“First Con-Tact” is an great episode of failure and character growth shoved into a predictable formulaic kids show plot

The crew of the Protostar come across Dal’s adoptive mother, a Ferengi named Nandi, who enlists them to help her get a crystal from a prewarp civilization in exchange for a cloaking device for their ship.

Naturally, she’s evil.   That’s not a spoiler, that’s the formula.  The second Nandi shows up, you might as well start a countdown for betrayal and horrible revelation because we’ve seen this exact plot a million times. Making Nandi a Ferengi didn’t help matters either if you’re familiar with the race, but it did explain a lot about Dal’s general personality and attitude.

This formula doesn’t really make “First Con-Tact” (cute title) a bad episode, just predictable. The true strength of this installment is the Protostar crew itself. I enjoyed watching them discover and learn – the bit with the transporter at the beginning was so dead on for how kids would react and play with such a thing that it was uncanny.

More than that, I enjoy watching the crew try and fail. Screwing up first contact, violating the Prime Directive… those are hard lessons and they are lessons that the gang will remember. Janeway, the defacto mom of the group, dressing them down and telling them how disappointed she was in them, was the icing on the cake… another hard lesson that will not be forgotten.

So, not a strong episode, but the character moments and sheer beauty and mystery of the aliens that the Protostar encounters makes up for it and demonstrates, once again, why Star Trek is a brand meant for animation.

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