Star Trek: Prodigy
"All the World's a Stage"
Air date: 11/10/2022
Written by Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Andrew L. Schmidt
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Having put their quest to seek out Starfleet on pause because of the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon, the Protostar crew embarks on a "planet of the week" adventure, answering the call from a world they discover is modeled on Starfleet — in particular, Kirk's TOS-era Enterprise. These people, dubbed the "Enderprizians," invite their guests to a performance of a play, which documents a bevy of Starfleet procedurals.
At times reminiscent of Voyager's "Muse," where a meta play was produced to create a Star Trek story within the episode itself, "All the World's a Stage" plays like the franchise's ultimate self-homage this side of DS9's "Trials and Tribble-ations," featuring people who imitate all the things they learned from an Enterprise ensign who was marooned there when he crashed on the planet more than a century earlier. The locals play the parts of all the famous "Star Flight" officers they've modeled themselves on, and the episode tries to work in every reference it possibly can — usually just slightly off — including characters who do very extreme (and amusing) William Shatner and George Takei impressions with their take on classic characters, a Vulcan salute that features the wrong fingers being separated, and various mispronunciations of, well, virtually everything.
In the midst of this, the locals are being sickened by the "Gallows," a mysterious dark entity that lives inside a mountain on the edge of town. It turns out the Gallows is actually the crashed Galileo shuttle that brought the doomed Enterprise ensign to this planet in the first place, and it's leaking plasma into a dilithium mine and poisoning the local ecosystem and causing the sickness. Our young Starfleet wannabes must solve the problem in what is an example of possibly the most classic of Starfleet mashups (aliens needing rescue, technology mistaken for curses and/or creatures, technical problems requiring solutions, etc.).
It's all very cute and droll and novel and works on the Kid Level as well as the Old Fan Level, culminating with the bridge of the Protostar being given a "holographic overlay" of the TOS Enterprise so the Enderprizians can recognize the controls and assist in the rescue mission. Nifty. (Possibly my favorite little homage: the slightly misquoted throwaway "My, my" when the Sulu impressionist expresses amazement.)
The B-plot aboard the Dauntless has Admiral Janeway questioning the memory-erased Diviner to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing Protostar. Barniss Frex's escape pod is tracked to a nearby planet and Janeway discovers the destroyed space station. But naturally, with the gaps and confusion, she draws the wrong conclusions in the nature of the Diviner's role. In a brief C-plot, Murf is sick for unknown reasons, until at the end we see that he goes into a chrysalis.
This is as pure an example (albeit not the least bit groundbreaking) of the classic Trek formula as you're likely to find, and by using the framing device of the meta-society, the episode pays its homage dues and then some. "All the World's a Stage" indeed.
Previous episode: Let Sleeping Borg Lie
Next episode: Crossroads
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8 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 4:51am (UTC -5)
The Planet of the Cosplayers is an idea that seems pretty original within Trek. Foremost, “A Piece of the Action” comes to mind, but there it was played for laughs, not inspiration. Also, I felt reminded to “Into the Flesh”, which also had the idea of people becoming transformed and bettered if the cosplay as Starfleet officers long enough. At first, I had expected a “Mad Max III” scenario, but I am glad it turned out otherwise — having these people realize that they are reenacting something they are not really a part of, makes the theme of inspiration and self-improvement stronger.
I continue to note that the current incarnation of Trek shows tries to undermine the PD, and that’s probably a discussion worthy of being conducted. In this episode, a Trek-typical planetary village civilization appears to truly benefit from a breach of the PD, very much to the contrary of the TNG ideology that was firmly sold on a particularly brutal interpretation of the PD (“Homewards”). I certainly do not want to become Starfleet as meddlesome and jingoistic as say the Stargate SG-1 team, but there is, I think, a good argument to be made for teaching people what options they have and not watch them dying while they try to figure it out on their own. The pilot episode of SNW (“Strange New Worlds”) also handled the PD in a non-Roddenberrian way that I found quite agreeable, although some were more critical on it.
The overarching plot moves in snail pace; the Diviner seems to get his memory back very slowly, Janeway suspects the crew of the Protostar to be enemies, and something weird has happened to Barniss Frex (the Denobulan from CR-721). We don’t learn anything else, but there is a mild contradiction whet Dal claims (3:30) that even a hail to a Starfleet ship could infect her computers with the The Weapon™, although we have seen that CR-721 was infected only after an access to the mission logs was tried. Also, I am now not really sure whether The Weapon™ is a computer virus or a piece of indestructible hardware sitting below the bridge floor. It can’t be both at the same time, right?
And is Murf the Mellanoid slime worm going to turn into a butterfly next episode? Since Murf is the only character in the show that I don’t like at all, I am looking forward to anything that can make this creature more interesting.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 8:46am (UTC -5)
I'll start with the negative first - the Federation cargo cult the kids discover makes absolutely no sense! In principle it's a great idea (particularly with how they get things confused over a century) but unless I'm misremembering things, Ensign Garrovick only lived a few months before passing away. Most of his equipment was stowed away in a ship with a toxic plasma leak other than his uniform and phaser. I can see how the natives were exposed to stories of the Federation, but how the heck did they come to know how 23rd Century Federation tech worked well enough to fly with the holo-controls???
That said, otherwise this was a highly enjoyable plot-focused episode which took the story in some unexpected directions. It was much more of an ensemble piece than a character-focused episode, but both Dal and Jankom Pog got some good development here, moving away from selfishness and insecurities and more towards Starfleet ideals. Once the natives got away from just doing TOS character impressions and became real people it was actually a pretty interesting take. While arguably this is a bit too early to do another nostalgia trip episode (Kobayashi wasn't that long ago) I think the effective third act more than made up for the initial pandering to fanservice.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
It was funny watching the indigenous people imitate the obviously corrupt logs of the Galileo? I think I caught the voice actor for Jax (STLD) in there.
All kinds of Trek homages here... VOY: "The Muse", STIV, TOS: "The Galileo Seven". Probably the most enjoyable for me was when they pilot Prodigy down to the planet to save them to the music of 'Enterprising Young Men' from ST09.
The Diviner is doing his best to deceive Janeway. I'm still a little confused how Chacotay fits in here but I guess we'll learn more as we go.
Murf is in a cocoon that reminded me of the alien in ENT: "Vox Sola".
I'm always looking forward to next week in this series.
I love how this show gives us some heart while telling stories.
3.5 of 4 stars.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
I like the broader elements developing with this Protostar crew unable to contact Star Fleet (which would be destroyed if they did) but still trying to live up to SF standards in other situations (one of which they come across here).
Unravelling the mystery of Gwyn's father (who is still insane) is also more interesting than the A-plot of this episode -- the escape pod from the destroyed station was found, Janeway on a manhunt and not knowing what we know...
I believe the show said it was Ensign Garrovick's shuttle (Garrovick from "Obsession") that came into contact with the natives -- must have been something he did after the TOS episode.
So what happened to Murf? Seems like he underwent some kind of transformation... Bit of a cliffhanger there.
Kept thinking of "A Piece of the Action" with these natives and their flawed impersonation of TOS Star Fleet -- they must be a very imitative race like the Iotians were.
2.5 stars for "All the World's a Stage" -- I think there's some recognition by the Protostar crew that less technologically advanced natives have their usefulness and the crew ends up appreciating them. Nice to see some genuinely well-meaning natives for a change. Decent enough story, though perhaps ends up being a bit of padding in terms of the overall season as the plot with Janeway and Gwyn's dad is only being advanced a tiny bit at a time in the last 3 episodes.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
With that said, I might have liked this episode a bit more if it established a clearer tone with the Enderprizians, as I was uncertain, at first, if the story was aiming to have more comical parts, like Voyager's 'Live Fast and Prosper' or the Original Series' 'A Piece of the Action,' or trying to play the entire endeavour straight. I also expected, based on the dialogue of the characters, for the fate of the Galileo to be more disastrous, so I was a bit confused by the limited scale of the outcome.
Nevertheless, a enjoyable episode. The series continues to shows it's far more than just some 'silly kids' show.'
Fri, Nov 11, 2022, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Really surprising and fun to see a coda to the Ensign Garrovick story from “Obsession” that both fits the character from 50 years ago and requires no prior knowledge of TOS. Very clever. Also smart how they didn’t overdo the TOS cast comparisons by explicitly identifying the cosplayers with their Enterprise counterparts. It’s nice sometimes to see post-TNG Trek refrain from over explaining things.
Not a perfect episode. I’ve already forgotten the problem I had while watching it, partly because I’ve forgotten much of the episode already. But it was a pleasant and engaging new spin on a classic TOS style story, with the ironic twist that the TOS Enterprise itself was the source of the “Piece of the Action” style cultural interference.
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
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