It's pretty genius what they've done on Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 18 in providing a way for the Protostar to convey information to the Dauntless without using traditional modes of communication.
(Mind you, the contrarian in me wonders if they couldn't have scrawled out a message on the windows (ports?) of the Protostar to arrange a face-to-face rendezvous on some neutral planet or starport.)
But a body/brain swap works, too—sort of.
The most impressive element in this adventure is how Brett Gray and Kate Mulgrew effectively convey the characters' consciousness exchange through their vocal intonations and cadence.
Not only are Dal and Vice Admiral Janeway on opposite ends of the Starfleet experience spectrum, but Gray and Mulgrew are similarly diverse in their backgrounds as voice actors.
With her expansive list of voice acting roles, one would expect Mulgrew to slip into the discombobulated Dal voice with finesse. However, I am still surprised and delighted by the frenetic energy and Dal-like over-the-topness she conveys.
Meanwhile, Gray's measured and cultured pronunciation as the displaced Janeway consciousness is grand with its gravitas and warmth.
It really makes you appreciate the effort that goes into the show's direction and performance.
Tysess: A few more phaser volleys should knock out their shields.
Janeway/Dal: Woah! Stop firing! Uh, CEASE! Quit it!
Tysess: But, Admiral, those were your orders!
Janeway/Dal: I… changed my mind. Not in a weird way but a totally normal way. I can change my mind.
There's also a lot of purpose to this scenario.
On the one hand, Vice Admiral Janeway now understands why the Protostar has been ignoring all hails from the Dauntless.
On the other, Gwyn learns the bad news that Dal will never be admitted to Starfleet because he is an augment.
The final significant development that emerges from this Freaky Friday setup is Vice Admiral Janeway making Hologram Janeway whole again. In doing so, the Vice Admiral is also given solace in finally knowing what happened to Chakotay.
Vice Admiral Janeway is a master of the situational pivot. In the last few hours, she's walked in on her ensign plotting the demise of the Federation, been Kirk-chopped by The Diviner, hidden in a closet, body-swapped with a teenage Augment, and discovered an alien technology designed to obliterate Starfleet.
All this without a cuppa in sight.
It helps that she had the intel from Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 16 on the Protostar crew members and had already realized they didn't have malicious intent.
Her lack of comment on the Asencia/The Vindicator reveal may be her executive functioning setting aside a problem that is not the current concern. It could also be some minor amnesia from the Diviner's attack.
Rok: Dal and the admiral need to go… out there.
Dal/Janeway: You mean you want me to exit a starship, go to the middle of a warp bubble, and make physical contact with my own body? Listen, I was once transformed into a salamander. Nothing can be as difficult as that. Let’s do it!
When the crew presents her with a solution, she remains open to the possibility of success as slim as it looks.
In a lot of ways, seeing Dal and Vice Admiral Janeway in each other's bodies shows us a lot of overlap in their personalities.
While Dal is more prone to panicking in his new situation, he still tries to see a way through, believing as only a survivor can that there is one.
Speaking of survivors, let's talk Vau N'Akat.
It's fascinating to watch Asencia now, knowing she's The Vindicator and working against the Federation's interests.
She's been in deep cover for so long; her actions and suggestions as Asencia are spot-on the behaviors of an exemplary crew member.
Tysess doesn't hesitate to call in the fleet for backup at Asencia's question about whether the Dauntless is equipped to manage the weapon aboard the Protostar.
With a single inquiry, The Vindicator has exponentially increased the number of targets the living construct will be able to infect. It's deliciously calculating and holds the potential to be truly devastating in its effect.
Meanwhile, the power of the good deed is seen in The Diviner's choice to help Janeway as she helped him, releasing her from her restraints just as she rescued him from the stasis on Tars Lamora.
The irony that he is, in fact, freeing Dal R'El, his former enslaved captive, is superlatively elegant. (It's also convenient that the crew stationed at the sick bay doors SUCK at their job.)
You must think I’m a monster. For most of my life, Starfleet has been my sworn enemy, the villain who destroyed my world. Your kindness was unexpected. But I have a mission to complete. The Federation’s destruction will bring my people salvation.The Diviner
There's a beautiful moment of personal growth in Dal as he looks at The Diviner with Janeway's eyes and sees a man who cares deeply for his daughter instead of the evil force that controlled his life for so long.
When co-creators Dan and Kevin Hageman spoke with TV Fanatic earlier this season, we asked them where The Diviner's allegiances lie. They promised we would see The Diviner "pulled between powerful forces in his life."
We now see that those forces are his love for Gwyn and his mission, which The Vindicator somewhat embodies. And, in a way, he chooses both.
With Dal and Vice Admiral Janeway both back in their own bodies, the pieces on the board are set up for the deciding confrontation in this Vau N'Akat and Starfleet conflict.
The living construct is primed.
Janeway's in the brig.
The Federation fleet is gathered.
The Vindicator, her Drednok, and The Diviner still have the element of surprise.
None of this bodes well for our heroes or the Federation.
How will this play out, Fanatics? What are you hoping for? What are you expecting?
Can the Federation survive an attack that essentially comes from within?
Beam your best and wildest predictions down into our comments!
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 Twitter.