DISCLAIMER: This recap of Star Trek: Prodigy holds a whole quadrant full of spoilers. Use the Janeway Maneuver at your peril.

In Episode 9 of the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy, “A Moral Star, Part 1,” written by Kevin & Dan Hageman, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Lisa Schultz, Nikhil S. Jayaram, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Chad Quandt and Aaron J. Waltke and directed by Ben Hibon, the crew of the U.S.S. Protostar must make some difficult decisions to do what’s right.

RELATED: Read our recaps of Star Trek: Prodigy!

The penultimate episode of the season sees our heroes going where they’ve been before (and swore they’d never go again): the prison colony of Tars Lamora!

The Ultimatum

We open Episode 9 with the U.S.S. Protostar in front of a gorgeous nebula.

Inside, Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) is sharing the story of her experiences during the previous episode, “Time Amok.” Even the chronic contrarian Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) has to admit that Rok-Tahk did well, and Zero (Angus Imrie) marvels that they could still work as a team even when they were separated by shattered time. 

Kate Mulgrew as Janeway in STAR TREK: PRODIGY Season 1 Episode 9 A Moral Star Part 1

Kate Mulgrew as Janeway in STAR TREK: PRODIGY streaming on Paramount+. Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2022VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

Even Gwyn (Ella Purnell), who began the season in a more antagonistic role, has to admit that they make a good team — something that I’m sure the former Maquis-turned-Captain, Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran), would find relatable.

Meanwhile, Dal R’El (Brett Gray), the current Captain of the Protostar, is preoccupied with Drednok (Jimmi Simpson) managing to make his way onto the ship via the vehicle replicator. He wonders aloud if they’ll spend their whole lives running from The Diviner (John Noble).

Then, he accidentally knocks over Drednok, causing his head to activate like a projector, casting the image of The Diviner himself into the air! But luckily, it’s just a recording, although it still has the intended effect of inflicting emotional damage on his young progeny. 

The Diviner offers the crew of the Protostar an ultimatum: surrender the ship to him, and he’ll release the Unwanted or refuse to comply within one day and “be responsible” for genocide (that’s some messed up dictator sh*t, Gwyn’s Papi).  

The message concludes with a personal aside to Gwyn, saying, “There are needs greater than either of ours.” But, whose needs? Is someone else pulling The Diviner’s genocidal strings? To whom is he beholden? Maybe the Founders? They like to wipe out whole species, after all.

John Noble as The Diviner and Ella Purnell as Gwyn in STAR TREK: PRODIGY Season 1 Episode 9 A Moral Star Part 1

John Noble as The Diviner and Ella Purnell as Gwyn in STAR TREK: PRODIGY streaming on Paramount+ Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2022 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

We don’t get the chance to find out because the recording starts over initially (and Gwyn destroys Drednok’s head, ending the projection).

RELATED: Read our recaps for Star Trek: Discovery!

The Conference

Next, the Protostar crew has gathered in the observation lounge to discuss the situation. Stroking Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), Rok-Tahk states it was wrong to leave the other Tars Lamora prisoners in no uncertain terms, and they have a moral imperative to return. On the other hand, Gwyn says her father can’t have the ship, and Dal points out the Protostar isn’t even large enough to save all the miners.

Zero counters the ship wasn’t designed to just “joyride around the galaxy”… But Jankom cuts to the chase: are they suggesting a rescue mission? They aren’t Starfleet and can barely even help themselves, so how can they help others? Jankom offers they contact Starfleet and let them handle it. However, by the time Starfleet arrives, it’ll be well past The Diviner’s one-day delivery deadline.

Complicating matters further, they only have enough power for one proto-warp, which means they must choose between traveling to Federation territory (not knowing if Starfleet can make it in time) or returning to Tars Lamora. It’s a difficult moral quandary.

So Dal calls on Hologram Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) for her opinion. Janeway tells them that she doesn’t envy their decision: neither choice is a guarantee, but ultimately, it falls to the Captain to make the call.

Not trusting the Captain to make the right call without a push in the right direction, Poggy jumps onto the table and asks how it’s even a debate. “Going back for the miners is a bad call,” he declares. “That Jankom couldn’t be prouder to make with you dumb-dumbs. Who’s in?”

STAR TREK: PRODIGY Season 1 Episode 9 A Moral Star Part 1

Brett Gray as Dal and Kate Mulgrew as Janeway in STAR TREK: PRODIGY streaming on Paramount+ Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ (C)2022 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

Everyone quickly agrees, except Captain Dal, who grunts in frustration and leaves. Gwyn follows him to his Ready Room and asks what’s wrong, and Dal admits that he’s scared to return after he barely escaped last time, noting Gwyn doesn’t understand what it was like to be enslaved to her father rather than to be his progeny.

Dal adds that it isn’t only his life that his decision will put at risk; it’s the lives of the rest of the Protostar crew as well — and although he demures, it’s clear he has a particular interest in Gwyn’s well-being.

Dal points out any attempted rescue is a no-win scenario, like the Kobayashi Maru. Still, unlike the holodeck simulation, the crew can’t just scream, “AGAIN!” and repeat the rescue until successful. Thus, this mission can’t be one of Dal’s poorly thought-out plans.

Gwyn tells him not to worry. They’re in “cat boots” now, calling back to their conversation in the very first episode of the series and reassuring him that the crew is all in this together.

The Uniform

A montage of the crew preparing for the mission ensues, with my favorite montage moment of all being when Gwyn, Rok-Tahk, and Janeway clink together their respective mugs of coffee.

Janeway, there's coffee in that nebula

Photo: StarTrek.com

Later, Dal holds the goggles we’ve seen him wearing since Tars Lamora before finally setting them aside to open a crate that contains a Starfleet uniform, complete with a combadge.

In the next scene, Janeway is standing on the bridge when Dal enters — wearing the uniform. Soon he’s joined by Gwyn, Rok-Tahk, Jankom, and Zero, all dressed in their Starfleet jumpsuits. “Suddenly, I feel underdressed,” says Janeway and adjusts her classic Star Trek: Voyager-era uniform to one that matches the rest of the crew’s fresh new clothes.

RELATED: Bonnie Gordon Speaks the Protostar’s Truth on Star Trek: Prodigy

Finally, the young crew’s outfits match what they’ve indeed managed to become, a legitimate Starfleet crew, a fact that Janeway underscores with one of her patented Janeway speeches.

From there, they take the Protostar to maximum warp. With the proto-drive charged, Dal gives his unique order to engage the particular engine: “Go Fast!” (See also: Picard’s “Engage,” Freeman’s “Warp me,” and Riker’s “Give me warp in the factor of five-six-seven-eight!”) The Protostar is on her way.

The Return

When the Protostar arrives at Tars Lamora, the gorgeous ship stands as an inspirational beacon in stark contrast to the unwelcoming landscape of the asteroid. But from the Rev-12 bridge, The Diviner gloats about the ship’s return to an indifferent (but dutiful) Drednok. 

Ominous music swells as the Protostar approaches the now de-cloaked Rev-12. I guess The Diviner has to be using all that chimerium for something, and we know it fuels cloaking devices, after all. We see several miners reacting to its return, including the fan-favorite young Caitian.

As the crew commiserates, Dal issues orders: lower the Protostar’s shield, prepare the cargo transporter, and have Murf play “dress-up” (more on that soon, obviously).

Suddenly, a tractor beam activates and pulls the Protostar in for the handoff with The Diviner and Drednok, while elsewhere, the young Caitian runs to get a better look at the now-landed Federation vessel. Is the Caitian planning to sneak aboard?

You know, some of my favorite starship crew lineups include Caitains.

Gwyn and the young Caitian, surrounded by Klingon-language holograms.

In “Lost and Found,” Gwyn and the young Caitian are surrounded by Klingon-language holograms. Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

The Protostar’s ramp extends, and the crew exits, with Dal saying that if The Diviner tries anything hasty, Janeway is ordered to activate the Protostar’s self-destruct function.

Turning to the negotiations, Dal asks how they’re supposed to survive if they don’t have a ship. However, The Diviner is unsympathetic and asks if they realize that the Starfleet uniform stands for “lies and hypocrisy,” which Gwyn says The Diviner would know all about, angering him.

Surprising no one, The Diviner changes the terms at the last minute, saying his progeny must accompany him too. The Protostar crew is shocked (but are they?), and even Drednok, who admitted his disdain for Gwyn in the previous episode, says it would be a mistake to take her. However, The Diviner says his only mistake is not telling her “the truth” to begin with. What is this guy hiding?

Gwyn agrees to go with The Diviner, but only if he’ll free the miners and promise to leave them the Rev-12. Although the rest of the crew protests, Gwyn points out that Dal was right about needing a ship to ensure everyone’s survival. Besides, after standing by and doing nothing when so many were enslaved, she must do something to make it right.

Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 9 A Moral Star Part 1

Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

The Diviner accepts the terms while claiming credit for teaching Gwyn to negotiate (typical abusive father) and ignoring Drednok’s (somewhat prophetic) protestation. “I have my Protostar and my progeny,” growls The Diviner. “I need nothing else.”

Interestingly, when The Diviner next orders Drednok to release the Unwanted, it also leads to the deactivation of Drednok’s security drones.

As Gwyn solemnly walks toward her father, the light catches her combadge, and he orders her to remove it. She reluctantly complies, and he drops it on the ground and steps on it, shattering it. The rest of the Protostar’s crew looks on dejectedly as The Diviner, Gwyn, and Drednok board the ship and close the door behind them.

“Why does it feel like we lost?” asked Jankom Pog.

“Because we did the right thing,” says Dal.

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The Double-Cross

The Diviner struts onto the bridge of the Protostar and approaches the captain’s chair. When Janeway protests that the chair doesn’t belong to him, The Diviner instructs Drednok to “override his Starfleet nuisance.” Soon, Janeway’s program is rewritten to a more malicious and compliant version of herself, with a washed-out color palette and sinister-looking new uniform to match.

Hey, for all the cosplayers, at least we’ll have plenty of new outfits to depict in fan art while we wait for ten more Prodigy episodes later in 2022.

Revulsion

“Revulsion,” Star Trek: Voyager. Photo: IMDb

Next, The Diviner orders to destroy the Rev-12’s power generators, leaving the Unwanted to die without atmospheric shields.

Gwyn protests, but The Diviner states he promised them a ship, not their lives. The Protostar fires on the Rev-12, causing debris to fall on Dal and the rest of the crew, who flee, helping one another survive the rocks raining down on them.

With the power generators destroyed, the atmospheric shields give out, and gravity goes and our heroes float upwards. But as long as the Protostar still hovers nearby, Dal, Rok-Tahk, Jankom, and Zero all cling to one another for dear life. As we later see, this is all part of the plan.

On the bridge of the Protostar, the now-sinister Janeway informs The Diviner that they are clear of the asteroid system, and Drednok prepares the ship for its rapid regeneration protocols, although they have depleted the proto-drive. Meanwhile, Gwyn asks where they’re going and demands to know the truth, but The Diviner tells her that the Protostar is more than a ship; it is their salvation.

STAR TREK: PRODIGY -- USS Protostar

Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

The Diviner tries to turn back to business, but Gwyn insists he says her more – why did he choose the Protostar over her on the Murder Planet in Episode 5, “Terror Firma”? The Diviner claims he was blinded by duty, but he now realizes the value of his progeny and says he cannot do what he must without her by his side.

This time, Gwyn says she’s ready to listen and asks what he wants from her.

RELATED: Read our recap of Star Trek: Prodigy: (S01E05) Terror Firma

… But when the pair link telepathically, The Diviner ascertains that Gwyn is hiding something she’s stalling! The Diviner orders Drednok to activate the proto-drive, and that’s when they discover the young crew’s plan. The powerful engine isn’t on board; it was removed!

“Lose something?” asks Gwyn with a grin.

The Proto Core

Back on Tars Lamora, miners, minerals, and drones are floating around in the low gravity. Oh my!

Our Protostar crew is still screaming until Dal says they can drop the act, as The Diviner and Drednok are gone! We soon learn that The Diviner has played into their plan (although they could have done without the destruction of the Rev-12’s generators). Dal assures them that they can still save everyone; it’ll just be more difficult without gravity.

That’s when it’s revealed it isn’t Zero who’s floating with Dal, Rok-Tahk, and Jankom Pog. It’s the indestructible Murf concealed inside a Zero costume, created by the vehicle replicator (the “dress-up” referred to earlier), and inside Murf is the proto-core!

“Good thing he’s indestructible,” remarks Rok-Tahk. “Otherwise, our faces would be melting off.”

Then, the authentic Zero appears with jet packs for the floating crew members. Now better equipped to handle the conditions in which they’ve found themselves, Dal orders Rok, Jankom, and Murf to get the Rev-12’s power back on so they can get into the air. Meanwhile, Dal and Zero will corral the miners so they can all escape.

“I just hope Gwyn can buy us enough time for this crazy plan to work,” says Dal.

Episode 9, the penultimate episode of Prodigy’s first season, ends with our heroic crew split in three ways, but each is working towards a shared goal. Luckily, the young crew already has experience working as a team from separate locations. 

Written by Rebecca Kaplan with contributions from Avery Kaplan (@AveryKaplan6).

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