All season of Star Trek: Prodigy, we were warned of the dire consequences of even so much as accepting a hail from another Starfleet vessel, that the living construct aboard the Protostar would infect Starfleet systems and spread throughout the fleet. In this season’s action-packed penultimate episode, the fleet has finally been infected, and all hell is breaking loose.
“Supernova, Part 1” delivers a number of payoffs, not just from earlier in Prodigy, but even from Star Trek: Voyager. After the body-swapping hijinks from last week’s “Mindwalk,” Admiral Janeway’s been locked in the Dauntless’ brig. But Janeway didn’t get to her position without making difficult moral choices like when she helped Brenari refugees escape Devore space in the Voyager episode “Counterpoints.”
It turns out one of those refugees she saved grew up to become the Starfleet officer now guarding Janeway’s cell. This is the best kind of self-referencing; it’s not pointless fan service like last week’s random reference to Voyager’s much-maligned episode “Threshold.” Sure, the writers are using a coincidence to resolve a major plot obstacle, but it’s not a far leap to imagine Janeway’s long career in Starfleet would have earned her credibility among many who now serve under her. That they chose a specific Voyager episode to pull from here is just a smart use of the franchise’s history.
Unfortunately, Janeway is too late to stop her first officer from accepting a hail from the Protostar after the Vindicator, the Diviner, and Drednok successfully took control of the Protostar’s bridge. It’s during this section of the episode that my prediction from last week proved correct. The Diviner did turn on the Vindicator and lost his life trying to save Gwyn after first telling Gwyn she could unify her people.
But Gwyn isn’t the only one who’s given a new possible direction in her life. Earlier, when they were preparing for the impending crisis, she confessed to Dal what Janeway told her, that Dal’s genetic augmentation meant he would never achieve his dream of serving in Starfleet. Of course, this comes after Dal misunderstood what Gwyn was planning to confess, leading him to kiss her in an awkward moment in which she failed to reciprocate. This too is something likely to complicate matters in the future.
The Vindicator escapes in her own escape pod before Dal and company were able to retake control of the bridge, but the highlight of the episode is when Dal gives up the big chair to Gwyn and calls her “Captain.” The living construct had damaged the universal translator, but Gwyn was trained in many languages. As every Starfleet ship fires on one another due to the living construct’s virus, Gwyn sends out a plea to all nearby Federation allies with ships without Starfleet signatures to come to their aid.
When a Klingon captain demands to know why she should help, Gwyn responds: “Because in the infinite of space, everyone needs to know there’s a place out there willing to accept us all no matter how different we think we are.”
Right when the Dauntless is about to receive a direct hit from a photon torpedo, that Klingon Bird of Prey swoops in to take the hit instead. Soon enough more allies, including civilian vessels, outside of the Federation follow suit to aid Starfleet in their desperate hour. It’s an inspiring moment that doesn’t last as new Starfleet ships arrive only to have their systems taken over as well. We’re told distress calls will continue being automatically sent out luring more and more of the fleet into the living construct’s trap.
“Supernova, Part 1” delivers both high-stakes action and classic Trek themes of unity and cooperation. The episode also successfully squeezes in key character moments that will no doubt impact the series going forward in interesting ways. Gwyn’s speech to the Klingon captain speaks to the core of what Star Trek is all about, and I look forward to seeing her lead the Protostar crew going forward.
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