Frying pan, meet fire. Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 14 takes everything our Protostar crew sees as safe and comforting and blows it out the airlock.
In addition, while wandering the Mos Eisley spaceport of the Delphic Expanse, Denaxi Depot, they manage to pick up Trek’s own Han Solo, Thadiun Okona, the rapscallion captain making his second animated return after appearing on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 5.
And did we mention MURF? He may be bipedal now, but as long as his butt continues firing torpedoes, he’ll always be our Mellanoid slime baby.
The highlight, by any measure, is the Dauntless chasing down the Protostar at slipstream warp, dwarfing the tiny craft in both size and the determination of its commander.
The real me is hunting us with a quantum slipstream Dauntless-class starship? Good luck with that.
Until now, the Federation has been the endgame of our intrepid crew. Everything they dream they can be is wrapped up in the ideals and purpose of Starfleet as evoked by the patient and nurturing Hologram Janeway.
The face and demeanor of Vice Admiral Janeway is less patient and nurturing on first encounter.
The irony of Dal’s resolve to evade the Dauntless and ignore its hails in order to protect it from the living construct’s insidious infection is rife with missed opportunities.
Dal: They maybe think we blew up that relay station and kidnapped the last crew’s captain, oh, who happens to be a close friend of the admiral’s.
Rok: So, ALL of you talked to Starfleet, but NO ONE told them about the deadly weapon? The whole reason we left our ship? Come on, guys!
Credit where it’s due; the idea of abandoning the Protostar and hitching a ride to make safe and non-self-destructive contact with the Federation is a good one.
But not recognizing the opportunity to convey that information when Starfleet is suddenly right there is painfully tragic. And yet, totally understandable for kids like this.
Pog: Jankom Pog is so excited to be meeting a fellow Tellarite! Consider me underwhelmed.
Noum: I consider you under… something. Undersized pauper.
Pog: Hey, you’re Starfleet? Pog needs to tell you… WHA? Pauper? We Tellarites are practically royalty!
Noum: Royalty? HAHAHA! ‘Pog’s a name we reserve for runts, short in size and vocabulary.
Pog is thrown off by his natural Tellarite animosity, magnified by Dr. Noum’s equally antagonistic attitude.
Gwyn is scared off by Asencia’s reveal that The Diviner is alive and awake and onboard the Dauntless.
Dal’s just plain starstruck when he meets the real-life Janeway. It’s kind of adorbs, in a way.
Vice Admiral Janeway: Try stringing a few words together, and we’ll start from there.
Dal: Have you ever wanted something so bad, but you’re afraid if you say the wrong thing you’d mess it up?
Vice Admiral Janeway: Often. But fear of failure has killed more dreams than anything else, so I usually go for it.
Dal: I should’ve known you’d say that.
It’s interesting to note that Zero doesn’t clue in to the presence of Starfleet OR Barniss Frex at Denaxi Depot. You’d think, being telepathic, they’d pick up on that.
Zero: He drives a hard bargain, but he is desperate.
Okana: I don’t usually negotiate with mind-readers, but fine.
Who had a Xindi-Reptilian-run transport hub on their Protostar bingo card? What a cool inclusion to remind us that as long-ago-and-far-away as this offering seems, it’s still very much Trek.
I love that in bringing together the hunter and the prey, we see the two crews juxtaposed to elegant effect.
Dal’s single-minded fleeing is almost matched by Vice Admiral Janeway’s tunnel vision focus on finding Chakotay.
In his first real moment in the spotlight, Commander Tysess points out her judgment is clouded by her emotion.
Vice Admiral Janeway: You have your orders, Number One.
Commander Tysess: With respect, Admiral, you once told me to listen to my emotions, not be guided by them. If this is about Chakotay, you are being guided by them right now. I’m sorry, Admiral, at risk of war, I cannot fulfill them.
It’s a solid moment of Starfleet protocol, a stark contrast to how disagreements play out on the Protostar. Our worlds collide.
While the Dauntless runs on the chain of command and precise orders, Dal’s “Go Fast” directive doesn’t come fast enough as Janeway’s Dauntless cripples the protostar drive.
Relying heavily on the kindness — in this case, more a survivalist’s savvy — of strangers, they choose the only option that could possibly put some space between the Protostar and the Dauntless: Okona’s suggestion they hide in the Neutral Zone.
Having never encountered the Romulans and with no understanding of the historical animosity between the Federation and the Star Empire, it’s a pretty easy decision for the crew despite Hologram Janeway’s misgivings.
Of course, without Okona and his exothermic engine boost juice, they would never have made it back to the ship in the first place.
Okona is a fun addition to the Protostar. I’ve had a soft spot for the rapscallion ne’er-do-well with a heart of gold ever since his introduction on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Episode 4.
Here, he is the perfect foil to Hologram Janeway. His seat-of-the-pants, pivot-life-mad, edge-of-legitimacy style offers the young folks an alternative to the training program’s cautious and by-the-book advice.
I haven’t seen the Xindi this spicy since my last dash through the Neutral Zone. You sure you’re not smugglers?
I’ll be fascinated to see how he’ll take to the Protostar’s bells and whistles when he has the time to explore. After all, it’s more than just faster than his ship, which is no Millenium Falcon from what we see at the depot.
Okana: What is this? Is this Warp 4?
Pog: Hahaha! Warp 4? This, my friend, is Warp 9.97. Hold onto your butt, pal.
Perhaps he’ll even come up with an outside-the-box solution to the living construct.
As mentioned before, Okona isn’t the only new face onboard the Protostar. Murf’s done gone and grown up.
He’s got arms and legs and a neck now. No improved vocabulary from what we’ve seen, but he still conducts himself with the abandon of a being with no sense of peril.
It’ll take some getting used to, but he’s still pretty cute.
Rok: Those are dark nimbostratus clouds. We better get a move on so we don’t get stuck in that storm.
Pog: Huh. What are you, a meteorologist now?
Rok: Maybe I am!
Rok needs no time to adjust. Her total acceptance of Murf’s new form is quintessentially Rok, and that’s what we love about her.
What a cliffhanger ending!
With the Romulans in her face and the Protostar limping away into the Neutral Zone, how will Vice Admiral Janeway deal with the situation?
How long can the Protostar remain under the figurative radar?
I’ve spent way too much time staring at Quadrant maps this week. Who has a good sense of where along the Neutral Zone they snuck in? Exactly how far are they from Earth now?
With The Diviner up and about, his memories are returning at increasing speed. How long until he remembers his mission goal?
Things are all sorts of exciting! What could possibly be next? Hit our comments with your thoughts and theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.