SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Episode 16 of Star Trek: Prodigy "Preludes."
This week's episode "Preludes" opens with Vice Admiral Janeway musing over who they might be dealing with aboard the U.S.S. Protostar. They won't answer hails their hails (unbeknownst to Janeway, they can't!) and the Dauntless can't follow them into the Neutral Zone. Things appear to be at a stalemate.
But Commander Tysess informs Admiral Janeway of a development — he’s discovered the bounty that The Diviner put out on the Protostar crew, and it happens to include their names and photos. Now Admiral Janeway has a better idea of who they're dealing with.
Back on the Protostar, Dal is working on fixing the auxiliary warp drive. Given the situation, it's all hands on deck to fix the ship. Dal's still struggling to accept the truth about his origins, but his issues are quickly put into perspective. Zero points out they all have things in their past they'd prefer to forget.
After some prodding, Rok-Tahk tells them the story of how she ended up on Tars Lamora. It quickly becomes clear why Rok-Tahk hates being judged by her size and appearance. She was part of a fighting show that labeled her "The Monster." She enjoyed it at first, but she got tired of everyone being scared of her. One day, she turned the tables and tried to make the audience laugh instead, but her partner got upset and sold her out to the Kazon. Next, it's Zero's turn. They recall a time when they weren't in the containment suit and they just existed freely with the Medusan hivemind. But Zero was separated from the hive and captured by the Kazon and sent to Tars Lamora as well.
Back on the Dauntless, Asencia is doing her best to refresh The Diviner's memory; reminding him that Starfleet destroyed their home world, Solum. It turns out that he actually welcomed Starfleet, while she, on the other hand, was more wary. As their society descended into civil war, Starfleet refused to become involved or choose sides. Decades later, as their world lay in ruin, the Protostar arrived in their skies through an anomaly.
Finally, we get to see what happened to the Protostar under Captain Chakotay. The ship passed through a temporal wormhole and was damaged. The Vau N'Akat boarded the ship and took Chakotay and his crew prisoner. They installed the Living Construct aboard the Protostar and were ready to travel back in time with it to destroy Starfleet — but Captain Chakotay and his crew escaped. He managed to send the Protostar back in time, without the Vau N'Akat aboard. That's how The Diviner knew the Protostar existed, but had no idea where it was. That's also why Hologram Janeway was the only one aboard when Dal found the ship. It’s unclear what happened to Captain Chakotay and his crew, whether they are alive and if they're still stuck in the future.
The Vau N'Akat had sent 100 ships, led by The Order, back through the wormhole to locate the Protostar, including The Vindicator (Asencia's true name) and The Diviner. Most were lost when the wormhole began to collapse, but The Vindicator made it through three years ago. In that time, she infiltrated Starfleet and ensured she was assigned to the Dauntless under Janeway's command.
With all this information, The Diviner's memory returns, revealing that he thought he wouldn't survive as he'd been searching for the ship for the past 20 years. That's why he created his progeny, Gwyndala.
Back on the Protostar, the crew continues to fix the ship. Jankom Pog decides to relay his story about how he ended up on Tars Lamora. The Tellarite send their orphans out on deep space missions in cryosleep. Jankom was one of these orphans; however, he was awakened early. Despite being just an engineer trainee, he had to fix all kinds of mechanical issues aboard his ship as the others slept. Once complete, unable to return to cryogenic stasis or maintain the ship's oxygen supply for the remainder of their journey, he decided to go his own way. Unfortunately, his escape pod was captured by a Kazon ship and he was sold to the labor camp.
As Murf is trying to share his own story, Holo-Janeway comes back online to announce that the Protostar is fixed and once again ready to go.
Back on the Dauntless, Vice Admiral Janeway realizes these kids were slaves, and perhaps they aren't the bad guys after all. She sees that someone called The Diviner put out the bounty, and wonders if their guest can shed any more light on all of this. She doesn’t know it’s his bounty.
The admiral heads to Asencia's quarters to speak with The Diviner, but sees The Vindicator in her true Vau N'Akat form while The Diviner knocks the admiral out. We'll have to wait until next week to find out how Janeway gets out of this one!
Swapna Krishna (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., Latin America, Australia, South Korea, Italy and the U.K. and is coming soon to Paramount+ in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France 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. Star Trek: Prodigy is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.