Star Trek: Prodigy

"Supernova, Part 1"

2.5 stars

Air date: 12/22/2022
Written by Erin McNamara
Directed by Andrew Schmidt

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Supernova, Part 1" ends on a Really Big Cliffhanger, and it's at this point I begin musing whether the action-based scope of this show needlessly exceeds the thematic goals that should've been the real point of this season, which is to get these young misfits to into Federation space and Starfleet. The season seems to be accomplishing that goal, yes, but in the meantime, it's also doing one of those overly large "threat to the Federation" plots that have pervaded the Kurtzman era of Star Trek and become really tired over the past five years. And this time it will be kids coming to the rescue.

Take the ending of the episode, coming after a bunch of action sequences, where a hailing frequency opened by Asencia, who has taken over the Protostar, results in all the ships in the fleet that have gathered here being infected with the virus, going berserk, and opening fire on one another. As cliffhangers go, the situation looks pretty dire — right after the false dawn where the young crew realizes that pleading for aid from other non-Federation ships, which the weapon was not designed to target, seemed to offer a solution.

There's a lot going on here. In addition to the mass chaos in the fleet, there's all the other on-board action beats that play out, including the Drednok wreaking havoc, the Diviner officially switching sides to protect his daughter (and paying the price with his life, for real this time), Murf turning into a super mini-fighter (because goofy stuff like that is fun for the kids), Gwyn facing off against Asencia in a big fight, and Dal kissing Gwyn because, well, we couldn't possibly leave that stone unturned in the cliché quarry.

This is competent action, and among some nice touches are Janeway being released from the brig by a Brenari security officer who was a refugee she rescued in Voyager's "Counterpoint." Also, and especially, bonus points for the inclusion of Admiral Jellico as the fleet commander, voiced by Ronny Cox, reprising the role at age 84.

But I'm beyond any desire to discuss action beats. At a certain point, this becomes sound and fury filling up screen time (entertainingly enough, I suppose), while signifying nothing. We'll see how this wraps up for our young crew in next week's finale.

Previous episode: Mindwalk
Next episode: Supernova, Part 2

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6 comments on this post

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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Dec 22, 2022, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
A great penultimate episode, which just steadily builds up the tension, allows for a brief false reprieve, and then truly tilts us into "all is lost" for the finale. I liked the return to focus on Gwyn, who has been sorely underused during the most recent run of episodes. I also loved the thematic core of Gwyn's speech, saying basically that Starfleet was all about accepting you as you are no matter what. It felt like a very contemporary message, and one children could identify with. The deep-cut reference to the VOY episode Counterpoint was a nice touch as well.

I don't have any major quibbles, but I do have a few minor ones. First, Ascencia was just a little bit too mustache twirl for me. I was fine with her as the antagonist, but I felt like they were leaning just a bit too hard into how much she was enjoying it here, though I guess kiddies like it if you play things broadly. Secondly, I felt like this episode felt a little too much the Gwyn & Dal show, with the other kids pushed way back as supporting characters - which isn't the best IMHO because teamwork is one of the core themes of the show. I mean, it did come through a bit in the fight with Drednok 2.0, but still, it seemed very much "on the side."
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AMA
Thu, Dec 22, 2022, 5:42pm (UTC -6)
Echo many of the sentiments of @Karl Zimmerman: the tie to Voyager's 'Counterpoint' was superb; the call by Gwyn, although a bit contrived, hit all the right notes; and the cliffhanger is among the best in the franchise's history. The episode left me genuinely wondering, how are they going to get out of this? (my guess is that we will learn that Chakotay and his crew were able to make peace with the Vau N'Akat and somehow travel back in time to prevent the worst)

Will add that it seemed a bit silly that the Protostar was subject to only one boarding party, and that I continue to prefer Murf 1.0 - he could have learned to defend his crewmates and friends without having to undergo a physical transformation.

All in all, though, a great episode, of the series' best.
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Rahul
Thu, Dec 22, 2022, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
I'd call this fairly typical PROD with some decent and even thoughtful moments but it is a kids show after all so it gets a bit farfetched with the action scenes and at times trite or overbearing with the moralizing and it lays it on pretty thick about what a great institution Star Fleet is with all it stands for.

I suppose it's a good episode for Gwyn -- she has to break the news to Dal that SF doesn't accept augments, fights Asensia, loses her father, uses her language skills to become a UT, is anointed captain, convinces allies to come to the rescue...

As the 1st part of a 2-parter, it ended with the hopeless situation of a losing battle and Star Fleet gradually destroying itself -- it tries to be a poignant and powerful ending, and it succeeds to some extent. But it would seem a major miracle is needed in Part 2 to have a happy ending. So that just means even more farfetched stuff incoming like Dal becoming a hero and saving SF and thus getting admitted to join.

Good way to get Vice Adm. Janeway released from the brig -- the guard was one of the refugees she helped save in "Counterpoint", one of the better VOY episodes.

2.5 stars for "Supernova, Part 1" -- enjoyable in a PROD way. The Diviner has done a complete 180 from who he used to be, he seemed to be like 2nd-in-command to Asensia and I'm not sure where that was coming from. So is Gwyn going to re-unite her people as per his final hopes? Gwyn and Murf seem to have capabilities that appear just arbitrarily. There's a lot of ideals flying around here and there... but the overall story and that of this episode are decent enough.
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Pertwee
Fri, Dec 23, 2022, 5:42am (UTC -6)
I liked this first part of the two part finale, the speech about Starfleet was a tad on the nose optimistic but a. it is a kid's series and b. TNG had that schmaltziness too, so I'm ok with it. It had good tension, I also think Chakotay is going to feature in the resolution somehow, it would be good to see him safe and sound and coming to the rescue.
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Jammer
Wed, Dec 28, 2022, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
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Fortyseven
Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
It's a shame that your heart isn't in this, but that's okay: the show has enough to go around.

It's certainly not without it's flaws, of course, but after seeing the finale tonight (no spoilers here), when taken as a whole, this is probably one of the best first seasons of Star Trek out there.

It's first season is not only a great show for kids, but it's a powerful reminder of what makes the core set of Starfleet ideals, at their best, so compelling and wonderful. And frankly, I haven't felt that pride and hope for people in a long time.

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