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The Flight of the Protostar: The Long and Winding Prodigy Journey

No trip is ever a straight line.

This article contains story details and plot points for aspects of Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, as well as a few details of the Prodigy Season 2 episodes "Temporal Mechanics 101," "The Last Flight of the Protostar, Parts I & II ," and "Ouroboros Parts, I & II."

Graphic illustration of the U.S.S. Protostar and a pastel stream of its flight path

In space, no trip is ever a straight line, especially not when proto-warp is involved.

Starting in Season 1 of Star Trek: Prodigy, the experimental U.S.S. Protostar has gone further and faster than any starship before. But, interestingly, a good portion of that journey was accomplished by a group of people who were not part of the ship's original crew. And now, in Season 2 of Prodigy, it turns out that the Protostar's journey forward in Season 1, required a paradoxical journey back to get it back to where Dal, Rok-Tahk, Gwyn, Zero, Jankom Pog, and Murf found the ship in the first place.

So where did the Protostar come from? And where did it end up?

Here's the flight of the Protostar, explained — even for those who haven't completed their Starfleet Academy course in temporal mechanics.

2382: The U.S.S. Protostar is Launched into the Delta Quadrant

In 'Asylum,' the holodeck replays the simulation of Admiral Janeway saying goodbye and celebrating Captain Chakotay's new mission aboard the U.S.S. Protostar


Before the events of the very first Prodigy episode, "Lost and Found, Part 1," the U.S.S. Protostar was launched for the very first time in 2382, under the command of Captain Chakotay and his first officer, Commander Adreek-Hu, as seen in a flashback in "Asylum," and referenced throughout the second season. The mission was that the Protostar was going back to the distant Delta Quadrant, previously charted (on accident) by the U.S.S. Voyager during the years 2371 to 2378.

"Lost and Found" takes place in 2384, so, the ship is lost for two years, and eventually buried underneath Tars Lamora before it's discovered by the kids, right?

Well, not exactly. How the Protostar gets to Tars Lamora isn't just a matter of time passing, it's a matter of time travel. A lot of time travel.

2436: A Jump into the Future — and then — the Past

Rok-Tahk and Dal find the U.S.S. Protostar hidden on Tars Lamora in 'Lost and Found'

"Lost and Found"

Because Chakotay and the Protostar accidentally encounter a temporal anomaly, the ship is thrown into the future, on the planet Solum in the year 2436, which is 52 years after the present time of 2384. To be clear, the kids don't know any of this in the first half of Season 1, which means this future-jaunt of the Protostar is technically part of the ship's past history.

In the original version of the timeline, Chakotay managed to send the Protostar back through the time wormhole, on autopilot, where it was lost in the Delta Quadrant in the year 2366. At that point, the ship eventually settled on Tars Lamora. However, The Diviner and the Vau N'Akat were looking for it because they'd secretly installed a Living Construct on the ship, designed to destroy the Federation.

But, nobody found the Protostar until 2384, at the start of the first episode of Prodigy when Dal, Gwyn, Zero, Jankom, Murf, and Rok use the ship to escape captivity on Tars Lamora. When they find it, the ship is abandoned, though Dal does find a Starfleet combadge on the floor. Who left that there?

2384: The Voyages of the Starship Protostar

Close-up of Dal looking out ahead on the viewscreen with Zero, Holo-Janeway, Murf, Rok-Tahk, Gwyn, and Jankom Pog behind him on the bridge in 'Supernova, Part 2'

"Supernova, Part 2"

The vast majority of Season 1 happens in 2384, and during these episodes, the journey of the Protostar isn't a time-hopping trip, but instead, a matter of getting from the Delta Quadrant to the edge of Federation space in the Alpha Quadrant.

By "Asylum," the Protostar is in Federation space, and by the Season 1 finale, "Supernova, Part 2," the Protostar makes it to Earth, and Starfleet headquarters, following their epic adventure that saw the Prodigy crew forced to destroy their ship in order to save the Federation from the Living Construct.

So, in theory, that should be the end of the story of this particular ship. But it wasn't.

2436 to 2374: The Timey-Wimey Other Voyage of the Protostar

Aboard a shuttle, Jankom Pog, Zero, Rok-Tahk and Murf look at a projection of a live map of them heading towards a wormhole in 'Into the Breach, Part I'

"Into the Breach, Part I"

Prodigy Season 2 (mostly) takes place from 2384 to 2385.

This is why the final episode, "Ouroboros, Part II," references the Romulan Supernova and the Synth Attack on Mars. By the end of all of this, Prodigy has caught up with the events of Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard. However, before the end, the previously destroyed Protostar takes a much stranger trip.

As established in Season 2's premiere episode, "Into the Breach, Part I," Janeway and the crew of the Voyager-A want to use a wormhole to rescue Chakotay from his exile, in the future, on the planet Solum. Essentially, Janeway wants to grab Chakotay during the backstory of the Protostar's original mission from Season 1.

But, in order to keep the timeline intact, everyone has to wait until Chakotay sends the Protostar away from Solum on autopilot. That way, Rok, Zero, Jankom, Murf, Dal, and Gwyn can find it when they're supposed to.

A bearded Chakotay sits in the driver's seat of a Runaway vehicle with Gwyn strapped in beside him in 'Last Flight of the Protostar, Part 1'

"Last Flight of the Protostar, Part I"

However, this all goes horribly wrong by "Who Saves the Saviors" and "Temporal Mechanics 101." Instead of Chakotay sending the Protostar on autopilot — as everyone assumed he did in the original timeline — he goes with the ship, which means it ends up stranded in 2374.

This basic event is the crux of the near entirety of Season 2. In order for the timeline to be restored, the Protostar has to get back to Tars Lamora, which is why the kids have to team-up with Chakotay to get the Protostar back to where they belong.

None of them would know each other, Gwyn wouldn’t exist, and the Federation wouldn't be saved from the Construct if they didn't. In addition to a lot of other adventures, the big arc in Season 2 is designed to preserve the backstory of Season 1.

Back to 2384. Again. For the First Time

On a sandy surface of , Maj'El, Rok-Tahk, Gwyn, Dal, Murf, Rok-Tahk look out ahead of them in awe in 'The Devourer of All Things, Part II'

"The Devourer of All Things, Part II"

In "Ouroboros, Part II," with some help from a beloved character from The Next Generation era that most fans will almost certainly recognize, the crew of the Protostar manages to get the ship back where it belongs on Tars Lamora — essentially, in their immediate past.

Early in the season, Maj'el reminds the crew that Starfleet has often been mixed up in "casual time loops," moments where our heroes seem to be meant to impact the events of the past to keep everything on track. Maj'el's examples include the Bell Riots, which references Captain Sisko taking the identity of Gabriel Bell in the Deep Space Nine two-parter "Past Tense," and the Cochrane warp test, which demonstrated the fact that the crew of the Enterprise-E actually helps make sure the first human warp flight happens in the movie First Contact.

Close-up of the combadge Dal finds on the surface of the U.S.S. Protostar bridge console in 'Lost and Found'

"Lost and Found"

What makes the time loop in Prodigy so poignant is that throughout Season 2, the story seems to reveal that the crew are essentially responsible for their own special little family. It seems the person who left that combadge on the deck of the Protostar for Dal to find later was Dal himself, from just a little bit in the future.

So which timeline was the correct one? The journey of the Protostar proves that the nitty-gritty answer to that question probably doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, this crew was always going to meet, even before they met for the first time.