Star Trek Prodigy S1E7: “First Con-tact” review

WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Actress Grey Griffin attends the 43rd Annual Annie Awards at Royce Hall on the UCLA Campus on February 6, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Actress Grey Griffin attends the 43rd Annual Annie Awards at Royce Hall on the UCLA Campus on February 6, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images) /

A Ferengi makes her devious debut on Star Trek Prodigy.

Hot on the heels of last week’s legacy character extravaganza, Star Trek Prodigy introduces a new and no doubt to be recurring antagonist from one of the franchise’s biggest legacy species.

The Protostar crew’s having fun experimenting with the transporter when Hologram Janeway reports the ship is getting a distress call. But the call turns out to be a ruse. Dal recognizes DaiMon Nandi, the Ferengi captain who raised him—before he was kidnapped and taken to Tars Lamora—aboard her ship, the Damsel.

Nandi has a Klingon cloaking device that would be perfect for keeping the Protostar hidden from Solum. All she asks in exchange? For the Protostar gang to help her get one remalite crystal from a strange new world that’s never made contact with aliens. Despite Hologram Janeway’s misgivings and Dal’s initial hesitancy, the crew agrees.

On the planet, an overwhelming sandstorm develops, enveloping the away team. Zero telepathically senses the storm is caused by invisible lifeforms trying to communicate. Gwyn figures out the harmonics to which the team can calibrate their tricorders to make contact.

After the storm subsides, a sandpit opens. The team sinks down to a large underground chamber filled with remalite crystals, and angel-like lifeforms. Nandi “presents” the lifeforms with a valueless Ferengi spit tray. The lifeforms sing a beautiful song in exchange, but Nandi starts grabbing crystals, causing the lifeforms pain.

The chamber starts shaking. Nandi trips and spills the crystals she’s grabbed, but retrieves one before running away. Realizing the lifeforms need every crystal to control matter, the Protostar crew begins replacing the ones they have, and Dal pursues Nandi.

When Dal confronts her on the surface, Nandi tells him he wasn’t kidnapped when he was young. She sold him to buy her robotic treasure-hunting partner, Pik-Pox. Having already stolen the Protostar’s chimerium to power the cloaking device, Nandi leaves—but not before Dal manages to put his combadge on the crystal she has. Jankom beams the crystal off the Damsel back to where it belongs. Her “lobes tingling with opportunity,” Nandi contacts the Diviner.

Star Trek Prodigy continues to elevate itself in its art and characters

“First Con-tact” is another lushly animated episode of Star Trek Prodigy. The renderings of the alien world approach photorealistic quality during the sandstorm sequence (a storm Zero amusingly and accurately describes as being “Murder Planet all over again”). The scenes in which we see the lifeforms’ architecture rise and in which they themselves appear in ethereal glory evoke a true sense of wonder to rival any in live-action Trek. At the risk of making a Kaferian apples to oranges comparison, Prodigy is by far the most beautifully realized Star Trek series to date.

DaiMon Nandi, perfectly voiced by Grey DeLisle (pictured above), should prove a delicious recurring antagonist for the Protostar gang. Despite her vessel’s name, she is no damsel in distress (nicely played, scriptwriter Diandra Pendleton-Thompson!) Always ready to quote a Rule of Acquisition, she is a Ferengi cut in the finest Quark fashion, but with none of those nagging qualms of conscience that occasionally plagued Deep Space Nine’s barkeep. She wears clothes, indicating the reforms Zek, Moogie, and Grand Nagus Rom introduced to Ferengi society in Deep Space Nine’s last season took hold, but in every other respect, she is a scheming, profit-first, and profit-only troublemaker.

As our own Rachel Carrington notes, Nandi’s selling of Dal to (presumably) Solum reveals a dark streak indeed in Nandi’s character. Seeing how Nandi continues to plague the Protostar crew and how Dal continues to cope with her revelation about his past should provide future episodes with much plot and emotional tension.

And “First Con-tact” continues to firm up the bonds between the Protostar crew. Although Hologram Janeway gives the gang a stern talking-to about ignoring Starfleet standards, the episode ends with Gwyn pointing out she and Dal have both been betrayed and rejected by those who raised them. “I wish I could tell you it’ll stop hurting,” she says, “but I don’t know that yet.”

It’s a well-earned moment of emotional honesty in a series that continues to rise high above any low, “kids’ fare” expectations some may have for it.

Star Trek Prodigy review S1E6: “Kobayashi”. dark. Next