Star Trek: Prodigy

"A Moral Star"

Part 1: 2.5 stars Part 2: 3 stars

Air dates: 1/27/2022 (Part 1) and 2/3/2022 (Part 2)
Written by Kevin & Dan Hageman, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Lisa Schultz Boyd, Nikhil S. Jayaram, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Chad Quandt, Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Ben Hibon

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Note: This review discusses both Part 1 and Part 2. If you are trying to avoid spoilers, watch both parts first.

"A Moral Star" is the mid-season finale of a 20-episode first-season order, and as such, it feels like it winds some things down while teasing a couple new things. Finally, it appears we have our definitive confrontation with the Diviner, where motives are revealed and outcomes are delivered. And our crew is more determined than ever in its desire to find Starfleet. It's an entertaining adventure yarn, but one that doesn't bear too much plot scrutiny. I'm content to take it on its level.

The Diviner contacts the Protostar and threatens the miners of Tars Lamora, but promises he will release them if the kids turn over his much-coveted stolen starship. The kids, who were determined to go to the Federation and return the Protostar, must make the difficult and selfless decision to give up their dream in exchange for all the people who were left behind on the mining ship. Gwyn must make a second hard choice when her father demands she come with him when they make the trade. That's really what part one is about — making selfless decisions to help people who can't help themselves. It's a Starfleet position, and a good message for a kids' show. The young crew puts on Starfleet uniforms as a marker of their progress.

The plot hinges on the season's running gag that Murf can eat anything and is indestructible, so they have him swallow the protocore to hide it. (I suppose they've established this ability, but having him swallow a miniature star is still pushing it.) When they turn the ship over to the Diviner in exchange for his ship and the miners, it's without its key feature, meaning the Diviner has to bring the fight back to them. (Good thing, too, because he had already double-crossed them and left them all to die.)

The episode features a lot of planning for the big showdown and some undercards leading up to the main event (Drednok is defeated thanks to the unity of the miners brought about by the universal translator). But the episode's real value lies in the centerpiece where the Diviner explains to Gwyn (and us) his backstory and motivation. He's from the future, where first contact with Starfleet (which hasn't happened yet) brought about a civil war that led to the destruction of his world. He traveled back in time to stop the first contact, which he intends to do by sending the Protostar back to Starfleet with a hidden computer virus that will spread through and cripple the fleet. (I have some doubts about this plan, especially the part where he spent 20 years looking for this particular starship to implement it.)

Zero revealing himself to the Diviner makes for an unexpected way to defeat the villain by driving him mad (and is marked with some spectacular animation), although I wonder about its prudence in terms of potential collateral damage, seeing what happens to Gwyn. Her mere glimpse of Zero makes her lose the memory of her father's backstory, as well as the knowledge that the Protostar is a Trojan horse. Our crew sets course for the Federation.

Back in Federation space, the real Admiral Janeway's ship detects the Protostar's signature, and sets a course in its direction, hoping to rescue Chakotay. But does this mean he has been missing for 20 years?

Previous episode: Time Amok

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31 comments on this post

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Steve
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Well, it’s certainly got an expansive and diverse writing team for this episode! LOL
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Well that was certainly half an episode of television.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Finally got to see it (was mysteriously gone for most of the morning from the Paramount Plus website). I'd say it's a great episode, but I can't really call it an episode, given how suddenly it ends. I'm guessing that eventually (maybe not next week though) they'll compact both parts into a single streaming episode, similar to what they did with the pilot. Because...this doesn't really work as a standalone. It's all setup and no payoff.

I like the fact that there has been payoff for some of the season-wide arcs they have been hinting at. The crew putting on Starfleet uniforms was a great visual moment. Dal and Gwyn's relationship has come along quite a long way as well - and they once again hint at something romantic, at least in Dal's feelings for Gwyn. I honestly wish they'd be more explicit - they're supposed to be 17, not 12 - but I understand it doesn't work well tonally given the age this is being marketed at.

I'm getting a little sick of being constantly teased regarding the complex motivations of The Diviner. I really hope there's some reveal in the next episode regarding this, and we don't have to wait till next season. Regardless, unless he plans to use the protostar to rewrite the timeline, he's a monumental jerkass for consigning the thousands (?) on his asteroid slave colony to death.

I wondered if perhaps they copied Janeway's holo-matrix off the ship, but I'm guessing no, now that Janeway has achieved Sith form. I'm also wondering if Gwyn's combadge - which was crushed by her father - was actually a fake, and she has a real one stowed away. The camera focused on it for a long time, and it just looked like a lump of metal, with no electronics inside.
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Joseph B
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
The episode had plenty of momentum, but it's impossible to critique until we see the payoff next week.

Great Setup, though!
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Chuck AzEee
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
This canon of Star Trek “trumps” the other series by a wide margin.
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Mal
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek: Prodigy
season 1 episode 9

A Moral Star, part 1


“You've got me? Who's got you?”

- Lois Lane to Superman


* * (out of 4)


WTF, that was an abrupt ending. Too abrupt if you ask me.

This week’s outing perhaps wasn’t up to the high standards we’ve seen recently, but mostly because it was really only half an episode. The true worth of a cliff hanger isn’t clear until it is resolved (h/t @Joseph B). So we’ll have to wait till next week to know if this was all worth it.

“A Moral Star 1” departs from everything that Prodigy had been doing well up until now. First, the opening. In past weeks we’d seen the team explore different novelties: from the holodeck (Kobayashi) to the transporter (First Con-Tact) to team building exercises (Time Amok). Each week the opening “lesson” is directly applied to resolve the plot, to very satisfying effect.

This week there is basically no opener. We jump right into Rok recounting last week’s adventure, and then we hear The Deviner’s ultimatum.

The second departure from the recent success of the show is that the main plot deals directly with The Diviner. Last week I wrote that The Deviner provided just enough of continuity to pull us along as we enjoyed the adventure of the week. This week, the adventure of the week is The Deviner. I get that this is a season finale part 1, but the format we had the last three weeks worked well.

@Karl Zimmerman took the words right out of my mouth when he says, "I'm getting a little sick of being constantly teased regarding the complex motivations of The Diviner. I really hope there's some reveal in the next episode regarding this, and we don't have to wait till next season.”

Jankom Pog thinks the writers are just buying time to figure out what the fuck would be a satisfying motivation. Jankom Pog fears they have writer’s block, and are pushing the decision out to next season. Jankom Pog thinks that would suck.

Finally, of all the Prodigy episodes, this is the one that felt most like Discovery. You get a uniform! And you get a uniform! And you get a uniform. Yes, I love the uniforms. But this was premature. It felt forced and unearned. True, Nog also wore a uniform way before he earned it. And that was cringy in its own way - but the thing is - that was Rom’s idea, and Rom was supposed to be cringy. What is Prodigy’s excuse?

The uniforms, pretty though they may be, are the one bad call this show has made all season.

I suppose I’ll just have to trust that Paramount (and The Deiviner) has a Plan. So I’ll reserve final judgment till part 2 next week. When, presumably, all will be revealed. Dot, dot, dot.
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Rahul
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
Plenty of setup in this 1st part in anticipation of a conclusion to the 1st season that has a lot to deliver -- not unusual for nu-Trek to set expectations pretty high (and then usually fail to adequately deliver). So what is this "truth" that the Diviner has been withholding from Gwyn? What is the masterplan to save the miners? And Murf can swallow a protostar for an indefinite period b/c he's indestructible???

So what if Dal hadn't budged the Drednok robot and discovered the recorded message -- then I guess the miners would all get annihilated and the Protostar crew would never know about it and go on happily ever after. I think the ultimatum should have been revealed in a less accidental way.

Of course Gwyn's father has some trickery planned, but how Dal's plan can adapt in the 2nd part better not be too farfetched -- already Murf containing the protostar is ridiculous, never mind this "crew" being able to disconnect and remove it form the ship... But I suppose that might be the kind of things a younger audience might give a pass to.

There's a fair bit of the emotional stuff with Gwyn offering to go with her father and leaving the crew, saying good-bye etc. but I take it that might have been considered in Dal's plan. This bit of Maudlin didn't do it for me -- but it might for a much younger viewer.

2 stars for "A Moral Star, Part I" -- mostly an exercise in mechanics, just plot advancement without anything remarkable like in the past 3-4 episodes. I did like Dal's response to Jankom about how it feels like they lost the deal b/c they did the right thing. So Gwyn leaving the crew was not anticipated, I take it. The "answers" in the second better be good...
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Yanks
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 6:42am (UTC -5)
Wow, I think you guys are a little rough on a series aimed at children.

This was probably Dal's best character development episode.

I'll agree with you on how this predicament was revealed... what if Dal hadn't knocked it over?

But Dal's reasoning to not conduct the rescue mission was the first time he really ever put his crew ahead of his own desires/actions/thoughts. The little speech he gave Gwyn when they were by themselves was his best moment so far in this series.

I personally think Gwyn's remaining with her father on the Prodigy was planned; they just made it look like it was a reaction to the Diviners' evil turn. It's not hard to plan for the Diviner to break his promise. I too don't think that was a real com badge and we also know that Gwyn's is hiding something from the Diviner. If this was all a reaction that wasn't part of the plan, what would she be hiding? It's not such a risk to Gwyn if the Diviner doesn't have the capability to engage the protostar drive.

Murf containing the protostar it totally plausible within the context of the character and this series. I like how they incorporated it into their plan.

Including the uniforms was a little cheesy... maybe that should have waited until the next batch of episodes (I don't even know what to call them anymore... season 1, season 2?) But they've come together as a team.... it's a kids show... so it's not the end of the world for me. I had a harder time when Janeway changed out of her red uniform.

I wish they would have posted the next episode with this one. I can't wait to see it.

3 stars from me.
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Joseph B
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 8:18am (UTC -5)
A correction for everyone calling the episode next week the end of Season 1:

Paramount+ and Nickelodeon have now confirmed that Season 1 is comprised of 20 episodes. Next week is the mid -Season finale’. “Prodigy” will return with a second block of 10 episodes following the run of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” Season 1.

And the Series has already been renewed for a Second Season of 20 episodes!
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 8:36am (UTC -5)
Yeah, I realized I mispoke about it being the end of the "season" after I posted. That said, in kids animated shows the concept of "season" is really becoming antiquated. A good example of this is the Netflix She-Ra show, which released three different seasons (of 7, 6, and 13 episodes) in one year. Or the Dragon Prince, which had two "books" of nine episodes come out in 2019. Ultimately it's semantics whether you call the second batch of 10 episodes coming later this year (probably in late summer or early fall) Part 2 of Season 1 or a second season.
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Mal
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 8:51am (UTC -5)
Shhhhhhhhh @Joseph B, or @Jammer might hear you, and then we'll never get Prodigy reviews ;)
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Yanks
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Thanks Joseph B for clearing that up.

Ha, I can see another cliff-hanger coming after the next episode and we still might not know what the Diviner's motivations are if they chose to string this out over the next batch of season 1 episodes.
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Mac
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
This episode was nothing special. Mostly just setup for the next episode, but that's okay. The Diviner is not as interesting as he could be. Right now, he's kind of just a random evil guy we know almost nothing about. Hopefully they reveal something about his character next week.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, Jan 29, 2022, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
If I was a kid, trying to watch this show weekly (and with that break they took after only five episodes, to boot!) would be absolutely interminable. How do they expect the show to hold a kid's interest with so many long gaps? Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers got so popular because it was on every damn day. Same with, like, Animaniacs. You came home from school. You ate your pudding cup, or whatever, and watched Batman: The Animated Series. Then you did some homework or whatever and saved some fluffy animals from Dr. Robotnik. Maybe you went outside and got into trouble with the kids from the neighborhood. Anyway.

Now obviously it's not the 90s anymore. There's a different model for consuming media. But the present model for consuming media certainly isn't . . . this. Am I wrong? Isn't the model more along the lines of, drop a 10-episode slate of episodes all at once two or three times a year? At least that's enough the kid gets to "live in the experience of the show" for a while. If you can't get a half an hour every twenty-four hours, at least have a solid five-hour block of time all at once to make an impression on the kid and engage their imagination, no?

Now I get that this is on Paramount+, and Paramount+'s present business model seems to be "stretch everything out as long as possible to keep people subscribed because launching a brand new streaming service is expensive and oh god we need to pay our bills (and for our CEO's third mansion in Aspen)." But this just isn't how you build an audience with kids. Kids don't experience time like adults. Four months is an eternity, because it's such a greater percentage of their total lived experience to date. For an adult, you blink and four months goes by.

A half hour once a week, with breaks of months after only a month of shows? Man. I don't know. That'd be an uphill climb for even kid-me, and I feel like I was a vastly more attentive kid than most.

Well I'm an adult now and this trickle of content is still irritating. Maybe it's more irritating because this week's "episode" isn't even an episode. It's an episode chopped in half. It isn't "episode one of a two-parter," because it doesn't have the narrative structure of that. It literally just ends when the running time has been reached.

I don't know. The show is for kids, but they aren't rolling it out in a way conducive to attracting a kids audience. So IS it for kids? Are any kids watching, I wonder?

Does Paramount care?

That's another question, right there. I'm reminded that most of the buyers of YA fiction books are (inexplicably, imo) adults. Like, that's the majority market by a wide margin.

Who is watching all those Star Wars cartoons, I wonder? Probably adults.

I feel like this is a "kids show" aimed at and marketed to adults. Because adults like the broad themes, simple story telling structures, and comforting familiarity of tropes of kids' or YA fiction, too. Everything but the juvenile humor (and sarcastic sidekick characters) . . . and you know, I haven't seen any of either on this show so far . . .

Anyway, what's my point here, again? What am I trying to say with these musings? Hmmmm . . .

I guess I'm just trying to say . . . I see you, Paramount+. I see what you're up to. That's right. I see you.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 3:06am (UTC -5)
Come on, Prodigy! You couldn't put her on Voyager? Or if there's royalty issues (can't imagine why, but . . . ) you could have stuck her on Voyager-A! Most of us assume the ship is in the museum fleet or disassembled for future technology / Delta Quadrant tech / Borg tech anyway. Really big missed opportunity! How cool would that have been?

Really hope that's the end of the Diviner. I did not enjoy him as a villain. The series does not need a series-regular villain, anyway.
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AMA
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 3:56am (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode. An incredibly satisfying way to end to the arc that was the first half of the season.

The Diviner was given a meaningful raison d'etre; the villains were defeated in dramatic manners; Rok-Tahk upended stereotype; the Caitian was saved (and a couple of miners found love); Zero played hero and dealt with the unintended fallout therefrom; Gwyn, albeit briefly, faced an uncertain fate ('Hold the door! Hold the door!'); and the episode ended with an compelling cliffhanger. Wow!

My only quibble was with the expedient end to the episode and the related voice-over. Otherwise, the episode was a thrill to watch.

Kudos Dan and Kevin Hageman. This is easily the best of modern Trek.

On a final note, the theme by Michael Giacchino is my favourite from any iteration of Trek. I don't know enough about music to articulate what I appreciate about the theme, but it's a heck of a tune (particularly the back half).

Unfortunately, will now have to wait a while for the next episode. Echoing @Jeffrey's Tube comment from Part 1 of the episode, I'm not a fan of the way the series has been broken up (to accommodate Discovery or anything else).
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 8:15am (UTC -5)
I loved this episode as a closure to the ten-episode arc as a whole. But I think it sort of failed as a discrete episode. Similar to my complaint last week, this is pretty clearly just the second half of the runtime of double-feature - not even a "part 2" per se. But it wasn't enough to make me not enjoy the experience.

Everyone gets some character growth here, which is great. There were arcs which were set up right from the beginning, like Rok-Tahk's discomfort at being pegged the "strong one" - and the possible romantic tension between Dal and Gwyn, which have further development/payoff here. This episode had a ton of feels, and Janeway's closing monologue was absolutely perfect, making it feel like my heart was swelling in my chest for these kids.

I do feel a bit underwhelmed by the antagonists and their fates however. Drednok went down like a chump in the end, and we never even really got to find out anything about him. The backstory of the Diviner was tragic, but a lot more straightforward than I had expected - I was hoping for something which showcased the Federation making a real mistake. I suppose though that it might be too much to expect from a kid's show.

I don't care what CBS calls it, this is pretty clearly the end of Season 1, and what's coming in the Summer/Fall is Season 2. The main antagonists have been taken out. Drednok is a pile of scrap, and The Diviner is just a crazy hermit now, and not a threat to anyone. It seems clear the next arc will deal with the fallout from the crew actually making contact with the Federation, and introduce a new antagonist (probably the disguised Vau N'Akat from the casting sheets who's hiding on the real Janeway's ship).
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Norvo
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Thrilling, easily the best current Trek series out there... And it's supposed to be targeted towards kids? And seeing the actual Janeway again really hits you where you live. "I'm coming, Chakotay!" indeed.

One nagging little plot inconsistency though: if the Diviner already had the Protostar equipped with that program designed to destroy the Federation, why did he force/guilt the crew into returning to the mining colony? They were headed towards Starfleet anyway!

Even if it had yet to be installed, he's shown the ability to materialize agents aboard the ship to do his bidding. There was no need for him to actually be on board.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Spoilers from the episode
A bit of Gwyn's memory has been erased so the virus on protostar will still get to starfleet. Gwyn didn't have time to tell Dal. Until her memory comes back, starfleet is in danger...
Good episode! Good pay off. Consequences and all.
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Mac
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
I thought this was really well done and I can't wait for Prodigy to come back. Hopefully when it does, it will be in a block of ten episodes instead of two blocks of five episodes.

I'm actually kind of surprised. I have liked all of the new Star Trek shows, but the animated ones have been without a doubt my favorites, even though I wasn't particularly interested in either when they were announced.
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Rahul
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Quite a lot had to work out perfectly after Part 1 and it pretty much did here -- a good episode for PROD that really encapsulates what I think the series is about. Plenty of stuff that I found extremely farfetched, but at least there's an interesting justification for what the Diviner was planning.

The first part with the miners rescue and fixing the ship required a serious amount of suspension of disbelief. Rok is now the engineering genius, Dal/Zero turn the ankle monitors into universal translators, and I guess the Diviner beamed the protostar out of Murf and back into the Protostar ship.

Things got more interesting with the Diviner revealing the truth to Gwyn. So from the Diviner's perspective first contact with Star Fleet ended up creating a civil war -- maybe that's what really happened... Not unreasonable as the TNG episode "First Contact" could be seen as going down that path.

You knew at some point Zero would reveal himself and make somebody go insane -- the effects are overdone here. But maybe we are meant to be seeing things through the Diviner's eyes?

Thought it was a slightly cloying wrap-up with Janeway spouting platitudes (stronger together, each of them is a prodigy in the making etc.) But that's something for the target audience, I think.

And maybe the 2nd part of S1 could be the damage the Protostar does to the Star Fleet ships when it gets to Federation space and what happened to Chakotay as Janeway comes to save him. Sounds promising.

2.5 stars for "A Moral Story, Part 2" -- very nearly 3 stars as the story is an interesting one; however, there's an awful lot of suspension of disbelief required and it felt a bit over-the-top with some of the resolutions.
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Mal
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek: Prodigy
season 1 episode 10

A Moral Star, part 2


“Sorry to interrupt this beautiful moment, but you have to go!”

- Dal


* * * (out of 4)


A satisfying conclusion in more ways than one. As @Karl Zimmerman says, this is really just the second half of a double-runtime feature. But it is also a very satisfying conclusion to the Season 1.0 Deviner arc.

While I haven’t been a big fan of the Deviner as a villain, per @AMA, it is quite a pleasant surprise that his arc makes so much sense. Watching the episode I had a vague dread that they were going to pull something like the Idris Elba Star Trek Beyond twist. Very happy it didn’t go that way!

Two pieces seemed a little over the top. The first was the beheading of Drednok. I totally get the sentiment, and it was earned. And it was done with no blood - just a couple white slashes against a black screen. But seeing a victorious mob hold up the severed head of their deposed oppressor seemed a little much for a kid’s show!

The other, as @Rahul says, was Zero. I agree with @Rahul, "the effects are overdone here. But maybe we are meant to be seeing things through the Diviner's eyes?” Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Next, the music. As @AMA writes, the Prodigy opening theme song is a real treat. I look forward to it every week! In a way it reminds me of the theme songs to those old Saturday morning cartoons - it tells a story of its own. The Book of Boba Fett has my current favorite theme song,

https://youtu.be/3a0tH0fkvW8

and Prodigy is a very close second.

@Norvo asks a very good question, "if the Diviner already had the Protostar equipped with that program designed to destroy the Federation, why did he force/guilt the crew into returning to the mining colony? They were headed towards Starfleet anyway!” I’m not sure. I think Dal keeps avoiding StarFleet in the early episodes. He always picks the opposite direction. That’s how they end up meeting his Ferengi “mom”. I don’t know that the Deviner could be certain they would ever turn towards the Federation long enough to actually reach it. Or maybe the Deviner just wanted to be there himself, to personally see his plan through to the end. I’m not sure. Now that he’s gone mad and is marooned, hopefully we will never know.

Finally, regarding the divisive closing monologue. I’m afraid I can’t agree with either of the two extreme reactions, positive @Karl Zimmerman ("Janeway's closing monologue was absolutely perfect”), or negative @Rahul ("it was a slightly cloying wrap-up with Janeway spouting platitudes”). The best I can say is that, while I am not a fan, if they have to do these things, I’m so glad it isn’t Michael doing them!!!!

In sum, @Mac takes the words right out of my mouth: "I can't wait for Prodigy to come back.”

I’m coming Chakotay! (in a completely non-sexual way ;)
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Rahul
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
Forgot to mention the other thing that was way too farfetched for me (listed like 3 or 4 things already) and @Mal reminded me: when the cute little cat alien beheads Drednok with one swipe ... that was ridiculous given how Drednok was basically dismantling an entire army of escaped miners.

But I would also like to add (and to clarify if my prior comments seem relatively negative about PROD) -- it is my favorite nu-Trek series. I appreciate it b/c it comes across as ideologically / philosophically / politically neutral to me. DSC is way too woke, PIC was quite dark / nihilistic, and LD is just unwatchable. That being said, DSC and PIC have hit heights on individual episodes that PROD has yet to match -- though it is still early.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 3, 2022, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal

I look forward to the next decade of Youtube Janeway/Chakotay 'shipper vids making heavy use of that soundbite. Oh god, what have they done? Hahahaha.

. . .

So the reason there's only one USS Protostar is that there's only one protostar, right? It isn't something the Federation made. It's something they found. And they've only found the one (so far).

Whatever a "protostar" actually is . . . the name makes it sound like something that will eventually become a star or that it is already some kind of star. It could be literal, but it could just be something that has certain properties that they named a "protostar" for lack of anything more apt. I just don't think any kind of biological creature could swallow an actual star. Or that you could beam one aboard a ship. Kids' show or not, that's just a bridge too far. I think the show has been generally careful about such things so far that they wouldn't throw logic and sense that far out the window just for the cool reveal of "oh but Murph is hiding the protostar!" Of course he could have also swallowed the containment device with it . . . but it didn't look like he did, did it?

. . .

Well, after ten episodes, Prodigy is my second favorite of the new Treks so far. LD > PROD > DISCO > PIC, but I'm not down on any of them. I've enjoyed them all, and my hopes are sky-high for SNW!
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Eric Jensen
Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 12:32am (UTC -5)
Is this Canon?
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Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
It's whatever you want it to be.

A great conclusion to the early Diviner arc, who actually had some depth by the end. The Admiral Janeway cameo at the end was fun as well.

So far, this first season is one of the best ones since TOS.

Though with the conclusion to some parts of the story, it's confusing how the episodes coming later this year are actually part of the same thread.
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Bryan
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 3:17am (UTC -5)
Mid-season review:

ST:Prodigy is a breath of fresh air in the New Trek era, which many have characterized as too dark, cynical and divisive. All it took was appealing to a much younger audience for whom things like optimism, idealism and a brighter color palette hold greater currency. For adults, Prodigy may not be of the same caliber as any series that came before New Trek. But with strong production values, tropey yet compelling characters, and a functional script that plays it safe and inoffensive enough, this show is definitely worth a watch for adults and kids alike. It's got to be the best Star Trek I've seen since Enterprise.

The show probably could have done okay on its own original merits, but the show-runners took a gamble in getting Kate Mulgrew to revive Janeway in a central role. It's a gamble that seems to have paid off, as Janeway is arguably the best thing about Prodigy. Mulgrew as Janeway sounds just like she did 30 years ago and delivers her lines with the same earnest conviction. The inclusion of Janeway also doesn't feel like cynical fan service where the show-runners feel obligated to trade on the fond memory of fans and commit only to the bare minimum storytelling to justify that inclusion.

The same unfortunately could not be said about Spock who was mostly there to prop up Burnham through family tie-ins, or Picard via Patrick Stewart who just looks like he's on vacation. Conversely, the diligent attention and care taken here is exemplified as early as the opening credits where the USS Protostar gently climbs the crest of Janeway's bosom -- her holographic form blown up to God-like proportions -- then rising further to caress her cheek before continuing its joyride through prismatic space. Indeed, with only a few tweaks, Prodigy could have justifiably been called Voyager: The Return.

Speaking of the opening credits, the musical theme is also quite lovely, with its optimstic and lighthearted tone and animated tempo, it maintains the orchestral flair and adventurous spirit in the tradition of other Star Trek themes, making some of them even sound sleepy by comparison.

The look of Prodigy also shines, as the quality of the animation is comparable to any major mainstream studio. The muted colors and visual design cues of the first episode appear to have been self-consciously borrowed from...elsewhere, leading many views to lament, "Oh no, it's thinly-veiled Star Wars!" but once they launch the starship, the color saturation and brightness improves and everything looks more reminiscent of classic Star Trek. Honestly, just seeing the phasers fire like phasers was a huge relief after that pew-pew blaster fight.

I generally like the character designs too. It's an ensemble cast, but Dal is one of the emotional poles of the story -- a roguish but bright-eyed charismatic teenager who oozes with specialness not just in his visual design but possibly in being a one-of-a-kind alien who doesn't know where he belongs.

Gywn is more pragmatic and level-headed but has a brooding countenance which is earned through her more emotionally heavy redemption arc and kinship to her villainous father. Her slick design and general ass-kickery is slightly reminiscent of Jaylah from ST:Beyond.

Jenkom looks like a miniaturized Bebop from TMNT and is based on the affable-brute-who-refers-to-himself-in-3rd-person trope, but his engineering skills helps to diversify him a little.

Zero, the medusan, is a mysterious gender-neutral entity equipped with unfathomable brain-melting powers and psychic abilities but reminds me more of various feminized computers and droids that come equipped with an innocently frank persona and agreeable British accent.

Rok feels more like a box-checking exercise in the Character Who Defies Every Expectation and Stereotype category. First, you don't even realize that she's a she or that she's very young (with a voice that is somehow endearing and grating in equal measure). Then you learn that despite appearances, she's not there to be the muscle of the group but instead seems destined to replace Jenkom as solver-of-tough-engineering-problems. Aside from her disturbingly tiny mouth, her visual design is similar to that of the Thing.

There is an adorable cat-kin character that we know next to nothing about (including their name and gender) but whom the show-runners keep teasing us with, presumably because they will take on a more prominent role later on. When the Diviner acquires the cat-kin you know he has a villainous heart of stone cuz he flatly says "this is an amenable exchange" instead of "OMG Squeeeee! Look at you! I just want to hold you and pet you and boop your little cat nose..."

The Diviner and Drednok, respectively, look like every sith lord rolled into one and General Grievous, and are not terribly interesting in their evil machinations but are mainly there to move the plot forward.

There is also an indestructible slime blob of dubious intelligence named Murf who exists as a comic relief prop.

Thus far the plot isn't exemplary or very original but relies on a lot of nostalgia and call-backs to better days. There are, however, several thematic touchstones that make the show unmistakably Star Trek, such as the limits of individualism the need to work as a team, the importance of the prime directive, and translation or communication across cultures as a force for unification against oppression.

It also feels like, aside from nostalgia and being didactic, Janeway is also there to emphasize the "science" in the science fiction of the series, which goes a long way in assuring us that we are indeed not watching thinly-veiled Star Wars. And sure, one could do a lot of nitpicking about much of the logic or accuracy of what happens but it feels petty to poke holes in a children's cartoon that isn't too self-serious. I look forward to seeing where Prodigy takes us next because this is one case where the journey seems more important than the destination.
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Eric Cheung
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
1x09 A Moral Star, Part 1

Star Trek is about found families. So, this episode begins shortly after the previous one left off, with Rok-Tahk recounting her tale of how she saved the day after a "too long" time in exile. The crew are nearly as close and cozy as they were in the big hug with Rok-Tahk in the previous episode. They're now a found family. This isn't the episode to deal with the ramifications of Rok-Tahk's quarantine.

Dal's redemption arc seemed pretty slow at first, partly because we didn't know how long it would take. But now, it seems a tad quick in retrospect. I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm glad for it, but they grow up so quickly. He's once again at odds with the crew, but it's not due to selfishness or because he wants to prove he deserves the captain's chair.

Rok-Tahk's reunion is interrupted when a remnant of Drednok's robot avatar, which was built in the previous episode, goes all R2-D2 and opens up a prerecorded message from the Diviner. He offers an ultimatum: return the ship within one day and the prisoners of Tars Lamora get released, otherwise, the prisoners will "pay the price."

The crew has a classic conference room meeting where they conclude that the choice is really a different binary: go to the Federation for help and hope they can return to Tars Lamora with reinforcements in time or head straight for Tars Lamora with a plan on their own.

Gwyn is disgusted enough by her father's transmission that she stabs the Drednok head. It's a reminder of how she's been shown to reject her past and grow up too. So, when Dal storms off, she's now close enough to him to offer herself as a sounding board...but not without a roasty, half-joking rhetorical question about his motives. I said it's half-joking, because she's really concerned for Dal.

This brings us to his dilemma. He sees it as a third binary. If he risks the crew, they might all be captured and resume their lives as prisoners. He's grown beyond wanting to serve himself to looking out for his entire found family.
So, Gwyn reminds him that he's not alone. They're in "catboots," a nice callback to the premiere. They can plan together. And by "they" I mean the whole crew. I definitely don't mean Gwyn and Dal getting closer!

Slight tangent, but I do kind of think that it should have been a more democratic decision amongst the crew, despite what Janeway said about it being the captain's decision. We're treated to a montage of planning and prepping, but the montage is deliberately ambiguous. This isn't going to be a heist episode where we see how things don't go to plan. This is going to be an episode where we see how things DO go to plan, and marvel at the plot twists we don't see coming.
Also, I've been waiting for a prison break episode ever since the young cat was captured, another callback to the premiere that outlines the stakes, whom we see again in this episode.

Capping off the montage is Dal distributing uniforms he found to the crew, uniforms that look a lot like the flight suits from VOY. I kind of hope this is temporary, as one thing about the show that's excited me is the fact that it's the first Trek show explicitly about civilians. But if it helps this crew feel like a team when they're on a mission like this, it makes sense.

Obviously, the Diviner is not to be trusted. So, when he changes the terms of the agreement, by demanding Gwyn join him, she accepts, perhaps at least partly tempted by a truth about the Federation he teases her with. The Diviner was originally going to abandon all the "unwanted" and the Protostar crew on the asteroid, but with Gwyn as part of the exchange, the terms change to a trading of ships, the Protostar for the REV-12, the ship attached to Tars Lamora.

But the Diviner is not to be trusted. He leaves the ship, but renders it useless by firing phasers at REV-12's power source, which cuts the artificial gravity and sends the Protostar crew into space (presumably the rest of the prisoners are in places with ceilings).

As the Diviner attempts to set a course, he realizes the Protostar drive is completely missing! Dal and company managed to get back onto the ground and reveal that Zero's suit actually contained Murf--hiding the drive!
We're only halfway through, as is this plan. I predict that the ending will be somewhat similar to that of Terror Firma, in that it'll be a relatively happy ending, with the prisoners set free, but the Diviner still in pursuit.

But a major difference from just a few episodes ago is that this crew is tightly bonded now. Which is why, I expect that Gwyn has a few tricks up her sleeve, so she can escape her biological father and return to her found family.
🔗
Eric Cheung
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
1x10 A Moral Star, Part 2


The series' first lines were about how the prisoners of Tars Lamora had been denied universal translators. This instantly sold me on the series, because I keep saying that Star Trek is about seemingly implacable foes learning to communicate in order to solve problems. It drove home the central problem of the series, or at least this first ten episodes of the series, how to bridge the gap in communication between people who had been captured and segregated through the abolition of such technology.

Last week, things looked pretty hairy for the crew of the Protostar, but it also appeared that the crew was one step ahead of the Diviner, a bit like Bill and Ted's battle with De Nomolos in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. This week, there's much more of an improvisational bent to their plans as they find they're in a bit over their heads. The Diviner quickly uses Gwyn's heirloom weapon against her and Dal has a ticking clock for corralling the prisoners onto Rev-12.

This improvisation leads to a few nice moments:

* Jankom Pog tasks Rok-Tahk with bracing a door shut while he works on some of his percussive repairs, but Rok-Tahk says that she's more than capable of engineering a solution that amounts to more than Jankom's percussive approach. He realizes this and they switch jobs.
* The aforementioned universal translators get repaired through the communicators, allowing us to see the connection through solidarity of the prisoners of Tars Lamora.
* Our very young Caitian friend finally gets a voice and has a hand destroying Drednok.
* Dal manages to use the manacles to free the prisoners from their linguistic detention when the communicator UTs fail.

I didn't mention last week that the Diviner performed an override of holo-Janeway to turn her into something akin to the Janeway hologram in the VOY episode "Living Witness." It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that she wouldn't remain that way, either because she's acting as a double-agent or because Gwyn will override the override.

But what happens after is that the Diviner finally shows Gwyn his motivation for his quest. He brings her to the holodeck to show her how a disastrous first contact with Starfleet resulted in the devastation of their homeworld, and that this happened in the future. The Diviner intends to use the Protostar as a weapon against Starfleet in a preemptive strike against them, before first contact even happens.

It draws an interesting parallel to what's happening with Star Trek: Discovery this season. In both cases, destruction has been wrought on a world and in both cases and advocate for the Federation way of life desperately pleads against violence as a solution. In both cases, this plea comes at the midpoint of the season. With Discovery, this sets up a chase where Burnham and crew race to stop the strike against the creators of the DMA.

Dal interrupts their conversation by beaming into the holodeck, but is quickly dispatched. After that, Zero comes in, and goes all Cyclops on the Diviner, resulting in a Raiders of the Lost Ark moment. Well, maybe not quite that harsh, but Zero sought justice for being used by the Diviner as a weapon. Being exposed to Zero's Medusan aura drove the Diviner mad and he's now exiled on a now-empty Tars Lamora. It's ironic and poetic.

There's another bitter irony in that scene as well. Dal tells Gwyn to look at him so that she may avert her gaze into Zero and save herself. But her attention drifts for a brief moment when she looks at the reflection of Dal's commbadge. The symbol of Starfleet nearly drives her to the same fate as her father.

Since it's only a reflection, it's only her memories from that moment that are lost.
But since she and her father were the only ones left that knew what he did to the Protostar, now no one knows that the ship is basically a weapon sent to destroy Starfleet. When Dal asks if everyone concurs with his plan to return the ship, she appears to have forgotten when she says she does. A quick note: again, Dal has really grown. He's still leading, but he's leading as part of a team, not as a self-appointed authority figure.

Meanwhile, the Protostar's course has pinged the sensors of the real Admiral Janeway and they set a course for a rendezvous, since Janeway hopes to rescue her old friend, Chakotay, the previous captain of the Protostar.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, May 20, 2022, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Decent enough ending that rounds off an excellent first season and sets up the next season nicely. Really warmed to the crew by the end of it.

The highlight this episode was 'evil' Hologram Janeway revealing she was in on the plan all along. And *real* Janeway turning up at the end!

(My one gripe was when Hologram Janeway switched uniform...)
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, May 20, 2022, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
(Or, rather, sets up the second half of the first season nicely.)

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