As the crew of Star Trek: Prodigy embark on a new mission to the Gamma Quadrant, they deliberately violate Starfleet’s most important principle.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 7, “First Con-Tact,” streaming now on Paramount+.
Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets are founded on ideals and policies that have shaped the entire galaxy for centuries in the star trek Universe, respecting the nature of the civilizations they encounter across the cosmos. And while the crew of the USS Protostar in Star Trek: Prodigy are not members of Starfleet but rather young refugees from the harsh prison planet of Tars Lamora outside of Federation space, they were guided by a hologram simulation of legendary Starfleet officer Kathryn Janeway. However, after making a selfish decision during a First Contact mission, the crew of the Protostar violated Starfleet’s most important policy over them all: the Prime Directive.
After tapping into the Protostar’s experimental Proto Drive, powered by a nascent star, Dal and his friends arrived in the relatively unexplored Gamma Quadrant. No longer actively pursued by the villainous Diviner, Dal took the time to learn more about Starfleet and what it takes to be a starship captain from training programs on the Holodeck. While Dal was more confident and ready to command the Protostar than ever, all of that was undermined when he was unexpectedly reunited with his mentor Nandi, a Ferengi who helped raise Dal after his parents disappeared before Dal does not get stuck on Tars Lamora. And as the Protostar prepares to undergo a First Contact mission, Nandi encourages Dal to act selfishly and warp the Federation with disastrous results.
While undergoing a peaceful diplomatic exchange with the native species after Gwyn determines that they communicate through harmonic frequencies, Nandi steals one of the crystals civilization uses to transmit these harmonics. With this crystal intrinsically tied to the society of the species, the entire planet is thrown into disarray until Dal retrieves Nandi’s crystal to restore the natural order of civilization before the Protostar’s departure and any other harm can be done. As Dal grapples with the idea that the unscrupulous Ferengi would betray him, Janeway scolds him for breaking the Prime Directive, observing that her trust in him has been broken.
The Prime Directive explicitly prohibits Starfleet from interfering with the natural evolution of civilizations that are not yet capable of reaching warp speed. Captain Kirk shifted to a more laissez-faire stance on the First Directive during Star Trek: The Original Seriesand deliberately violated the First Directive in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darknessresulting in his temporary demotion to Starfleet. Star Trek: The Next GenerationCaptain Picard was however much more demanding in respecting the Prime Directive, with several episodes of GNT test his position with politics.
Dal trusted the wrong person and an entire civilization paid the price; at the very least, they will be suspicious when visited by future entities from the stars. And Dal now has a long way to go if he ever hopes Janeway will trust him after violating the Prime Directive, a policy considered sacrosanct for generations. Dal may have proven himself worthy of being a starship captain, but when it comes to the respect and representation of the Federation at the helm of the Protostar, Dal still has a lot to learn.
Created by Kevin and Dan Hageman, Star Trek: Prodigy releases new episodes Thursdays on Paramount+.
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