Last week we left our crew trying to stop the imminent destruction of the Federation, after the Vindicator activated the construct weapon. At the start of this week’s finale, Dal contemplates self-destructing the Protostar, but Jankom says that their proto-core would basically create a supernova, blowing up everyone in the sector. Rok has the idea that they could do it if they blew up the core at the same moment they proto-jumped, spreading the energy across the sector. Hologram Janeway suggests they use the vehicle replicator to make a shuttlecraft, and they can escape before the ship explodes. But Dal notes that the ship’s controls are fried, which means someone needs to stay behind. Gwyn doesn’t want him to stay, but he’s the captain and besides, he’s not getting into Starfleet anyway.
Hologram Janeway points out she can do it, but Rok objects that she’s more than just a hologram to them; she’s a friend. Holo Janeway says she’s already thought of that: they just have to copy her program and take her with them.
On the Dauntless bridge, Commander Tysess sees the Protostar taking off and asks what they’re doing. “Saving us all,” replies Vice-Admiral Janeway.
The Protostar crews make a rudimentary shuttle while Janeway tries to upload herself onto an isolinear chip for Dal and co to take, but the computer informs her that there isn’t enough space to load her program. Dal comes in and Janeway fakes a smile and hands him the chip anyway: “Now you have two of me.”
Jankom is hesitant to blow up the ship that’s been their home, but Rok suggests they “think of it as letting a young star become what it’s meant to be.” There is a beautiful and sad segment without dialogue as the kids take off and Janeway sits down in the Captain’s chair and fires up the proto-drive. “Ready? Go fast,” she says, closing her eyes as the ship accelerates and then explodes, creating a stunning, blue and pink nebula.
We flash back to the battlefield, where the red lights on the Federation ships are blinking out. Tysess tells Janeway that there’s no sign of the Protostar, but she says they have to search for them, after everything they did to save them.
On the shuttle, they try to activate Holo Janeway but just get a pre-recorded message, reminiscent of Tasha Yar’s final holo-message to her crew. Holo Janeway says she grew over the course of her time with them, making her program too complex to load on the chip in time. It sinks in slowly that they’ve lost their friend and they wipe away tears. She says her only regret is not being there to see them get to Starfleet Academy, and reassures them that they can find their way back to Starfleet even without her.
“Together, your potential is infinite. Now, go boldly.”
Back on Earth, a Vulcan lieutenant commander presents findings about the anomaly created by the destruction of the Protostar. The ship created an interspatial rift, aka a wormhole, and through that Starfleet picked up a signal from the other Protostar: Chakotay’s Protostar. Janeway has to take a moment to call out the Commander for referring to the Protostar crew as criminals, instead of heroes who saved them. He apologizes and then plays a message from Chakotay, sent from fifty-two years in the future. It turns out that Holo Janeway used her scientific expertise to try to recreate the parameters of the original wormhole Chakotay was lost in. There’s going to be an exploratory ship Vice-Admiral Janeway says she wants to be on it.
Just then another Lieutenant Commander runs into the room and apologizes for interrupting, but the Protostar crew is back. Their little shuttle is sitting in the harbour under the Golden Gate bridge, which is covered with solar panels, and they wave up at the Federation shuttles.
The crew appears in front of a Federation tribunal, where they have to answer for their various offences, such as impersonating Starfleet officers and Dal inhabiting Janeway’s mind. The panel of Starfleet brass have serious concerns with letting these kids in Starfleet, including that it would show preferential treatment over all the other cadets who had to pass various tests and evaluations. And they mention that Dal is an Augment. Janeway is there and defends them vociferously. She notes that this group of young people came together around Federation values, and have been through more than any Cadet undergoing tests and evaluations. She names Dal and says yes he’s genetically engineered, but clearly not enhanced, and she knows how big his heart is. He has DNA from 26 Federation member species, so doesn’t that make him a great example of what Starfleet stands for?
The Protostar crew wait out in the hall, pacing nervously. Vice-Admiral Janeway comes out and lets them know the tribunal dropped all charges. They cheer, and Jankom asks about Starfleet Academy. Janeway says that the panel felt strongly they couldn’t let them into the Academy ahead of other, more qualified candidates, but they agreed to let Janeway take five of them under her wing as Warrant Officers in Training, under her command. So they’re not in the Academy but they are part of Starfleet.
Rok realizes that there are six of them, and they all assume the one who didn’t get in was Dal. He reassures them that it’s ok and important that they’ll get to carry on the adventure. Janeway tells him he got in, but he doesn’t understand. Then Gwyn speaks. She can’t join them because she has to save the Vau N’Akat in her own way. First contact with her people hasn’t happened yet, but it will and she could potentially prevent the massive planetary destruction that ensued in her father’s time. Starfleet offered to return her to her own planet, in hopes that she will bring her people together. Gwyndala, the Unifier.
We transition to a training montage with a voice-over by Janeway, who says this is a chance for the crew to discover who they are and find their place in the universe. Rok meets a Starfleet officer (Dr. Erin MacDonald!) who suggests she might want to learn about xenobiology. Jankom does a fancy engineering demonstration, and Zero tries out a new exoskeleton.
Gwyn and Dal sit under a projection of a star map and they reminisce about how they used to be at odds. “To think we’re now in cat boots,” Dal says, a throwback to Gwyn’s early mixup with the word “kahoots.” Dal says he doesn’t want her to leave, and they kiss.
“Promise me we’ll see each other again,” he says, and she says, “We got this far, didn’t we?”
We see Gwyn’s shuttle taking off into the sunset as the rest of the crew watches. Just then panels on a spaceship hangar pull back and they look excitedly at the new ship that they’re going to crew, part of a new Protostar class. Dal asks if that’s their ship, but Janeway says she has a much bigger plan for them, and waves them back inside. Dal looks up to see Gwyn’s ship disappear in the sky, and that brings us to the end of Season 1! Stay tuned for our episode reviewing the season coming out on January 9!