Our young crew still has a lot to learn about teamwork as Protostar discovers its first M-class planet in “Dreamcatcher”.
“Dreamcatcher” proves that while everyone can come together when it’s absolutely necessary, they still have a long way to go before they’re a true team. Like the events at the end of “Starstruck”, in this week’s episode they encounter various obstacles when they explore their first planet, and only by helping each other out are they able to overcome them. Unfortunately, by the time they realize this, it’s too late.
The episode opens with something veteran fans will recognize – the Captain’s Log narration. Of course, since Dal didn’t even know what Starfleet was until recently, he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. As someone who never understood just how they kept track of time on any of the previous shows, I got a real kick out of him saying, “Stardate… I have no idea.”
Star Trek for Beginners classes continue with the audience being told what it means to do things like plot a course or learning about phasers and M-class (habitable) planets. As it’s Starfleet policy to “explore strange new worlds”, when Dal declares that they won’t be stopping to check out the newly-discovered planet, Janeway threatens to report them to Starfleet Command. I’m not sure how sentient a hologram can be, but given the way Janeway interacts with Gwyn later in the episode, I have to believe that she’s a lot more aware than you would expect. It makes me wonder if she suspects anything is up with the ragtag, completely clueless crew.
It’s an ongoing source of tension between Hologram Janeway and Dal that she treats them like they’re Starfleet cadets (something the rest of the characters are very much enjoying) while he is more concerned with putting as much distance between them and the Diviner as possible. He complies when he has to, and I can’t fault him for not wanting to make a pit stop when they’re in imminent danger, but his disregard for Janeway’s suggestions keeps putting them all in danger. (Although, to be fair, Gwyn’s actions aren’t helping.)
Of course, these are children, as evidenced by Dal and Jankom immediately grabbing the phasers and making “pew pew” noises. They aren’t going to make the best decisions because they don’t have the experience to do so. That’s why Dal needs to acknowledge that Janeway is helpful; I hope at some point this season he’s able to come clean with her, because she could be a great ally but she doesn’t know what the situation is.
The unnamed planet that they discover in “Dreamcatcher” is gorgeous, with lots of greenery and amazing rock formations. However, as happens so often in stories like this, the beauty is deceptive. The reason the scanners don’t pick up any lifeforms is because the planet itself is alive – one giant organism that lures its prey using hallucinations and then consumes them for nutrients. (As a Doctor Who fan, I’m long accustomed to becoming irrationally afraid of everyday objects, so thanks Star Trek: Prodigy for adding “plants” to a list that includes statues, shadows, and mannequins.)
Each member of the crew is shown their deepest desires: for Jankom it’s food, for Zero technology, for Rok-Tahk it’s adorable fuzzy creatures (who liked her, and doesn’t that just break your heart), for Gwyn it’s her father, and for Dal it’s the parents he knows nothing about. Only Dal and Gwyn are able to recognize what is happening before they’re too ensnared by the vines, and though Dal is able to break the others out of their trances, they aren’t in time to save the ship.
While Gwyn isn’t the main antagonist of the series, she’s going to be a narrative foil for a while. I thought perhaps Rok-Tahk had gotten through to her last week, when she didn’t seem to be able to defend helping keep them all imprisoned, but the first chance she gets in “Dreamcatcher”, she is willing to abandon the others. I appreciated the contrast between Janeway telling Gwyn that they don’t leave their crew behind with Dal running around rescuing everyone from the vines.
I think it’s a little too convenient that she was able to expertly pilot the ship and reprogram Janeway, but I guess otherwise it was too easy of an escape for the rest of them. (Also, I am dying to know what is up with her tattoo/sword thing. It’s an extension of her body? She’s telepathically connected to it? I want to know more! Where are my beginner’s lessons on that?)
Now, Gwyn has been kept in a cell since they left Tars Lamora, so I can understand why she isn’t exactly ready to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. But after learning that most if not all of the prisoners under her father’s command weren’t criminals, I’d been hoping that it would lead to a little more introspection. I suppose it’s difficult to reject everything you’ve been taught in such a short amount of time, but given the fact that we have no idea what the Diviner wants the Protostar for, that Gwyn doesn’t even pause before deciding to hijack it and give it back to him was a little disappointing.
That said, though she was willing to maroon the others on an uncharted planet that eats people, when faced with the choice, she did save Murf. It’s clear she does have some moral compass, and is likely just conflicted over her loyalty to her father.
Nonetheless, Gwyn’s attempted coup results in the Protostar being taken down by the deadly vines, stranding everyone planetside – and thanks to Gwyn’s earlier transmission, the Diviner knows their location.
I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t expecting them to lose the ship so early. I suppose I should have assumed that there would be planetary exploration in a Star Trek show, but I thought they would be on the Protostar most of the time. Still, I can’t imagine that they’ll be stranded for too long – the ship is the focal point of the show at the moment, and whether they want to admit it or not, they need Janeway’s help. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re able to problem-solve on their own.
*I received a screener of the episode from Viacom in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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