Warp Factor Trek

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Beneath the waves of an alien planet, a group of spear-throwing poachers are hunting a whale-like sea creature. Following close behind in a small underwater craft, Gwyn, Dal, and Jankom Pog are doing their best to keep up, while remaining unseen, wary of breaking the Prime Directive. Gwyn comments that this Aquathawn is one of the last of its kind and that, if the poachers realized how important it was to their ecosystem, they’d drop their weapons. The young team of would-be cadets from the questionably acquired Protostar hope that, by performing many good deeds, they’ll be viewed by Starfleet as heroes rather than thieves.

As Gwyn tries to keep up with the spooked animal, she experiences a sudden flashback: the Diviner. “It is a weapon.” These words echo through her mind as she snaps back to reality just in time to see that she’s accidentally piloted herself and her companions into the face of the whale. Its gaping mouth swallows them whole!

The huge, whale-like Aquathawn

Luckily, the remaining crew of the Protostar have been waiting for the perfect moment to beam the creature onboard, timing the capture perfectly. The beast spits out the sea craft with Dal, Gwyn and Jankom still safely inside. It has all been part of a plan to relocate the beast to safer waters.

Still suffering from memory loss after seeing a reflection of Zero’s true form, Gwyn tells Zero about her vision. She doesn’t remember what happened to her father, but Zero vows to help her regain her memory. The success of their current mission is made even sweeter by the revelation that the endangered Aquathawn species is about to be a mother.

As the Protostar proceeds away from the aquatic planet, Dal voices a log entry

It has been weeks since the crew escaped from the Tars Lamora mining camp and saving the Unwanted from the Diviner. Dal dictates to his log about the crew’s hope that Starfleet will see their accomplishments, and not just think of them as a bunch of lost kids that kinda stole a starship. The Protostar is approaching the closest Federation comm relay station, CR-721. Dal and the crew are apprehensive, yet excited to finally meet the people of Starfleet. Holo-Janeway gives Dal a quick pep talk as she straightens his new Starfleet uniform.

Upon arrival on the station, the crew are greeted by darkness. They call out, not knowing if there is anyone to greet them. Scurrying from another room, Lieutenant Junior Grade Barniss Frex (Eric Bauza) apologetically makes his disheveled presence known, mentioning that there aren’t many visitors to the station. He wonders if Starfleet sent them to transfer him to an even worse posting. Frex is relieved to hear that they are refugees in a stolen starship looking for asylum. He happily tells them that Starfleet welcomes all kinds.

Frex greeting his new visitors

Frex directs the newcomers through a biometric scanner that will identify and register each of their species. Jankom Pog is first through, and the Tellarite is pleased to learn that his species is among the founders of the Federation. Rok is next through the scanner, and the Brikar tells Frex of her wish to be a scientist. He asks Rok what type of scientist she wishes to be, but she didn’t realize there are more than one. Gwyn of course is an unregistered species, and Frex decides to save himself some paperwork by listing her simply as “none of the above.” He notes that Murf is a Mellanoid slime worm – though not as an insult – and that Zero is a Medusan. When he gets to Dal, he takes a couple of guesses as to what species he may be, but when Dal crosses through the scanner, it displays a warning that Frex has never seen: “Report to Starfleet Command.” Dal is delighted that Starfleet must know his species.

In a holographic simulation of a past event, Admiral Janeway speaks with Captain Chakotay

We cut to a holo-memory of Vice Admiral Janeway addressing newly appointed Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran), who is preparing to take the Protostar back to the Delta Quadrant. He tells the vice admiral not to worry, as he will have Holo-Janeway with him. And if he does run into trouble, he knows who to call. Freezing the simulation, Janeway wonders what happened to her friend as Commander Tysess (Daveed Diggs) enters to tell her that Ensign Asencia has detected the Protostar‘s warp signature. Janeway promises to find Chakotay if he is out there.

Back on CR-721, Frex begins to upload the ship’s logs when suddenly claxons sound and lights begin flashing as the Protostar begins automatically uploading what seems to be a computer virus to the relay station. As the crew rushes to aid a drowning Gwyn, the station begins attacking itself with its own weaponry.

Infected by a computer virus, the facility starts to attack itself

Gwyn’s vision suddenly coalesces and she understands that her father has somehow turned the Protostar into a weapon. As Dal uses his phaser to blast through the shield, Gwyn manages to use her heirloom fretwork to quickly free herself. While the crew rushes to find a way to the Protostar, Frex steals the last escape pod, leaving the crew to jump from the exploding station and be rescued by Janeway and the Protostar.

At the end of the episode, Admiral Janeway leads an away team through the remnants of a battle where the Protostar has been. The team also discovers the Diviner, floating in stasis and still alive.

Rating: 5/5

This episode is a culmination of the first half of the season and features many great performances and guests. It has excellent pacing, an interesting B-story featuring Robert Beltran returning as Chakotay, and gives me hope of seeing more of our old Trek friends in future episodes. As the season continues, I’m looking forward to discovering more about all of the characters.

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