Star Trek: Prodigy


2.5 stars

Air date: 12/15/2022
Written by Julie & Shawna Benson
Directed by Sung Shin

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

There's a moment of boldness in "Mindwalk" that surpasses all others. It's a moment of audacity that's beyond all belief and imagination. A moment I won't soon forget.

Janeway mentions that one time she was transformed into a salamander.

Clearly, the Prodigy writers are just trolling us now.

It takes some stones to go out on that particular limb, but, hey, this is a kids' show, right? Most kids have never seen or heard of "Threshold" (and possibly not even Voyager, unless their parents have tried, like I have, to explain the Janeway backstory). The moment arrives in "Mindwalk," which is much better than last week's holodeck wheel-spinner, and manages to move the serialized story arc forward, but still makes me question why this entire season has to be such a protracted arc at all.

In this episode, the kids, being pursued by Janeway's ship and unable to safely open hails, attempt to use Dal's newly discovered telepathic abilities to contact Janeway to let her know about the Super Virus Weapon. In the process, something goes wrong, resulting in Janeway's and Dal's minds transferring into each other's bodies. So now Janeway learns what's really going on now that she's in Dal's body aboard the Protostar (which finally moves this prolonged chase plot significantly forward), and Dal does everything he can not to be found out while he's in Janeway's body on the Dauntless (rather than just telling the crew what's going on). Hijinks, as they say, ensue. "Janeway" sure is acting weird, all the other characters note.

This comic plot works reasonably okay — with Kate Mulgrew and Brett Gray playing each other's characters while simultaneously trying to play themselves — but not enough for me to love this. Your mileage may vary. For me, I'm noticing a decreased amount of patience as this Year of Star Trek comes to its close. But I guess you haven't seen anything until you've seen characters playing charades from one ship's window to another while at warp so they can coordinate a spacewalk body swap. That's to say nothing of the spacewalk itself, which apparently saw the warp-spacewalk sequence from Enterprise's "Divergence" and then said "hold my beer."

Meanwhile, Admiral Janeway (while in Dal's body) meets Hologram Janeway and they have a heart-to-heart — or I guess a heart-to-CPU. It makes for a good scene, except for the strange part about Hologram Janeway having been programmed with all of real Janeway's childhood memories. (Um, why?)

On the character development front, the Diviner decides he can't go through with the Vindicator's/Asencia's plan and releases Dal/Janeway in his/her moment of need. On the other hand, we also have the issue of Dal being an augment, whom, Janeway sadly notes, is forbidden in the Federation. (C'mon, I'm sure they'd make an exception, like with Bashir.) So we have yet another reason for Dal to be the rejected outcast. Let's wrap this up nicely in the two-part finale, shall we?

Previous episode: Ghost in the Machine
Next episode: Supernova, Part 1

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11 comments on this post

Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 7:17am (UTC -5)
A big step up from last week's mediocrity. Like a lot of the how, it's in part a kiddie introduction to a Trek concept (in this case, body swapping), but it manages to layer on some characterization onto the basic premise, and move the season arc toward its conclusion.

I'll start with what I didn't like, which was primarily Dal's antics in Janeway's body aboard the Dauntless. I'm personally not a fan of "cringe comedy" and Dal in general was behaving way too suspiciously for me to seriously believe that the Dauntless crew would have given the benefit of the doubt for so long. That said, this is a kid's show, so some allowances need to be made.

The character work here is great though. To a significant extent though, this isn't a Dal episode - it's a Janeway episode. Dal just sort of stumbles through this episode from start to finish, while VADM Janeway finally transforms into a full ally of the kids. Holo-Janeway gets her mini-arc from last episode completed as well, with her program purged of corruption from the Construct.

I also think this was rather smart use of technobabble for the show (at least, on the level of previous Trek technobabble). It didn't feel like a dumbed-down plot for kids, like a few of the episodes in earlier weeks - it felt like a regular episode of Trek that happened to have kids in it.
Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
This episode, unfortunately, was approximately on par with the last. Like @Karl Zimmerman, what frustrated me about the episode was Dal's zany behaviour. Although I understand he was anxious, and literally having an out-of-body experience, it was just too over the top, particularly when juxtaposed against the demeanours of every other character. In this regard, the episode reminded me of several from Star Wars: Resistance, where most every character was played with an air of realism and the lead would often be something of a clown, a comedic crutch. Like with the previous episode, I'm not opposed to tropes (see, e.g., Strange New Worlds' 'Spock Amok'), but found this one to be poorly executed (e.g., amping up the return of personas far more than was needed).

And like @Karl Zimmerman, I found the highlight of the episode to be Vice Admiral Janeway. Her portrayal in the episode seemed like a natural extension of what was previously offered in Voyager, and it was heartening to see the crew finally gain an ally within the Federation. Points to the episode at least for that.
Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Finally, VA Janeway gets some real burn in an episode.

It was great seeing that after the body swap she quickly accepted the situation and took command like a real leader. She seemed to rather quickly gain the crew’s trust and confidence, was open-minded in listening to their story, restored Holo-Janeway, and took the spacewalk risk without hesitation.

A rare nu-Trek instance where a larger-than-life legacy character lives up to their reputation. Instead, we usually get Punished Picard, Punished Seven, Punished Q, Punished/Dead Hugh, dead Bruce Maddox, dead Icheb, bland Quark/Kira, sad Troi, etc. Lower Decks did it right with the USS Titan saving the day in S1 and I laughed at Tom Paris’ brief cameos. Now Prodigy is giving us a look at Prime Janeway, and I’m grateful for that.

Contrast that with bumbling Dal, who eventually got the message and did his part to swap bodies back but at the cost of losing the entire Dauntless crew’s trust in Janeway.

Overall an enjoyable episode outside of Dal being too zany in Janeway’s body. It’s a kid’s show, so sometimes you have to just let these things slide, imo. A solid 3* episode, and my favorite of the back half of this season (boy it really dropped in quality after what I felt like was a strong back half to the first 10 episodes).

Also, the Dauntless has really grown on me. I like that Starfleet actually incorporated a lot of the imposter ship’s design into it.
Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Thought there was some good creativity here that effectively made use of an old Trek trope and with some attempts at honest humor. Sure there's some stuff that's awfully farfetched but I don't think it's anything that isn't grounded in something attempted before in classic Trek.

How to communicate with the Dauntless without using tech? So this leads to a "Turnabout Intruder" mind swap between Adm. Janeway and Dal and the results are pretty good. Dal in Janeway has to buy time and avoid the Dauntless crew, Janeway in Dal eventually fixes Holo-Janeway and realizes they have to reverse the swap, now that they've gotten to know each other's situation to some extent.

Liked the charade part with establishing the plan to make physical contact outside of the ships while in the warp bubble. Pretty cool being able to look at another person from one ship in another ship. The action outside of the ship at warp reminds of Trip transferring between the 2 NX ships in "Divergence", so there is some precedent for this part of the episode... although again, Murf has arbitrary capabilities that do whatever is needed.

A couple of bits of depth here are the Diviner releasing (Dal in Janeway) after the Dauntless crew finally subdue her after their suspicion reached the limit -- wasn't his plan with Asensia to kill Adm. Janeway initially? But the Diviner asks (Dal in Janeway) to protect his daughter... Also Dal is an augment and so will never be admitted to Starfleet...

Another cliffhanger ending with the Protostar in Federation space with a ton of Federation ships awaiting -- this seems excessive. Why do so many Federation ships need to show up? Understandably Adm. Janeway is in the brig on the Dauntless. Not a bad way to wrap up this episode.

3 stars for "Mindwalk" -- (just barely) but this is one of the best PROD episodes thus far and restores some of my confidence in the series after the disaster of "Ghost in the Machine". A good PROD episode tends to be one where it uses classic Trek canon in creative twists. Also thought about the SNW episode where Spock and T'Pring swap consciousnesses -- that one generated some good humor. Definitely a fun watch that advances the overall story well and raises a couple of deeper considerations.
Joseph B
Thu, Dec 15, 2022, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
This was my favorite episode of the season so far!

The “body swapping” was even more fun than ST:SNW’s “Spock Amok” ep.
Combine that with the Threshold/Salamander reference and you’ve got comedy gold!! 😊

In spite of the overt comedy, the ep seriously positioned the series for the two-part Season Finale.

Great Ep! Great Fun! Good Star Trek!
I give it 3 1/2 Stars! (An additional half-Star for the Threshold reference!)
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Dec 16, 2022, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Just one final comment...has anyone else noticed the episodes lately all end like a few seconds too early?

I dunno if they think it's "dramatic" but it comes across as sloppy editing to me IMHO.
Troy G
Fri, Dec 16, 2022, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
Surprisingly strong episode. The worst episode followed by one of the best
Sun, Dec 18, 2022, 1:13am (UTC -5)
The one comedic element I enjoyed that also poked fun at ST tropes: Rahk: "Let's re-calibrate the deflector dish..." Jankom: "Oh sure, beep boop beep boop; yeah Jankom doesn't know how to do that." LOL.
Sun, Dec 18, 2022, 8:14am (UTC -5)
Such an improvement over last week.

We get a bunch of Kate which is always good.

Very fun episode to watch.

3 stars from me.
Tim C
Wed, Dec 21, 2022, 3:40am (UTC -5)
I see that a few of you did not enjoy the humour, but I was laughing out loud at Mulgrew's portrayal of Dal-in-Janeway. She went for broke and nailed it - it really did feel like Dal, who has grown as a leader but is still a clueless, awkward teenage boy. Probably my favourite episode of this show so far.
Wed, Jan 25, 2023, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
That was a bit over the top. Even more so since Dal has lived in the company of Janeway for weeks, so he should know how she would (re)act, and piu-piu-piu is not really her thing.

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