Star Trek: Prodigy
Air date: 1/6/2022
Written by Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Alan Wan
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Having traveled 4,000 light-years in a matter of minutes and with the Diviner left safely behind (for now), the kids find they have some downtime where they can take a breather. They discover the holodeck and its array of simulations, one of which is the Kobayashi Maru exam, which Dal is convinced he can ace as a demonstration of his leadership prowess (weak laugh).
This is the episode in which the overconfident Dal is thankfully taken down a notch, thanks to his repeated (more than 100 times) failure of the Kobayashi Maru simulation. He doesn't know that it's unwinnable, which makes every one of his efforts a potential teachable moment, except it takes him a very long time to learn the lesson at hand.
In the process, we get the ingenious idea of Dal being able to staff his holographic crew from a roster of based-on-real-Starfleet all-stars, like in an EA Sports game. So we get the bridge populated with mix-and-match characters from different shows including Spock, Uhura, Odo, and Crusher. The dialogue is pieced together from the vast library of Star Trek episodes (as well as new dialogue recorded by Gates McFadden). Dal's rescue ship is the Enterprise-D, because why not? It's a clever way of playing the nostalgia/callback card in a way that still makes perfect story sense within the larger lesson of humility this provides for young Dal.
The episode also finds time to deal with Gwyn's dilemma: She has left behind her father and everything she has ever known, and now she's sad as she contemplates her uncertain place and life aboard the Protostar. In a flashback to 17 years ago, we learn Gwyn was actually genetically engineered in a moment of the Diviner's desperation, intended to continue the search for the missing Protostar in the event of his death. (But how did the Diviner survive for so long if he was so badly weakened back then?)
Hologram Janeway's attempts to access data files that might explain how the Protostar ended up in an alien mine deep within the Delta Quadrant are met with lockout restrictions — which Gwyn is somehow able to unlock. The mystery surrounding the Protostar is intriguing, if a bit muddled. If the Protostar had already been missing for "years" as the Diviner said 17 years ago, what does that mean concerning the time frame of the revelation at the end? We learn Chakotay was captain of the ship before it was boarded and presumably lost. Does this mean poor Chakotay was somehow stranded in the Delta Quadrant for a second time? Where is he now? And for how long?
Previous episode: Terror Firma
Next episode: First Con-tact
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20 comments on this post
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 8:26am (UTC -5)
That holodeck was a nice little tribute to all of the past series and casts, with the Ent-D looking badass.
Daz's growing annoyance at every failed attempt of the simulation was hilarious.
Janeway now knows that her crew has been lying to her, and we also found out more about what just the hell was going on.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 8:58am (UTC -5)
The main plot was of course Dal's attempt (with Pog in tow) to win the Kobayashi Maru. It served as a good introduction to a lot of elements of Trek lore, and was clearly meant as a love letter to fans. I am not sure how I feel, however, about the choice to have every single crew member other than Beverly (who got some new lines) to be a deceased cast member with archival audio. The audio didn't quite mix right, but I can forgive that as being due to the holodeck. But some of the lines (particularly things Spock said) were pretty clearly non-sequiturs when it came to responses to Dal - they just didn't work right. And while I liked the idea of Odo appearing, he was never in Starfleet - they should have had Nog appear if they wanted to have a tribute to a deceased DS9 member. Oh well, at least it appears that Dal has had some emotional growth from Boimler-ing out on the scenario.
The B-plot which involved Gwyn and Zero was great. Gwyn has quickly become my favorite character, as she has a level of pathos and internal conflict which the other kids lack. Zero acts as a good friend here as well. And with Janeway's help, they make crucial discoveries about Captain Chakotay by the end of the episode. The timeline now seems really off however, since the episode establishes the Diviner was already looking for the Protostar 17 years ago. Yet both the pre-show information and the stardate shown in this episode suggest it takes place in 2383, which would mean the ship would have to have been launched during the TNG era. Which of course makes no sense with hologram Janeway/Captain Chakotay. The only plausible solution at this time is the Protostar somehow got thrown back in time - but we do not yet know how far back in time that was.
There's not really much of anything to say about the "c plot" involving Rok-Takk and Murf. Murf ate some grenades, but it was no big deal.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 10:10am (UTC -5)
season 1 episode 6
"Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia.”
- Morpheus in Matrix 4
3 stars (out of 4)
Well I loved this one! Two simple stories done well. @Karl Zimmerman already has a great write up. But since @Eric Cheung hasn’t done his write up yet, let me give you a few of my thoughts.
First, the characters on this show have really come alive. Gwyn gets a nice arc this episode, stuck in sick-bay, not because she’s sick, but just because she’s really down about everything that’s going on. Sometimes shows neglect the inner lives of children, so it is great to see Prodigy take the time to let Gwyn find a reason to move forward. And when she does, we get a nice glimpse into the relationship she had with her father, and what it means for the two of them to be the last of their kind. And I particularly appreciate that this wasn't done in the context of some therapy session (ala Discovery), and also that it moved the story forward, rather than hold it hostage (ala Zora).
Second, Dal learns a little humility. Through a video game! The idea of turning Kobayashi into a video game is perfect - even if we just got a similar story in Matrix 4.
@Karl Zimmerman asks himself, the "Trek lore  was clearly meant as a love letter to fans. I am not sure how I feel.” Well I know how I feel - I loved it!!!! It is always a treat to see the bridge of the Enterprise D. And hearing rapid fire clips of Rene, Leonard Nimoy, and Scotty (RIP all), was very touching. Throw in Uhura and Beverly’s lines, and this was a clip show to top all clip shows!
Prodigy continues to be a wonderful treat. Enjoyable fare that leaves you feeling good about the future and hopeful about our young friends eventually finding the Federation. Now that’s a show I want to live in :)
P.S. I’m not going to spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen it yet. Just one word, two syllables: awe-some. Now it makes so much more sense that the holo looks like Janeway.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
Have to say how amazing it was to hear the voices of Uhura, Scotty, Spock, Odo, Crusher exactly as they should sound. Always thought it would be cool to get some kind of an all-star crew to run a ship...
Wondering why Crusher says the neutral zone separates the Federation from the Klingons instead of the Romulans...
So now we understand Gwen and her father are the last of their kind and have some kind of mission to recover the Protostar and their language is needed to decode what Janeway says was classified. Gwen finds a purpose. This is all pretty intricate stuff for a supposed kids show.
But I think the kids out there watching this would enjoy Dal's final attempt at the no-win scenario. Pretty far-fetched, but Spock imparts his wisdom with the needs of the many speech. Dal learns a thing or 2 about being a captain. All fine and dandy.
3 stars for "Kobayashi" -- quite a lot accomplished in 20 something mins. and I like that the arc seems like it would/could be a legit story arc for a non-animated Trek series with the a prototype ship potentially falling into the wrong hands etc. Continue to be very impressed with PROD and nu-Trek of late.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
I chalked it up to it being a simulation, so they can mix and match elements (like a crew with folks from all the shows). But now that you ask, I'm wondering if there is something going on here?
Where are the Klingons???
I don't actually recall seeing Klingons on Picard. The last TNG movie, Nemesis, Worf is back on the crew - nary a mention of his ever serving as Ambassador to Kronos.
Did something happen with the Klingons? Did relations break down so far that Worf was recalled as Ambassador? That the Federation cut ties with Kronos and set up a Neutral Zone. Such that we don't see them on Picard. We don't see them on future Discovery.
By the way, speaking of mix and match, here's a fun one: If you had to command the Enterprise D, what would be your crew?
My dream team would be,
Captain: Mal (rhymes with Dal!)
First Officer: Riker
Science Officer: Spock
Chief Engineer: Geordi
Transporter Chief: O'Brien
Helmsman: Ro Laren
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
Gwyn's story added some further depth to her character and suggested that her father, The Diviner, may not simply be a moustache-twirling villain. The reveal of a prior mission to the Delta quadrant was also quite compelling.
Although Dal's story offered quite a bit of fan service, I thought it too worked well. However, it appeared that if he ran the simulation one more time, and not put his feet up on the console in celebration, he would have passed the Kobayashi Maru. Not sure how I feel about that, given that the exercise is supposed to be a 'no-win' situation. Agree with @Karl Zimmerman that Nog could have taken the helm. Odo could perhaps have taken Worf's typical position. In that way, the tribute could have been expanded further. Also feel like The Doctor would have been a great, sarcastic foil to Dal. Minor quibbles.
Finally, I had a good laugh at seeing Murf blow up. Episode had a bit of everything.
At this rate, this season is shaping up to be by far the best of any new iteration of Trek, and near the best of any first season of Trek. An unexpected but pleasant surprise.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Kind of surprised Beltran hasn't burned all his Star Trek bridges yet.
Of all the Voyager characters I'd like to see again, I can't really say Chakotay was at the top of that list.
Wonder if Jeri will drop by or if Kate would put the kibosh on that.
Might we run into Neelix, at some point? Not high on anyone's list either, I'd imagine, but it'd fit the show. He's still Federation ambassador to the Delta Quadrant, as appointed by Janeway.
Garrett Wang is probably camped outside the production offices right now and the producers are still like "ehhhhhhhh . . . no. But really, though: NO."
Roxann won't do it. She's left any kind of front-of -the-camera work behind. Robbie of course would do it, but they'd have to stretch to find a reason probably.
Did they make up yet another new uniform for the same approximate time period? Make up your minds! Haha.
Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 2:03am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey’s Tube: Jeri Ryan doesn’t really need to show up on this series. She’s busy as it is as a regular on Picard. And voiceover work isn’t front-of-the-camera work, so there’s no reason Roxann Dawson couldn’t contribute to this series doing a voiceover character. She’s already done that before you know as the voice of an alien computer on Enterprise.
However, while I loved the heavy dose of fan service in this episode, it’s not something I want or need to see on a regular basis. A little taste of it here and there is fine but let this show stand on its own two feet. It’s already got Janeway and Chakotay on a regular basis anyway. But the big crossover in this episode was a nice big event of MCU team-up proportions.
Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 6:23am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 6:26am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 8, 2022, 1:55am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 9, 2022, 6:01am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 9, 2022, 10:04am (UTC -5)
And it’s not the “cameos” which did it either. The fan service here was restrained and tastefully done. And much is accomplished in these 30 minutes with each episode
I expect Jammer will grade each episode ***.
Tue, Jan 11, 2022, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Potentially more evidence that the Protostar is from the future. Is there still a Romulan Neutral Zone after the destruction of Romulus? Are the Federation and Klingons still friendly after Gowron dies/retires?
At it's best Lower Decks is better, but Prodigy has so far been more consistently good. Excited to see where this goes.
Tue, Jan 11, 2022, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
When we last left the USS Protostar, Dal had helped Gwyn escape from the tendrils on the Hirogen planet and from her manipulative father. They had begun to connect in the quarter-season finale, but by this point have regressed slightly, as evidenced by the fact that Dal claims he saved her because holo-Janeway wouldn't leave without everyone. It's technically true, but it's an attempt to save face, something that's often so much more important the younger you are. I did say slightly, though, since Dal did clear a bunk for her, rather than reinstitute her prisonership in the brig.
It's not as though she's interested in making much use of it right now, as she's too depressed and lonely, as she thinks about her father and how she has no home with him, and no home on the Protostar. She doesn't even know how she can be of any use, since the computer can serve as a better universal translator than her. Zero reminds her that language is more than just about translation. It's also about interpretation, something even 24th century computers aren't quite as good at doing.
Those thoughts of her father lead to a flashback to stardate 43929.9 (roughly just before the episode "Ménage à Troi"). It's about 17 years ago, 2366, while the main story takes place in 2383. The Diviner has been searching for the Protostar and is growing weaker, as the last of his species. So, he decides to engineer Gwyndala. It's a bit unclear if it's merely a projection of what she will look like in 17 years or if she emerges fully-formed, like the Vorta.
The timeline is a bit muddled, too. During the first few episodes, it was clear that the Diviner had been searching for the Protostar for years. But had it been so long as to have already been years back in 2366? Granted, it's a classified prototype, but that would mean that it's closer in generation to the Galaxy Class, a ship that had an R&D period of about two decades, starting in the 2340s. 43929.9 also predates Best of Both Worlds, but the fleet was ramping up its R&D ever since "Q Who," so maybe, even before Sisko designed the Defiant, there was work on a next generation of vessels. But "Q Who" would only be about a year before this flashback. The ship itself appears to be a contemporary of the Prometheus, which had been encountered around 2374. Eh, maybe a construction date will be revealed soon enough. I've probably spent too much time on it.
The other, more substantial thing Gwyn's thoughts lead to was for Zero and Gwyn to try to figure out more about the protostar engine. Even holo-Janeway doesn't know much about what it's capable of achieving and why. Gwyn can help, and she discovers some code in her species' language Vau N'Akat.
Meanwhile, Dal is still rather concerned about status, reputation, and garnering respect. Murf has wandered onto the holodeck and called up Andoria IV, but wandered off quickly enough. Once holo-Janeway provides a brief tutorial on what the holodeck can do, Dal discovers the Kobayashi Maru test. He decides that if he passes that test, he'll have more credibility to command.
But we all know what he's in for! And when he selects his holographic crew, we get Dr. Crusher, Lt. Uhura, Spock, and Odo. An interesting mix of crew members, and an opportunity to hear archival audio recontextualized, even including some clips of Spock from the 2009 film. As with the Short Trek, "Ephraim and Dot," it definitely sounds like archived voices, but it's still nice to hear, and impressive that they were able to take the audio and make something out of it. It's especially nice to hear Odo, as Rene Auberjonois was the most recent death, and because DS9 tends not to get as many references as TOS, TNG, VOY, or even ENT in the new shows. Nichelle Nichols is still alive, but not really in a position to record her voice, so archival audio has been used for her as well.
We all know that the test is to gauge reactions to no-win scenarios, but it's also something that forces critical thinking on the part of the test-taker. As with Boimler and his Borg invasion test, Dal is absolutely committed to beating this thing, and takes it dozens of times. It's kind of addicting, as signified by the use of the Ktarian game earlier in the episode. But, as with Boimler, it's almost admirable. And he comes very close to beating the scenario a couple of times. Even though kicking his feet up and accidentally pressing the button that fires on his own ship seems pretty jokey, I believe that they'd build in a pathway that makes you think you've had this in the bag only for the slight slip of any finger to do you in.
He definitely learns a bit of humility, and also to listen to his crew (not the first time, but sometimes it can take a while for lessons to take), and is ready to announce it to the crew when we learn from Gwyn's hacking that Chakotay was the previous captain of this ship, but the mission remains pretty mysterious...
There was a little runner with Rok-Tahk finding out Murf ate some photon grenades and how worried she is for him. It's a cute and light reminder of her empathy for others as well as something that plants the seed that he's seemingly indestructible.
Fri, May 20, 2022, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
PROD continues to impress, deeply. I am happy to say I have no idea whatsoever where this series is headed, or even when exactly in the Trek universe it is set. And that's excellent - even SPOILER ALERT
I said SPOILER ALERT -
...Chakotay at the end! And it's exhiliarating to see Hologram Janeway is on this voyage into the unknown with us, as even *she* doesn't know what's going on.
This series is a hell of a ride, with the right mix of wonder, action, mystery and character development. And a lot of heart. The sad thing however is the fact that it's a children's show (although it's much more than that, really) means most Trek fans will probably steer clear of it. That's a pity.
Sun, Jul 24, 2022, 1:44am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 24, 2022, 9:54am (UTC -5)
RE: Dream Team
I would have Voyager's EMH as my doctor, he is my favourite regular cast member of any Trek. He cured the Vidian phage and helped to weaponize Borg nanoprobes in order to save the galaxy from species 8472!
Tue, Dec 20, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Spock, Scottie, Uhura, and Odo's actors have all passed away. Very surreal watching this now with the only surviving cast member being Gates McFadden.
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