Star Trek: Prodigy
Air date: 11/17/2022
Written by Lisa Schultz Boyd
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn & Sung Shin
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Crossroads" is a wacky, fast-paced, entertaining mess, but ultimately too frustrating and contrived to recommend. It has our Starfleet wannabes deciding to shut down, abandon, and bury the Protostar under an avalanche of snow, so they can continue their mission to make contact with the Federation without infecting them with the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon that's aboard the ship. They arrive at Denaxi Depot, a snowy Mos Eisley port featuring Xindi security guards, where they make contact with numerous shady characters, including a middle-aged, eye-patched Captain Okona, from the notoriously bad TNG episode, "The Outrageous Okona."
Meanwhile, Admiral Janeway and the Dauntless also arrive at this depot in their continued investigation into the missing starship and the vanished Captain Chakotay. (Coincidentally, Barniss Frex is also here.) The Diviner has already remembered his daughter's name (but little else), and when Janeway's crew runs into our wannabes, certain contrived misunderstandings prompt them to run rather than staying and explaining themselves.
This leads to various near-misses where Janeway's team almost has conversations with — and then fails to capture — Dal, Gwyn, and the gang, who steal a nearby hovercraft and escape into the snowy wilderness where they get back aboard the Protostar, with Okona stowed away for good measure, and flee the planet at high warp.
Meanwhile, Murf hatches from his chrysalis/egg to reveal he now has legs. He promptly sits on a control panel that fires a torpedo at exactly the wrong time, making the Protostar look hostile when in reality its crew is merely a bunch of inept kids. Ultimately, Dal takes the ship into the Romulan neutral zone in an attempt to evade Janeway, which threatens to spiral into an interstellar incident. (I love how the Romulans are so defensive about a neutral zone that they themselves are already clearly deeply violating.)
Roger Ebert had the label "Idiot Plot" for a plot that would be solved immediately if the characters would just say the right words rather than having the plot constantly make them be idiots who steer around obvious truths, instead leading to maddening misunderstandings and disaster. Under that definition, "Crossroads" is a textbook Idiot Plot, with twists and turns that get in the way of communication and resolution at every possible opportunity. It's a lively and eventful one, but still frequently frustrating.
Previous episode: All the World's a Stage
Next episode: Masquerade
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15 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 10:14am (UTC -5)
There was a lot to like here, particularly in terms of fanservice. We get to see the Xindi and meet Okana again. We get to have the kids run into various members of Janeway's crew. There's tense action scenes in spades, and the status quo was certainly upset by the end.
But the episode - and the entire plot of the season - now rest on a series of contrivances which largely come down to no one being able to communicate properly. Stretching out a plot via miscommunication is one of the absolute worst writing crutches. Literally everything could have been solved if just one of Dal, Gwyn, or Jankom Pog actually could have said something coherent and understandable to a member of the crew of the Dauntless. But they all turn into a bunch of dum-dums who can't actually say the right thing because of the needs of the plot.
Look, I get it. They want Vice-Admiral Janeway to be the antagonist for the back half of Season 1, and since she's good, and the kids are good, there had to be some scenario that would stop the kids from actually explaining what was going on. But having them to meet face-to-face with six episodes yet to come...and faceplant so badly...is just a letdown. I suppose we're meant to be disappointed like the kids are, but I'm more just left wondering why they're all absolute morons...which isn't something I should feel for the protagonists of a show.
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Two stray thoughts, and one question: not a fan, at first glimpse, of Murf 2.0, and hope a 3.0 might lie ahead; the reasonable treatment of Okona here makes squaring Lower Decks with canon just a tad more difficult for me, personally; and where exactly in the universe are the crews? With regard to the latter, I was under the impression that the story was taking place in the Delta quadrant, but now there are Kazon mixing with Xindi and Klingons, and the neutral zone is in play. The series is either playing 'fast and loose' with space and time, or distance is practically immaterial in canon now. Said two episodes that the latter was not an issue, but it does raise some questions as to what may be possible in universe.
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Are now the Xindi Reptilians are working for SF? That's an "interesting" way to get some ENT fan service...
I think it is pushing it in terms of believability by getting all these loose ends to tie together now into one plot, but PROD is very much like VOY where often one has to turn off the brain and just sit back and enjoy the ride -- which hasn't been bad, to be fair.
The Chakotay part remains a bit of a mystery -- and Vice Admiral Janeway is driven by her emotion in this respect. Not much is made consequentially of her 1st officer pointing this out to her -- but that's the Janeway we know from VOY, very stubborn.
2 stars for "Crossroads" -- one would think eventually Vice Admiral Janeway will be able to welcome the Protostar kids into SF but we've got to go through some hoops to get there first. So we get some shallow adventure scenes here, nothing really intelligent, but probably great as a kids show.
Thu, Nov 17, 2022, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 18, 2022, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Instead they un-snow the hidden Protostar and get in a chase where eventually they WILL be caught... putting Star Fleet and the Federation at risk.
I know they are kids but...
Still fun to watch.
2 new Merf's from me.
Fri, Nov 18, 2022, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Sure, the Protostar crew could have been more straightforward, but where has that gotten them so far? They were lucky to escape forced servitude. Dal's mother figure turned out to be something of a manipulator. And the crew's first contact with actual, non-holographic Starfleet personnel was a pretty mixed bag.
Think of when you grew up, you looked up to an adult, only to later be disappointed when they let you down in some way or another. That's what I think this episode was going for by having the Protostar's crew get disillusioned in their first meeting with Starfleet people. It's hard to communicate when the power dynamic is very much in Starfleet's favor.
Sat, Nov 19, 2022, 6:57am (UTC -5)
Let's hope for a return to form in future episodes.
Sun, Nov 20, 2022, 5:03am (UTC -5)
*) We are told that our heroes cannot even open a channel to Starfleet without infecting Starfleet by The Weapon™, but the relay station was infected only after accessing the logs of the “Protostar”, not after simple communication. Call me confused.
*) When they have a chance to talk to Starfleet personnel face to face, they all both it.
*) The politics of the Neutral Zone is as ambiguous as ever — Starfleet cannot enter it, but the Romulans are always there waiting for Starfleet ships. What does “Neutral” mean here? Apparently, it means “occupied and administrated by Romulans”, which is paradox.
I am not impressed and give 1½ points for a plot that doesn’t work and fits better to StarWars than to Trek. Let’s hope it will improve in the rest of the season.
On the other side: Props to the Xindi having an appearance (the first since “Enterprise”?). It’s always good to learn what has become of the big enemies of yesteryear, especially when the we can see that relations have become normal to some extent.
Sun, Nov 20, 2022, 9:47am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 20, 2022, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
When plots are driven by nonsensical decision making by the main characters, it completely pulls me out. Sure, these are just kids, but these are kids that have accomplished a lot (a couple weeks ago they faced off against the Borg!). Three of them had the opportunity to tell the truth to Starfleet, and, instead of taking the opportunity to set the record straight, they run away, instigate a "car chase," and then reveal the starship that will potentially destroy the Federation.
For a show marketed toward a younger audience, Prodigy has been surprising smart & well-written. Which is why I was taken aback by the sloppy writing in "Crossroads." These characters have grown throughout the course of the season, and they are smarter than what was reflected by their actions in this episode.
Mon, Nov 21, 2022, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 23, 2022, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 24, 2023, 1:10am (UTC -5)
I really like that the show isn't just trying to string out them getting to the Alpha quadrant - I expected a lot of story-of-the-week episodes while they tried to get there and instead Janeway and crew have found them and the chase is on. I thought they played Janeway and Dal meeting really well - she is both recognisably the mother-figure Dal knows, and a completely different person with a different agenda, and I'm not surprised he floundered a bit on encountering her. I liked that we got a sense that a relationship was possible between them while also acknowledging that they are basically two strangers meeting in a spaceport. And given that his last mother sold him into slavery, I'm not surprised he ran away.
I just hope they don't string out 'we can't communicate!' for too long and figure out an answer. These are smart kids, it can't be too hard a problem to solve. There must be a Federation equivalent of Morse code or something they can use.
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