Note: This review discusses both Part 1 and Part 2. If you are trying to avoid spoilers, watch both parts first.
"A Moral Star" is the mid-season finale of a 20-episode first-season order, and as such, it feels like it winds some things down while teasing a couple new things. Finally, it appears we have our definitive confrontation with the Diviner, where motives are revealed and outcomes are delivered. And our crew is more determined than ever in its desire to find Starfleet. It's an entertaining adventure yarn, but one that doesn't bear too much plot scrutiny. I'm content to take it on its level.
The Diviner contacts the Protostar and threatens the miners of Tars Lamora, but promises he will release them if the kids turn over his much-coveted stolen starship. The kids, who were determined to go to the Federation and return the Protostar, must make the difficult and selfless decision to give up their dream in exchange for all the people who were left behind on the mining ship. Gwyn must make a second hard choice when her father demands she come with him when they make the trade. That's really what part one is about — making selfless decisions to help people who can't help themselves. It's a Starfleet position, and a good message for a kids' show. The young crew puts on Starfleet uniforms as a marker of their progress.
The plot hinges on the season's running gag that Murf can eat anything and is indestructible, so they have him swallow the protocore to hide it. (I suppose they've established this ability, but having him swallow a miniature star is still pushing it.) When they turn the ship over to the Diviner in exchange for his ship and the miners, it's without its key feature, meaning the Diviner has to bring the fight back to them. (Good thing, too, because he had already double-crossed them and left them all to die.)
The episode features a lot of planning for the big showdown and some undercards leading up to the main event (Drednok is defeated thanks to the unity of the miners brought about by the universal translator). But the episode's real value lies in the centerpiece where the Diviner explains to Gwyn (and us) his backstory and motivation. He's from the future, where first contact with Starfleet (which hasn't happened yet) brought about a civil war that led to the destruction of his world. He traveled back in time to stop the first contact, which he intends to do by sending the Protostar back to Starfleet with a hidden computer virus that will spread through and cripple the fleet. (I have some doubts about this plan, especially the part where he spent 20 years looking for this particular starship to implement it.)
Zero revealing himself to the Diviner makes for an unexpected way to defeat the villain by driving him mad (and is marked with some spectacular animation), although I wonder about its prudence in terms of potential collateral damage, seeing what happens to Gwyn. Her mere glimpse of Zero makes her lose the memory of her father's backstory, as well as the knowledge that the Protostar is a Trojan horse. Our crew sets course for the Federation.
Back in Federation space, the real Admiral Janeway's ship detects the Protostar's signature, and sets a course in its direction, hoping to rescue Chakotay. But does this mean he has been missing for 20 years?
Previous episode: Time Amok
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