Fan Collective Unimatrix 47: Star Trek Prodigy “Asylum” Episode

Marie Brownhill
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Marie's blog, Fan Collective Unimatrix 47.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

You will all have to forgive me, gentle readers, because I’m covering last week’s two episodes separately in part because they deserve it but also because I’ll be taking a much needed vacation and will be trying to get ahead. With that out of the way, I have to admit, I’m thrilled to see Prodigy returning, and I think “Asylum,” season one’s eleventh episode, marks a deceptively simple reintroduction to the show. Gwyn may possess valuable knowledge about the virus aboard the Protostar, but her glimpse of Zero means that her memories are currently locked away. The show hints at new knowledge for Dal about his origins, but the events of the episode may impact his ability to access that information. Rok-Tahk is still trying to find where she belongs, and while she gets a view of the possibilities, the same issues that prevent Dal from moseying up to Starfleet mean that she’s going to have to continue to be a generalist. “Asylum” is a funny ride that sets the tone for the rest of the season, and I’m here for it.

Plot Ahoy!

After rescuing a species that resembles whales, Dal directs the Protostar toward the nearest Federation relay station. As it happens, the nearest relay station to them is the farthest from the Federation, so it’s not surprising that the station has a crew of one, a lieutenant junior grade named Barniss Frex. Frex initially assumes that Dal, Gwyn, Zero, Rok-Tahk, and Jankom Pog are members of Starfleet sent as part of a resupply mission. However, Dal explains that they may have “borrowed” the Protostar and are presenting themselves to the Federation to seek asylum. Frex gets over his initial discombobulation and proceeds to help them with in-take procedures. They first must undergo a species scan.

Rok-Tahk gets identified as a Brikar while Jankom Pog discovers that Tellarites are one of the founding species of the Federation. Zero’s species was already known to the Federation, and Murf is revealed to be a Mellanoid Slime Worm. Gwyn correctly informs Frex that her species will be unknown, but when Dal goes through the scanner, a warning that he must be reported to Starfleet Command appears on-screen, leading Dal to conclude that Starfleet knows something about his origins. While Frex processes their scans, he gives them free reign of the station.

Zero takes Gwyn down to Sickbay, determined to correct the leftover amnesia she experiences after her glimpse of his true form. They promise that it will be a simple procedure, and Gwyn gives her consent. Meanwhile, on the station’s bridge, Frex prepares to download the Protostar’s logs, per procedure. However, in doing so, he releases the virus the Vau N’Akat stowed aboard the ship. The virus immediately wreaks havoc aboard the station, and Zero attempts to rescue Gwyn from drowning in the biobed gone haywire. She manages to rescue herself.

Rok-Tahk who has been exploring the station’s data on scientific branches of study sees her display fragment and runs to find the others. Jankom Pog even has to leave his massive pile of hotdogs. They all meet up with Frex in a corridor when Hologram Janeway tells them the station’s weapons have turned to fire at the station, and that they must find an escape pod. Frex, however, takes the escape pod for himself, claiming that there’s no space in it for saboteurs.

Dal directs everyone to don EVA suits, and they run along the station’s exterior. Gwyn and Dal tell Rok-Tahk that she must calculate the best time for them to jump toward the orbiting Protostar. She does, after doubting herself, and while they do overshoot a bit, Hologram Janeway is able to capture them with the tractor beam. As they’re pulled aboard, Gwyn remembers what her father said about the ship.

Meanwhile, Admiral Janeway makes it to Tars Lamora where she and her crew find the Diviner floating in stasis. Janeway concludes that they need to break him out of stasis for questioning.

Analysis

“Asylum” may not be a terribly deep episode, but it does set up the coming conflict. Frex’s survival and obvious misunderstanding of the situation means that Dal and the others will be cast as criminals. I can only imagine that Admiral Janeway will hear something similar from the Diviner, meaning that Janeway will believe she’s in pursuit of thieves and bandits rather than children in need of support and help. Moreover, the episode teases our characters with hints of their dreams and desires fulfilled. For Dal, that means finding out about his origins, and his only lead is now Starfleet Command. Rok-Tahk gets a taste of what Federation science looks like, but before she can do more than process the list of scientific branches, a crisis wrenches her away to continue her journey on the Protostar. Jankom Pog finds an unending source of food and an identity as a member of one of the Federation’s founding species, which granted is perhaps a smaller dream than Dal’s but not less important.

Zero and Gwyn are the only two characters who actually get to realize their current desires in that Zero is able to restore Gwyn’s memories to her. I admit that I rather thought we’d get another episode or two with the kids trying to figure out what happened aboard the station, but Prodigy clearly intends to maintain the pace it established going into “A Moral Star” parts I and II. With Gwyn’s realization, the kids are now confronted with the reality that as it stands, they cannot have what they want.

The episode also hints that Admiral Janeway may initially be an enemy rather than a friend and rescuer. I also worry that some sort of wipe will be required to remove the virus, which would result in the loss of holographic Janeway, a figure to whom the kids have become close over the course of the season. I’m not any readier to let her go than they are.

The only mystery the episode didn’t really tease out was what happened to Chakotay, though the holographic sequence Admiral Janeway programs reminds us that for her, that question remains front and center. Did the Vau N’Akat take him prisoner? Is he somehow back on Tars Lamora? Who knows? Regardless, “Asylum” hints at the great ride to come, and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

Rating:

Four and a half shipments of chimerium

Stray Thoughts From the Couch

  1. Note that Frex wears insignia from both TNG and Voyager. He’s also a Denobulan, a member of a species made famous by Dr. Phlox in Enterprise.
  2. The episode’s opening recalls both Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  3. Mellanoid slime worms come to us from “Coming of Age” in which the term was used to insult Wesley Crusher.
  4. The Brikar have a history, albeit mostly in non-canon works.
  5. Y’all, that bottle they used to christen the Protostar had to be a Chateau Picard vintage. It had to be. I need this to be true.
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