"Supernova, Part 2" spends its first act quickly resolving the cliffhanger set up in part one before then moving into full coda/wrapup/setup mode for its second and third acts. This is definitely to the episode’s benefit, because in the process it ends up being the best and most satisfying episode of the season — not to mention demonstrating the most thematically resonant and relevant material that a kids’ Trek series of this type should be putting forward.
To make a short story shorter, the kids realize that to stop the weapon from destroying the entire fleet, they have to destroy the Protostar by destabilizing the engine core (resulting in the titular supernova). This would wipe out the entire star system and the present fleet, so they must move the ship far away at a fast enough speed to spread out the blast’s destruction and minimize it in any one location. This is the precise level of technobabble that a story like this needs — sensible and straightforward while making it about the characters’ choices.
"Supernova, Part 1" ends on a Really Big Cliffhanger, and it’s at this point I begin musing whether the action-based scope of this show needlessly exceeds the thematic goals that should’ve been the real point of this season, which is to get these young misfits to into Federation space and Starfleet.
The season seems to be accomplishing that goal, yes, but in the meantime, it’s also doing one of those overly large "threat to the Federation" plots that have pervaded the Kurtzman era of Star Trek and become really tired over the past five years. And this time it will be kids coming to the rescue.
After a hard day’s work running bridge simulations on the holodeck where they try to engage the Dauntless without infecting them with the Super Virus Weapon, the kids settle down for some relaxing ice-cream social time. But when it’s time to turn in for bed, strange things begin to happen, and our crew realizes they actually never left the holodeck. They’re stuck there for unknown reasons, until they can solve the computer’s puzzle by retrieving a mysterious skeleton key. The holodeck has become an escape room (which is not a bad high-concept pitch, to be honest).
After last week’s brisk journey through a series of fairly substantive backstories, "Ghost in the Machine" is unfortunately a pretty clear example of the pandering kiddie side of this series, which serves up episodic action sequences that have nothing to do with anything (or even each other) and exist mainly to fill screen time and cater to the assumed short attention span of our YouTube/TikTok-addicted youth. (Get off my lawn.)
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.