some Tillybabble—I think there’s now some contractual requirement for it to appear at least once per episode—but at least it was over early and quickly…this time thanks to Saru cutting Tilly off; last week, it was Pike. (Remember back when someone always had to cut off Data when he started rambling? Yeah, same gag, different character and century. Crazier hair.)

Anyway, I think it’s good that we now know that Tilly’s second favorite law of physics is Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Good future trivia question at conventions. (And if anyone’s curious, my second favorite law of physics is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. My favorite law of physics is: “Ropes don’t push.”)

Moving on…


‘Nuff said.


Although I certainly enjoyed this episode immensely, watched it through in one sitting, and had a lot of glowing things to say…it wasn’t perfect. Few things are in today’s world.

Fortunately, the things I had problems with were more “little details”—places where the script wasn’t completely thought through or where what might have seemed like a “good idea” didn’t turn out (for me, at least) as well as the writers intended.

Let’s pick a few nits, shall we…?


Okay, raise your hand if you DIDN’T notice that Control’s “Struggle is pointless” comment to Leland is just the synonym version of “Resistance is futile”? Yep, that and the injection of nanites (I assume they were nanites) to link Leland’s mind with Control’s “collective” seemed very Borgy (Borgish? Borglike? Borgdacious?). And like our favorite 24th century drones, the “new” Leland is now super-strong and suddenly phaser-resistant.

For me, this whole aspect of the plot was a “necessary evil” (literally). In most sci-fi where you’re fighting a sadistic computer intelligence, you need to give the computer hands and legs of some kind. SkyNet had the Terminators. The Matrix had agents. Landru had the lawgivers. Control now has Leland. And of course, it’s easier to focus the audience’s emotions on a walking/talking “personal” computer than a disembodied “impersonal” computer. That said, it was all very predictable and not particularly inspired to discover, “Well, here we go again with a computer controlling a human.”

And for a computer consciousness who said it was having trouble getting the nuances of human interaction correct, it sure picked them up quickly after assimilating Leland! Y’see, what I’m having trouble with is that Control is trying to “become sentient,” but as far as I’m concerned, it’s already there! It’s certainly intelligent, and it’s definitely self-aware. So is it conscious? Those were Bruce Maddox’s three criteria for sentience during Data’s hearing in “The Measure of a Man.” Pinocchio wants to be a real boy and get rid of all the wood? Well, Control is now walking around in a human body of flesh an blood. I think the Blue Fairy is no longer needed, folks.

Anyway, I know it’s necessary to have the computer turn into something that can show emotional intensity on its face and be intimidating with its body and strength, so I get turning Leland into a robo-drone. But why go all “Borg” on us? Are the writers planning to make Control the origin of the Borg Queen? Please don’t. The Borg were around 200 years before this episode, or else the Borg Queen’s message sent in 2063 in Star Trek: First Contact was intended for a race that wouldn’t exist for another two centuries.


No matter how many times I watch the following scene, it just doesn’t ring true to me…

I realize that the writers need to convince the viewers that Georgiou has been talked into helping the Control-controlled “Robo-Leland” download the Sphere data and kill Doctor Burnham. And while she certainly looks suspicious, she nevertheless goes down the to planet with the intention of doing the deed. But why? Simply because she doesn’t want to be the SECOND-most powerful woman in the universe (like being Tilly’s second-favorite law of physics)?

That doesn’t make sense to me. If Georgiou were really after such power, then she’d find a way to manipulate Doctor Burnham and turn her into a tool for acquiring such power for herself. After all, a person who knows the future could be VERY useful for such purposes. In my mind, Georgiou would only eliminate Doctor Burnham if Plan A didn’t work.


Thor doesn’t say, “By Odin’s beard, Thanos just erased half of everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!” So when Georgiou tells Dr. Burnham, “You have obviously confused me with my sentimental Prime Universe counterpart…” I say, “OH, NO YOU DIDN’T!”

Sorry, writers, but we Trekkies get to call it the “Prime Universe.” You writers get to call it the “Prime Universe.” But the characters who live in it don’t. What has one universe even done to earn the right to be considered “Prime”? Wouldn’t Georgiou be equally justified in calling her own universe the “Prime Universe”? After all, for her, it is! But she calls it the “Terran Universe.” So wouldn’t she naturally call this other universe the “Federation Universe” or the “Wussy Universe” or something? Anything but “Prime!” For all anyone knows, the real “Prime” Universe could be Red Dwarf or Lost In Space or even Captain Video!


And for that matter, where the heck is Jett Reno…and that other Discovery doctor who isn’t Hugh? I understand the problem. There’s only enough budget to hire a certain number of guest actors each episode. Once Hugh is back in uniform (or Hughniform—hey-yo!), there’s no reason to show any other doctors on board. And TIG NOTARO is probably really expensive. So we don’t see sarcastic Engineer Reno unless it’s an episode written specifically for her.

And the fact is that you can do this with these characters because, when all is said and done, they’re not major players. They can easily be stationed far from the central action.

Not so with Cornwell. She’s an admiral, and for the past two episodes before this, she’s been a involved in all strategic briefings and stood on the bridge in the climactic sequences. Not so in this episode. It’s not like she left the ship to return to Starfleet in the time between Michael suffocating to death and her being revived five hours later. So where’s Cornwell? Obviously, JAYNE BROOK was left out of this episode for budget reasons, but that’s the problem with doing such tight, serialized television. The fans notice when a main character suddenly goes missing and no one explains.


And finally, I just need to ask: Why is Spock NOT wearing a uniform??? I mean, he’s a Starfleet Officer currently stationed on a Starfleet vessel. Sure, it’s not the USS Enterprise, but just because a naval officer goes to visit a different ship, he doesn’t suddenly wear a T-shirt and jeans or even a pinstripe suit.

Now, I suppose you can argue that Spock took a temporary leave of absence and hasn’t yet returned to duty. Maybe. But for a guy on a leave of absence, he sure seems to be helping out a lot on board the Discovery.

Sure, I like the stylish black suit that ETHAN PECK wears. But each time I see him wearing it, my mind gets distracted wondering why the guy on the ship who would be most likely to follow protocol has decided not to.


Well, we know there will be no Jett Reno or Airiam (at least according to IMDb). But aside from that, it’s hard to tell. Which is good! Last season, I and many others predicted a lot of what was to come. And what I didn’t predict, I didn’t much care about. (Actually, I didn’t much care about what I did predict either!)

But this season, a lot is surprising me: the Red Angel is Michael’s mom, Spock has dyslexia, the seven signals were NOT associated with the Red Angel. And I am actually quite eager to discover the answers. In fact, for the first time, the name of this television series seems very appropriate! (Not much discoverin’ back in season one.)

Anyway, there are certain things we know. Next episode we’re headed to the Klingon monastery on Borath, which is good because it’ll hopefully give Tyler something to do other than look conflicted and mopey. And considering what a significant role the Klingons played in season one, they’ve had only one episode of attention so far in season two. Don’t you kinda miss them?

As for the rest of the mysteries, I’m hoping we get a good explanation of what made Control suddenly spring to consciousness with an urgent desire to gain sentience and wipe out all intelligent life in the galaxy (as opposed to, say, taking up knitting). That needs to be explained.

Also, we now know that the seven signals weren’t from the Red Angel. So who and where were they from? As I said last week, I’m still not letting go completely of my “Calypso” theory that the sentient Discovery from 1,000 years in the future is somehow tied into this complex plot line of having Doctor Burnham tethered to a point 950 years in the future. Too coincidental, folks!

And finally, Trek Tsar ALEX KURTZMAN has said that this season will finally “sync up” with established canon. So far, it hasn’t. Oh, they’ve gone a long way toward trying to—growing hair on the Klingons, showing the Enterprise crew with the “new” style of uniforms, and bringing in Vina and Talos IV. But with time travel and all the alternate timelines it tends to create, is there a chance that what we’ve seen previously on TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY will somehow emerge as another viable universe/reality from all of this? Personally, I’d love for that to happen. But I’m not betting the farm on it.

Before I go, just a quick heads up that the family and I will be skiing in the Rockies this coming week. (Well, actually, I’ll be snowmobiling, since I don’t ski so much as plummet uncontrollably.) But that means I might not have a chance to review next week’s episode at my usual time…if at all. We’ll see how the wi-fi is up there.

In the meantime, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for that temporal vortex that just sucked your mother 950 years into the future!

24 thoughts on “STRUGGLE IS POINTLESS on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)”

      1. Didn’t realized it. My thought was more “sooo… Burnhams mum has the same name like Lorca?” xD

  1. One of the things I liked about this episode, was that at this point in the Trek timeline, Starfleet officers are apparently familiar with the twin concepts of Taking Cover and Covering Fire when taking on an armed assailant.

    Something that their predecessors aboard the NX-01, and successors aboard the Enterprise-D and E seem to have a great deal of trouble with. 😉

  2. Just watched this last night, and I enjoyed quite a bit – even most – of it. I also wish for more Reno and Cornwell (and more on Airiam and Nillson… connection beyond casting?)

    BUT… I disagree on the Klingons… they just don’t fit well in this story, and I don’t think they have to be involved in EVERYTHING. (Sorry, Mary Chiefo!) The idea of them dabbling in time travel, however, does harken back to The Mind-Sifter, the 70’s TOS short story of by Shirley Maiewski.

    All that said… the biggest issue I have right now in the season is the idea of the total destruction of ALL sentient life IN THE GALAXY. In just 950 years… or less. Really? Even if the Federation hasn’t met them by the time of Discovery, how about: The Organians, the Metron, the Q, Apollo, the Prophets, the Douwd and yes, even the Borg? Discovery doesn’t know about them…. but at least some viewers do. The galaxy is a big place, with some very powerful races/entities… I have trouble with this AI meeting, beating and DESTROYING them all.

    And finally – as for Control – I don’t believe that the total essence
    of Control is completely within Leland… it may be a sentient probe of Control (CONTROL, Chief?) or some other manifestation/remote representation, but I can’t see a galaxy-killing AI from the future loading its whole self into such a vulnerable vessel. (“Wulnerable wessel,” said Chekov.) Even the M-5 will protect itself better.

    Aside : Motivation for extermination? It must’ve watched a copy of “Colossus: The Forbin Project” and figured it could do better!

    1. I think you’re right on most of your points, Charlie. Good luck to Control defeating half of the super-powered nasties we’ve seen in TOS and TNG, etc. Heck, good luck with the Borg! Pit one computer-controlled hive-mind against another—it’s like having an alligator attack a crocodile!

      And I also think you’re right about Leland not housing the entirety of the Control AI. But if Control can become more “human” by assimilating a human, then why not go all-in on that route? There’s lots of humans out there. Just assimilate all of them and enjoy the group consciousness. After all, struggle is pointless, right? 🙂

  3. Well I agree with the bad points you bring up and I had forgotten the Quirky Engineer who have had about as much screen time as Number One. Pity it looked as if he could of been interesting there again if she had been about then the writers if you could call them (There were less holes in my dad’s string vest) that would just have her as a female Macgyver able to invent a stealth screen just in time to save the ship or some doohickey to establish the time field or basically whatever Deus ex machina required.

    Well the good points as you pointed out were good a bit less chatty chatty touchy feely a bit more lets get on with it while talky talky as well. However I did not notice these points until you brought them up. Well two reasons really their motivations are really really silly and dont make sense, like hey dude just turn the computer off and reboot it from manufacturers settings or the fact the sphere cannot be deleted but transferred and copied at the same time or Georgiou swapping between being all goody goody mum power to being an power crazed psychopath! Or one of a dozen other examples of lazy writing. The second reason is I just don’t care about the characters with the possible exception of Captain Pike who didn’t really do a lot this episode presumable hiding out from Mickey Spock as hes fearful of getting yet another lecture on Girl power. Even hipster Spock has been reduced to moping about the ship giving emotional Support!! (yes from a vulcan) to his sister and a few you go girls.

    At this point I am team Control hey maybe it is actually female in which case it will of course succeed in wiping out all sentient life in the universe however it is probably an evil male in which case Mickey Spock will triumph with the help of her mum, Georgiou and Tilley even though the poor incompetent males will get in the way and almost cause disaster.

    It may well be the point that we call time of Star Trek rather like we have had to do on Doctor Who and Star Wars I mean there are more in the pipeline but who cares? I am not even excited for Star Wars 9 which is out this year I think yet I saw the original about half a dozen times an the cinema. Similarly I have seen every single episode of Doctor Who even the lost episodes apart from the last series I won’t be watching the next one series either which should actually be the last one either. With the news that the Picard series has been sent back to the drawing board this sends the message that what Patrick Stewart has come up with is not acceptable to the studios, well that sends me the message that they are going to force him to churn out more of this Drek, he certainly doesn’t need the money so I hope hes got a good get out clause in his contract. The last bastion of Star trek hasn’t been renewed yet by Disney even though it gets significantly higher figures than STD perhaps because its just a show that people enjoy watching and is not on message. Could the last Trekkie turn off the bridge lights on their way out!

    1. ” With the news that the Picard series has been sent back to the drawing board this sends the message that what Patrick Stewart has come up with is not acceptable to the studios…”

      Ummm… where are you seeing this? Or were you just early for April 1?

      1. Technically, it was two days early for April 1. The “Picard series is in trouble” rumor was recently escalated from tiny unconfirmed rumor to major unconfirmed rumor by the rumor-mongers over at Midnight’s Edge. Currently their latest video about trouble with the Picard series has more than 151K views. So, yeah, some people are talking about the rumors as though they’re actually accurate “reporting.” Glenn is one of those people, it seems.

        1. To be fair not just Midnight’s edge and these days I do trust YouTubers rather than the paid access media mainly because the later is either owned by the studios or rely upon them for access. In fact some of them have admitted to “Playing ball” and “Softpedling reviews. This does explain a lot of the disparity in Rotten Tomatoes websites for shows the Studios really dont want to fail.

          However you may also have noticed the lack of official news on the “New Picard” Series during the last few weeks nothing about set construction more recent Actor hires, filming locations, start dates etc. Whereas you would expect them to be trying to keep people’s interest high especially with the finish of the Discovery season soon. In sharp contrast to STD which actually had pictures of Bridge sets as they were being constructed. All this for a show which is supposedly going to air Late 2019.

  4. Anyone else notice that Gabrielle ( = Gabriel) and Michael are the names of two arch*angels*?

  5. Even I have not recovered from the episode, I swear I feel very silly, but I do not understand anything that has happened,, to see:

    Control is an AI that wants to eradicate all life from the galaxy … For some reason that nobody has mentioned until now,
    and to “become aware of herself” she needs the data from the cosmic meatloaf that they found thanks to the indications of Mama Burnham ,,,,
    and for that, it controls section 31, the protocols of the Federation, the fleet and you know what else, …
    Is not she already self-aware enough? What does she want the data for?

    Mama Burnham invented a temporary suit 20 years ago with a Klingon magic crystal and was launched into the future ,,,,
    The suit travels in time, ok,
    But how do she move a church and all the people inside to the other end of the galaxy?
    How do she destroy all the monoliths of Saru’s planet in a flash?
    What else does the bloody suit do?

    The Leland Terminator destroys the suit’s flux capacitor during the fight ….
    Why does the suit jump to the future?
    And why is Mama Burnham taken with him?

    The data of the cosmic meatloaf protects itself of the erasure ,,,
    Why do not the computer’s memory core destroy?

    And if it was so important to destroy the data
    Why did Mama Burnham take them to the cosmic meatloaf instead of destroying it?

    and put to destroy ,,, if in the Discovery Pike is seeing that the data is being transmitted to the ship of Sec 31 ,,,
    Why not shot and inutilized the damn ship instead of torpedoing the planet WHERE THERE IS NO ONE ELSE?

    The evil AI (a.k.a Skynet) seizes Lelan by injecting him with nanites ok ,,,
    Like a computer program, no matter how good it is, build a nanite chair (Tm) and lift Leland’s body and tie it up to the nanite chair (Tm)?

    Where is Admiral ? ,,,
    Did you have something more important to do?, ¿a parent meeting in the higschool?, ¿a pizza in the oven?

    Why is the empress so fond of Burnham? Did pansexual orgies come together?

    Why is there a guy in a wheelchair strolling around the ship?
    his medical insurance not cover robotic prostheses like those of Airiam?

    And please, please, all the shit is not to send Leland to the other side of the galaxy and to be the source of the Borg ,,,, if that is the grand finale of the series, turn off and let’s go. ..

  6. There are many (many, many) places to read about and discuss Star Trek on the interwebthingy, but the main reason I do so on FFF is to avoid the hysteria associated with FB and other platforms, where ‘discussion’ frequently becomes a race to the bottom of civility. I always enjoy reading your in-depth reviews, and I hope you’ll continue to do so. I think we’re broadly of the same opinion about the show, but if we disagree on something – so what? Ain’t life grand : )

    The show is currently averaging a C+ for me. It’s great to see Trek back on the telly, though my fear is that the B+ days of recent episodes will continue to decline when Pike & Spock inevitably leave the show, and I’m not sure the remaining characters and plot lines have sufficient gravity to hold it together without slipping to the D&E grades of Season 1. Having to guess which mood Burnham will be in from week to week isn’t much fun, and somebody somewhere needs to create a ‘Shut up Tilly!’ meme/gif.

    As for possible plot direction (since my existing predictions have all been wildly wrong!), then perhaps we are indeed witnessing the birth of the Borg, and that the final mission of the MagicZapDrive(™) will be to Zap(™) them as far away as possible – to the Delta Quadrant, maybe. Or not…

    (PS – well spotted on the Gabriel/Michael angel references, though not sure the latter is so angelic…)

    1. The problem with tying Control into the Borg is that the Borg Queen goes back to 2063 to send a message to the Delta Quadrant to the Borg of the past so that they could come to Earth and assimilate it before it becomes strong enough to resist. Discovery is two centuries later. So I really, REALLY hope they don’t somehow make this into the origin of the Borg!

      1. As I posted elsewhere, my hope is that the Borg-like references are red herrings designed to throw us off track. Keep in mind that nanites have been integral to several Star Trek storylines that were NOT connected to the Borg.

      2. We have an “almighty temporary suit”,travel a few thousand years to the past? what is the problem?

        1. Unfortunately, I lament that Star Trek can no longer tell “small” stories. Every movie and now every series has to have a life-or-death threat to either Earth, the entire Federation, or the whole galaxy. Kinda makes me wonder what will be threatened in season three. Go big or go home! 🙂

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