Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 11 Review: Increasing Stakes and Worldbuilding

Dec 11, 2022

After an 8-month hiatus, Star Trek: Prodigy has beamed back down to Paramount+ with an exhilarating mid-season premiere that is sure to delight young viewers and audiences that are young at heart. Episode 11, aptly titled “Asylum,” picks up a few weeks after where the series left audiences in February, with the crew of the U.S.S. Protostar picking up the pieces after their near-death encounter with the Diviner (John Noble) on Tars Lamora and charting a course towards maybe, just maybe, joining Starfleet by legitimate means.

The episode opens on Dal (Brett Gray) and the rest of his motley crew—Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), Jankom Pog (Jason Mantazoukas), and Murf (Dee Bradley Baker)—trying to rescue space whales from local hunters without breaking the Prime Directive. Following the events on Tars Lamora, which saw Gwyn (Elle Purnell) lose most of the memories related to her father, the Diviner, after being exposed to her Medusan crewmember Zero (Angus Imrie), she’s mostly down for the count at the beginning of the episode, while Zero continues running scans and reassuring her that she’ll eventually get better. While things are still very status quo between Dal and Gwyn, Dal makes a note of Gwyn’s situation in his Captain’s Log, which is a nice little tease for fans who might want to see the duo become more than just friends and crew members. Theirs is a very fun dynamic, especially now that Gwyn has learned to trust Dal and the rest of the crew. Though, there’s every chance that something might happen in the future that turns her against them, especially with the Diviner out there scheming. But when has Star Trek hurt us like that? (Too often!)
The jaunt to rescue a space whale is a nice opening sequence for “Asylum,” but the episode’s real plot kicks in when the crew, under Hologram Janeway’s (Kate Mulgrew) guidance, makes their way to Federation Communication Relay Station, as part of their new quest to join Starfleet. Seeing as the station is positioned out in the middle of the Delta Quadrant, they aren’t met by a chorus of greetings, but are instead greeted by the lone officer stationed there. Lieutenant, Jr. Grade Barniss Frex (Eric Bauza) is shocked to have visitors and even more shocked to encounter a crew of youths on a misadventure aboard a stolen Starfleet vessel. Nevertheless, Frex welcomes them aboard the station with open arms and helps them set up profiles in the system, by way of full-body scans to log their species and other various vital details.

Image via Paramount+

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The scans go about as well as one can expect from the hodgepodge crew of the Protostar, with Jankom discovering that he might be Tellarite royalty, and Dal learning that… Well, Dal doesn’t actually learn what he is—people have long speculated about what species (or combination of species) he might be, but the scan comes up empty-handed, and worse the scan comes with a pretty ominous message: “Report to Starfleet Command.” The mystery of Dal’s origins seems to be the next major plot point that Star Trek: Prodigy will seek to unravel, leaving audiences to speculate what all of this might mean for him. Is he a missing person? Connected to a character we already know? Or is it just a red herring for something larger? “Asylum” doesn’t give us much time to question Dal’s origins, because the Diviner’s sinister plan from the first half of the season kicks into high-gear, forever altering the trajectory of the episode.

The moment that Frex connects the relay station to the U.S.S. Protostar, it becomes a Trojan Horse—triggering the Vau N’akat weapon at the heart of the ship to corrupt the relay station and force it to start self-destructing. Believing that the crew has betrayed him, Frex makes a quick escape in the sole escape pod aboard the station, leaving Dal and his crew to find their own way off the station before It’s too late. Elsewhere on the ship, Zero’s continued examination of Gwyn nearly turns deadly when the ship’s self-destruct protocols cause the medical chamber she is resting in to start filling up with liquid. Luckily Dal manages to rescue her right in the nick of time and the whole harrowing process starts to jog her memories of what happened before Tars Lamora. Their escape is left up to the quick-thinking mathematics of Rok-Tahk, which leads to them essentially space-walking their way back aboard the Protostar, with a little assistance from Janeway’s hologram and a tractor beam.

Elsewhere in the Delta Quadrant, the real Vice Admiral Janeway is revisiting old memories of Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran) before he set out aboard the Protostar, hoping to recall something about their past encounters that might help her to locate him. Her continued investigation takes the crew of the Dauntless to Tars Lamora, where they discover the Diviner’s comatose form. Unaware of the danger he poses to Starfleet, they bring him aboard their ship in hopes that reviving him might give them vital clues to Chakotay’s whereabouts.

Overall, “Asylum” is a welcome return to the corner of the Star Trek universe that Dan and Kevin Hageman have created with their ever-talented creative team. Prodigy continues to dole out the perfect amount of nostalgia that never overshadows its brilliant new cast of characters that audiences have fallen in love with. Each member of the Protostar crew has a unique backstory, emotional state, and personality—helping to shape one of the best unofficial Starfleet crew the franchise has ever seen. The core of the Protostar might hold a deadly weapon, but the heart of the crew is a much more powerful thing.

Looking Ahead at Season 1
As with the first half of Season 1, Star Trek: Prodigy continues to embrace its episodic nature, presenting the crew of the Protostar with new planets and challenges each week while delivering a tight and cohesive storyline that runs between each episode. Even though the return of the Outrageous Okona has been known for over a month now, his introduction to a brand-new audience is no less entertaining, and far from the only surprise waiting on the horizon.

Star Trek: Prodigy may be designed for children, but that demographic allows the series to strike straight at the heart of what makes Star Trek a generational adventure; one filled with personal insight, friendship, morals, and themes packaged into a colorful story set among the stars. These themes are represented throughout the first five episodes of the second half of Season 1, with several characters looking inwards to find purpose, discover who they truly are, and face the consequences of actions much larger than themselves.

Rating: A-

Star Trek: Prodigy’s mid-season return is streaming now on Paramount+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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