Prodigy’s “Supernova, Part 1” in Review
Supernova is a Star Trek: Prodigy video game for PC and various consoles — but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Nor are we talking about the upcoming novel which will be an adaptation of the game rather than this episode. With that cleared up, let’s get into part one of the two-part Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 finale, “Supernova, Part 1”.
Vice Admiral Janeway begs an ensign to release her from the Dauntless’ brig so she can warn Starfleet Command about the weapon on the Protostar. However, she’s been deemed medically unfit for command. Or as Dal puts it, “They think she’s crazy,” because of his actions while controlling her body in “Mindwalk”. Admiral Jellico orders the Dauntless to get a team aboard the Protostar so they can stop the weapon.
While the Protostar crew are pulling some clever tricks to hold up against the armada, the ensign guarding the brig (played by Bonnie Gordon, a long-time Star Trek fan who usually voices the ship’s computer on Prodigy) courageously releases Janeway. It turns out she’s one of the Brenari refugee children whom Janeway helped escape through a wormhole back in the Voyager episode “Counterpoint”. This callback to the Brenari is clever, though I wonder if it indicates that Voyager should have gone through that wormhole too, if the Brenari ended up so close to Federation space.
Under heavy fire, the Protostar’s shields begin to fail. When Gwyn prepares to confide in Dal, he senses the intimacy of the moment and kisses her. But it turns out he misunderstood her intent. As she explains, she really wanted to break the news that, since he’s an Augment, Starfleet won’t allow him to join the Academy.
Preparing to board the Protostar, the Vindicator drops her “Asencia” disguise and forcibly replaces her assigned boarding party with the Diviner and Drednok. On the Protostar, Dal leaves Gwyn to secure the bridge, while he leads his other companions to stop the three invaders.
Drednok formidably engages Dal’s group in combat, allowing the two other infiltrators to seize control of the bridge. The Vindicator traps the Diviner so she can kill Gwyn without his interference. While Drednok incapacitates the rest of the crew, the Diviner manages to free himself and tries to protect his daughter by killing the Vindicator, but he’s mortally impaled by her in return.
When the Vindicator opens a channel on all Federation frequencies, Vice Admiral Janeway is just a moment too late to stop the Dauntless from answering the hail. The armada is immediately incapacitated. Worse yet, the ships begin automated attacks on one another.
We briefly interrupt this recap for a warning that the next paragraph is an overly detailed play-by-play for starship canon geeks. You may safely skip reading it if you wish. You have been warned.
The USS Centaur (NCC-42043, last seen in the opening arc of Deep Space Nine Season 6) fires on the USS Sovereign (NCC-73811, canonizing both the ship and the registry first used in Star Trek: Bridge Commander, twenty years ago). The Sovereign, in turn, attacks the USS Thunderchild (NCC-63549 — the name isn’t visible here, but the registry matches the one seen in Star Trek: First Contact and in production art for Star Trek: Picard Season 2). The USS Defiant (NX-74205, presumably the replacement seen in the last two episodes of Deep Space Nine) attacks the USS Dauntless (NCC-80816, the one we’ve been following for ten episodes now)… Yes, it appears Sisko’s old ship just attacked Janeway’s new ship! Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled recap…
With Starfleet weapons firing all over the fleet, Rok cleverly helps the crew free themselves. They prepare to again fight their adversaries.
When the Protostar crew confronts the Vindicator, she uses Drednok as an escape pod and blasts through the bridge ceiling, which is automatically sealed by a force-field. Gwyn speaks with her dying father, who hopes she will be able to see their world and unify their people. The Diviner dies, his body floats into the air and dissolves into nothingness.
Zero reactivates Hologram Janeway, but the ship’s universal translators are now being impeded by the Construct. Vice Admiral Janeway calls for an evacuation. The entire fleet is now a Tower of Babel, no longer able to cooperate or communicate, at least until Gwyn uses her linguistic skills to start bringing people together.
Admiral Janeway contacts the Protostar and realizes that Dal can understand her because he speaks Federation Standard. This isn’t just a nice bit of trivia but also tracks well with some of the very English-based plays on words we’ve witnessed ever since the first episode, when he and Gwyn talked about “catboots.”
Attempting to slow the attack before the fleet destroys itself, Dal suggests that Janeway call in allies who don’t have Starfleet signatures. Reluctantly agreeing, Janeway opens a distress call. Gwyn, delivering a nice speech, communicates with the vessels that respond, starting with a Klingon ship.
As Janeway works on the evacuation, it appears the Thunderchild is about to destroy her ship when a Klingon Bird-of-Prey intercepts the shot. Other Birds-of-Prey arrive quickly, followed by a civilian Sura-class (seemingly inspired by the Vulcan Suurok-class that we’ve seen in the past), a Gorn trading vessel, an old Petarian bulk freighter (based on Petarian employee Kasidy Yates’ SS Xhosa; this ship design is sometimes called “Antares-class”), and a Ferengi D’Kora-class (which Jankom seems surprisingly impressed by, considering Nandi was piloting a D’Kora-class back in “First Con-tact”). I’m surprised Gwyn’s speech got much sympathy from the Klingons, much less the Ferengi and the Gorn. Then again, who says there’s never a Klingon around when you need one?
By the time these allied ships arrive, Hologram Janeway has fixed the translators aboard the Protostar. However, more Starfleet vessels arrive. Starships are burning in space, the crew can’t stop the signal, and automated distress calls will continue to call in even more Starfleet ships. It’s annihilation!
We’re getting a lot of payoffs here, as well as a solid cliffhanger for next week. But, as you may have guessed, I’m easily distracted by the starships. I reacted much to this episode as if I were Benny from The Lego Movie: “SPACESHIP!”.
It’s nice to see a variety of ship designs here. Kudos to the visual effects artists! My one nitpick: the Federation registries and names, while a nice touch, seem to be reused from ship to ship. This becomes apparent when the USS Sovereign warps in at the end despite that name and registry having been visible several times already. That said, it’s probably best to cut them some slack, since Star Trek has a long history of reused registries in recycled shots, and the ship battles in this episode are well realized, with the tiny Protostar zipping around the larger, less maneuverable ships.
Dal directs and even inspires the crew effortlessly, and he’s willing to be the one to repel the Dauntless boarding party so that the others can still have a chance to join the Academy. I’m hoping we’ll learn more about his early history in Season 2. Gwyn becomes an even more tragic figure. The Diviner completes his redemption arc, having gone from a tyrant to a misguided father who is willing to sacrifice his mission to save his daughter.
Nitpicks and spaceships aside, this is a fun and important episode. Ultimately how we look at it will depend a lot on “Supernova, Part 2”. We’ve had a good season so far. Let’s see if the writers can stick the landing.
Roger McCoy is pretty sure he was watching Star Trek before he was born! He has contributed to the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology series from Simon & Schuster (not directly related to the TV series of the same name) as well as a couple of unofficial Doctor Who anthologies. He believes a Star Trek story does not have to be canon to be good and does not have to be good to be canon, but if a story is Star Trek then you have his attention. He can be found online on his laptop in the other room; come on over and say hi! He’s probably just looking at Star Trek news.