This article was originally published on November 19, 2021.
Last week, Star Trek: Prodigy left us with a cliffhanger, as our intrepid young crew was seemingly stranded on a sentient planet that was trying to consume them. This week’s episode, “Terror Firma” picked up right where “Dreamcatcher” left off.
The good news is that the Protostar survived what appeared to be a devastating crash. Even better, Hologram Janeway lets Dal know that the ship landed rather than crashed, so it was ready to leave as soon as the crew could get back on board. What a relief! The bad news is it’s 10 km away and the crew needs to make their way back — without the Runaway because the planet ate it.
Dal is understandably pretty angry with Gwyn, but Rok-Tahk is ready to forgive her — especially because she saved Murf. But Gwyn isn’t especially in the mood for kindness or understanding and resolves to keep up with the rest of the crew even though she has a fractured leg. She uses her telepathic weapon to create a cast and gets to walking. One thing is for sure: It’s going to be a long trip back to the ship walking through the Murder Planet, as Jankom Pog calls it.
In the meantime, Hologram Janeway is trying to keep the vines from consuming the Protostar and she needs power to do it. The only problem is a mysterious system called the Gravimetric Protostar Containment is sapping up a lot of the ship’s power. Hologram Janeway has no idea what it is, and it requires command-level authorization to shut down (which she doesn’t have).
The crew is walking around in circles, as the planet keeps rearranging itself to confuse them and ensure they never receive the Protostar. They end up in a firefight with one of the planet life form’s guardians, and it’s Gwyn that manages to save them all. She’s becoming more and more a part of this crew, but her connection to her father is holding her back.
Once they escape, they find themselves in an acid rainstorm (which, according to Zero, is apparently part of the planet’s digestion system). The group takes shelter inside the wreckage of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey (which raises a lot of questions — what were Klingons doing in the Delta Quadrant? Or is it this lifeform that can move around at very fast speeds?) and they have a good meal by a fire. They all begin to realize that they’re looking for a sense of belonging — even Gwyn. She thinks she has a place with her father, but deep down, she knows she’ll never have his approval. Dal just wants someone who recognizes him, while Rok-Tahk wants to not be judged by her appearance because people are always automatically scared of her.
Dal seems just about ready to forgive Gwyn as they figure out they can use the stars to navigate back to the ship. That is, until her father’s minion, Drednok, shows up. The surprising thing is that Gwyn doesn’t actually look happy to see him and tries to convince him not to hurt her new friends. When he tells her to step aside and she refuses, he shoots the artificial cast she made to support her injured leg so she can’t walk. Gwyn tells her crew to run and save themselves and gets left behind.
As the crew runs back toward the ship, Gwyn is desperately trying to will her weapon back together to be able to escape from the encroaching vines. We then see The Diviner, who is finally about to achieve his dream of commanding the Protostar — but Gwyn spots her father as well and calls out to him. He begins to walk toward her but then looks back and realizes vines are about to overtake the Protostar. He has to make a decision between the ship and his daughter, and he chooses the ship.
But, it turns out The Diviner’s vision of the ship was just that — a vision created by the Murder Planet. It’s Dal, Rok-Tahk, Zero, Jankom Pog, and Murf who make it back to the Protostar first, and they are ready to get off this planet. But first, they have to go back for their friend and crewmate — The Diviner may have abandoned Gwyn but Dal and his friends aren’t ready to. The crew sets a course for as far away as possible — but The Diviner tracks their warp signature and is hot on their heels.
The crew needs more power, so they have to figure out what the Gravimetric Protostar Containment is immediately or they won’t be able to escape. It’s Zero who figures out what’s going on: The engine for the ship, and possibly a power source for it, is a baby star (a protostar). This isn’t unheard of: We know that Romulans use an artificial singularity as a power source on their ships. This means that the U.S.S. Protostar has something called Protowarp — warp drive fueled by a protostar. It’s unclear how powerful this is or how far this can take them, but they disappear, out of The Diviner’s clutches.
We certainly haven’t seen the last of The Diviner, and there are a lot more mysteries to untangle about the Protostar. But, this was a fantastic opener to the season, and it’s going to be a long wait until the second five-episode arc premieres in January.
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.