Star Trek #1537: Dreamcatcher

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The crew is trapped in a planet that brings your desires to life.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tentacle Janeway.

WHY WE DON'T: An illogical monster.

REVIEW: One of the things Star Trek must do is explore "strange new worlds", but the kids in Prodigy aren't Starfleet personnel, so why would they? Janeway Hologram to the rescue! She is programmed to act as if they were, so she nudges them to an M-class planet (Dal's A-class comment is amusing). "Nudging" includes blackmailing, like for example threatening to report non-compliance to Starfleet if they don't follow protocols. It IS weird that the planet is in the "Hirogen" system, a name that has significance, but no bearing on the events of the episode. At least for now. I also question whether landing on the planet is necessary, or if it's just the kids not knowing about transporters (though Janeway usually volunteers mission-critical information). But the new planet looks cool - giants might want to play croquet there - and of course, presents dangers that a crew with no training will struggle with. The mission also introduces a six-wheel vehicle called the Runaway, and does so as if it were built by a car company that's sponsoring the show, but it doesn't really earn that build-up, give or take a speedy escape near the end.

The characters show their inexperience by splitting up right away, preventing them from riding out in the car. Selfish Dal is off by himself, and then people just kind of... wander off. The planet is host to a vegetable life-form that creates illusions of people's desires, the better to snare and devour them. So Rok plays with cute Porg-like creatures. Zero finds itself in a gigantic hedge maze where it finds the Protostar's mysterious engine (evidently, Zero is driven by curiosity). Jankom Pog smells food (he's big on smells - is this the first time a tricorder detects a fart in Star Trek?) and is later found eating dirt. And Dal yearns to see his parents, but they can't turn around toward him because he doesn't know what they look like. The creature manifests to him as Janeway and shows its hand rather early, at which point we start to see a more objective reality where the illusions are either built out of roots or are illusions on the tips of those twisted branches. That Janeway monster is real creepy. I'm reminded of a similar tentacle creature in the Doctor Who spin-off Class, but that's probably too obscure to accuse anyone of plagiarism.

Meanwhile, Gwyn shows she has more tricks up her sleeve, literally in fact as she can summon her liquid weapon usually worn on her arm like a tattoo. She's soon taking over the ship thanks to knowledge imparted by her father. The ship is her birthright. Janeway is soon under her control and contacting the Diviner. But she too succumbs to the illusions, but immediately calls it out as unreal. There's no way her dad would be loving, supportive and proud of her. There lies my problem with this life form. On the one hand, it can read your mind, but then it makes stupid mistakes like that. Really, why does it waste time luring people in if it can entangle a whole starship as it does at the end? It does lead to the one big surprise of the episode - it ends on a cliffhanger. Prodigy is much more serialized than I expected it to be. As for Gwyn becoming friends with the crew, not yet, but she saves Murf from the monster, so... it's coming? I'm liking her decisions more than Dal's, at this point.

LESSON: Maybe wear the spacesuit even if Janeway doesn't say you should.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: We've seen this kind of thing in Trek before. Often. It's fine for what it is, but things that have to happen soon include Dal learning his lesson and Gwyn turning on her father.


I think landing on the planet makes story sense, as nearly everyone is planning on leaving the ship, and it's probably considered safer to have the ship stationary when there's only one crewmember on board.