Star Trek: Prodigy 1×07 & 1×08 Review: “First Con-tact” and “Time Amok”

First Con-tact Star Trek Prodigy
Image: Viacom

Star Trek: Prodigy continues to deliver quality episodes that are both a beautiful homage and perfect introduction to the franchise. “First Con-tact” and “Time Amok” call back to previous incarnations while also managing to expand the greater Trek universe. Both also carefully balance episodic adventures with the season’s overall story arc about the mystery of the Protostar‘s origins.

Perhaps it isn’t that surprising to learn that the catastrophic event chronicled in the ship’s log is due to Drednok. While the crew is planetside in “First Con-tact”, Janeway carefully examines the video and manages to freeze it just when Drednok forces his way onto the bridge. In “Time Amok”, the Diviner uses the Protostar’s vehicle replicator to construct a second Drednok, and that is how Janeway learns that Drednok is also responsible for corrupting her memory files.

Of course, it isn’t a shock to learn that the Diviner and Drednok had something to do with what happened to the Protostar, considering everything that’s happened so far this season. But that still leaves the lingering questions of how they learned about the ship in the first place and how they lost it.

I also find it interesting that apparently, the Diviner has had the ability to replicate Drednok on the Protostar and just… chosen not to do that? It isn’t until they realize how long it will take for them to reach the Protostar, given its superior warp capabilities, that the Diviner decides to use that particular option. He does indicate that it requires more precise coordinates, but even then, it doesn’t make any sense. Nandi would have only had the ship’s last known coordinates.

We also learn a little bit more about Dal’s past in “First Con-tact” when we’re introduced to Nandi, the Ferengi who essentially raised Dal. Unfortunately, it turns out she sold Dal to the slavers when he failed to prove useful to her. We still don’t know Dal’s species or where he’s from, but so much about his character makes sense when you discover that he was raised by a Ferengi.

It also says a lot about how much he’s grown as an individual that he is so unnerved by Nandi’s plan to steal the crystal, even before it all goes horribly wrong. I think he had to have known that she was lying, and he clearly did not want to go along with it. But he must have made the decision with his crew in mind; they needed the cloaking device in order to stay off the Diviner’s radar, and he probably thought the risk was worth it.

As is the case with every episode so far this season, “First Con-tact” brings a few pieces of Trek lore into play. The first would be the Ferengi, one of the few alien species on this series that comes from the larger universe. Dal even quotes the Rules of Acquisition, which were introduced in Deep Space Nine

But of course, the biggest piece of Trek information is the Prime Directive, as the crew of the Protostar will be the first contact for a new planet. As Janeway tries to explain, Starfleet has very strict rules about encountering new planets and species, because it is very important that they not interfere with a species’ evolution or development. The reason for these rules is made very clear when Nandi steals the crystals, the species’ primary means of communication. First impressions are very important, and now that species has an unfavorable opinion of Starfleet, they’ll be more distrustful in the future.

Time Amok Star Trek Prodigy
Image: Viacom

“Time Amok” is a bottle episode, which actually doesn’t do much in the way of callbacks except for its title. It refers to an episode of classic Trek, “Amok Time”, but other than the similar title there is very little in common. “Amok Time” is an iconic episode of the original series focusing on Spock and Vulcans. It introduced both the Vulcan hand salute and the concept of pon farr.

“Time Amok”, on the other hand, chooses to concentrate on Prodigy’s core group. After the disastrous away mission in “First Con-tact”, the crew are reeling from their failure. Janeway’s attempt to get them past it – the infamous chicken river crossing riddle – goes spectacularly poorly, and Dal finally admits to Janeway that they are not a Starfleet crew. But when the Protostar goes through a tachyon storm, they are stuck in a temporal flux.

Honestly, this is the episode that most reminded me of classic Trek. With each character seemingly alone on the ship due to the temporal flux, they must all work together – separately – in order to prevent a disaster. Starting with Jankom and ending with Rok-Tahk, they all take on part of the process of building a warp matrix, but they are all running at different speeds.

This was a great episode, plot-wise. It was tense and suspenseful and really great for character development. Dal is struggling to reconcile what he learned in “First Con-tact” and how he failed as a captain… again. He knows that he is a screw-up, but he still does his best to follow Zero’s schematics and build the warp matrix, even though he doesn’t have the proper equipment. His efforts prove that he will make a good captain because he’s clever and resourceful. We saw that in the very first episode with his escape plan.

But really, this episode was amazing development for Rok-Tahk. Without knowing Murph’s true age, it’s clear that Rok-Tahk is the youngest member of the crew. We don’t know how young she is, but she is obviously very young. She is the one who most wants the crew to get along, because she wants a family and a place to belong. Which is why it’s so unbelievably tragic that she ends up moving at the slowest speed, because she is alone on the ship for so long. When things go wrong, she struggles the most due to her age and inexperience, but as the last resort to avert disaster, she rises to the challenge and saves everyone.

Now, I can’t end a review of these two episodes without talking about the absolute splendor of “First Con-tact”. The aliens on that planet were incredible; the animation was gorgeous, and I love the concept of a species that communicates using sound vibrations.

Star Trek: Prodigy is really exceeding my expectations. I worried at first that a series like this would feel too much like I was reading a “For Dummies” book on a topic I’m an expert in. But I am really enjoying this show, and I’m excited to continue with these characters.

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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