A Star Trek: Prodigy episode written by the entire season 1 writers room reveals the origins of the Protostar’s support crew. “Preludes” was written by Kevin & Dan Hageman, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Lisa Schultz Boyd, Nikhil S. Jayaram, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Chad Quandt, and Aaron J. Waltke, and directed by Steve In Chang Ahn & Sung Shin.
Aboard the Dauntless, Vice Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) listens to Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor (Op. 28 No. 4)” as she sips what looks suspiciously like coffee. Commander Tysess (Daveed Diggs) approaches and informs her that Protostar continues to ignore their hails from within the Neutral Zone. Janeway observes that the Dauntless can’t enter the Neutral Zone and the Protostar won’t come out, so the Protostar crew has locked them out of their troubles.
Janeway laments that they don’t know more about the Protostar crew. Tysess says that’s no longer true and hands her a PADD. It’s a non-Federation bounty that displays the images and names of our six heroes, collectively identified as “The Unwanted.”
Janeway wonders why they won’t answer her hails. Tysess says they’ll bide their time until then.
Fixing the Protowarp
Aboard the Protostar, Captain Dal R’el (Brett Gray) blows out a small fire. Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) tells him to take it easy: they’re trying to fix the protowarp drive, not destroy it. Dal tells Jankom fixing things is Jankom’s job. Zero (Angus Imrie) interjects that it’s everyone’s job, since the Admiral’s on their tail.
Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) tells Dal there’s no need to blame others, they’re all in it together. She passes by with Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) in his new form. They’re followed by Gwyn (Ella Purnell), who states that he’s still upset about discovering he’s a human augment during the events of “Masquerade.”
Dal resents her phrasing, and says it’s going to take him more than a day to come to terms with being a failed genetic experiment. Jankom says he’s not the only one on the ship with a sob story. Dal asks who can top that. Gwyn asks if his father is hunting him down, and Dal is forced to concede that maybe she has him beat.
Zero, a mind-reading Medusian, says that they wouldn’t be so sure. Each crewmember has things in their past they’d like to forget. “Some more than others,” they remark, indicating Rok.
Rok asks why they would read her mind. Zero answers that it’s because they care. Jankom says they could use a break and asks how she ended up on Tars Lamora. The rest of the crew coax the story out of her.
Rok explains that she played the eponymous role in “The Monster,” a popular arena performance. Based on her appearance, she’d play a ferocious monster who would fight a hero. The crowded arena cheered as she was bested by the man who played the hero to her villain.
After the fight, she’d eat a bowl of nutri-goop and share time with the man who played the hero (even if they didn’t share a language). They used their non-verbal bond to tell a story. Each loved making the fans happy, but the fans were fearful of Rok. The way she was perceived upset Rok and she stopped enjoying playing “the monster.”
One day, Rok had had enough. Instead of delivering a ferocious performance, she refused to fight. But when the hero slipped on thrown fruit, the audience began to laugh. Both Rok and the actor delivered a slapstick performance instead of a battle. Rok got the chance to play the role of the hero for once.
But after the fight, she was only given half a bowl of nutri-goop. The “hero” had a sad demeanor. This is because he had sold Rok to the Kazon who would deliver her to Tars Lamora.
Everyone looks heartbroken, but Rok says they shouldn’t feel bad. She points out that if it hadn’t happened, she never would have met the rest of the crew. She embraces Murf. Gwyn observes that this story reveals why she doesn’t like to fight. Rok says it helps to talk about it.
Zero says they should get back to work. But as they attempt to pick up a tool, their arm falls off. Dal says they’re in the Neutral Zone so the ship can wait: for now, Zero needs some attention. Jankom volunteers to fix it and sets to work welding Zero’s suit back together. In the meantime, Gwyn and Dal ask Zero how a Medusian ended up in the Delta Quadrant.
Zero explains that they weren’t always in the containment suit. They say they remember being so free. In a flashback, a Medusian ship is shown landing on a rocky planet under a gorgeous spacescape. The Medusians did not have to speak. They were simply curious minds that had left their homeworld long ago to explore.
A pair of Medusians observe the food chain on the planet they’re exploring. Then a line of Medusians spin and follow one another across the surface. But then one, Zero, sees a strange glow. As the curious lone Medusian approaches the box, the music by Nami Malumad grows ominous.
Above Zero and the box, a cadre of Kazon lies in wait. They are wearing goggles that prevent them from being mad by the sight of an unshielded Medusian. Kazon leap down and chase Zero toward the ship.
The rest of the Medusians flee aboard their ship. Meanwhile, Zero is overtaken by the Kazon, who use energy weapons to incapacitate them. The Medusian ship takes off and flies away as Zero is captured by the Kazon.
Soon, the Kazon deliver the captured Zero to Drednok (Jimmi Simpson) on Tars Lamora. This is where Zero meets Gwyn.
Back on the Protostar, Gwyn tells Zero she’s sorry. The pair touch hands.
The Diviner says Starfleet saved him. Asencia says they destroyed their world. The Diviner asks for help remembering himself. Asencia explains she and The Diviner were initially the same age.
She recaps the narrative espoused by The Diviner in “A Moral Star: Part 2.” In the future, First Contact with Starfleet causes political friction among the Val N’Akat on Solum. This leads to civil war and societal collapse. But decades later, “hope returned.”
The Diviner remembers seeing the Protostar arrive via a wormhole. It sustained heavy damage after traversing a temporal anomaly and wound up lost in the Delta Quadrant. Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and his crew were taken prisoner. Then, the last remaining Living Construct was installed to make the ship a weapon that would travel back in time to destroy Starfleet.
However, on the eve of the launch, Chakotay’s crew escaped. They activated the Protostar and sent it back into the anomaly crewless. They couldn’t track where or when it had gone. As such, The Order was formed. A hundred ships and a hundred Dreadnoks were sent through the temporal anomaly.
“The Diviner” was born, as was “The Vindicator” (Asencia). The wormhole collapses. None of the ships knew where or when they’d end up. The Vindicator arrived in the Alpha Quadrant three years earlier. She hitched a ride with Janeway, the only person as motivated to find the Protostar as she was. She was surprised to discover The Diviner on Tars Lamora.
The Diviner says that he spent twenty years searching. Believing he might die before completing his mission, in defiance of The Order, he made a progeny: Gwyn. He says she betrayed them because of a boy.
Jankom Pog can fix it
Back on the Protostar, the team has fixed the protowarp. It just needs to reboot before it starts to charge. Dal suggests using the holodeck to kill time. Rok says she’d actually prefer to hear more of the crew’s stories and points out that Jankom hasn’t shared yet.
Jankom explains that pre-Federation on Tellar Prime, orphans were enlisted for deep space missions. He says that awakening in a cryosleep chamber is no picnic. A flashback shows a Tellarite ship in deep space. It is struck by debris, damaging its hull.
Inside, a warning klaxon sounds. A wrench is shaken loose by turbulence and falls on Jankom’s cryosleep chamber, which slides open. Jankom is the only one awake.
A floating robot approaches and identifies itself as the “Minor Transport Emergency Assistant” (Zehra Fazal). The MTEA demands Jankom state his “full name and query.” Jankom asks to be put back into cryosleep. The MTEA denies the request and states there is an emergency in progress. Jankom tells the MTEA to wake the engineer. The MTEA denies the request and again states an emergency is occurring. Jankom says he can fix it.
Jankom utilizes his signature “percussive maintenance” and solves the problem. But then another problem pops up. The ensuing sequence shows the cycle repeating multiple times. “Jankom Pog can fix it,” he repeats.
Eventually, the MTEA announces that all systems are optimal. Jankom fixed it. The MTEA says he can rest. But as Jankom gets into the tube, another klaxon sounds. The MTEA informs Jankom that oxygen levels have been depleted by his exertion. The thirty life signs aboard won’t survive to reach their destination.
Jankom asks, “What if there were twenty-nine life signs?”
The Next Adventure
Jankom boards an escape pod. The MTEA tells him he made an excellent engineer. But it does not seem to retain any record of his name. The pod is subsequently picked up by a Kazon and then brought to Tars Lamora.
Zero observes that he saved all those Tellarites, and they’ll never know. Gwyn classifies this “royalty.” Rok and Murf embrace Jankom.
Dal says they all have a past. Gwyn replies that together, they have a brighter future. Then Murf shares his story: a big belch. The crew laughs.
Hologram Janeway appears and announces that the Protostar is prepped and ready. Dal remarks that thanks to the stories, it feels like almost no time has passed. At the encouragement of the others, Rok activates the protowarp drive.
On the Dauntless, Vice Admiral Janeway looks at the images on the PADD. She says they aren’t criminals, just kids in over their head. Tysess suggests they should ascertain who put out the bounty. “The Diviner,” reads Janeway. She expands the image of Gwyn. Could these images jog The Diviner’s memory? Tysess says that he’s in Ensign Asencia’s quarters. Janeway gives Tysess the conn, then orders security to look up information on The Diviner.
Janeway enters the room and discovers an undisguised Asencia and Drednok. The Diviner executes a surprise attack, knocking Janeway out. He tells The Vindicator he’s “Ensuring the mission.”
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