“Supernova, Part 2”
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 20 – Debuted Thursday, December 29, 2022
Written by Kevin & Dan Hageman
Directed by Ben Hibon
An emotionally dense episode masterfully wraps up the first season with a bit more action and a lot more heart.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“We’ve got one shot at this.”
With annihilation of the Starfleet armada imminent as more ships warp in and get infected, the only remaining way to stop the perilous signal dawns on Dal… they have to destroy the Protostar. There is a snag: Blowing up the proto-core would actually wipe out the star system and all the ships in it. However, if they can detonate just as the drive kicks in, they could spread the damage out, saving what’s left of the Starfleet task force. With controls fried, Dal volunteers, but Holo Janeway steps up to take his place. Rok objects in a sweet moment, calling the holo their “friend,” Holo Janeway assures the kids they can just take a copy of her along with them in the quickie shuttle they build with the vehicle replicator. Dal orders the ship to create some distance from the battling fleet as Admiral Janeway looks on, explaining to her beleaguered Dauntless crew how those Protostar kids are “saving us all.” She gets it.
As Jankom preps the proto-drive to go boom, Rok builds a no-frills (and no-seats) shuttle that doesn’t even have navigation, there’s just not enough time to make something more sophisticated, and Holo Janeway can handle the navigation for them when her copy arrives. Unfortunately—and you probably guessed where this was heading—the ETH learns her program no longer fits on an isolinear chip. When Dal arrives to pick up the copy, she bluffs her way through with a quip about how they now have two of her. The kids take a moment to say a difficult goodbye to the USS Protostar, their life-changing home for many months. Rok says just the right thing: “Think of it as letting a young star become what it’s meant to be.” Holo Janeway says farewell for what they don’t realize is the last time, telling them what an honor it has been to serve with them. As their escape craft falls away, they watch as a resigned, resolute Holo Janeway takes command, engages the proto-drive, and with one last smile… orders the ship to “go fast.” She gets it too… or got it… sorry, too soon?
“That crew just saved Starfleet.”
Janeway’s sacrifice sees the exploding USS Protostar streak away, creating something both beautiful and sad. The timing couldn’t be better, as the Klingon ship protecting the USS Dauntless just lost shields and another photon torpedo is about to be fired at them. Thankfully, the Protostar plan worked: Weapons are disengaged and control returns to the fleet. Janeway orders a search party, even if it will take months to find the kids who are just now confused to find that the isolinear chip only has a recording instead of a hologram. In her final message, Holo Janeway apologizes for the deception; her program had just grown too rich and complex to be stored on a little chip. They are crushed, but she explains she did what she had to do so they could fulfill their potential and tells them how proud she is of them all. Even without her to guide them, she’s sure they will figure out how to get back to Starfleet “because together your potential is infinite.” Her only regret is not being there when they arrive on the steps of Starfleet Academy. Still sad, but that’s nice.
One month later, the kids are still MIA as Admiral Janeway is briefed at Starfleet HQ about how her counterpart delivered one last surprise. The Protostar’s destructive path across space-time created a wormhole that duplicated the one that sent Chakotay and his crew into the future, and they’ve picked up a signal sent back through time in which her former first officer briefs Starfleet about how he and his remaining crew were trying to hang on. “He’s alive, and she pointed us in the right direction.” Holo Janeway turned the Protostar’s destruction into a fighting chance to live. The admiral vows to lead the mission to explore the wormhole just as she learns the kids have returned, doing a little Voyage Home homage in San Francisco Bay.
“Is there a better living embodiment of what our alliance represents?”
Continuing that theme, the kids face a tribunal for stealing a Starfleet ship and other various offenses, but their defense counsel from the firm of Janeway and Janeway reminds the Starfleet judges the kids did everything in an effort to warn them. The glowering judges are even more skeptical of the idea that the kids could be accepted straight into Starfleet Academy, especially that Augment. Ouch. There are protocols, procedures, tests, and the like… and these kids are (at best) good-intentioned reckless criminals. Janeway digs deep with an impassioned plea, hyping the prodigies’ epic journey to eventually save Starfleet. Their arrival is actually the embodiment of the mission of the Protostar to seek out new life across the galaxy that shared their ideals—and as for Dal, he may be engineered, but he is no attempt at creating an enhanced superbeing, rather he’s mix of the infinite diversity that makes the Federation the Federation. Take that!
The admiral’s argument carries the day, more or less. Charges are dropped, but it’s not fair to let the kids cut the line into the Academy. Bummer. They are overjoyed to learn that in the meantime they have been assigned to the admiral to join her new mission as warrant officers in training… that includes Dal, and even Murf! But it’s only for five; Gwyn breaks the news she will not be joining them as she is taking on a new mission to save the Vau N’Akat and will head to Solum with the help of Starfleet. The kids are sad she isn’t joining but proud to see her new purpose, with Zero dubbing her “Gwyndala the Unifier.” She and Dal finally have the time to share a nice moment—and a proper kiss—as they reflect on the journey that brought them to San Francisco, promising to see each other again. We see the others get help from various Starfleet officers, as Rok gets a science tip on Xenobiology, Jankom bonds with engineers, and Zero is given a fancy new containment suit. After Gwyn departs, the admiral shows her new charges the latest Protostar-class ship, but that’s not actually going to be their new ship and home. She leaves them hanging with the mischievous statement “Oh, I have a much bigger plan for us.” And that’s a season.
That’s how you do it
“Supernova, Part 2” is as good as it gets when it comes to season finales. It stands alone as an excellent episode but also ties in well with Part 1 to create an even richer and more deeply emotional experience. Importantly, it ties up the remaining plot and character arcs beautifully while teasing new arcs to come for season 2. This second part had less action than the first, wrapping up the battle action surprisingly quickly. This gave it time for more character exploration, allowing some key moments like the sacrifice of Hologram Janeway to land. Co-creators Dan and Kevin Hageman penned this episode by wearing the strong themes of the series (and Trek) openly: taking tragedy and turning it into hope, and an appeal for inclusivity. Experts in the genre, they never talk down to or manipulate their audience, making all of the resulting emotions feel organic and earned.
Composer Nami Melumad did some of her best work to take the audience on this ride using a beautiful mix of the show’s own themes with some classic stings that included homages to her mentor (and main theme composer) Michael Giacchino. Director and creative lead Ben Hibon was also crucial in creating little moments like the subtle facial animations during Holo Janeway’s extended goodbye, to transforming the destruction of the USS Protostar into something beautiful. Throughout the season, Hibon and his creative team (including the Emmy-winning production designer Allessandro Taini) have created something quite remarkable with cinema-level work on the more limited TV animation budget.
A key to making this finale work was the performance of Kate Mulgrew on double duty with Hologram Janeway’s farewell and Admiral Janeway’s impassioned advocacy for the Protostar crew. Each Janeway has become their own unique character, making the loss of one all the harder. The rest of the crew is also delivering, Rylee Alazraqui is worth highlighting for making us believe this young giant Brikar has a heart of gold and the soul of a poet, finding just the right thing to say at just the right time. Rok-Tahk’s exuberant introduction to xenobiology was the best example of how each of these characters brought closure to their season 1 arcs while setting up the next steps for their journeys.
Things wrapped up nicely for Dal and Gwyn with just the right touch for their romantic subplot. Pog got a bit of love too, showing his percussive engineering has incorporated some finesse. However, Zero continues to be underserved and it isn’t clear where they are going with the character beyond giving them a shiny new Starfleet containment suit. Murf remains a delightful little mystery, but it seems a bit premature for Starfleet to recognize him as a fellow official trainee when it still isn’t clear how mature the evolving little blob is. This is an example of one of those shortcuts the series is forced to take due to the short run time, leaving fans to use headcanon to answer certain questions, like how exactly did they survive and make their way to Earth in that makeshift shuttle… and what were the conditions on board after a month?
Going back… to the future
The season finale was also noteworthy for some of the choices made about what to exclude. While fans love a good guest star pop-in and a classic hero ship moment, it was a good call to leave the heroics to the kids and the Janeways. However, it might have been nice to see Janeway make (and win) her case against Ronny Cox’s Jellico instead of just nameless judges. Also interesting was the choice not to check in on the new big bad, Asencia/The Vindicator, who popped off with Drednok midway through the previous episode. Watched together in a binge, her absence is less noticeable, but a brief moment to show the threat she still poses could have helped maintain the stakes during the extended epilogue.
Speaking of the Vau N’Akat, there was a nice poetry dubbing Gwyn as “The Unifier,” taking over her father The Diviner’s mission to save the people of Solum. The final moments of the episode gave us just enough of a sense of what is to come in season 2 as Gwyn is headed to the present version of Solum to circumvent the disastrous fallout from the original first contact. Hopefully, she has some Starfleet help in what’s clearly a very risky mission. This leaves Admiral Janeway and the rest of the gang on a mission (in a new ship) to the new wormhole and presumably into the (specifically noted as “alternate”) future where Chakotay and what remains of his original Protostar crew are trapped. The weird timey-wimey nature of this dual temporal-pronged trip to Solum will likely make sense once they can do more exposition in season 2. Many questions remain, but they are more fun areas of speculation and not hanging threads… check back with TrekMovie soon as there may be some fun clues in this finale for us to ponder.
“Supernova, Part 2” is a triumphant end for a near-perfect introductory season (or volume 2 of the season), a rare finale that wraps up pretty much everything for the serialized plot and characters. By cutting the action a bit short, it allowed time for big character moments and set up the next season without leaving fans hanging off a cliff. Most importantly, it fulfills the promise to take new audiences on a journey starting from scratch all the way to embracing and building on everything that makes Star Trek endure.
- Destroying the Protostar was said to create an interspatial flexure, first seen in the Voyager episode “Counterpoint”—an episode also referenced in Part 1 of the finale.
- The explosion caused by the destruction of the Protostar was described as having a diameter of 50 million miles, a bit less than the distance between the sun and Venus, although it was said it would destroy the entire star system (Sun to Neptune is 2.8 billion miles).
- Jankom Pog referred to himself as a “miracle worker,” a term first used for legendary engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.
- The Enterprise-E designation could be seen even clearer on nacelles of the Sovereign class models used for the two-part finale, which included one severely damaged ship.
- The kids’ new Starfleet trainee uniforms were similar in design to the Starfleet uniforms they wore on the Protostar, but with the lighter and darker colors reversed.
- Gwyn’s heirloom sword integrated into the shoulders of her Starfleet uniform.
- Gwyn’s “I know” response to Dal saying he didn’t want to see her go could be an homage to Han’s goodbye to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Star Trek science advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald provided the voice for Dr. MacDonald (who advised Rok to look into xenobiology).
- An Enterprizian (from the episode “All the World’s a Stage”) could be seen in the Starfleet HQ science lab.
More to come
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New episodes of Prodigy debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., and on Fridays in Latin America and select countries in Europe. The series is also carried on SkyShowtime in the rest of Europe with the second half of season one expected to arrive in 2023.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.