The Shuttle Pod Crew Explores “Perpetual Infinity”

Like last season, The Shuttle Pod has again transformed into Shuttle Pod At The Disco for the run of Star Trek: Discovery season two, with weekly podcasts about each new episode.

Shuttle Pod At The Disco – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Perpetual Infinity”


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Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 11

The full complement of the shuttle pod crew (Brian, Jared, Kayla, and Matt) made it this week to discuss “Perpetual Infinity.” The episode was well acted, with major kudos going to guest star Sonja Sohn as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham. We have questions about just how the Red Angel suit works, and why it’s tethered to a point 950 years in the future. The newly AI rebuilt Leland also raises a number of questions about the end goal for Control, and of course we discuss the (Borg) elephant in the room about the way that Control seems to be taking on a physical host.

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Professor Spock

I like last week’s episode. Burnham’s mom is a fascinating individual.

ML31

Cute that they use the biblical names but at this point isn’t it a bit too late for all that? They pretty much declared science the winner here already many weeks ago already. They never should have told us that was an underlying theme. In fact, I am now no longer trusting anything producers say about what ideas the season is going to take on. They are 0 for 2 on that front now.

It’s not surprising that there will likely be no explanation for why the suit does what it does. They tried to explain away Culber’s “resurrection” but that was never made clear and it was filled with holes and illogic to the point that there was no way disbelief could be suspended.

All the time travel questions are why time travel cannot be controlled by the users. There MUST be limits to prevent the easy solutions. It’s the same reason why Generations doesn’t work. Picard could have gone back to 10 Forward and detained Soren right there. Instead he opted to go back to the Veridian III like an idiot. It’s also why Back to the Future works. They had no control and the pressure of a ticking clock.

Saving Spock for the uniform and shave for the end does make sense to me. Personally I feel like the reason he hasn’t shaved is to hide the fact that Peck does not share facial features with Nimoy. But that’s just me.

It’s funny that Spock seems to have gotten through whatever it was that he’s going through about as long as Michael got redeemed with her crew last season!

Regarding the Borg theory… I hope that is not it. If it is, it would be the 2nd dumbest thing to ever happen in a Star Trek show. And both would belong to Discovery. If the producers are giving the fans a wink, then that is more evidence they do not understand the franchise whatsoever. And even if “Control” (still laughing as I type that) is a sentient AI, does that mean it has access to the production facilities needed to create nanites? How is THAT possible? OK. It thinks. But it can build things, too? Why not build the biggest most badass Star Ship ever?

Was it Brian who said “They should know better” when it comes to the Borg theory? After the Lorca foolishness I no longer have any kind of faith in this group to “know better”.

That is actually a very good idea that Kayla put out there. The entire first season should have been Burnham and Georgeau on the Shinzhou. THAT would had the potential to get the audience to care about Phillipa to the point where MAYBE you would want to see MU version get redeemed. Still a ridiculous idea, but it had potential.

I did not like Leland as the T-1000 at all. Him morphing back was just too much, I gotta say.

I know you guys seem to like Tilly but my teeth just instinctively gnaw whenever she appears on screen now. She reminds me of Reg Barclay. Irritating and I was only glad he showed up on rare occasions. I am happy her role has been diminished. But I do not expect that to last, sadly.

Professor Spock

You have some good points. This season is becoming mediocre at this point. I don’t trust the producers anymore. Overwhelmed by disappointment.

Michael Hall

Are you the same “Professor Spock” who wrote the opening post in this thread? Because if you are, I’m confused.

BLACKMOCCO

I’m glad someone else said it.

Holden

Professor Spock is Control! (which would be a great plot twist–DISCO’s real villain is the Trek fan trying to take control of the series through Leland).

Actually . . . that would an awesome twist, but more suited for Peele’s show. How long until the ultimate CBSAA crossover!

BLACKMOCCO

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’s time traveling makes more sense than Discovery’s. Think about that.

In regards to how you feel about Tilly, just think how Mary Wiseman must feel when she gets her new scripts. They made some real effort with her character the first half of the season. Now she’s just a clumsy dope. Lame.

Tiger2

They are turning Tilly into Homer Simpson and making her more eccentric. It was a bit cute in the first season because she was this fresh cadet and her first time on a starship. Now they’ve gone overboard with it to the point of annoyance.

Wheelie

Just give her a catchphrase and she’d be a sitcom next door neighbor. “Got any cheese?”

Tiger2

I literally heard a laugh track in my head when I read that line lol.

Wheelie

“Did I do thaaat?”

Professor Spock

Tiger2 Tilly is not a Homer Simpson. She is more like a Family Guy or a South Park character. She is cute but annoying at the same time.

DaveCGN

Lol! Maybe she was transferred accidental from the Orville-universe to Discovery… Now it’s out!

Tiger2

I stand corrected.

BolanRint

Thanks. You are correct. This program is incredibly unmemorable in many ways.

Captain_neill

Tilly is annoying and is the first major character to make me actively shout at the screen as she tries my patience when she rambles. And I say this as a fan who never minded Neelix.

Disagree about Barclay, he was not annoying and he was a character I definitely could relate to. He was shy, withdrawn and socially awkward. I am still like that in real life.

The one thing about Tilly the writers thought was charming is actually over staying it’s welcome. It is actually becoming tedious now.

ML31

Regarding your description of Barclay, I share some of those qualities myself. But I have a hard time relating to him. I think the difference is that Barclay, like Tilly, take their awkwardness and other traits to an absurd and ridiculous level. Hence, the irritation those characters engender.

TG47

Great podcast.

Thanks Shuttlepod crew, this really helped me mellow a bit.

I found the discussion of the pivots really helpful in particular.

I’m wondering why though Kurtzman found it so necessary to pivot again after the showrunners were fired.

Given how light New Eden was on detail about the Terralysium community, and knowing that script was seriously rewritten more than a dozen times, it sounds as though many of the Chekovian markers that writers wanted to lay down were nixed.

Anyway one wonders what was so awful that they had to take a risk to pivot so hard away from it in the last 9 episodes and put forward a dollar store Skynet AI in its place…

Season 2 wasn’t doing badly…

BLACKMOCCO

Why did they have to go to so much trouble to try trap the Red Angel? Couldn’t they just have shot Burnham with a phaser and the RA still would have shown up and rescued her, right? Am I an idiot to be still thinking about this?

Legate Damar

They needed to be on that planet any way to get the power for the trap to work. The original plan was to give Burnham a slow death so that the Angel would be able to save her before she died, but Spock realized that they had to actually let her die for the plan to work.

DaveCGN

And this worked because the RA wasn’t (or still isn’t) Burnham. But expecting het to be the RA, the plan was a bad idea. How can you set a trap for someone from the future if that person KNOWS the present?

blackmocco

Man, if only Discovery was a science vessel packed full of scientists. Maybe one of them could have spoken up.

kmart

If only DISCOVERY was a show filled with seasoned writer/producers.
If only …
(The only angel on currently that has my eye and ear is THE OA.)

ML31

“And this worked because the RA wasn’t (or still isn’t) Burnham. But expecting het to be the RA, the plan was a bad idea. How can you set a trap for someone from the future if that person KNOWS the present?”

THIS!!!! I said this at the time but almost no one brought it up! If they thought Burnham was the RA why of why would they even discuss how they would trap her right in front of her?!?! Much less give her the idea they were even going to trap her at all. How could Bill & Ted know this but a ship full of scientists didn’t?

Chancellor Gowron

That’s what Spock realized, and why he forced everyone to let Michael die at phaser point. If they were planning to stop killing Michael before the Red Angel showed up, she would have no reason to show up. If they actually let Michael die, she would have no choice but to show up, even though she knew she was walking into a trap.

ML31

But that still doesn’t explain why no one felt that discussing capturing Michael right in front of her would guarantee the plan’s failure.

blackmocco

But what difference does it make if it’s a slow or quick death? If the RA already knows Burnham’s going to be in danger, she’ll show up to prevent it regardless, right? She brought Burnhsm back to life with her magic suit.

DaveCGN

My theory is that Burnham had to die really in her timeline, so that the RA would have to travel back in time and correct/alter the timeline. Which only works if Burnham is NOT the Red Angel. My theory is that Spock knew this. That’s why he insisted that she really died.

ML31

Why would Spock surmise this but not the ship full of scientists? The entire thing makes no sense. Which has been a problem that has plagued this show from day one.

BLACKMOCCO

Because half-Vulcan/half-human dyslexia thing.

ML31

That was the reason given for mama Burnham to show up to Spock. Not the reason why Michael being aware of a plan to catch her future self wouldn’t work.

BLACKMOCCO

Yeah, my bad. Wasn’t paying attention.

BLACKMOCCO

No, I get that, but why did it have to be this big elaborate over-the-top death when pointing a phaser at Burnham would have had the same result?

Legate Damar

If Control got data on AI from the sphere, maybe that includes information about the Borg. That would explain why its using nanoprobes and stuff, but it has entirely different motivations from the Borg.

And my best guess about the suit is that its tethered to the furthest point in the future that its travelled to. They haven’t provided any explanation for why thag might be, but that would explain why Dr. Burnham isn’t tethered to Doctari Alpha, and why the perpetual infinity plan would work.

DaveCGN

There are still 4 signs which have to appear. And 3 episodes left… so in each episode they might clear what’s up with them. And the series end with a cliffhanger were the last sign pulls them into the future.

ML31

I figured it would be the spore drive that pulls the ship forward. But this works too. I’d say the odds on favorite to bet on is the ship gets sent to the future somehow. I’ve suspected it the instant we learned about the spore drive.

Guys, I’m usually right there with you while assessing the episodes, but this time around I feel you’re so eager to find plot holes that you’re creating them yourselves. – You complain about Gabrielle not returning to avoid the Klingon attack to Doctari Alpha. But let’s remind what the Red Angel mission becomes after the first (unsuccessful, unplanned) time-travel jump. It is NOT saving Michael. It is avoiding the destruction brought about by Control. Avoiding the Klingon attack would do zero to that mission, and Mama Burnham isn’t done until she changes that catastrophic future, something she didn’t accomplish yet. Saving Michael seems to be a thing Mama Burnham does on here spare time, whatever that may be for a time-travelling person. – You mention the Red Angel technology as something super-duper (fair enough, it mostly is), but fail to recognize it is a flawed technology with severe established limitations (what is good, otherwise Mama Bunrham would have invented practical time-travel much ahead of time in the Star Trek universe). For one, she’s forced to operate from 950 years into the future, on a planet without technology. Second, she can only make very short stays while time-travelling before the yo-yo effect that brings her to the far future again, which severely limits what she can effectively do. Third, she apparently can’t communicate through the suit during those short stays, and it seems only Spock can effectively understand her limited “communication” through a combination of his telepathic abilities (so that a mind meld is possible) and his L’tak Terai (the dyslexia that allows him to process the telepathic images the Red Angel projects). That limited whatever communication the Red Angel could convey while trying to stop Control, and also got in the way of any other great “Michael saving” or “Galaxy saving” missions. (Any attempts of saving Michael by the way of revealing an alternate death would have to go through Spock — the only one that could “get it”, as far as the Red Angel could determine — or would involve some short time-bending effects, such as shortly “reversing time” for dead Michael in Essof IV and making her “recoverable” again for the medical team, versus an alternate future where they let her die.) So, there seems to be limitations for the Red Angel’s actions, and all you have to do to see them is watching her logs, plus treating things not done by her as features, and not plot holes. And let’s remind ourselves she CAN’T avoid the Klingon attack, or she would never accidentally jump into the future, and get her new mission of stopping future Control, creating an alternate timeline where her family is safe, but Control is destined to win. – It is true the science and (or versus, whatever) faith theme is not dealt with very strongly, but I’d say it is subtly there. For instance, the whole Red Angel thing is science-based (of course it is “tech the tech” science, but this is sci-fi, all we have to know is that the characters are based on their science to understand that thing), but that doesn’t change the fact that the whole chance of saving all of existence comes out of a technological flaw that accidentally brings Gabrielle into a far future. Would that coincidence possibly be seen as a miracle? Your guess is as good as mine, and THAT is what faith is all about. So, is it the Red Angel scheme really just a science thing? The characters are not hammering this on us through dialogue, but the thing is there for those who, as Michael said in “Brothers”, are ready to see it. (And maybe you would see as a flaw if they get too literal and expositive with those in dialogue, so there’s a Kobayashi Maru right there for the writers.) Of course time-travelling stories generate all kinds of logic issues, and that’s why in real-life some scientists, such as Hawking, preferred to believe (there’s belief again!) there’s some sort of Chronological Protection Conjecture to avoid that the Universe would allow such logic-bending (not to say thermodinamically impossible) situations. But that’s science fiction, and that’s Star Trek, and time travel is a thing in Star Trek, so let the Discovery team tell their story, warts and all. Of course we don’t know why Mama Burnham did get stuck like a yo-yo to the far future. But we also didn’t know how going around the Sun would allow for travelling into the past, and that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. So, I think most of this stuff should be taken at face value, because the true story is not about them, it’s about the characters and how they process those fantastic mind-bending events — it’s all… Read more »

kmart

Well, actually we DID know well before TREK IV that getting too close to a gravity well made for time travel, based on TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY (with ASSIGNMENT: EARTH it is hard to tell if that is how they did it on purpose or if they did that NAKED TIME implosion thing, going by that time/speed breakaway factor line Kirk’s log.)

I know it was previously established. The point, it is as much nonsense in the first, second, and third occurrences. I mentioned “The Voyage Home” because it is a cherished movie. (The other instances were not as adored, and in fact I’ve always been disturbed on how time travel in “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” actually doesn’t make any sense. How come the Enterprise comes back in time, and this somehow erases the first time it was there, so that when Christopher is beamed back to his plane there is no Enterprise around? But, again, is that what the story is about? I can live with nonsensical time-travel — probably impossible any way you depict it –, if we get an enjoyable episode.)

Disinvited

Well, technically there’s no actual traveling involved in TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY as they where warping space in the vicinity of a massive “dark star” which threw them back in time due to a peculiarity of a particular “course” correction they were doing using that particular star’s warping of space to get them to Earth, which they still achieved in spite of the time “travel.”

The in-episode reason Spock had to go backwards before going forwards in their return to the future was that it was an accident, so Spock, first had to test his theory about how reverse time travel was accidentally achieved in the 1st place with the “course” before he could progress to the second stage of attempting to adjust it for returning using the same math.

But Spock’s need, as a scientist, to understand the phenomenon aside, the impulse engines work at relativistic light speed and could have easily returned them to their future by slowing their ship time to the crawl of a few seconds as the rest of the universe experienced a few centuries of forward time.

I think you’re misremembering. They had to get back in time before moving forward to return Christopher and “undo” whatever damage they did by exposing themselves. But I have no idea how they accomplished that just by going back. (And of course you’re right with the Einstein thing; moving forward in time should be piece of cake, provided you could get to relativistic speeds. Usually they say full impulse takes you to 0.25 c. But, you know, I don’t think that was established not even in ancillary documents at the time, let alone canon.)

Disinvited

Salvador Nogueira,

I don’t believe I am as I have it on disc and rewatch it regularly.

When Spock tells Kirk they have to return Christopher to Earth because he will have a significant son, the plan was never to go further back in time to accomplish his return to Earth – that’s why they had to infiltrate the Air Force Base to reduce Christopher’s credibility to that of just another UFO sighting; the whole affair would have been unnecessary if they were planning to obliterate it via further time travel anyway.

It wasn’t until much later in the episode, when Kirk makes a log entry about how he needed to get the ship “unstuck” in time but only had a theory and a few facts, which then transitions to Spock explaining how their time travel forward would have to work under the unspoken “It’s best we go back the way we came.” doctrine, that Kirk seizes on their going further back in time as an opportunity to “repair” the timeline by returning Christopher and the guard one moment after each were beamed out.

blackmocco

Nothing but respect for your post, and yeah, the show’s getting a bit of a mauling on here, it’s true, but surely you can see you shouldn’t have to work THIS hard to fill in the glaring gaps in the plot. That’s the writers’ jobs, not ours. Not that every single thing has to be spoonfed to us, but man, at least leave a few breadcrumbs to guide us. It’s like they drove us to a mall in a city we don’t know and just sped off leaving us to find our own way home. Look how long your post is again! If the show was running properly, you wouldn’t have had to write all this! Haha!

Your point about leaving the nonsensical aside to focus on the human experience is also a very good one, except the show hasn’t really managed to make us care enough (or know anything about, in most cases) about the characters either.

I actually hate that I’m feeling this way about the show right now. I want it to succeed and wow me, as it should. But I also feel it’s okay to point out when they’ve dropped the ball. Standards don’t rise unless people speak up.

ML31

I generally agree with everything you said, blackmocco. Spot on. I want the show to work, too and I am trying very hard to get caught up in it to the point where the plot holes aren’t noticed upon first viewings. (Almost everything can get scrutinized upon repeated viewings.) I’ve succeeded twice in the entire run of the show.

Salvador, ” But we also didn’t know how going around the Sun would allow for travelling into the past, and that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” First, that is how they went back in Tomorrow is Yesterday. And 2nd, while the concept sticks to an established Trek fantasy science, the way the sequence was presented DID contribute to stopping me (not us) from enjoying TVH. There was tons of other things that contributed so it was a very good team effort on that movie.

The point is: you don’t have to fill any gaps in the plot. What you have to change is the attitude towards the show. Instead of “how come this and that are true?”, you have to take it as “This and that are true. So, there should be some explanation as to why, even though it was not shown.” I bet many of those so-called “plot holes” were worked out by the writers, and were just not put into dialogue, so that it doesn’t become a boring mess (when you have a complex time-travel story, there’s A LOT to be explained, but this is a show, not a textbook).

About the characters, I’m sorry you don’t care about them. I do. I really do. I think they are the most approachable human characters in Star Trek since Deep Space Nine. They feel human to me — well-meaning, flawed, confused, sometimes unfair and maybe even nonsensical. (Let me know if you’re a 100% coherent person, and you will be the first one that I meet.) I identify with them and their struggles. Burnham’s journey of guilt, self-sacrifice, repressing her own emotions, trying to find who she is and how she fits into this world, how to love, how not to give in to hate… I find all of that very appealing. And this episode is FANTASTIC when it comes to Burnham and her mother. Yet, some people tend to focus on who cryptography, or quantum computing, or time travel works on this.

I agree it has to make SOME sense. I disagree it has to make PERFECT sense. Real-life stories are never 100% clear. We are never aware of everything that happens in our personal world (let alone the universe). It just has to “feel” real. And that depends mostly on what your approach to the show is, not on its actual content. If the important thing is to tell 100% explained stories, versus challenging stories, we may end up very happy on how tight it looks, but also pretty bored.

TG47

Salvador Nogueira the thing is that Trek is supposed to be at heart about using a science-positive approach in a society that’s attempting to real for an ideal.

Trek has had many hard scientist and engineering fans, including many I went to grad school with.

They rolled with the fictional science and engineering because the process felt right, and there was an attempt at internal coherence within universe, even if current science knowledge contradicted Trek-science…starting with the Warp drive FTL.

TNG was especially beloved because it created the feeling of ensemble work…which for those who come out of the leading US engineering school that has ‘no one is smart without peers’ as an unpublished motto, resonated well.

So, my sense is that there is a lot more impatience with Discovery’s Trek-science because we don’t see them working or articulating the problem and potential solutions as a group very often, or trying an approach, failing and trying another.

Instead, one of the 4 principal characters, most often Burnham, basically says that they’ve ‘got it’, gives an inadequate explanation that even those taught to ‘drink from the firehose’ can’t make sense of, the Captain says yes, and they all run off and do it.

It just doesn’t feel like any science or engineering process I’m familiar with.

Yeah, that’s true. The days of “Star Trek: Meeting” are gone, and that may be frustrating for some. But they are trying to balance their act, and we had a couple of “meetings for ideas/solutions” this season.

And don’t misunderstand me: I love that Trek takes science somewhat seriously, and I am a professional science writer myself, so I can spot it. But let’s not kid ourselves either: Trek was never hard sci-fi. Maybe it even tried at first, but they’ve abandoned it in mid-first season when Gene Coon took over, and with it story and allegory became more important than accuracy (thus aliens speaking English, and so on). And there’s a lot of scientific impossibility in Trek from the get-go, starting with a half-alien, half-human science officer of ours. Would I rather lose Spock to have an accurate depiction of biology? Hell no! Let’s enjoy Trek for what it is — an inspiring view of a world guided by science, but not in any way an accurate one.

BLACKMOCCO

Well let’s be clear – and as you’ve already stated above – most of us, I’d imagine, will happily get past dodgy science (not that I’d know legit science if it was humping my leg) and sub par storytelling if we’re provided characters we like and care for. I mean, that’s a huge chunk of TOS for a start! Haha! I like the cast as actors and think the characters are fundamentally sound, but, in my opinion, just haven’t been fleshed out properly. I’m glad you relate to them so much though, so I’m happy that’s just from my perspective and not yours. Different horses for different courses and all that.

I’m with you that not everything needs to be clearly explained, nor would I want everything presented to me with a bow, but the other side of that coin flip is that good writing should leave at least a FEW clues, no matter how subtle, to follow the trail and work it out for yourself, otherwise it just comes across badly. You’re right that in our personal world we’re not always aware of every facet in a situation, but this isn’t a personal world. It’s one that’s been created with the express purpose of telling us a good story and entertaining us, so unfortunately it has to tick a few boxes if it’s going to be successful.

I’m sorry there’s so many “but”s. I’m in no way trying to negate your points. I’m happy you’re enjoying the show and wish I could look past the stuff that’s clogging my own enjoyment, but I’m rooting for Discovery. I really am, so it’s hard for me to hide any disappointment when it’s not reaching its promise. I think all the elements are there to make the best Trek show we’ve ever had, they just need to be tidied up and strengthened.

Let’s hope next season they keep what makes me like it, without having so much of what makes you not like it. :-)

Elrond

Sal and Black, thanks for an interesting conversation. A pleasure to read.

PEB

Salvador, your opening statement about being eager to find plot holes is how I feel about pretty much all of their Discovery reviews but, that’s just my opinion

CmdrR

Star Trek: Pivot. Indeed. The whole ‘Faith v. Science’ talking point was just that, a studio-approved tidbit for dissemination during the million fun appearances the cast made (on internet platforms) to promote the show. The cast did their jobs… only to see that plotline fail to play out. I still wonder why Spock went nuts. ? He saw the RA and lost his shat. Why? If it was Burnham or Mama B… or even Control… we now know he couldn’t mindmeld because the RA suit was covered in delicious cherry-flavored tachyon juice. Fine. But… WHY DID SPOCK GO NUTS? We’ve been teased about the signals, which I stopped caring about many many episodes ago. This season (as was season one) is a pile of targ poo. We’ll get it wrapped up in half-mumbled dialogue mid-way through episode fourteen, which will wrap up with a quick shot of TOS Kirk standing on the transporter pad.

CmdrR

CAGE MATCH: Control, V’Ger, The Borg, that glowy thing from TNG’s Emergence, M5, Nomad, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Who will win?

CmdrR

A quantum computer requires near absolute zero temperatures to function. So… mini-fridge in the RA suit? OK. Whatever.