Happy new year, and welcome back to Star Trek: Prodigy! This sixth episode of the first season, “Kobayashi,” picked up right where “Terror Firma” left off before the mid-season break. We learned so much about the Protostar, and Dal learned quite a bit about himself, in this exciting episode.
When the U.S.S. Protostar disengages its protowarp drive, Hologram Janeway reveals something stunning: The ship traveled 4,000 light years in that short amount of time and is now in the Gamma Quadrant. It’s not clear how that happened — even Hologram Janeway is stumped. We’ll just add it to the long list of fascinating mysteries that this show has presented us with. For now, though, the new drive is inoperable, so the ship will have to travel by more conventional means.
Meanwhile, the crew approaches Dal (who’s playing a familiar looking game in his quarters — hopefully it’s less addictive now than it was in The Next Generation’s “The Game”) with a unanimous request: They want to set course for the Federation. Dal refuses and points out Murf hasn’t had a vote — which begs the question of where Murf actually is. They find him in the ship’s holodeck.
As Hologram Janeway introduces Dal and Jankom Pog to the holodeck, they stumble upon the Kobayashi Maru, which is a Starfleet test that is, by its nature, unwinnable. It’s designed to teach future captains that there are no-win scenarios and that sometimes you have to accept loss — but Dal doesn’t know that. Janeway goads him into trying it out (it’s clear she knows he needs some training if he is really going to be the ship’s captain) and Dal falls for it. He asks for the best crew in Starfleet and gets Spock, Odo, Dr. Beverly Crusher, and Uhura on his Galaxy-class starship bridge.
Gwyn is still recovering in the ship’s sickbay, though she’s completely fine physically at this point, as Zero points out. It’s her mental health that’s the problem — Gwyn is coming to terms with the fact that her father picked the ship over her. That’s not an easy thing to accept but Zero has the solution. They point out that maybe finding the answer to some of the ship’s mysteries will help Gwyn come to terms with The Diviner’s decision.
Speaking of The Diviner, we learn quite a bit more about him in this episode. In a flashback to 17 years ago, we learn that he’s not the first to look for the Protostar — his people (who are dying) had been searching for it for years. And it turns out The Diviner isn’t the one calling the final shots; an organization called “The Order” is in charge, and by creating Gwyn to carry on the search after his death, The Diviner defied them.
Back on the holodeck, Dal is not having much success with the Kobayashi Maru. At first, he decides it’s not worth the effort and tries to leave the ship to its fate and run, which results in a mutiny (what a crash course in what it means to be a Starfleet captain!). He receives terribly low scores and decides to take the test seriously. It’s Dal’s stubbornness versus the Kobayashi Maru, and it’s not going well for Dal. He eventually kicks Jankom Pog, who hilariously has been chronicling and narrating Dal’s failures, off the holodeck and replaces him with hologram Scotty.
Gwyn decides she needs to know why the ship was on Tars Lamora and what its original purpose was — which are questions we’ve been asking since the first episode. She turns to Hologram Janeway, but the answer is classified. It lies in a section of data that wasn’t translated because it’s in the language of Gwyn’s people.
Eventually, after many tries, Dal actually manages to make headway in the simulation and it looks like he might actually beat this no-win scenario. It’s clear that he’s learning something about strategy and defying the odds, which is necessary for any ship captain. But so is the lesson of failure. Even with his creative thinking, the Kobayashi Maru test prevails and Dal loses — and has to come to terms with what that means, with the help of hologram Spock. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” he tells the Protostar’s captain, which helps Dal realize that the needs of the crew must come before his own needs — and fears about seeking the Federation’s help. (As an aside, it was absolutely wonderful to hear clips of Leonard Nimoy as Spock assembled in this episode, and the return of Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher was most welcome.)
As Dal returns to tell the crew he’s accepted their decision to return the U.S.S. Protostar to the Federation, he stumbles upon an amazing sight on the bridge — all kinds of data unlocked by Gwyn. It’s going to take time to sort through, but we learn a fascinating tidbit: The Protostar was a prototype captained by none other than Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager. It’s not clear what went wrong (just that there was some sort of terrible situation and the ship was boarded), or why Hologram Janeway has no memory of this previous mission. What I do know is that we’re in for a wild ride the rest of this season.
Swapna (she/her) writes about space, technology, and pop culture at outlets such as Wired, NPR, Engadget, and more. You can find her on Twitter @skrishna.
Star Trek: Prodigy currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in U.S. and Australia, and is coming soon to Paramount+ in Latin America and the Nordics as well as to Nickelodeon international channels, which are available in 180 countries globally. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Prodigy is distributed by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.