DISCLAIMER: This recap of Star Trek: Prodigy holds a whole quadrant full of spoilers. Use the Janeway Maneuver at your peril.
Welcome Trekkies! Star Trek: Prodigy is a series about a ragtag group of teens who come together to form a Federation crew. In Episode 7, “First Con-tact,” the crew must learn how to come together as a team to interact with precious little lifeforms for the first time.
Ready to teleport into the vacuum of space? Engage!
Episode 7 opens with a traditional Captain’s Log, although Dal R’El (Brett Gray) is not a traditional captain yet. We learn that the current crew is disturbed by what they learned at the end of Episode 6, “Kobayashi,” about the fate of Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and his crew, especially Hologram Janeway (Kate Mulgrew).
However, and remember they’re all just kids, the non-hologram members of the crew have found other ways to distract themselves from the stress of what they are feeling. They have learned how to use the ship’s transporter, cleverly figuring out they can use the combadge to make track the transported item: floor pie.
And it’s delicious!
Proud of themselves and about to get too big for their teenage britches, Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) explains how a transporter works in terms that a child could understand. He says, “The transporter’s some kind of teleportation machine. It converts the pie into energy, then reconverts it back.”
Well, Poggy, when you put it that way, I may have to agree with Dr. Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) that you can never trust a transporter to get you someplace in one piece! But Dal is of a different mindset, and he wants a living test subject! Not himself, of course!
The crew sends the indestructible Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) instead, which he doesn’t look too happy about if you ask me. Then, they accidentally beam him directly into the vacuum of space (although he seems to like that a lot more than teleporting).
Suddenly, the U.S.S. Protostar receives a distress signal. Hologram Janeway apprises the crew of the other ship’s status, and Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) insists on helping. In Dal’s face, he portrays that he knows there’s more to the story because he recognizes the con of baby’s dying from the Phage, a very deadly disease introduced in Star Trek: Voyager.
Ultimately, Dal is right, and it’s a Ferengi con operation run by DaiMon Nandi (Grey Griffin), who is the Ferengi who raised Dal before selling him to The Diviner.
However, Dal doesn’t know Nandi is responsible for his imprisonment and servitude. So the crew decides to beam over to the Ferengi ship where Dal’s friends get to see where he lived before Tars Loma: under the engine.
As Gwyn walks around, she asks, “All the stories you would tell me this is where you saw it from? The battles? The planets? The Window of Dreams?”
On the other hand, Jankom finds a Klingon cloaking device, which needs chimerium to work. (Have they always needed chimerium to work? It doesn’t seem like since chimerium originated in Beta canon, and cloaking devices have been around since
Those Old Scientists). When Nandi starts lamenting how hard chimerium is to find, Rok-Tahk being herself says the Protostar has loads of it!
But Dal tries to play down the fact that they have chimerium on-board… although, with the rest of the crew confirming Rok-Tahk’s assertion, Dal has no choice but to come clean with Nandi.
In the next scene, Nandi tries to pump Dal for further information, but he’s savvier than Rok-Tahk: he cites The Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #208: “Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.”
Nevertheless, Nandi wants to recruit Dal for a job, using the Protostar as a method of opening doors of opportunity that would otherwise be unavailable for profit. There’s a planet in the Skeralyx System, Nandi says, with an advanced civilization that has yet to make first contact with alien life, and they have a plentiful natural resource called remalite crystals.
The resource is too plentiful, according to Nandi. Besides, she only wants one of them.
Although Dal questions her motives, Nandi says she only needs one crystal to settle a debt from the Dabo tables. Nandi really plays up her need for Dal’s skills, and then frames it as a “diplomatic exchange.”
Most insulting of all, Nandi proposes that Dal offer to swap a Ferengi bedpan for the obviously-valuable crystal in question. But to seal the deal, Nandi presses on Dal’s own need to protect his crew with a cloaking device that can help them escape their problems — problems for which she implies Dal must be responsible. How rude!
Next, on the bridge of the Protostar, it’s clear that Dal has agreed to Nandi’s proposal and the crew is generally excited at the proposition of being the first aliens to meet a new species. However, Janeway is naturally familiar with the tenants of First Contact, and puts a kibosh on the revelry: she brings up Starfleet’s Prime Directive to avoid interfering with the evolution of another intelligent species (at least until they break the warp barrier, preferably while listening to “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf).
“These are the highest priority guidelines Starfleet abides by,” Janeway notes, forgetting to mention that, the very first time that the Prime Directive is brought up in the TOS episode “The Return of the Archons,” Captain Kirk manages to break it, but at least it’s for a better reason than personal gain.
At any rate, Janeway is definitely a more morally sound authority here than Nandi. But as the Ferengi who raised him, Nandi has already got her hooks in Dal.
Dal promises Janeway they’ll just be careful not to interfere with the species’ “develop-lution.” But when Nandi suggests uniforms, to better look the part, Dal says they don’t need to be so formal, which is probably for the best, because I’m looking forward to the first time this crew dons the uniforms and I don’t need it sullied by Nandi’s avarice-motivated machinations.
However, Zero can’t help but notice that Dal is conflicted about the mission. “I trust her?” Dal tells Zero… but it’s definitely a question, not a statement.
As the Protostar approaches the Skeralyx System, in a series of flyover shots, we see that the planet is characterized by lots of rippling golden sand. The Federation ship touches down and the crew steps out onto a beautiful, sandy and wind-blown surface. Zero scans and detects lifeforms – some precious little life forms – but where are they?
But suddenly, that’s when a strange sound begins to emanate from all around the crew, and glowing figures appear on a nearby ridge. Soon, the sand begins to react to the intense soundwaves, moving in strange patterns around the crew’s feet. Gwyn ascertains that the figures on the ridge are communicating, but what are they trying to say?! They seem upset!
The sand begins to rise around them, enclosing them in a swirling dome that looks like a landspout tornado.
Beautiful landspout tornado near Wilcox, NE taken by Chris Sheen tonight. pic.twitter.com/nhMXepWvOB
— TornadoTitans.com (@TornadoTitans) June 15, 2014
The crew begins to panic as the situation becomes dire. Gwyn orders them to bow to demonstrate that they aren’t a threat and mean them no harm. The crew (and Nandi) comply, but it doesn’t seem to be communicating the message, but that’s when Gwyn realizes that, given that the lifeforms seem to communicate using harmonic frequencies, the crew must respond in kind!
Gwyn orders her crewmates to calibrate their tricorder frequencies to the same harmonic tone hers is emitting, and once that’s accomplished, the air (literally) clears. Moments later, an intricately-spired, shell-like structure rises out of the ground before them! The crew is awed by the building’s arrival and eagerly head inside.
Meanwhile, back on the Protostar, Janeway is reviewing the holographic record of Captain Chakotay and herself as the starship was being boarded. When she magnifies a key image by 200%, a familiar figure is revealed: Drednok (Jimmi Simpson)! But she doesn’t recognize him… And anyway, how did he get aboard…?
As the rest of the crew travels deeper into the structure on the planet, Zero observes that the structure of the architecture reveals a deep understanding of mathematics. Jankom Pog wonders how this could be possible, and Gwyn explains that it is via the process of cymatic transmutation: “by changing the pitch, they create sound waves that can shape matter.” Gwyn says that this is called “acoustic terra-molding.” I just call it “really neat sci-fi”!
Rok-Tahk suggests “Cyari“ as a species name, based on the word “cymatics,” and Nandi says they can call them whatever so long as she gets her profit. Again, how rude!
The group arrives in a large chamber and the walls close behind them… then a hole appears in the floor! Soon, they’re all sliding downwards, and they eventually land in a dark and quiet room.
But both those metrics are soon altered, as another humming tone is accompanied by the illumination of hundreds of crystals hanging suspended from the roof of the cavern. The younger members of the crew are awed by the beauty, and Nandi is awed by the resale value.
As the crystals glow, the crew makes first contact with the Cyari, as one of their resplendent number reveals themselves from a hole higher up the cavern wall. Soon, many more Cyari join the first. It’s a gorgeous, stirring moment.
Zero ascertains that each crystal emits its own frequency, thereby allowing the Cyari to achieve harmonic resonance. The crystals are necessary to transform matter, Gwyn surmises — every single one of them!
But the new information doesn’t sway Nandi, who presents the Cyari with the bedpan. Nandi demands a “gift” in exchange, and the Cyari oblige: the crystals begin to glow in new patterns, causing sand particles to rise and dance in the air around the crew.
“This is the greatest gift,” says Gwyn, and even Jankom is moved to tears (although he won’t admit it).
However, Nandi is indifferent and swipes one of the crystals right out of the air, causing the rest of the crystals to go dark as the sand falls to the ground. It’s clear that this causes Cyari pain, and Nandi just keeps swiping crystals! As a chronic pain patient, I just can’t abide by that Nandi. This Dude, does not abide.
Dal says this isn’t what they agreed to, and the rest of the crew immediately demands to know why Dal lied to them (again). Meanwhile, Nandi refuses to stop, quoting Rule of Acquisition #21: “Never place friendship above profit.” She shoves Dal aside.
But the rumbling ground causes her to fall over, and several of the crystals fall from her satchel, scattering them across the ground. Nandi flees with one of the crystals, leaving the young crew members behind.
The crew picks up as many of the crystals as they can, replacing them on the vines from which they are suspended. However, they’re still missing the one that Nandi stole. They flee from the building, which is violently shaking and beginning to lose its shape (a result of the fact that acoustic terra-molding cannot be achieved when the stolen crystal is missing).
On the surface, Nandi is remorseless as she observes the crystal, but Dal tackles her and wrestles with her for the crystal. Nandi accuses him of being soft, even after working in the mines, which is when Nandi reveals that she sold Dal to The Diviner and replaced him with Pik-Pox, the aforementioned hovering robot, who doesn’t talk back.
Nandi’s ship, The Damsel, de-cloaks above them, and Pik-Pox himself floats down as Dal realizes that Nandi stole their chimerium. Dal asks if she really needed the crystal, and Nandi says that although she does, she saw an additional opportunity for chimerium when Dal appeared. She continues to taunt him as she boards her ship and takes off.
Dal seems dejected, and he is soon beamed back aboard the Protostar, which Jankom laments was more difficult because Dal lost his combadge…
But Dal didn’t lose his combadge. During the struggle with Nandi, he clandestinely placed it on the crystal, allowing them to lock onto (it in spite of the fact that it was on Nandi’s ship) and beam it back to its proper location. As the Cyari gather around the restored crystals, the shot focuses on the combadge, and its familiar Delta shape…
Back on the Protostar, the crew is emotionally drained from the whole affair.
Rok-Tahk says that at least they fixed it, but that’s when Janeway appears and disagrees, saying they’ve done irreparable harm to the Cyari civilization. Even though the crystals were returned, their first brush with alien life saw the aliens trying to take advantage of them.
The crew is dejected, and as they leave the bridge, Dal wonders how Nandi could do that do to him, lamenting that she was like a mother to him. But Gwyn can empathize: her father, The Diviner, also betrayed her for his own personal gain. Dal says he’s responsible for losing the chimerium, but Gwyn points out that he’s learned who his true friends are: the crew of the Protostar. Nevertheless, she says she wishes she could tell him that the parental betrayal will stop hurting… but she doesn’t know if it ever will.
Back on The Damsel, Pik-Pox approaches his angry owner. There’s a reward for information about the Protostar, and that makes Nandi’s lobes tingle with opportunity…
Written by Rebecca Kaplan with contributions from Avery Kaplan (@AveryKaplan6)
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