After an action-packed couple of episodes, we start with a more reflective tone. Janeway is on the Dauntless, listening to Chopin. Her first officer lets her know they received a bounty seeking message from outside the Federation that identifies the Protostar crew, so now they have their names, but they still can’t get anywhere near them without provoking a war with the Romulans.
Meanwhile on the Protostar, they’re trying to fix the auxiliary warp drive. Dal is feeling sorry for himself, but Jankom Pog points out he’s not the only one there with a sob story. He concedes that maybe Gwyn has him beat, but Zero says they all have things in their past they wish to forget, and he reads Rok’s mind that maybe she has a worse story than others. They urge Rok to share.
Flashback to an arena, where Rok was billed as “The Monster” for a hero to fight, in front of crowds who came from near and far. It wasn’t so bad – she became friends with the hero and liked how good they were at putting on a show. But when she realized how afraid of her the fans were, it wasn’t fun anymore. One day, she’d had enough. When she didn’t fall to the hero’s sword, she realized she could embarrass him. After, the hero was sad, and Rok was hauled off to Tars Lamora. They realize why Rok doesn’t like to fight, but she says it helps to talk about it.
Next up is Zero’s story, remembering how they were free on their planet as part of the Medusan hivemind, exploring the nature around them with other Medusans. One day a group of Kazons with visors to protect them came and captured Zero in an energy field, delivering them to Drednok and the Diviner to be used a a weapon.
Back on the Dauntless we finally pick up where we left off last episode, meeting our new Vau N’Akat character. She has to help the Diviner fill in his memory so we also see her flashback. She says she and the Diviner were the same age, and he was seduced by Starfleet’s ideas while others were wary of joining a primitive group of other races. Civil war broke out and the Federation refused to take a side. The planet was dead and there was no hope, until the Protostar arrived. The Diviner has a flash of memory. He remembers the Federation said the Protostar coming there was an accident, but they knew it was fate. “They had no idea how starved we were for retribution,” she agrees.
We flash to the Protostar under Captain Chakotay. He broadcasts a distress signal as a bunch of Drednok-like robots board the bridge. She says they captured the crew and sent the Protostar back in time to destroy the Federation before they could ever make first contact. But the Starfleet prisoners escaped on the eve of their launch, and sent the Protostar back into the time anomaly it came from without a crew to guide it.
That’s why they formed something called the Order, sending 100 ships into the anomaly, each with one Drednok, to find the Protostar and protect their homeworld. Apparently being a member of The Order comes with cool nicknames. Hers? The Vindicator.
Side note: I bet once they got to the 100th member they were running out of cool verbs. The Vindicator arrived three years ago, infiltrated Starfleet, and hitched a ride on a ship that was also determined to find the Protostar. The Diviner arrived twenty years ago, and didn’t think he’d live to see his mission succeed. The Vindicator says she understands why he disobeyed the Order and created a progeny, but doesn’t understand why Gwyn betrayed them.
“She met a boy,” the Diviner says. Which…what? It’s so much more than that!
On the Protostar Jankom agrees to tell his backstory too. Pre-Federation, Tellarite orphans were sent off in cryochambers on deep space missions. Jankom woke up from his cryosleep earlier than planned and encounters an emergency assistant robot. The robot can’t put him back because there’s an emergency in progress. But every time he tries to fix something he fails or makes it unintentionally worse. He eventually bashes a bar into a console until all systems are functioning again. He goes back into cryosleep but his pod opens because all his exertion means there is now not enough oxygen aboard for everyone to finish their mission. So he volunteers to leave. His escape pod was finally caught by a Kazon. This is such great background for a character that otherwise hasn’t developed much in the first season.
They ask Murf if he has anything he wants to share. He burps, and they laugh. Hologram Janeway says the Protostar is now ready to fly. They fire up the drive. As it charges, Zero asks Janeway about her backstory. She starts by telling them about her Irish setter, Molly.
On the Dauntless, Janeway finds that someone named the Diviner put out the bounty on the kids, and goes to ask their guest about it. She walks in on the Vindicator and Drednok, and before she can process what’s going on, the Diviner hits her from behind and knocks her out, saying he’s ensuring the mission.