Trapped on a dangerous planet that literally wants to eat them and staring down old enemies, the crew of the Protostar finally comes together in “Terror Firma”.
First off, mad props for the excellent wordplay in using “Terror Firma”. While they don’t use the episode’s title in conversation, Gwyn does remark that the planet is changing its topography (terraforming) in order to confuse them, and Rok-Tahk misunderstands. They explain the joke in case it went over your head, but I do so enjoy when shows aimed at children try to include more “adult” humor, in that a kid won’t get it but an adult will find it hilarious.
While Hologram Janeway struggles to keep the ship from being eaten, the others make the long journey – on foot – to get back to the Protostar. It doesn’t take them long to realize that they’re going in circles, as the planet keeps moving the mountains. I actually love this addition to the not-so-affectionately named Murder Planet after last week’s episode; with all of them trapped on the planet, they needed to do something to raise the scare factor, and there is certainly nothing more terrifying than a planet where even the ground itself is against you.
As the planet was capable of seeing into their dreams, it can also show them their nightmares when it manifests one of the creatures from the prison colony. Their phasers are ineffective against them, but Gwyn has the brilliant idea to fashion a torch and set the vines on fire. But the fire spreads and forces them to flee by jumping into a fog-filled cavern. The hits keep coming when there is a sudden downpour of acid rain and they have to take shelter in an abandoned Klingon warship.
This sequence of events is great for two reasons. First, the Klingon warship hints at the greater Star Trek universe, which so far this series is mostly removed from. Some of the species are familiar and obviously Janeway and the starship connect to Starfleet, but Star Trek: Prodigy is set in a distant galaxy and so far there isn’t much crossover. I’m hoping that this signals that we could be seeing more connections soon.
The second is that we can see Gwyn waffling back and forth throughout “Terror Firma”, as she has throughout the rest of the series. They’re in the situation they are because of her; she tried to steal the ship, and in doing so it ends up ensnared by the planet. She contacted her father with their location, and then later they’re attacked by Drednok. But she also tries to barter with Drednok in order to spare them. And she saves them from the vines, even if the forest did catch on fire because of it.
On the other side of that, Dal bounces back and forth about accepting Gwyn as part of the crew. He refuses to help her after she escapes from the Protostar, even though she broke her leg saving Murf. After she sets the vines on fire, he blames her for worsening their situation, even though she essentially saved their lives. The two share a moment when they shelter on the Klingon ship, but after Drednok finds them, he turns on her again. Then she distracts Drednok to give the others time to escape. And when it comes down to it, he refuses to leave her behind.
I was expecting Gwyn’s switching loyalties to last a few more episodes, but “Terror Firma” has her firmly aligned with the others on the Protostar. In a truly heartbreaking moment, when faced with having to choose between his daughter and the ship, the Diviner chooses the ship. Gwyn has been struggling since the beginning of the series, wrestling with the morality of what her father does. In the end, what tips her over the edge is looking at everything she’s risked for her father, and knowing that he doesn’t return the favor.
“Terror Firma” also shows that this group of kids is pretty smart; in previous episodes, they have needed to rely on Janeway’s help in order to escape danger. In this episode, however, they don’t have Janeway and so they must figure things out on their own. Gwyn’s trick with the torch – lighting it using the phaser – was fairly clever, and later in the episode, it occurs to Dal to navigate using the stars.
And, of course, the biggest reveal is that the engine of the Protostar is an actual star, which is presumably why the Diviner is so eager to get the ship back. But that just raises a whole slew of questions, because as we learn during the episode, Janeway didn’t have authorization to learn about the “protostar containment field”, which implies that it’s not Starfleet who put it there. So then, who did? Was it the Diviner? But if it was him, how did the ship end up where it did?
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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