Star Trek: Prodigy


2.5 stars

Air date: 10/27/2022
Written by Kevin & Dan Hageman
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn & Sung Shin

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A few weeks after their confrontation with the Diviner, and following the rescue of a sea creature in a way that attempts to avoid violating the Prime Directive, the young crew of the Protostar discover a Federation outpost — CR-721, the most remote station in the Delta Quadrant — and its sole occupant, Lt. Barniss Frex. (Why would Starfleet send this guy to be out here all by himself? Seems like a recipe for disaster.)

It marks the crew's first official contact with the Federation, which knows a little something about all of them. The episode allows for some reasonably interesting discoveries, with bio-scans that reveal what species each of them is — except for Gwyn, who registers as "unknown," and Dal, who is mysteriously flagged as "Report to Starfleet Command." Meanwhile, Gwyn attempts to regain the memories she lost when Zero revealed himself to defeat the Diviner — including the crucial piece of information that she keeps hearing the Diviner tell her in her subconscious: "It is a weapon."

Before she's able to regain these memories, however, Frex attempts to download the Protostar's logs. This unleashes the Trojan-horse virus upon the space station, causing it to start tearing itself apart. All the systems go haywire, including the phasers, which fire upon the station itself. Frex escapes in the station's only escape pod, leaving the others with nothing but their desperate ingenuity to escape. (I must say, it's not very Starfleet of Frex to just leave them all behind to die. Hopefully our young crew don't behave likewise, or Frex is going to be floating alone in space for a long time, or until his air runs out.)

As a straightforward mini-adventure, this episode is decent enough, advancing the story and weaving in various character threads throughout. The continued focus on Rok's pursuit of science is welcome. She uses it here to calculate the timing of the jump from the station back to the Protostar. But the Trojan-horse virus already strikes me as hopelessly DOA as a plan to attack the Federation. How could this possibly work when all it will take is a warning to stop it?

There's also a new ongoing subplot here with Janeway — that is, the real Admiral Janeway — embarking on a mission to find the missing Protostar and Captain Chakotay, who was the only occupant when it left the Alpha Quadrant. (Why in the world is Starfleet sending people to the Delta Quadrant alone?) The ship has not returned as scheduled, so Janeway goes looking for her missing friend. This eventually brings her to the site of the Diviner's ship, where they find the Diviner still alive (although I must ask how they got here so fast).

What's not clear is the timeline around all this. The Protostar was buried in the Diviner's mine for something like 20 years, but it clearly has not been 20 years since Chakotay left. (Janeway has not significantly aged from the holodeck recording documenting Chakotay's departure.) Is there some time travel involved here? Did I miss something? Hopefully this has been thought through and is not a massive plot hole.

Previous episode: A Moral Star
Next episode: Let Sleeping Borg Lie

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11 comments on this post

Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Feels good to be back after 8 months, and the season starts off with a bang - literally.

I love the decision to have the kids roll right on up to a Federation relay station. Given the ominous portents we had at the end of the first 10-episode arc, it's clear that the kids can't ever really "go home" so to speak (at least not without abandoning the ship). I thought they'd just go right into the kids discovering it and then playing cat and mouse with the real Janeway all season as she serves as the antagonist. But having them see the practical effects of attempting to make contact adds real-world consequences to their actions, which will make the remainder of the season so much better. It also snatches away a false "happy ending" from the protagonists - which once again is great, as the story has moved forward, but now they have a new crisis to resolve.

While this is pretty clearly a plot-focused serialized show, the character writing remains excellent (especially considering it's nominally a children's show). The ability of the writers to have each of the five main characters distinct personalities (including their flaws and insecurities) come through in the course of a half-hour runtime is impressive. No one here gets a character arc so to speak, but all of the interactions are enjoyable.

The Diviner being rescued by real Janeway is interesting, but IIRC he was essentially mind-wiped because of seeing Zero, so I'm not sure what role he will really play in the story from here on out.

I'd rate the episode three stars - maybe 3.5. It does absolutely nothing wrong, but IMHO it would have been better served if it focused on a single POV and integrated a character arc into the plot this week. While there was certainly a crisis of the week, I do wonder if in retrospect after reaching the end of the season if this will stand out as memorably distinctive.
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
The series picks up well where it left off, showing the crew trying to live up to Starfleet ideals, and having its first contact (if memory serves) with a flesh and blood member thereof. Lots to like in the episode: the crew coming to the rescue of an alien species; Jankom learning of his people's import to the Federation; Rok-Tahk expanding and exploring her scientific aspirations; and a little universe building, including discovering Murf's background (deep, deep cut). I seem to be a sucker for the going-ons at relay posts (e.g., Acquiel and Morag in The Next Generation; and Aditya Sahil in Discovery), so bonus points in that regard as well. Another enjoyable outing.
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Is there a recap? 8 months is a long time. Especially for a supposed kids' show.
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 9:03pm (UTC -5)

No recap, but the episode does weave in a captain's log that provides a broad review of the story to date.
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Nice to have "Prodigy" back -- it's just straightforward Trek tales without anything overly annoying and an interesting way to do somewhat of a tribute to VOY. Not bad how this episode overlayed Janeway's search for Chakotay to give a sense for the background behind losing/finding the Protostar etc.

Also liked the idea of a Federation relay station -- a lonely/dangerous job if manned by just 1 person -- that can handle some basic tasks of processing people etc. So this is useful to give some more details (or remind us of details) for the characters like Dal on a mission to find out who he is etc.

So this weapon is some kind of self-destruct computer system virus -- and this is meant to take down the entire Federation from within?!? Bit of a stretch.

Got a bit silly with Rok being asked to figure out when to jump and then all these equations appear on the screen -- gotta remember this is a show meant for the younger generation. But that aspect of the show forces it to be less controversial.

2 stars for "Asylum" -- mostly mechanical but with some interesting background that is slowly getting revealed. Having not seen animated Trek for some 8 months since the last PROD episode, have to say I'm quite impressed with the animation/visuals. I also think there's an overall decent story here.
Sat, Oct 29, 2022, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Nice to have Prodigy back!! Man, I blinked and this episode was over!

Throwback to TVH... The real Janeway on the hunt for Chakotay...

Memories return for Gwyn... Dal shows gratitude for the hologram Janeway.

I love all the different dynamics with this young gaggle.

Dal race is still a mystery? ... star fleet has a hand in it?

It seems we have not seen the last of Gwyn's father.

It all will be fun to decipher as we go.

3 stars from me. Nothing really to ding it on.
Sat, Oct 29, 2022, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Agree with @Rahul that the bit with Rok-Tahk doing calculations was a bit silly, and ultimately needless, given that holo-Janeway could and did use the Protostar's tractor beam.

And fair point by @Jammer, that the show has not exactly addressed how ships can travel to and from the Delta quadrant in hours or days, when it recently took them years or decades. A seemingly important bit of canon there.
Troy G
Sat, Oct 29, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
‘The Protostar was buried in the Diviner's mine for something like 20 years, but it clearly has not been 20 years since Chakotay left’

Perhaps it’s not 20 Earth years.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 1:38pm (UTC -5)

Reading your comment and Jammer's review did make me think a bit more about the holes in the story.

I think we will have to live with, regarding "Prodigy", is that there will be [a lot] less rigor re. canon, accepted Trek "science" -- and that the viewer will just have to have a greater suspension of disbelief. The nu-Trek writers presumably believe that since this is a kids show, they can get away with more stuff that doesn't make sense to the older Trek viewer since the younger generation will just lap it up.

For me it comes down to how good the story / episode will be and if I'm willing to accept things that are more farfetched by Trek standards than normal such that they don't impair my enjoyment of the episode.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 11:17am (UTC -5)
@Rahul We are of like mind: I'm not one to fret about canon, particularly if a decent or good story is on offer. This series remains engaging to me, so the issue of distance and travel are very minute.
Bok R'Mor
Wed, Jun 7, 2023, 11:22am (UTC -5)
The second half of the first season has finally been made available in the country I live in, so where were we?

Prodigy continues to be wonderfully colourful and charming, and it's a delight as always to hear Janeway (and Chakotay) again.

The overall feel of the show is however still more beholden to Star Wars rather than Trek, and it doesn't help immersion that there is a very NuTrek vibe to the bits that do try to be Trek. Do we really need another scene in which members of the main cast don spacesuits and have to make an 'impossible' jump toward the ship in open space? Do we really need a plot hole the size of a single escape pod to make it all happen? Do we need more lines like 'Science it'?

This episode passed the time and I enjoy every scene with Janeway in it, but otherwise I struggle to be enthusiastic about this show. That said, I am fully aware I am not its target audience. Hopefully the next episode will be a little more original.

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