‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Goes Full “Supernova” For Its Finale
Star Trek: Prodigy is a story about outsiders in search of a home. For better or worse, “Supernova” is about what happens when they find it.
The prison ship Tars Lamora feels so long ago. It’s hard to believe Star Trek: Prodigy is still in its first season. A group of slaves steals a hidden Starfleet vessel and travel among the stars. That’s how it begins. And now here we are in the heart of Federation space. Journey’s end.
Before today, this crew learned to communicate and together they save their fellow slaves from bondage. They learn about Starfleet, and its lofty ideals, and they begin to believe in something most of them have never experienced before: home. Like another Starfleet vessel lost in the Delta Quadrant, they begin what sometimes feels like an impossible journey toward that home.
But there’s a catch, as there always is. Because their ship, the Protostar, houses a weapon, a living construct, with the ability to turn Starfleet against itself and destroy the very home these outsiders seek. How do you communicate your desire to belong when even a single word might destroy everything you’ve ever wanted?
“Supernova Part One” is the beginning of the end. It’s where the rubber meets the road. Can Dal, Gwyn, Rok, Zero, Jankom Pog, and Murf work with both Janeways to save the Federation and each other? Only one way to find out.
To Boldly Recap
Vice Admiral Janeway paces in the brig, a prisoner in her own ship. As she ponders escape, Ensign Asencia communes with Admiral Jellico, and the two reach an agreement on how to deal with the Protostar. The plan is to fire on the ship, lower its shields, and then board to take it back. It would be simple if not for the fact that Asencia’s goals are secretly not aligned with Starfleet’s.
The good news is that the ensign guarding Admiral Janeway is a Benari. And once upon a time ago, Janeway and Voyager helped her people flee from the Devore. The ensign sets Janeway loose. But will it be in time? Spoilers: No.
Back on the Protostar, a lot is going on. Zero hotwires the ship to get it back under their control. Meanwhile, Dal mistakes Gwyn wanting a heart-to-heart conversation as a romantic overture. Dal kisses Gwyn, Gwyn blanches, and then she reveals to Dal that Starfleet doesn’t take augments. Dal is heartbroken but takes up a phaser rifle to fight the good fight anyway. He still wants to fight for his friend’s would-be home, even if it can never be his.
But bad news, back on the Dauntless, Asencia reveals her true identity as she enters the transporter room. And together with Dred Nok and the Diviner, she heads over to the Protostar to enact the plan.
Gwyn protects the bridge as the rest of the crew meet (and fight) Dred Nok. The giant robot makes short work of everyone but Murf who briefly weakens Dred Nok, but not enough to defeat him.
Back on the bridge, Gwyn faces off against Asencia as the Diviner pleads for his progeny’s life. But Asencia only has eyes for vengeance and she commands the Diviner to hail the fleet lest she slice his daughter at the neck. He refuses, and fights back, but winds up stabbed in the gut for his trouble.
Janeway rushes to the bridge of the Dauntless to prevent them from answering the Protostar’s hails. But it’s too late. The entire armada, now infected, turns crimson as they begin firing on one another.
Back on board the Protostar, Dal, Rok. Zero, Pog, and Murf make their way back to the bridge to force Asencia to fix what she’s done. But Asencia couldn’t change things even if she wants to – and she doesn’t. Dred Nok encloses her in a kind of escape pod as they blast out of the hull of the ship, leaving Gwyn hovering over her father’s body. He pleads with her to take on his spirit and unite their people in a way he never could. And then he dies.
As the crew attempts to assess the state of the Protostar, they realize their universal translators are disabled and they can no longer understand one another. On the Protostar and across the Armada, the universal translators of every life form are disabled by the construct. Just like Tars Lamora, they are all enslaved by their inability to communicate as the world around them burns.
Fortunately, Gwyn speaks multiple languages and is able to rally the troops. Vice Admiral Janeway hails the Protostar and together they hatch a plan. If they can reach out to non-Federation worlds and ask for aid, perhaps the crisis can be averted. After all, the construct is only designed to attack anything Starfleet signals. It’s up to Gwyn to use her language skills in order to save the day. Dal offers her the captain’s chair.
Gwyn pleads with the Klingons for help but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Janeway prepares to abandon the Dauntless. But, just then, the Klingons appear along with a host of other vessels all in an effort to use their shields and beam all the Starfleet crews away.
But it’s no use. Automated SOS signals sent by Starfleet vessels cause more Starfleet ships to appear, which are immediately infected by the construct, and then they, too, join the skirmish against their will.
It’s a trap. One that will self-perpetuate until every Starfleet vessel is destroyed. Annihilation. Endgame.
To Boldly Review
“Supernova Part One” isn’t just the best episode of Star Trek: Prodigy so far, it’s also one of the best episodes in Star Trek history. Even in its opening moments, “Supernova” lays out the stakes perfectly. The Protostar is in Federation space and that’s incredibly dangerous for Dal and his crew. But it’s even more dangerous for the armada. The bigger they are, the harder they will fall when the Protostar sends out that hail.
Starfleet faces dangers all the time. But the danger is always the scariest when Starfleet is up against just one ship. Think of “The Best of Both Worlds”. Earth does not face a fleet of Borg vessels, they just one cube. But one cube is all the Borg need to destroy the entire Federation. One Borg period could be enough.
And just like Picard feels helpless inside the collective, the crew of the Protostar is helplessly trapped, partly the architects of the destruction of Starfleet – and of themselves. They fight, but against insurmountable odds. Asencia may only be one person, but she’s one person who’s been planning for a very, very long time.
To Err is Human, to Forgive is Divine(r)
The Protostar crew is imperfect. They screw up all the time on Star Trek: Prodigy. But they also forgive each other. They come together and they rally to find solutions as a team. But “Supernova Part One” is that “Wrath of Khan” moment where there is no cheating death, no avoiding the unavoidable.
Dal wants to belong, maybe more than anyone on the Protostar. He mistakes Gwyn trying to tell him a devastating truth as an overture of romantic love. And so the folly of the kiss is felt all that much harder when he realizes that not only is the kiss unwanted, but so is Dal himself. He is an augment and there’s no room in Starfleet for augments.
Like a lot of people with no personal hope, Dal hangs his entire self on the one thing he has left – the chance to save Starfleet and his friends along with it. But he fails. And it’s not for lack of experience because Admiral Janeway fails too. It’s not because he wasn’t strong enough, quick enough, or smart enough. In true Trek fashion, Star Trek: Prodigy finally shows its no-win scenario. And it’s catastrophic.
All that, and Gwyn has to say goodbye to her father, whose love for her finally makes him realize vengeance isn’t worth the cost he thought it was. He dies and it feels like all hope of understanding between Starfleet and his people dies with him.
Gwyn takes a backseat throughout much of the second half of Star Trek: Prodigy‘s first season. She quietly but consistently urges her friends to open up, trust one another, and become their best selves. In other words, she’s kind of been the Protostar’s captain for a long time.
Starfleet is burning. Her father’s body lies at her feet. And yet it is in this moment when she should be at her lowest that Gwyn reaches her highest heights as a leader. She’s the one who can speak every language. And she is the one who uses that talent to speak empathically to races like the Klingons who are not always so easy to entreat with kindness.
“Supernova Part One” is not big on hope, except where it counts the most. The Klingons and the rest of the non-Federation ships may not win the day, but the fact that they show up at all suggests that they can yet win the war. And the Diviner’s dying plea that Gwyn find a way to unite their people provides one other path forward.
Somewhere out there the Vau N’Akat homeworld is safe and brimming with a civilization full of people. Perhaps the answer is there with them. Perhaps Gwyn can unite her people and convince them to save the Federation even though the Federation failed to save them.
References: Gotta Catch ‘Em All
At this stage in the game, Star Trek: Prodigy is not focusing too much on Easter eggs because it has a very big story to tell. But it does very pointedly bring up a Star Trek: Voyager episode called “Counterpoint“. In that story, the Voyager crew protects a group of refugees called the Benari from the Devore Imperium. They do so at great personal risk. But the Benari live free as a result. And the ensign who helps Admiral Janeway is one of those Benari Voyager saved all those years ago.
Civilizations either rise or crumble depending on how they treat those most in need. Asylum seekers. Refugees. Victims of abuse with no one left to trust and no place left to go – their destiny is always linked with our own.
The Protostar crew are refugees, ones only Admiral Janeway takes the time to understand. That’s why the Diviner has a change of heart – he sees the Federation’s capacity for good in Janeway’s actions.
But it takes more than one person to turn the tide. Janeway is not enough to protect the Protostar crew. And Starfleet’s decision to solve their perceived problem through destruction is their own undoing. It’s a powerful lesson. These are the consequences of stamping out that which we choose not to understand.
Can those who remain find a path forward? If so, how? Those are questions not just for the Federation, they’re questions for us, too. This episode is perfect both because it’s the kind of story “Star Trek” tells so well, and also because it’s the one we need to hear so desperately.