RED ALERT: This recap of the Star Trek: Prodigy episode “Starstruck” holds a whole quadrant full of spoilers. If you aren’t ready to boldly go into the wonders of episode three, brew yourself a cup of coffee (black) and come back when you’ve seen the episode.

However, if you want to read the recap on your personal PADD now, we caution you to proceed with the Janeway Maneuver at your own peril because we’re about to boldly go where no recap has gone before!

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Hologram Admiral’s Log: Location: USS Protostar (NX-76884), somewhere in the Delta Quadrant, near the asteroid of Tars Lamora. Star-date: Still unknown.

After a fantastic opening episode, the third episode begins right where the premiere ended. Hologram Admiral Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrewintroduces herself to Star Trek’s newest crew: five teens who just escaped from the Tars Lamora prison and labor camp, a chimerium mining operation located just outside Federation space. As Hologram Janeway begins her spiel about the guiding principles of the Federation, it’s clear the speech was meant for two purposes. One, to introduce new, younger fans to Gene Roddenberry‘s vision for the future. And two, to teach the five youngsters attempting to pilot the Protostar about the Unite Federation of Planets, and its hope-inspiring vision to boldly go.

Mulgrew’s first speech gets at what I love about this episode: it’s full of moments where Janeway’s just Janeway, or what I’m deeming the “Triple J” moments. In fact, the hologram is so Triple J that Hologram Janeway’s coffee drinking is a necessary part of her personality subroutine. Removing it would destabilize her holomatrix and mess up her memory engrams.

“I’m Kathryn Janeway. Your training advisor,” the Hologram Admiral begins. “I’m a hologram based on one of the most decorated captains in Starfleet history, programmed to assist the Protostar’s crew on their journey back to Federation space,” and to help manage the ship’s low-level functions (and give advice, of course). As Hologram Janeway speaks, the ship’s self-appointed captain, Dal R’El (Brett Gray), inches closer to see if she’s real. Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), also confused, but unimpressed with the new technology, grunts, “Ugh, she’s hideous. Why is her forehead so smooth? Ew-ugh.”

“You’re no summer peach either, Tellarite” responds Hologram Janeway, immediately changing Jankom’s mind with her combative response. But with that comment, she has officially earned the trust of one-sixth of the crew’s members. Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) soon follows suit, becoming a fan of Hologram Janeway and the Federation, making it one-third of the crew who trusts Hologram Janeway.

But not everyone feels the same way…

Suddenly, Gwyn (Ella Purnell) interjects too, having also self-appointed herself as the captain of the ship. Thinking she is still in control of the situation, Gwyn tries to demand that the hologram take the ship back to Tars Lamora. This of course leads to a brief power struggle between the two competing self-appointed captains. But as Dal declares himself the ship’s commander, not Gwyn, the rest of the crew looks to Hologram Janeway with confused looks on their faces, indicating that they aren’t so sure about either self-appointment. 

“Starstruck”

“Starstruck” Ep#103 — Brett Gray as Dal, Jason Mantzoukas as Jankom Pog, Ella Purnell as Gwyn, Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk and Angus Imrie as Zero of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

Ignoring the ship’s politics, and sensing that something is afoot, she cleverly adds, “But I believe there is something that you’re not being truthful about…”

“It’s obvious your Starfleet cadets: no uniforms, no clue. I can spot greenhorns a parsec away,” Hologram Janeway adds.

In Star Trek, the term “greenhorn” originates from those old scientists, when an aged-up Captain James T. Kirk called Commodore Stocker a “greenhorn” in “The Deadly Years,” using the term to describe someone who is inexperienced.

Of course, Janeway’s clever trick works on the young greenhorns, giving her the opportunity to explain what the Federation stands for to the ship’s crew.

She begins (and trust me you’ll recognize this speech and if you haven’t watched the show yet, maybe this speech will convince you):

The United Federation of Planets is an interstellar union of different worlds and species with shared principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality. Starfleet is the Federation’s representative for deep space exploration: on a mission to maintain peace and freedom. To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!

As Janeway explains the Federation’s founding principles, a holographic image begins to swirl around her, flashing Star Trek history across the scene, and the Trekkie in me had to look up each ship in the projection because one of them made me do a double-take. Circling the four species that founded the Federation (Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites) and each planet’s unique Federation symbol are a series of ships that Trekkies will recognize from the shape of the ship alone These include the  NCC 1701-D, NCC 74656, NCC 1701, and NX-74205!

Surprisingly, it even looks like the USS Discovery (NCC-1031) is included in the holographic presentation, maybe indicating that the ship’s existence was declassified at some point unless something unique is going on with the Protostar or we’re several hundred years in the future. 

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USS Discovery

Photo: StarTrek.com

After years of living in a mining colony (that’s really a prison for the unaccused), each and every member of the crew is in awe that such a thing as equality exists. As Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) tries to gobble up a holographic planet, the rest of the escapees wonder if such a union is really possible, even the young Medusan, Zero (Angus Imrie). Despite Janeway’s pitch and the fact that the rest of the crew would like to boldly go (or at least they think they do), Dal refuses the hologram’s help. Zero, confused about the rejection, tries to read their self-appointed captain’s mind but can’t clearly see what the young purple alien is thinking other than the fact that Dal wants them out of his mind.

At this point, it’s clear, the young hero-to-be still has a lot to learn about teamwork. Instead of listening to anyone’s advice (as a good captain should), he decides to fly the ship in the opposite direction of Federation space and straight towards the little red dot on the holographic map.

After asking the “Holo-Nanny” for directions to the brig, we get a sense of just how little the escaped refugees know about piloting a starship. Dal doesn’t even know the meaning of “on the starboard side.” As they look for the brig, the crew questions Dal about why they are lying about being cadets, especially after kidnapping the boss’s daughter. Zero interjecting on behalf of the rest of the crew, notes, with a point any Trekkie knows is very valid, “The Federation could give us protection from The Diviner’s tyranny.”

Now that the crew has dealt with the ship’s course, it’s time for them to attend to other matters: locating the brig and discovering the ins and outs of the Protostar. As they explore, Dal, who knows a thing or two about the universe, at least according to him, objects to getting too invested in the Federation principles, telling his crew that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Dal’s inability to trust anyone points to the depths of his trauma, like loss of trust in the world is a key warning sign for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The rest of the crew doesn’t fully agree with Dal’s mistrust of The Federation, however. As tensions between the crew start to rise, Murf slims through. Proving once again that Rok-Tahk may be right about Murf being too smart for the universal translator, he unlocks a room with a map of the Protostar’s interior, showing the location of the brig. There, we learn that Gwyn has inherited the same mental abilities as her father and her mind cannot be read. But Zero doesn’t need to read the progeny’s mind to know what she’s thinking, Gwyn threatens them that her father will come for her.

As Dal tries to laugh off the threat, the ever-literal Zero says aloud, “You laugh, yet your mind is reeling with pure terror.” Good job, Zero. Way to ruin Dal’s attempt to act like a man.

With the threat, we jump back to the Tars Lamora prison colony.

The Diviner

STAR TREK: PRODIGY, with series voice cast including “The Diviner” (voiced by John Noble) and “Drednok” (voiced by Jimmi Simpson) of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

For the first time, The Diviner (John Noble) is out of his tank, and we see a glimpse at the technology keeping him alive. As he asks Drednok (Jimmi Simpson) about the status of the prisoner riots, which have been handled with “minimal losses,” we see several a holo-screen of the young Caitain that Gwyn saved from the Kazon in the first episode. It seems, even in The Diviner’s grief, he has time to think about controlling The Unwanted, just like the dictator he is. Most importantly, however, it’s time for a campaign to save the young Caitain from slavery – something that I’m hoping we see by the end of the first season.

Jumping back to the Protostar, Dal and Zero have found the crew’s sleeping quarters, and Rok-Tahk and Jankom have discovered the mess hall. As Rok-Tahk and Jankom Pog wonder aloud about the purpose of the mess hall, Hologram Janeway suddenly appears to instruct them on how to use the replicator for food. Not knowing that the Federation has moved past traditional currency, Jankom Pog looks down and says, “Uhhhhh, I’m a little light on credits.”

Once Janeway explains that it’s free, Poggy cannot control himself, and he dashes toward the replicator to start ordering: “Blood truffle biscuits, sweet radish pie, and don’t skimp on the sour gravy!”

Rok-Tahk, however, doesn’t know what to order: she has only ever eaten the “slop” they served The Unwanted in the mines, possibly indicating that she was one of the younger ones brought in for manual labor at the prison. However, Janeway always knows how to make someone feel better and says, “I appreciate a girl who knows what she likes.” A total Triple J move.

Next, we see Rok-Tahk entering the brig with a bowl of nutri-goop for Gwyn to eat. However, The Diviner’s progeny can’t imagine a world where someone would be so kind and wrongly assumes that “the girl” has come to mock her (again). Not deterred by the rudeness, Rok-Tahk asks, “So many years you watched them take us, how they treated us. Why didn’t you stop them?” Somehow thinking this is an excuse for her behavior, Gwyn says that her father said they were criminals. “We’re not criminals.The only crime we committed was getting caught,” Rok-Tahk responds.

Zero, now exploring on their own, runs into Poggy, who is working on the Protostar’s two warp cores, a first for a Starfleet vessel as far as I know. Jankom notes that just one of the warp cores will take the ship to go to warp nine. Does this mean that the Protostar can break warp 10, a theoretical barrier for a starship with warp drive? Maybe. The barrier has been broken before. In Voyager (star-date 2372), Lieutenant Tom Paris broke the warp 10 barrier by using a rare form of dilithium discovered in the Delta Quadrant when piloting the shuttlecraft Cochrane. 

While Tom Paris successfully broke the barrier, it was later discovered that the effect caused hyper-evolution in the humanoid body, and later tests were abandoned. Has the science moved beyond that effect?

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“Starstruck”

“Starstruck” Ep#103 — Jason Mantzoukas as Jankom Pog and Angus Imrie as Zero of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

But enough speculating for now, let’s get back to the recap.

RED ALERT! RED ALERT! Dal’s course has lead the Protostar into a binary system where the gravitational pull of an orbiting white dwarf is in the final moments of tearing apart a red giant. Luckily, Zero is there to explain to the viewers why this is bad, “A dying star, what a rare and exciting way to meet our doom.” Jumping in, Hologram Janeway asks again if they would like help. As the crew begins to fall further into the dwarf’s gravity well, Dal decides to divert all power, which deactivates both the hologram and brig. Wuh-oh. 

Gwyn, not knowing what is going on, escapes the brig and locates the ship’s escape pods. But as the bridge crew begins to ditch all non-essential items, including the escape pods, Gwyn discovers that, in the shuttle bay, there is a replicator designed to quickly create any means of transport. To my knowledge, this technology hasn’t been seen in any other Star Trek series. In fact, the fandom widely agrees that certain things cannot be replicated, such as radioactive materials, like dilithium; and transporter parts. In the past, Starfleet vessels were always made in starship construction facilities because the energy cost of replicating something as large as starship would have too high of an energy cost.

We jump to the shuttle bay where the vehicle replicator has begun to build a ship. A fight between Gwyn and Rok-Tahk ensues. Plus, the young alien makes a valid point that she shouldn’t listen to Gwyn because she never helped The Unwanted. “You’re a bad lady,” screams Rok-Tahk. Gwyn tries again to excuse her behavior and a pretty awesome fight sequence continues, with Rok-Tahk showing off why she’s the muscle. She comes back to the Protostar’s bridge to tell the rest of the crew that the prisoner is secure.

Back on the bridge, the gravity was disabled during the Rok-Tahk and Gwyn fight. As the entire crew is floating through the air, Murf latches on to a chair and tries to eat it. Not knowing what to do, Dal finally gives in and asks Hologram Janeway for help. Hologram Janeway instructs them to push a lot of buttons and things start to improve for the future cadets, as they emerge triumphant to an incredible musical theme written by Nami Melumad, the composer of Prodigy, and is the first woman to compose the music for a Star Trek series. 

“Starstruck”

“Starstruck” Ep#103 — Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy . Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021 VIACOM INTERNATIONAL. All Rights Reserved.

Partnering with Michael Giacchino, who composed the opening theme of the series, Melumad has crafted a rich score, with musical nods to Voyager, for both the new characters and for Hologram Janeway. (You can read more about the Prodigy score here.)

Dal, once again ruining the moment for everyone, says, “I guess I did know when to ask for help, which is what a natural-born captain would do. You’re welcome.” As the rest of the crew jokingly sighs, Hologram Janeway comes in for another one of her motivational speeches based on the principles of the Federation. 

In the last moments of the episode, we jump back to Tars Lamora, where Drednok tells The Diviner that he has tracked the Protostar’s warp signature. After using a chimerium cloak, which is not only pretty dope looking, but also has sensor blocking and phaser reflecting abilities. Chimerium is only found on the Nalori planet Sarindar, and the material is even more strictly enforced than the purity of latinum. The Federation maintains an strict and exclusive contract with the Nalori Republic to export the mineral.

Right before the end credits roll, the Diviner whispers, “I am coming for you, my progeny.”

New episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy are available to stream Thursdays on Paramount Plus. Check out our Star Trek: Prodigy recaps here!

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Rebecca Kaplan