‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Gets to Know a Crew Better With “Preludes”
The Protostar is out of gas and inside the Neutral Zone in “Preludes”. With hours to kill until the engines repair, we get some backstories.
On last week’s episode of Star Trek: Prodigy we learn that the Diviner is not the only Vau N’Akat in town. Asencia is a secret Vau N’Akat, too! What does that mean? Well, we don’t know… until now. “Preludes” is an episode that fills in some interesting blanks for the Protostar crew. But the big story is over who Asencia really is and what her reveal means for the show going forward.
To Boldly Recap
Dal struggles to repair the Protostar, but he’s struggling far more with the revelation that he is an augment. But Dal is not the only one with a tragic backstory, and with a little gentle encouragement, the rest of the crew tells their stories.
Why does Rok dislike fighting? Answer: because that’s all she used to do. Rok spends her even younger days in a coliseum playing the role of a monster. She and a noble knight put on a show for a huge crowd every night – like Medieval Times! But the crowd thinks the fights are real and that Rok really is a monster.
Then, one day, Rok gets frustrated, turns the tables, and she and the knight switch things up and let Rok win. The people running the show get mad and wind up selling Rok into slavery, specifically to the Kazon.
Zero, meanwhile, spends their early days as part of a group of explorers. But one day they run afoul of some slave traders. They trick Zero into investigating a box, look Zero in it, and that’s all she wrote. Guess who did it? The Kazon.
Jankom Pog and Murf
The best backstory of the Protostar crew goes to Jankom Pog. It turns out that Jankom is an orphan and the Tellarites send their orphans out on deep space missions. So Pog is chilling in his cryo bed when one day he wakes up because his ship is in trouble. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong.
Even though Pog is only a trainee, the automated system expects him to fix fire suppression, gravity levels, and even the toilet. But the computer will only acknowledge him if he says his name first. And that is why Jankom Pog talks about himself in the first place — he gets used to it out of necessity.
Long story short, after fixing the entire ship, Jankom finds out there’s no longer enough oxygen for every Tellarite on board. And so Jankom takes one for the team, and leaves in an escape pod. Guess who captures him? Just guess. It’s Kazon slave traders.
Anyway, Murf’s story is just a burp. What a guy.
And Then There was Asencia
Who don’t we know about? Asencia, that’s who. Fortunately, “Preludes” changes that. In order to job the Diviner’s memory, Asencia lays out the entire plot. They are both from the future. And they also used to be the same age back when the Federation first appeared.
It turns out the Diviner was all in on the Federaration at first. Once his world is in shambles though, his tune changes – and just in time for the Protostar to appear above his world through a temporal anomaly.
The Vau N’Akat people take Chakotay and his crew prisoner and repurpose the Protostar with the construct (a.k.a. the living weapon). But Chakotay gets control of the ship just enough to launch it empty and on auto-pilot back into the rift.
Furious, the Vau N’Akat send 100 ships into the rift as it closes in the hopes that one of them will wind up in the correct time to get the Protostar back. The Diviner goes back 20 years, but Asencia only goes back 3 years. By the way, Asencia’s title is “the Vindicator”. Okay, girl!
Long story short, Janeway catches Asencia in her au natural form and the Diviner knocks Janeway out before she can call security.
To Boldly Review
“Preludes” is less like a typical episode of Star Trek: Prodigy and more like an anthology horror movie. There are a bunch of vignettes, some of them are good, and some of them are less good. Nothing is terrible, but there are a few tales that need more fleshing out. Notably, Zero’s story is way too short. We know they get turned into a weapon by the Diviner at some point and it’s weird not getting the whole story there.
Jankom Pog’s story is great fun and Asencia’s story is absolutely riveting. The only real criticism is that they are so good that they could have been their own episodes. Asencia especially is in desperate need of screen time. Now that we know she is a Vau N’Akat, we want to know everything about her. Who was she prior to traveling in time and what’s she been doing with three years of Starfleet living?
On the whole, though, this is solid storytelling. That there is now an explanation for Jankom Pog speaking in the third person is honestly very fun. And it’s nice having a little extra context for why Rok hates fighting.
However, there is one thing that feels worth talking about in our Easter eggs section.
References: Gotta Catch ‘Em All
There are two very cool throwbacks in this episode of Star Trek: Prodigy and let’s touch on them quickly. At one point Hologram Janeway talks about someone named Mollie. And Mollie is a dog, one of Vice Admiral Janeway’s dogs specifically. Before Voyager gets lost in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway has lots of dogs with her boyfriend Mark.
The other nod to Star Trek’s past is the visors the Kazon wear when capturing Zero. We originally see those in the first appearance of the Medusans: a Star Trek: The Original Series episode called “Is There No Truth in Beauty”.
But can we talk about the Kazon being slave traders? Because they are always the slave traders on Star Trek: Prodigy and that is weird. Do you know what the Kazon were for a while? Slaves. Yes, the Trabe enslave the Kazon for a long time. So it’s super awkward that the Kazon are so big on slavery now. Honestly, it feels like a big misstep for the series, especially since the Kazon are basically nameless baddies at the moment.
That being said, “Preludes” moves the ball and Asencia and Pog’s stories are top-tier.