One can be forgiven for wondering if Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 11 would be able to bring the series back at the same level of excellence it established with its inaugural ten episodes.
Well, that was needless anxiety, wasn't it?
We hit the ground (water?) running as the Protostar crew continue the Star Trek tradition of saving whales (or at least whale-like creatures).
That's not the only action we catch up with quickly.
Gwyn's memory loss after seeing a reflection of Zero's true form continues to trouble her and Zero. Zero because they feel guilty to have harmed a friend. Gwyn because... well, she lost a chunk of memory that includes her last encounter with her father. That would mess with anyone's calm.
Furthermore, it heightens the dramatic tension as the audience knows that The Diviner shared knowledge of the Protostar's secret weapon with Gwyn in that encounter.
It is the weapon. Starfleet will welcome its return with open arms and it will tear itself apart from within.The Diviner
The most significant change in this second half of the season is the foil narrative to the Protostar's crew. In the first half, that was The Diviner and Drednok, chasing down the youths.
Now, with The Diviner in stasis and Drednok dispatched by the little Caitian in that unforgettable moment on "A Moral Star, Part 2," Vice Admiral Janeway and the USS Dauntless take up the chase. However, our heroes have no idea she's on her way.
The Dauntless bridge crew is a new set of characters voiced by some impressively recognizable names -- Ensign Asencia (She-Hulk's Jameela Jamil), Commander Tysess (Snowpiercer's Daveed Diggs), and Doctor Noum (Seinfeld's Jason Alexander) --. They seem to be Janeway's only companions.
Vice Admiral Janeway gives off a fixated vibe as she spends time in the holodeck, reliving her last moments with Chakotay before he disembarks with the Protostar.
Janeway: After everything we went through, you’re really going back to the Delta Quadrant?
Chakotay: This time, the Protostar will get me home in a fraction of the time and I won’t be alone. I’ll have your hologram there to advise me.
Janeway: I told Starfleet that was the only way they’d get me back out there.
I expect we'll get to know Tysess, Noum, and Asencia better as they catch up to the Protostar. As a crew, it might be interesting to see how they line up with the Protostar's team.
At the moment, though, it's hard to pull focus from Vice Admiral Janeway and Chakotay's return to the screen.
It might be surprising to some, but I've really missed Dal, Gwyn, Rok-Tahk, Zero, and Murf.
As a found family of misfit orphans, they are the ultimate underdogs in a franchise that typically frames its protagonists as extremely capable, with training and education.
Most of them don't even know what species they are.
Rok: Oo, oo, oo, do me! Do me!
Frex: Oh, Brikar! I take it you want to grow up and be a *rock* star? Oh, ho, ho!
Rok: I want to be a scientist!
Frex: Thank you for sharing. And what type of science is your specialty?
Rok: I dunno. There’s more than one?
So when they reach relay station CR-721 and Frex scans their DNA, it's a fun moment where we add a new piece to the puzzle for Murf and Rok-Tahk, at least.
Fun fact: the only other time Mellanoid slime worms have been mentioned in on-screen Trek canon was an insult hurled at Wesley Crusher after bumping into a Zaldan on Relva VII on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Episode 19.
Brikars, on the other hand, have only been introduced in Star Trek novels. Their home planet is near the Klingon Empire.
Dal's classified status is very intriguing. While Gwyn's species is unknown due to the Vau N'akat's existence only in the future, Dal's origins are in the present.
The Federation knowing something about his species might mean it might be one Voyager encountered in the Delta Quadrant. So maybe Vice Admiral Janeway will be able to identify it when they meet?
The momentum only ramps up as Frex links up his station with the Protostar and triggers the device The Diviner hid onboard.
The result is terrifying. As is the fact the whole station only has one escape pod.
I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of Frex. Both for his obvious cowardice and his clear disregard for protocols.
It would be logical upon receiving a group of youngsters possessing an experimental vessel to send some sort of message to Starfleet Command. Especially since said group contains a member of an unknown species and one whose species is classified.
I sense there's a good chance we'll be running into Frex again.
The theme of taking a leap of faith is hugely meta when you consider the entire premise of Star Trek: Prodigy launched on that exact thing.
Dal: [sighs] They’re going to see right through me.
Hologram Janeway: Let them. Because that’s how you show them who you truly are.
Dal: And if they don’t like who I am?
Hologram Janeway: Sometimes, the hardest thing is to take a leap of faith.
Not only did the show's creators, the Hageman brothers, take a leap of faith in creating a Star Trek show specifically for children in an animated format with a crew of unknown characters aboard a prototype ship, but they also aimed HIGH.
In their ambition for the show, they've assembled a team that's crafted high-quality art and animation buoyed by a masterful score and emotionally rich character development. It is a triumph.
Meanwhile, our kids take a literal leap off the station with a minuscule chance of survival, which, to be fair, is a better chance than staying.
It goes terribly wrong, as leaps of faith sometimes do, but Hologram Janeway's there to pull them back to safety with the Protostar's tractor beam.
Dal: Sometimes the hardest thing is to take a leap of faith.
Zero: You want us to jump? I do not think that option is logically sound.
Dal: In outer space, there is no sound.
Zero: Your rebuttal is correct but nonsense.
So leaps of faith are all well and good, but safety nets are kind of important too.
I can't see the action slowing down now that Gwyn's remembered what The Diviner told her about the danger the Protostar poses for the entire Federation.
The Diviner's "rescue" by the Dauntless's away team throws another complication into the mix.
Where the series began with the Unwanted of Tars Lamora unable to communicate with each other, communication is once again key as the Protostar can't even hail a Federation ship without infecting it with the self-destruct programming.
How will they overcome this obstacle?
What are they willing to risk?
Beam your best theories and biggest takeaways into our comments below, Fanatics!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.