Star Trek #1597: Crossroads

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The crew of the Protostar finally crosses paths with Admiral Janeway's.

WHY WE LIKE IT: No sitting still.

WHY WE DON'T: Ok, maybe it's just me, but... Okona?

REVIEW: It might seem a bit early for upending the status quo and having the Protostar crew already meet Admiral Janeway's, but remember, this is a serial, and it dares shake up its formula. I'm all for it. So the kids land the Protostar on a snowy planet, hide the ship and head to a small Xindi(!) port called the Denaxi Depot in the hopes of finding a ride to Starfleet so they can warn them about the Trojan Horse virus. What they don't know is that the survivor of the listening post the Protostar destroyed in Asylum, Banris Frex, has also found his way there, and Admiral Janeway has arrived to debrief him. So that should make things simpler, right? Wrong.

The conceit is that several of the kids cross paths with the Dauntless crew, but for some reason or other, are unable to give their warning. Jankom meets Janeway's Tellarite doctor, and - of course - they trade insults (is it true that "Pog" is a name given to lower-class runts, or is it just a barb about Jankom's height?). Jamkom being Jankom, he let's emotions get in the way and never delivers the message. Then we have Gwyn who is more or less rescued from a Klingon by Asencia, but runs away when the latter mentions her father is aboard the Dauntless. And finally, a tongue-tied Dal meets the Admiral herself, but as soon as things start going in the right direction, Frex shows up with his hyperbolic description of the "criminals" who destroyed his station, and Dal has to hide, then run. Though Janeway thinks it's strange that the "criminals" would be kids, given her partial information, she has to conclude THEY took the Protostar and are thus responsible for whatever happened to Chakotay. This is all leads to a fun chase with plenty of things going wrong - Xindi in pursuit, Murf about to hatch, an avalanche, and then out in space, the Dauntless gives chase, an accidental torpedo (Murf!!) doesn't help matters, and having its proto-jump capacity knocked out, the ship heads into the Romulan Neutral Zone, where nothing good can happen. Admiral Janeway is ready to follow (oh Janeway, she never changes), but her crew refuses the order, not wanting to start a war. It makes for exciting Trek.

Captain Okona - Billy Campbell returns, though I don't think his voice is one I can readily recognize - is along for the voyage. First a potential ride off the planet, he's found hiding from people he scammed in a compartment of the snow speeder the kids stole. I don't really know who on the production team is a fan of The Outrageous Okona - it's not a good episode of TNG - and thought older fans would enjoy the reference (maybe Rocketeer fandom is at work?). But Okona doesn't really prove his worth here - he does nothing that the kids couldn't have done themselves - and looking ahead, I'm not sure he ever does. But we'll leave that for later episodes.

Annnnnnnd Murf DOES hatch into a new form in the middle of all this. The thing with Murf is, I always thought he was a bit naff, like a bad CG character meant to appeal to the youngest viewers. A lot of our affection for the character - ultimately - stems from Rok's own affection for the Protostar's subverbal crew member. A transformation may or may not have been inspired by those factors. In the end, he's not too different. He's got limbs now - is this species a sort of mimic, taking a form closer to its adopted "family"? - and he's more bouncy and stretchy and strictly slimy. It's not a HUGE CG upgrade - still quite simple - but it's more fun, I think. Especially considering the episodes to come. Unlike Okona, I think THIS is a good addition.

LESSON: Communication is key.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Lots of action, lots of changes, lots of guest-stars. A cool roller-coaster ride.