Star Trek: Prodigy

"Terror Firma"

3 stars

Air date: 11/18/2021
Written by Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Directed by Olga Ulanova

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Terror Firma" is the continued adventure on what the kids term the "murder planet," on the account that it keeps trying to, well, murder them. While the planet's motivation for using visitors as sustenance remains an extremely thin and implausible plot point, the real purpose of the episode is to finally get Gwyn to become part of our ragtag crew rather than a captive who's still in the clutches of her single-minded father.

Meanwhile, we get a few nuggets of information as to perhaps why the Diviner so badly wants the USS Protostar (it has a miniature protostar as a part of its engine, making it uniquely fast and powerful) even though he has his own massive starship. The Diviner and Drednok arrive on the murder planet and provide the kids with a double challenge — escaping the murder planet as well as the Diviner.

The planet-based action scenes here are pretty good, but what makes this stand out a bit more are the interludes where Dal and Gwyn finally begin to break the ice, and become friends who realize they have a shared loneliness in this world. We finally see that Gwyn will finally become a part of the rest of this crew of outcasts. She's as much of a victim of the Diviner as anyone else. He calls her "daughter" but prioritizes her beneath reclaiming the Protostar, which he is obsessed with beyond all reason. In the episode's most crucial moment, he chooses the ship over her.

One thing I'm liking about this show is how it doesn't condescend to its target audience. For example, the moment when the Diviner chooses the ship over his daughter is actually his own hallucination; the ship he thinks he's choosing isn't the real one, because Dal and the crew are boarding it at that very moment. Editorially, it's a moment my 7-year-old didn't understand immediately, but is something parents can quickly clear up. By plotting these beats at a level that works for older members of the audience, they're actually doing everyone a favor.

The episode ends with a breakneck-speed starship pursuit and narrow escape where the crew learn how to engage the ship's protostar drive, and Gwyn gives the order to leave her father far, far behind. It's a turning point for the character and the season.

Previous episode: Dream Catcher
Next episode: Kobayashi

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17 comments on this post

Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 7:39am (UTC -6)
I thought Terror Firma was a great episode. Probably the best one of the entire season thus far. It's actually a good place to take a break, ending not on a cliffhanger, but telling a complete character and plot arc for the show to date.

This episode was basically from the POV of Gwyn, and it worked in spades. Essentially there was this tension within Gwyn's character between loyalty to her father and her sense of right and wrong/affection for the other characters. She started the episode as a betrayer of the remainder of the kids, had a complete and total breakdown of her idolization of her dad, and made a reverse heel turn into a full comrade-in-arms with the escapees. Dal gets a bit of a character arc as well, but it's secondary to Gwyn's lead here - but important that he goes over the course of the episode from the character who trusts her least to the character willing to risk everything to save her life. Simultaneous to the completion of these character arcs, the kids discover the true nature of the ship, which is a nice metaphor for "leveling up" as a crew.

The episode gets dinged in my book for one reason alone - the idea of a ship powered by a "protostar" is dumb, even in the history of Treknobabble. Protostars are not small, they are actually much larger than regular stars due to being lower density. I simply cannot completely look past this, even though I enjoyed the episode considerably.
Eric Cheung
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 11:05am (UTC -6)
I think the protostar is probably like the real-world experiments with creating black holes and mini stars as energy sources right now.
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 11:50am (UTC -6)
Great end to the first part of the season.

The discovery of what powered the ship was a great scene, and I smiled so hard.

4 out of 4, best episode so far.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
I'm a fan of this show. Terror Firma was the best episode yet. I'm excited to see what happens next when the show comes back.
Ashton Withers
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 1:44pm (UTC -6)
This show is way better than it has any right to be. I am very excited for the next five episodes to air next year.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -6)
Decent episode though it pulled a couple of rabbits out of a hat that had me a bit miffed. Somewhat predictable that Gwyn would sign on with Dal & co. and betray her father, but at least she had additional reason to do so when her father chose a vision of the ship over her as she was getting overwhelmed by the vines.

That the Protostar actually has a baby star to power it and then can blast away from a pursuer who is already at high warp was a bit much -- that's the part kids would surely enjoy I think. The part in the forest reminded me of the Mirkwood scenes from "The Hobbit".

So Dal is on some kind of quest to find out who he is, what species -- seems him and Gwyn will be getting closer.

2.5 stars for "Terror Firma" -- a reasonable conclusion to the first part of S1. I think this episode and "Dream Catcher" are about as good as this series can get without dealing with some deeper subjects or intelligently tying the story to some classic Trek canon. Overall "Prodigy" is better than I expected it would be - so count me pleasantly surprised.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 7:17pm (UTC -6)
Terror Firma

Star Trek: Prodigy season 1 episode 5

“I vote we call it ‘Let’s not Visit M-Class Planets Again’ ”

- Dal

3 stars (out of 4)

This was quite a satisfying conclusion to last week’s cliff hanger, and also kicks things up a notch. All in all, a nice wrap up of the first five episode arc.

First, a word about how cool Gwyn’s sword thingy is! (“You control it with your brain?”). So far I’ve been quite impressed with it as a weapon, particularly when Gwyn and Rok-Tahk were in hand-to-hand an episode ago. But this week, when Gwyn uses it as a cast - well, let’s just say I was super impressed. The look and feel of it reminds me a little of a cross between captain america’s shield and those liquid cast thingies from The Expanse. It is clearly a part of her, and as she says, the only gift her father ever gave her.

That General Grievous shoots her in the sword/cast do-hickey is a real blow to the solar-plexus. Deep stuff for a kid’s show; the link between father and daughter has been blown apart.

Her dad choosing the Ship over her only seals the deal. I have to say I didn’t see the twist coming, so I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen the episode. In retrospect it was obvious, but I guess that’s a testament to the episode. I was so busy enjoying the show I didn’t bother trying to game everything out in advance. Now that’s entertainment!

The gang (let’s not call them a crew just yet) get a nice quiet moment to enjoy a fire and watch the stars. As reviled as Star Trek:V might be (and as I get older I don’t think that is entirely fair), the opening of that episode with Kirk and Spock and Bones camping at El Capitan has always been a highlight of their relationship for me. Those nice quiet moments are so rare in life. It is great to see Prodigy taking its time to incorporate them here. Given that the worst part of the camping is often shitting in the woods, the scatological humor was - for once - not altogether unwelcome,

KIRK: Bourbon and beans. An explosive combination. Do you think Spock can handle it?

McCOY: Are you kidding? With that Vulcan metabolism he could eat a bowl of termites and it wouldn't bother him.

If there was one part of the episode that didn’t quite work, it was holo-Janeway talking to herself. Kate Mulgrew is not as good a voice actor as the rest of the cast, and the humor fell flat. A little like man-at-arm’s dad jokes back in He-Man.

I have been very pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed the first five episodes of Prodigy. When you inevitably find yourself with a headache after watching Burhnam and crew over the next few weeks, and need a gentle treat , I has whole-heartedly recommend Nick-n-nick-nick, nick, nick, nick. Nick-e-lo-dian :-)
Eric Cheung
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
1x05 Terror Firma

Well, Prodigy's taking kind of a classic Doctor Who approach to serialization, no recap so much as dropping us in right where we left off. This two-parter, at least, is designed for binging.

Murder Planet, as Jankom Pog so aptly calls it, has changed its strategy. It's eating the technology the kids have left. So, our gang of little rascals has to resort to traveling to the ship on foot, with cilia on the hunt.

As much as Rok-Tahk doesn't trust Gwyn, she's still the one who gave her some Nutri-Goop. So, she asks Dal if they should help her get to the ship, since Gwyn's leg has a compound fracture. Dal is ready to leave her behind, since Gwyn was ready to do the same by taking the ship. Gwyn makes a cast out of her shapeshifting weapon, proving herself resourceful enough to make the question moot.

It's a good thing she comes along, too. While the planet keeps shapeshifting around them, forcing them to walk around in circles, her resourcefulness helps get them past a whole mess of cilia when she fashions a torch out of smaller cilia stub, some fabric, and the classic use of the phaser as a heat tool.

They find shelter from the acid rain inside the remnants of a Klingon vessel. Last week, we learned Jankom Pog was on a sleeper ship. Here, we learn he was awake at least part of the time before arriving at the Delta Quadrant.

Even Dal comes around on Gwyn, when she teaches him about a mek'leth. He confides that he gets asked where he's really from (as a racially vague fella, I feel ya bro), but would like, just once for someone to tell him. Gwyn talks about her shapeshifting tool, the only thing her father gave him. Eventually, their conversation makes them realize that since the stars are fixed points, they can use that to navigate back to the ship.

Just as Dal starts to connect with Gwyn, her father arrives, revealing that she lead him there. Dal feels betrayed, as he and the rest of the gang get chased. He suggests they split up, since they can't all be caught. But they stick together anyway.

Gwyn, now alone, gets caught up in some cilia. Her father sees her and looks about ready to save her when he sees the Protostar behind him getting caught up in the cilia, itself. He wants the ship more than he wants her, so he heads toward it.

But Dal & Co. greet holo-Janeway first. The gang all together, aboard the ship, they go back for Gwyn. Dal went back for her when her father wouldn't.

The two of them still have a long way to go on their respective redemption arcs, but this is a big step for both of them. Dal looks out for someone other than himself and Gwyn finally stops holding out hope for her father.

Just as they leave, they're being chased by his ship, but they leave by using the gravimetric protostar containment. Earlier, Janeway was trying to figure out what was draining power. She hasn't been fully briefed on the ship's systems. With little choice, they activate the drive to get out of there. The interaction between the two vessels at warp reminded me a bit of the collision course between the Enterprise and the Vengeance in Into Darkness.

TNG, VOY, and ENT tended to have cliffhanger finales. Pretty much all of the other shows since then have finales that are kind of more interested in setting things up for the next batch of episodes, rather than giving us a moment of jeopardy to resolve.

This episode does a nice job of that as we know it won't come back until February. The crew is not only assembled, but in a place where they can more or less trust each other. They've got someone on their tail, but there's a brief respite as they collect themselves.
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
I'm glad to hear you've decided to give Prodigy reviews Jammer.
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 11:22pm (UTC -6)
My only real gripe is the cheesy villain. I get that it's a kids' show, but we're getting into Dr. Claw territory here.

I'm usually a John Noble fan, and maybe there's more to the character - but between the clunky animation and the voice (over)acting, he just seems kind of silly.
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
The showrunners were kind of hyping up the Diviner a little bit in interviews, so I'm hoping he'll be given more to do in the next five episodes.
Fri, Nov 26, 2021, 12:51am (UTC -6)
I look forward to whatever Jammer reviews but he might be wasting his time here. Likely done after a season or two. Feels like an average quality streaming cartoon just badged as Star trek - P+ already seems to have stopped significant promotion on it.
Sun, Dec 5, 2021, 4:12am (UTC -6)
@Cupcakeking said, "Feels like an average quality streaming cartoon."

FWIW, Prodigy is doing better on Rotten Tomatoes with professional reviews (89) than Discovery (86), and WAY, WAY, WAY better on Rotten Tomatoes with the audience score (73) than Discovery (38).

Which pretty much tracks my experience. I've enjoyed the last 5 episodes of Prodigy far more than the last 5 episodes of Discovery and Picard - combined!
Richard James
Fri, Dec 24, 2021, 4:41am (UTC -6)
Star Trek must be a weird state that the best current series on air is actually the animated one for children. Still, I've been enjoying this so far - the characterisations are simple but effective. The animation is very good and the whole series seems to have a lean focus to it - not getting bogged down in A and B plots or "mystery box" storytelling like DSC.
Bok R'Mor
Thu, May 12, 2022, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
Found myself really enjoying this episode and this series now. Aside from the usual top draw Kate Mulgrew Hologram Janeway performance, there was a compelling plot and I'm starting to genuinely like the crew - Gwyn is particularly well done in this episode.

Also, a proto-star drive? All right: I'm intrigued.
Bok R'Mor
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Oh, a couple of things I don't get: how are Klingon rations and a Klingon mek'leth in the Delta Quadrant? Is that meant to be a reference to 'Prophecy'?

Similarly, I should have mentioned this previously, but for that matter how is a (DSC version, note the tusks) Tellarite (Jankom Pog) in the Delta Quadrant?

Will these points be cleared up when the series clears up how the USS Protostar got to the Delta Quadrant?
Thu, May 11, 2023, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
I'm watching this with my seven-year-old and he LOVED this episode. He was so excited when they figured out how the Protostar worked. And he was outraged when the Diviner choose the ship over Gwyn. He's really enjoying the series so far, particularly Zero, who he thinks is hilarious. I can't wait until he's old enough to introduce to Data.
Was I the only one wondering why the Protostar didn't have a transporter room? Seems weird to have a vehicle replicator and no transporter.
Otherwise, I'm really enjoying this. I agree that Dal's continued arsehole behaviour is getting annoying and repetitive, and the show really needs to start working on building the relationships between the characters and turning them into a crew, but the last two episodes are finally heading in that direction.
Also wasn't this supposed to be Tasha Yar's origin story - she escaped a hell planet as a teenager and found safety in Starfleet?

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