It’s at this point I have to wonder on what level I should be watching and reviewing this series — as an adult, or filtered purely through a kid’s mentality. Ideally, it should work on both levels (see much of The Mandalorian), but it’s becoming harder to take this seriously as Star Trek.
In the overly busy and superficial "Masquerade," the kids simultaneously flee Janeway’s Dauntless and the Romulan warbirds and arrive at Noble Isle, a city on a planet in the neutral zone where "cutting-edge" (i.e., unsanctioned) scientific experiments are conducted, and where the kids hope to obtain repairs to the ship — which, by the end, I don’t believe they ever actually get. The city provides a cool backdrop for the adventure, where our crew is greeted by Dr. Jago (Amy Hill), a scientist who scans Dal and tells him he is actually a genetically engineered being created from human DNA as well as that of 26 other species. It’s a crushing realization for Dal, who learns he has no parents and was created as an experiment in genetic augmentation by Dr. Arik Soong — although I’m not sure exactly how, since Arik Soong lived two centuries before Dal was born.
"Crossroads" is a wacky, fast-paced, entertaining mess, but ultimately too frustrating and contrived to recommend. It has our Starfleet wannabes deciding to shut down, abandon, and bury the Protostar under an avalanche of snow, so they can continue their mission to make contact with the Federation without infecting them with the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon that’s aboard the ship. They arrive at Denaxi Depot, a snowy Mos Eisley port featuring Xindi security guards, where they make contact with numerous shady characters, including a middle-aged, eye-patched Captain Okona, from the notoriously bad TNG episode, "The Outrageous Okona."
Meanwhile, Admiral Janeway and the Dauntless also arrive at this depot in their continued investigation into the missing starship and the vanished Captain Chakotay. (Coincidentally, Barniss Frex is also here.) The Diviner has already remembered his daughter’s name (but little else), and when Janeway’s crew runs into our wannabes, certain contrived misunderstandings prompt them to run rather than staying and explaining themselves.
Having put their quest to seek out Starfleet on pause because of the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon, the Protostar crew embarks on a "planet of the week" adventure, answering the call from a world they discover is modeled on Starfleet — in particular, Kirk’s TOS-era Enterprise. These people, dubbed the "Enderprizians," invite their guests to a performance of a play, which documents a bevy of Starfleet procedurals.
At times reminiscent of Voyager‘s "Muse," where a meta play was produced to create a Star Trek story within the episode itself, "All the World’s a Stage" plays like the franchise’s ultimate self-homage, featuring people who imitate all the things they learned from an Enterprise ensign who was marooned there when he crashed on the planet more than a century earlier.
After seeing a holodeck simulation of Gwyn’s restored memories, the young crew attempts to disable the sinister Trojan-horse-from-the-future weapon that the Diviner has integrated into the Protostar‘s system. They are unable to break its defenses, however. Coincidentally, the ship stumbles across a dormant Borg cube. Hologram Janeway warns the kids of the extreme danger of the Borg, but the kids think they may be able to use the Borg’s knowledge to figure out how to disable the weapon, so they board the Borg vessel and start poking around.
Attempting to tie these two storylines together is forced at best, and wrong-headed at worst. This is Prodigy‘s entry point into the Borg collective — which in theory makes sense since this is the Delta Quadrant — but this adventure plays out as one of the most ho-hum and tensionless encounters with the Borg to date, and even more so as executed on its rather naive, Nickelodeon-friendly level.
A few weeks after their confrontation with the Diviner, and following the rescue of a sea creature in a way that attempts to avoid violating the Prime Directive, the young crew of the Protostar discover a Federation outpost — CR-721, the most remote station in the Delta Quadrant — and its sole occupant, Lt. Barniss Frex. (Why would Starfleet send this guy to be out here all by himself? Seems like a recipe for disaster.)
It marks the crew’s first official contact with the Federation, which knows a little something about all of them. The episode allows for some reasonably interesting discoveries, with bio-scans that reveal what species each of them is — except for Gwyn, who registers as "unknown," and Dal, who is mysteriously flagged as "Report to Starfleet Command." Meanwhile, Gwyn attempts to regain the memories she lost when Zero revealed himself to defeat the Diviner — including the crucial piece of information that she keeps hearing the Diviner tell her in her subconscious: "It is a weapon."