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Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

For the DIS episode with a similar title, please see "Kobayashi Maru".

As Gwyn struggles to find her role aboard the USS Protostar, Dal tests his leadership skills in the newly discovered holodeck.


Act One[]

Protostar jump Delta to Gamma Quadrant

The Protostar's course to the Gamma Quadrant

The USS Protostar drops out of proto-warp, and Dal is the first to recover, asking how fast they went. Jankom Pog, waking up off of Murf, tries to give an answer, but is completely queasy. Zero, however, notices the proto-drive is offline and inoperable and proceeds to shut down the drive components. Gwyn asks if her father was still after them, but Dal reassures her that they got away. Rok-Tahk worriedly asks where they were, prompting Janeway to ask the computer where they ended up at. To the hologram's shock and confusion, they've landed nearly 4,000 light years away and are now in the Gamma Quadrant. Jankom doesn't buy it even as Janeway tries to make sense of it.

Skydiving on Ceti Alpha V Holoprogram
Kal-if-fee gladiatorial holoprogram
Count Dracula's Castle
Jane Eyre holonovel

Janeway shows Jankom and Dal the possibilities of the holodeck

Later on, Dal is busy playing a game in his ready room when Jankom, Zero, and Rok-Tahk enter. They explain that their best course of action is to head for the Federation for help. They explain that they barely escaped The Diviner, and he's still out there and the proto-drive is still inoperable and can't help them if it's shut down. Dal refuses as he believes they'll be arrested for stealing Federation property. Jankom counters that they're refugees and that the Federation should understand. Dal's upset that they're going against their captain, which Jankom counters as "self-appointed". Zero points out that, outside of him, the decision is unanimous. However, Dal talks his way out of this by pointing out that Murf hadn't said anything. This prompts the group to wonder where Murf wandered off to. Murf is, somehow, on a frozen tundra planet.

As the group hunts down Murf, Dal wanders into sickbay, where Gwyn is hiding. Dal turns to leave her alone, but Gwyn stops him and thanks him for saving her life. Dal attempts to brush it off, claiming that Janeway wouldn't allow them to leave anyone behind. Before he leaves, he lets her know she has a bunk cleared off for her when she's ready to join them. Elsewhere, Jankom finds a room and pops its door open, watching as Murf races out. Dal joins him on the tundra and soon calls for Janeway, revealing that this is a holodeck program of Andoria IV. This piques the boys' curiosity, prompting Janeway to showcase a few of them, from skydiving over Ceti Alpha V, battling in a kal-if-fee gladiatorial match, battling Count Dracula, or even going through one of Janeway's beloved Jane Eyre holo-novel series (one the boys agree with a silent look at each other that they're not going to try anytime soon). One, however, catches Dal's eye – the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

Kobayashi Maru officer selection

Dal and Jankom presented with crew options

Janeway simply describes it as "an advanced Academy training module designed to test the greatest captains Starfleet has to offer." Dal sees it as a chance to prove he's the best, much to Jankom's annoyance. Janeway knows that Dal is in no position to win and appears to deliberately bait him, suggesting continuing with the "silly little cone and disc game" as being "more his speed". Predictably, Dal dismisses her ready to prove he's just as good as anyone in the Federation and she obliges, but with a knowing smile. Activating the program, the boys find themselves on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D and soon asked by the computer to choose personnel, various Starfleet badges through the decades flashing up before them.

Zero comforts Gwen

"A penny for your thoughts."

Elsewhere, Rok-Tank finds Murf in a storage room, chowing down on photon grenades, much to her horror. In sickbay, Zero scans Gwyn on a biobed by tricorder and is impressed that her fractured leg has already fully healed. She is perfectly fine outside of low serotonin and asks why she hasn't left, summing it up with a phrase Janeway taught them, "a penny for your thoughts." Gwyn explains that she's sad, that she doesn't belong on the ship with the rest of them or out in the universe after what her father did. Zero sympathizes with her, explaining that they felt loneliness when they were separated from their Medusan hive mind by The Diviner. However, despite this, they found a place with Dal and the others and so shall Gwyn. Gwyn is confused – why would they need a translator when they have a computer doing so? Zero explains that it isn't what's translated, but its interpretation. They admit they struggled to figure out why The Diviner chose a ship over his daughter and that while they're certain Gwyn doesn't have the answers, they'll find out together.

Stardate 43929.9: seventeen years ago
Gwyndala's beginning

Gwyndala's beginning

The Diviner had grown weak over the years in his search for the Protostar. With his species on the verge of extinction, he requests that Drednok create a progeny for him. Drednok objects, stating that doing so would defy The Order and an offspring represents an emotional liability. The Diviner counters that The Order would become irrelevant if his species died with him and that they were close to achieving their goal. Drednok relents and creates a female clone from The Diviner as a daughter, Gwyndala.

Act Two[]

Nyota Uhura (Kobayashi Maru hologram)
Odo (Kobayashi Maru hologram)
Spock (Kobayashi Maru hologram)
Beverly Crusher (Kobayashi Maru hologram)

"Just...gimme some of the best you got"

Dal and Jankom are still in the holodeck choosing crewmembers. Jankom suggests one JT Kirk, but Dal points out that he's the captain, and they don't need another one. In the end, Dal asks for some of the best on record and are given Communications Officer Nyota Uhura, Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher, Chief of Security Odo, and Science Officer Spock. The simulation begins when they receive a distress call from the Kobayashi Maru, which is in the neutral zone and requesting urgent assistance. Jankom mocks them for being "whiners". As Crusher and Spock warn Dal of the fact that the ship has 87 lives in danger yet entering the neutral zone constitutes an act of war, Dal asks if they know anyone onboard the ship. Since no one does, Dal orders the ship turned around and warped out. Spock and Crusher express their disappointment and when Dal attempts to assert his authority, Uhura adamantly refuses while Odo outright resigns. Jankom is excited over the idea of a mutiny, but Dal ends up relenting and orders the ship into the neutral zone, complaining when Odo points out, again, that this is an act of war. Soon, they are surrounded by three Klingon Birds-of-Prey and are hit with a single photon torpedo, ending the simulation. Dal groans as the computer gives his scores, which are sadly very low. Refusing to let Jankom mock him over this failure, Dal demands the simulation be restarted.

Gwyn and the proto-drive

"Why would my father need a ship with an engine this powerful?"

Down in engineering, Gwyn and Zero muse as to why The Diviner wants a ship with such a powerful engine and why Janeway was so shocked at its capabilities. Figuring out it was easier to ask the source, Gwyn calls for Janeway and asks about the Protostar's mission. However, the most she can get out was to "enter the Delta Quadrant" before something blocks her. She can't even answer why it was on Tars Lamora. Gwyn thinks her memory core is damaged, but Janeway says it's fine - the information's just classified. When Zero suggests trying to find the answer in her memory banks, Janeway replies that she's gonna need coffee for this. Rok-Tahk runs in, calling for Zero. Briefly pleased to note Gwyn out and about, she asks Zero what happens if one ate photon grenades. On Zero stating that one would cease to exist after a burst of gamma rays, she panics and quickly runs off.

In the holodeck, Dal's losses are piling up as Jankom mocks him. After 42 attempts, this is now personal. Attempt 49, Crusher suggests that Dal's stubbornness should be in a medical textbook. Attempt 61, an unhinged Dal snarls "Fire… EVERYTHING!", prompting Spock to ask if he was alright before the Enterprise is shot down. Attempt 78, Dal gets into an argument with Odo, who turns and leaves before they're shot down. Attempt 99, the Klingon captain watches in confusion as there was an empty bridge. As it turned out, everyone was hiding behind the tactical console. Spock surmises that Dal has lost all capacity for rational thought with Uhura agreeing and not understanding how anyone can stand it. After more and more failures, Dal is at his wit's end: why can't he win? Jankom suggests that maybe he just can't. Dal is incensed: what does someone in Starfleet have that's better than him? Jankom claims lots, but can only suggest that, maybe, he should listen to his crew more. Dal feels betrayed by this and summoning the arch, kicks Jankom out and asks the computer to give him a new engineer, summoning Chief Engineering Officer Montgomery Scott.

Gwyn accesses Janeway's memories

Gwyn accesses Janway's classified memories

In the hangar, Rok-Tahk worries about Murf when the photon grenades finally go off, causing the blob to belch out light, stretch and twist as it easily shrugs off the weapon with a tiny fart. Rok-Tahk, Murf and Jankom return to the bridge to find Gwyn trying to decode the data that's blocking Janeway's memories. She has bypassed the command functions but has found a passcode encryption. Zero notes the translator isn't translating one part and Gwyn realizes it's because it's the language of her homeworld, Solum, a curiosity as the Federation never met the Vau N'Akat. Gwyn points out that she and her father are the last of their kind, so there's no way anyone from her race could have done this but sets about to try and solve it. Reminded by Zero that language is not merely about translation but interpretation, Gwyn tries the phrase "There is no barrier we cannot overcome. For we are Vau N'Akat." After a few tense moments, it works, and they're given access.

Act Three[]

Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Kobayashi Maru

Dal celebrates his victory too soon, as a fourth Bird-of-Prey decloaks

In the holodeck, Dal's finally figured out how to beat the simulation. Activating the simulation again, he plays AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" on all channels at full volume, has the ship go into impulse and performing a barrel roll loop as the warp core is going critical at 130% power. Dal has decided the only way to win the simulation is to go full chaos. Once the Birds-of-Prey arrive, Dal orders the warp core ejected and, once it gets close, phasers fired at it, obliterating the ships in a massive antimatter explosion. Spock picks up nothing on sensors and Crusher notes that, despite Dal's insane actions, the crew of the Kobayashi Maru are still alive. However, as Dal cheers, a fourth Bird-of-Prey arrives, sending him into despair as the Enterprise is dead in the water without the warp core, and he wishes he could leave the bridge. To his shock, he and Spock are transported over to the Klingon ship's bridge, Dal not understanding how the holodeck is so much 'bigger' than he knows it to be.

The Klingon captain spots the two and orders his crew to attack. Fumbling with his phaser, Dal fights back and gets a lucky shot, but with the rest of the Klingons focused on Dal, Spock easily incapacitates them one by one with the Vulcan neck pinch. With all aggressors defeated, Dal questions Spock as to why he said nothing about having such a skill before declaring victory. He contacts the Enterprise, requesting the crew to clean up his mess while he goes and escorts the Kobayashi Maru personally to safety and wishes the Enterprise a safe journey before signing off. However, as he sits down and kicks his feet up onto a console, he triggers the Bird-of-Prey's torpedo launcher which is already targeting the Enterprise: a single photon torpedo is fired and destroys his own ship. Horrified, Dal drops to his knees in despair, not understanding where he went wrong. Spock points out that he can't afford to be seen by the crew as being anything less than perfect, or his crew will lose their faith in him, and he'll lose command of the situation. Dal admits he's no captain, and that he's never had a ship or a crew before. Spock adds that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, which Dal figures he means that the needs of the crew come before his own and admits he needs to listen more instead of just giving commands. Spock tells him that it's the only logical conclusion, but in his own way, his stubbornness does remind him of another captain of the Enterprise he knew before bidding him farewell with the Vulcan salute, which Dal misinterprets as a high five.

Chakotay was the Protostar's captain

The Protostar's captain revealed

As the program shuts down, Dal finally asks the computer what the winning solution that he was supposed to follow. On learning the actual purpose of the simulation as a no-win scenario that's designed to test how one reacts to a hopeless situation, he chuckles to himself and remarks that he almost had it figured out. Returning to the bridge, he goes to apologize to the group and suggest taking them up on their offer to go to the Federation when he sees the others surrounded by holograms of the corrupted data fragments Gwyn unlocked, but which are still readable. Janeway discovers from one fragment that the Protostar is a prototype ship and the fastest in Starfleet, while Jankom notes it'll take months to go through everything. Zero tells him that their answers may lurk in there, with Jankom remarking to Gwyn that it was a good thing Dal insisted to the others on saving her, causing the girl to bashfully smile. Rok-Tahk notices a picture of a man and presses it, sending a data stream towards the captain's chair, revealing him to be Captain Chakotay making a mayday call as mysterious boarders attack the ship. As the fuzzy video shows the hologram Janeway approaching Chakotay, the present-day Janeway makes a stunning revelation - the kids are not her first crew.

Memorable quotes[]

"Why would you need someone who speaks a few languages on a ship that can translate all of them?"
"Ah. But language is more than translation; it is interpretation."

- Gwyn and Zero

"Entry into which by either side, would constitute an act of war."

- Hologram Spock, about the Neutral Zone (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

"If you're gonna poke around in my head, I'll need some coffee first."

-Hologram Janeway, before projecting a mug of coffee

"What would happen if you ate photon grenades? Asking for a friend."
"One would explode into a burst of gamma rays and cease to exist."
"Um, gotta go!"

- Rok-Tahk and Zero

"The phenomenon of your stubbornness belongs in a medical textbook."

- Hologram Crusher, commenting on Dal's performance


- Dal, trying to beat the Kobayashi Maru

"No. I'm not going to let this happen again." (Explosions) "NOT AGAIN!"

- Hologram Odo (DS9: "Things Past")

"I believe he has lost the capacity for rational decision."
"Yes, he's infuriating, sir, how can you stand it?"

- Holograms Spock and Uhura, commenting on Dal's performance (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident", "The Mark of Gideon")

"Thank you, sir, and call me Scotty."

- Hologram Scotty, after Dal asks for a "better" engineer (TNG: "Relics")

"There is no barrier we cannot overcome. For we are Vau N'Akat."


"I've blown up so many times… I see now the only way out is chaos."


"Am I correct in my assumption that you've been disturbed by what you consider to be a failure on your part?"
"I sat in the seat, I gave the commands, I tried to win at any cost. And I still lost."

- Hologram Spock and Dal, on the latter's failure to beat the Kobayashi Maru (TOS: "Obsession")

"And what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? No disrespect intended, but you must surely realize you can't announce the full truth to the crew. You're the captain of this ship. You can't afford the luxury of being anything less than perfect. If you do, they lose faith, and you lose command."

- Hologram Spock, to Dal about being a captain (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

"But I'm not perfect. I've never captained a ship. I never had a crew. What do I know?"
"That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
"So, a good captain puts the needs of the crew first before himself. Maybe I should be using these ears more than my mouth."
"It is the only logical conclusion. In your own way, you are as stubborn as another captain of the Enterprise I once knew."

- Dal and Hologram Spock (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, TNG: "Unification II")

"Live long and prosper."

- Hologram Spock saying farewell to Dal (Star Trek)

"Computer, just curious, how was I supposed to beat it?"
"The Kobayashi Maru is a no-win scenario, designed to test how one reacts to a hopeless situation."
"Heh heh. Almost had it."

- Dal and Computer

"Mayday, mayday! This is Captain Chakotay of the USS Protostar!"
"Chakotay? He's the captain?"

- a holo-recording of Chakotay and Hologram Janeway

"I'm suddenly realizing… you aren't my first crew."

- Hologram Janeway

Background information[]



In Memory of Auberjonois, Doohan, and Nimoy

"In Memory of" title card

Cast and characters[]


Production history[]

Links and references[]



Background characters[]


1885; 2366; AC/DC; Andoria IV; advisor; aft; "all hands"; Alpha Quadrant; Amber; arch; arrest; Bajoran Militia uniform; barrel roll loop; battle stations; blood; Brikar; bunk bed; canapés; captain (title); Ceti Alpha V; Changeling; chief medical officer; chief of security; Chimerium; Class III neutronic fuel carrier; clone; coffee; commander; communications officer; computer; cotillion; course; Dal R'El's species; day; Deadwood; deck; Delta Quadrant; distress channel; Dracula, Count; ear; earpiece; emotion; engineer; England; Enterprise, USS; Enterprise-D, USS; farting; father; Federation; freedom; friend; Galaxy-class; Gamma Hydra; Gamma Quadrant; gamma ray; gladiatorial match; gravitic mine; holodeck (aka holographic simulation room); holodeck program; holo-novel program; hour; hull breach; hybrid; impulse; impulse power; Jane Eyre; Janeway Lambda One; kal-if-fee; Kirk, James T.; Klingon; Klingon Bird-of-Prey (aka Klingon battle cruiser, Klingon warships); Klingon Neutral Zone; Klingonese; Kobayashi Maru; Kobayashi Maru scenario; Ktarian game; language; laughter; leader; leadership; lieutenant; light year; lirpa; London; loneliness; Medusan; Medusan hive mind; Mellanoid slime worm; memory core; meter; metric ton; Milky Way Galaxy; mission; month; morning; motion sensor; mouth; mutiny; no-win scenario; Order, The; Outpost 2; Paxau Resort; phaser; photon grenade; photon torpedo; plasma intercooler; poetry; postprandial; power; proto-drive; recital; refugee; resignation; saying; science officer; Sector 25712; serotonin; skydiving; Solum; song; South Dakota; spirit; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet uniform (2250s-early 2270s); Starfleet uniform (2350s-2370s); Starfleet uniform (early 2380s); Starfleet uniform (late 2270s-2350s); Starfleet uniform (late 2360s-early 2370s); Tars Lamora; Tau Ceti IV; Tellarite; Tempest, The; "Thunderstruck"; tibialis anterior; trajectory; transporter; universal translator; Vau N'Akat; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan (species); Vulcan salute; warp core; warp factor; year

Console references[]

access; auxiliary fusion generator; auxiliary power distribution network; Bussard collector; cargo bay; cargo capacity; communications; communicator; cruise speed; data file; dead weight tonnage; emergency speed; flowchart; fuel assembly; fusion generator; intercooler; ionization chamber of source range; LCARS; library computer; matter-antimatter reactor; mission ops; mix valve chamber; orbital scan; primary hull; proto-core; proton synchroton; scan; scan coordinates; tactical analysis; tractor emitter; turbine; valve chamber

External links[]

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