After a fantastic premiere episode in “Lost and Found, Parts I and II,” Star Trek: Prodigy is back. “Starstruck” is all about learning the ins and outs of the ship, the U.S.S. Protostar, and learning how to be a crew and family, rather than just a motley group of individuals.
The episode begins right where the premiere left off, with Hologram Janeway introducing herself to the crew. She tells the crew that she’s programmed to assist them on their trip back to Federation space and can manage low level ship functions (and give advice, of course). The higher level functions are up to Dal, Zero, Gwyn, Rok-Tahk, Jankom Pog, and Murf to handle.
Hologram Janeway figures out pretty quickly that there’s something weird about this group — the Protostar is a Federation starship clearly intended for a Starfleet crew. She assumes that the group are cadets because they seem to be pretty clueless about everything Federation- and ship-related; however, it’s not clear whether Hologram Janeway is fibbing here. She may very well know that this group has nothing to do with Starfleet and is helping them anyways.
When Hologram Janeway introduces the crew to the principles of the Federation, each and every one of them are in awe. The idea of this kind of collective working towards something better is incredibly inspiring; it’s clear they haven’t really heard of anything like it before. But when Hologram Janeway asks if she should help the group plot a course back toward Federation space, Dal responds with, “No!” which surprises the rest of the crew.
Dal’s hesitance is completely understandable when you think about his history. He doesn’t trust easily and feels like the Federation is too good to be true. He worries that asking “the holo-nanny” for help is akin to handing the reins of the ship over; after all, he has no reason to think she’s telling the truth. “People in authority lie,” he says to them, and points out that the Protostar is a stolen ship. Why would the Federation offer aid? Instead, Dal tells Hologram Janeway to plot a course in the opposite direction of the Federation.
The rest of the crew doesn’t necessarily agree with Dal’s distrust; Zero even points out that the Federation might be able to help protect them from The Diviner. But the fact that they listen to Dal makes it clear that (joking aside) he really is the leader of this group and the captain of the ship.
Now that they’ve dealt with the ship’s course, it’s time to attend to other matters: discovering the ins and outs of the Protostar. The crew finds a place to sleep — Dal even finds the captain’s quarters. They see the ship is equipped with a food replicator (though Rok-Tahk orders the same “nutri-goop” they got at the mines because it’s the only food she’s ever had).
They also decide to put Gwyn in the brig, and we learn a few interesting things about her. First, she’s resistant to Zero’s telepathy. Second, she’s convinced her father will come for her. Finally, during a conversation with Rok-Tahk, Gwyn reveals that she thought all of the inhabitants of the colony were prisoners, rather than slaves forced to do her father’s bidding. It’s not clear how she’ll grapple with this or whether it will affect her loyalty to The Diviner.
We also learn some very interesting things about the U.S.S. Protostar in “Starstruck.” First, Jankom Pog finds engineering and reveals that the ship has not one, but two, warp cores. One is enough to get the ship to warp 9 — so what’s the other one for? There’s also a mysterious system that neither Zero nor Jankom Pog can figure out. Could it be some sort of alternate propulsion system, maybe a version of the slipstream drive that Voyager built, which allowed the ship to travel faster than conventional warp drive would allow?
Their exploration of the ship is interrupted, though, because it turns out that the Dal sent the ship straight to a white dwarf. The Protostar is getting drawn in, and Dal doesn’t know how to fix it. He’s getting a crash course on what it means to be a Captain in this episode, but there’s something big he needs to learn: how to trust others. He hasn’t quite realized that he doesn’t need to actually have all the answers — he needs to learn to rely on those around him (and to stop taking credit for their ideas).
Dal ejects all the escape pods in an effort to make the ship lighter to escape the white dwarf’s gravity, and in doing so he unknowingly foils Gwyn’s escape plans. But in an interesting twist, it turns out that the Protostar has a vehicle replicator on board (we knew large, industrial replicators existed but this is our first confirmation of vehicle replicators in the Star Trek Universe) and Gwyn tries to create a shuttlecraft. Rok-Tahk tries to stop her and Gwyn cuts the artificial gravity on the ship.
Right as it looks like all hope is lost, Dal makes the difficult decision to trust Hologram Janeway (who shows up immediately, complete with her coffee) and asks for help. They manage to get out of trouble, Gwyn ends up back in the brig, and Dal is ready to accept Janeway’s assistance.
This was a fantastic episode that answered a few questions but also opened up a universe of possibilities for the young crew of the Protostar. Where will they head? What is up with the Protostar’s engine configuration? And will The Diviner, who is able to track the Protostar and who launched his own cloaked ship to go after them in “Starstruck,” catch up with the crew? I’m excited to find out in the next episode.
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.