DISCLAIMER: This recap of Star Trek: Prodigy holds a whole quadrant full of spoilers. You’ve been warned. Use the Janeway Maneuver at your own peril.
In the eighth episode of the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy, “Time Amok,” written by Nikhil S. Jayaram and directed by Olga Ulanova and Sung Shin, the U.S.S. Protostar encounters a tachyon storm that leads to a temporal anomaly.
PROTIP: Do not expose the Protostar engine to tachyon radiation… TRUST ME.
We open on Hologram Janeway’s (Kate Mulgrew) Training Officer’s log, Stardate 607125.6, in which she reflects that the crew’s failure in the previous episode could be tearing them apart.
“Falling down is easy,” reflects Janeway. “It’s getting up that takes practice.”
To give them the opportunity to move past their mistakes, Janeway has tasked them with the classic “chicken, fox, bag of grains” teambuilding exercise (with a holodeck twist). Janeway advises Dal (Brett Gray), Gwyn (Ella Purnell), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) and Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) as they discuss the riddle.
But before they can work out the solution, the hologram fox has taken off after the hologram chicken, and Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) has drifted away with the boat as Jankom helps himself to the grain. Gwyn orders the security officer, Rok-Tahk, to control the fox hologram, but Rok-Tahk returns that she doesn’t want to be called that (or shoulder the responsibility it entails).
Dal tells the computer (Bonnie Gordon) to end the program and says that the riddle is impossible to solve, to which Janeway replies that they have everything they need for the solution they seek – they just need to work together. A failure can’t mean the end of a crew.
But that’s when Dal comes clean about their shared lie: they aren’t Starfleet cadets. And then he takes it a step further, saying they aren’t a crew! Dal even admits they stole the ship to Janeway, and everyone but she and Zero (Angus Imrie) evacuate the holodeck.
The Boundless Treachery of Nandi
Elsewhere, Gwyn’s villainous father, The Diviner (John Noble), stands aboard the bridge of the massive Rev-12 as he receives news from his robotic lackey, Drednok (Jimmi Simpson): there’s another inquiry regarding the reward offered in exchange for information about the location of the Protostar, and unlike the previous inquiries from ignorant, time-wasting, grifters, this one seems promising!
Drednok opens communications and reveals Daimon Nandi (Grey Griffin), the Ferengi who mentored Dal that we first met in last week’s “First Con-tact,” who once again betrays her mentee by sending the Protostar’s coordinates in exchange for the reward.
The Protostar has jumped too far for the Rev-12 to mount a pursuit. But not all is lost, says The Diviner. They have other avenues for making their presence known!
Back on the Protostar, the vehicle replicator activates to construct Drednok!
Jankom Pog and the Tachyon Storm
Elsewhere on the Protostar, Jankom and Gwyn gaze out the window at a tachyon storm. Jankom immediately identifies with the tumultuous tempest, lamenting that Dal’s admission to Janeway precludes them from joining the Federation, which would have given them the opportunity for a better life.
As the ship enters the storm, Gwyn advises Jankom to keep his boots to the ground, as the storm could affect their gravity, immediately sending Jankom into a panic: “Gravity is the only thing keeping the proto-drive stable,” the Tellarite shouts over his shoulder as he scurries off down the corridor.
And Jankom’s right to be concerned: the tachyon storm is clearly having dramatic effects on the proto-drive! As he falls to work and klaxons blare, Janeway appears and asks what’s happening.
Jankom is immediately defensive, saying that although they may not be cadets, he’s trying to fix it anyway. But Janeway responds, as she already explained to Zero off-screen, they’re her crew (which she’s programmed to help) whether they’re cadets or not!
Suddenly, the proto-drive goes critical and emits an expanding purple ripple! It hits Janeway and she seems to diffract into multiple versions of herself. Meanwhile, each of the other members of the crew notice the purple wave, but each appears to remain intact…
Back at the proto-drive, Jankom wonders why the lights have gone out and why the alarm sounds sped up as Janeway observes that her temporal settings are all over the place. The hologram also notices that, according to the computer, there are no other life forms onboard!
Then, there’s a core breach… meaning they have ten minutes until the proto-drive’s gravity fails and the star it contains explodes! But despite this assessment, no sooner does Jankom set to work on repairing it than does the star explode, taking the Protostar with it.
The Reluctant Rok-Tahk
Moments later, Janeway reforms, visibly shaken by the experience of having exploded. Confused, Janeway takes stock of the situation: they were meant to have ten minutes but apparently did not get them, and yet, here Janeway is on the intact bridge of the Protostar.
However, according to the computer, there’s still only one life form aboard!
Janeway finds Rok-Tahk in the commissary, cowering under a blanket and sitting beside stacks and stacks of empty food bowls. Rok-Tahk runs over to Janeway as she enters, sending the bowls soaring through the air — but at a very slow rate!
Now, at the proto-drive, Janeway explains that the ripple they all experienced was some kind of time anomaly. Because she is a hologram, Janeway can adjust her settings in order to appear in Rok-Tahk’s time frame, but the anomaly has trapped each non-hologram member of the crew in their own temporal phases! Oh my!
When the Protostar entered the temporal anomaly, they were each sent to their own unique temporal frame. Although it appears as though they are each alone on the ship, they are actually all still together, just experiencing time at a different rate. Therefore, the crew members cannot directly see or interact with one another — except for Janeway, who can adjust her own settings to shift from one temporal phase to another.
Although each crew member is in their own temporal phase, they share the same problem: unless the problem with the Protostar is fixed, the ship will explode!
But Rok-Tahk is in a unique position. She will experience the ten minutes until the explosion almost as though they were an eternity. Janeway tells her that she must repair the warp core in order to prevent the breach and save the Protostar, but the pressure is too much for Rok-Tahk, and she panics and deactivates Janeway.
Zero Designs the Warp Matrix
Next, Janeway joins Zero, who’s figured out time phases. Zero’s concocted a plan to restore gravitational balance: reroute power from the primary warp drive directly to the proto-drive using a warp matrix.
Janeway agrees, saying that a warp matrix will normalize their time component and stabilize the fractures. But before Zero can complete their design, they need a piece of data from Janeway: was Rok-Tahk’s temporal phase faster or slower than Zero’s?
Janeway informs them that Rok-Tahk’s phase was much slower, which Zero finds fascinating (of course!), which reveals that the crew is trapped in oscillating time, like a damped sine wave, with those closest to the photo-drive’s blast being affected in alternating patterns.
Janeway and Zero reason through the situation given their new comprehension.
And while they may not be able to build a warp-matrix themselves, Zero can do the next best thing: create schematics so the next crew member along the temporal sine wave can construct the actual device. The mission is too large to be accomplished by anyone individual, but by working together, even when they are divided across time, they can accomplish their shared goal.
As Janeway travels to the next temporal phase, we see a very cool visualization of the temporal sine wave as it moves past Jankom, Rok-Tahk, and Zero before the hologram reforms in the next temporal phase. She calls for whichever crewmember is next, saying they’ll be responsible for saving them all.
Only to find that the crewmember in this temporal phase is Murf, who spits up the metal device and trills.
Dal Levels Up
Next, Janeway appears in the temporal phase occupied by Dal, in which he’s casually playing a video game oblivious to the disaster. The hologram tells him that she has a schematic of a warp matrix from Zero, which Dal must construct in order to avert disaster. But Dal is indifferent to the crisis.
Janeway deactivates Dal’s game and asks if he’s even noticed anyone is gone, which he hadn’t. As he gazes upon Zero’s schematics, he expresses doubt about his ability to construct the complicated warp matrix in T-minus… not very much. But fortunately, they have a vehicle replicator!
Which is currently experiencing a fatal error, as “someone” loaded a giant file onto it and thus, threw it out-of-whack.
Dal despairs, saying he doesn’t have the parts to make Zero’s schematics. Anyway, he adds, he would only mess it up.
But Janeway insists that he can, and to inspire him, she tells him the true story of Apollo 13. When their crew was trapped in a bad situation in space without the parts they needed, they didn’t give up: they figured out how to use what they did have to return safely home. And Janeway tells Dal that he has the same thing they used to accomplish their mission: ingenuity.
So what does he want to do with what time he does have left, asks Janeway, and Dal resolves to get to building. In the ensuing montage, Dal scavenges the pieces he needs in order to construct a somewhat-makeshift version of the warp-matrix. But in the end, he’s missing a vital component, a dilitium coupler, and he cannot save the day.
Janeway reassures Dal, telling him that he didn’t fail: he added an essential piece of the puzzle. They’re all in this together. They’ll just have to trust each other.
Gwyn and the Drednok
As the time sine wave passes Dal and heads into Gwyn’s temporal phase, the vehicle replicator activates, constructing the fresh version of Drednok.
Elsewhere on the Protostar, Gwyn searches for the dilitium coupler as Janeway urges her.
Meanwhile, Drednok’s construction is completed and the interloper activates. Janeway realizes that while the replicator couldn’t complete the Drednok in the other temporal phases, because Gwyn’s phase is the closest to normal time, Drednok was able to generate here.
When Drednok arrives on the bridge, Janeway confronts him, saying she saw him before when he attacked her former crew. Drednok is surprised she remembers, and Janeway accuses him of erasing her memories, but he says that while she’s “close,” someone else is responsible. Then, Gwyn appears and attacks Drednok, who deflects her.
Janeway attempts to interfere, but Drednok affects the voice of Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and erases her.
Drednok gloats that Gwyn will now witness the Protostar’s return to The Diviner, but Gwyn points out that the core is breaching one way or another. However, knowing his way around the ship, Drednok quickly solves that problem.
Before locking her in and heading to the protodrive, Drednok tells Gwyn that he would kill her if it was up to him: he believes Gwyn is the Diviner’s greatest mistake.
But as Drednok prepares to attach the warp matrix, Gwyn opens a hatch and blows Drednok out into space, Alien-style. But unfortunately, the warp matrix that was designed by Zero and built by Dal is blown out with the invading robot.
Dejected, Gwyn sits down to record a final message.
Rok-Tahk Frozen in Time
We cut to Rok-Tahk in the cafeteria, stirring a bowl of food and asking the computer to reactive Janeway, to which the computer replies that the hologram program has been terminated.
Next, we see Rok-Tahk has pulled the empty beds of her friends around her own bed, gathering their respective prized possesses in little friendship shrines. On the holodeck, she watches a recreation of the crew’s attempt to solve the riddle earlier in the episode.
Eventually, she receives a message: the recording Gwyn made at the end of her temporal phase. Gwyn acknowledges that Rok-Tahk is young, but she wants her to get the chance to be whatever she wants. But to have that chance, Rok-Tahk will have to construct the warp matrix and avert the impending explosion of the Protostar.
Just as she did earlier, Rok-Tahk panics, saying she can’t accomplish what she’s being asked to do. “I know you can do it,” says Gwyn. “The crew believes in you.”
Rok-Tahk keeps repeating that she “can’t”…
However, when we cut to the next scene, Rok-Tahk is confidently working as Janeway reappears. When the hologram asks what happened, Rok-Tahk explains that her memory buffers were never overwritten, allowing Rok-Tahk to rebuild her program — which took two hundred and seventy-six tries.
Noting what viewers have also observed, Janeway says Rok-Tahk hasn’t aged, but she has matured. The hologram has one question though: if Rok-Tahk could already construct the warp matrix, why did she need Janeway? Rok-Tahk reveals that no one told her where the warp matrix goes.
Soon, Janeway and Rok-Tahk plug in the warp matrix, causing the time ripple to reverse through the Protostar and returning each crew member to the same temporal phase. Everyone but Rok-Tahk reunites on the bridge (and each of them recalls not being alive – I guess they all know about the Black Mountain now).
Then, Janeway tells Gwyn that Rok-Tahk was alone for “too long,” but Rok-Tahk tells the team that she used the time to teach herself “quantum science, computer engineering, and so much math,” the knowledge she needed in order to construct the warp matrix. Gwyn observes that not only did Rok-Tahk find her friends, she may have found her calling and she looks on as Rok-Tahk spouts some quality Treknobabble.
But then we cut to Drednok’s head near the vehicle replicator, which has one red eye activating.
Written by Rebecca Kaplan with contributions from Avery Kaplan (@AveryKaplan6).
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