Star Trek: Prodigy

“Ouroboros, Part II”

Review pending

Air date: 7/1/2024
Written by Kevin & Dan Hageman & Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Ruolin Li

Review Text

Pending my review, the comments section is open.

Previous episode: Ouroboros, Part I

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8 comments on this post

    Stuck the landing. After 7 episodes of wandering and then getting bogged down in epic excess, the finale takes some unexpected turns. It decides to tie itself into the roots of Picard (in more ways than one), and there's some well-portrayed pathos about Starfleet's new circle-the-wagons mentality following the synth attack, from the admiralty down to the kids.

    If a little treacly, the back-to-where-we-started sentiment is handled fine (much better than Discovery), and holo-Janeway gets to come back for the ride. And yeah - you knew the kids were going to get commissions and their own ship. But I really liked who was given the command chair. When you look back over the season, has it not been that person who's shown the real leadership, making the hard calls and putting the mission first? Meanwhile, Dal's not ready. He's an idiot. But he knows it now, and he's still brave and resourceful. He'll make a good captain one day. But this season was about revealing that he hasn't been on Janeway's journey but Chakotay's, and it was handled with enough subtlety to make it a respectable plotline.

    It's quite telling that there was a far bigger outcry to salvage this show than to salvage Discovery. Though a bit uneven, Prodigy S2 was zippy, smart, well-plotted, and well-aimed. It made me want to watch S1 and to root for a S3, to see the kids in a classic starship setting and perhaps start maturing the show's themes and voice as the kids grow up during an uncertain post-Mars environment. Might never happen, but the show has earned it.

    The whole season was decent and entertaining I think binging it actually made it less so however. One discovery I made is that if you overload yourself cognitively with the material in the season, it can be difficult to register the emotional tone of the later material.

    My feelings with the Season 2 finale are actually pretty similar to the Season 1 finale. In both cases, there was a tension between what made a good episode of TV and what made a good ending to the season arc. So they decided to go with the latter, meaning it doesn't really work as an episode proper.

    Thankfully, it works much better here than in season 1. Still, it's pretty similar structurally. After two minutes of opening credits, we have no more than three minutes where the Loom is portrayed as any threat whatsoever. After five minutes of the episode proper, they get past the Loom. Then they have a few minutes of sappy coda, which contain numerous clips from both Seasons 1 and 2 (appropriate, given the nature of the closed time loop), with the entire back half of the episode given to epilogue.

    Given the timeline they chose to set Prodigy in, I understand why they felt the need to include a reference to the synth attack on Utopia Planitia. However, it makes for a pretty strange ending. We have some "all is well" closing shots with Wesley reunited with his mother/brother, Janeway enjoying retirement, and the kids back at Starfleet Prep. Then we have the attack, which upends everything. It's an excuse for why the kids are given a ship of their own, but it's not a teaser for anything storywise other than further adventures.

    The touch of Dal concluding his arc by realizing that Gwyn, rather than he, is the one who should have the chair is great - for his character - as learning he's not the "main character" has been a central theme. However, I'm not sure I like this for Gwyn, as it seems arbitrary given she hasn't shown much desire for command.

    While the closer was a bit of a letdown for me, it's still a decent end to what has been far and away the best-serialized arc in all of modern Star Trek. I realize they had much less to cover here than the other shows (total runtime discounting credits is less than 3.5 hours), but it's still shocking to me they stuck the landing in a way that Discovery and Picard were never quite able to.

    Season Finale pt.1 - 3 stars
    Season Finale pt.2 - 4 stars
    Season 2 overall - 3.5 stars

    I've been a fan of the serial plot and found the filler/side quest episodes solidly serviceable. The plot been complex and intricate, the character development is strong, the writers treat the characters as an ensemble well (no Michael here!), there’s no shortage of action, and the music really helps to create the emotional beats the writers want.

    (I’m trying to write without spoiling)

    CRITIQUES OF THE 2-PART FINALE
    =======================================================
    Despite the season's strength, I found some plot resolutions disappointingly simple.

         [A] Rok and her team convey scientific complexity with their problem and present a basic, obvious solution. It’s one I think most of us trekkies would expect.
         [B] Gwyn's battle with Acensia and the aid she receives from her species feels convenient and sudden.
         [C] The writers also find a use for Cetacean Ops to lend a pretty meaningful hand to a problem the writers cook up at the last minute, and it feels unbelievable.

    Which leads me to my main question: Are such critiques valid for a Nickelodeon show with a Y7 rating? Much of what we have seen this season could have been spotted in a live-action adult show, including what I gather is a rather complicated time travel plot for a 7-yr old. Why couldn't the various solutions presented in this finale be as interesting as solutions in past episodes? Do I give it a pass? I haven't decided yet.

    POSITIVES OF THE 2-PART FINALE AND OTHER VIEWS OF SEASON 2
    =======================================================

    PROS:
         [1] I don't think I've ever seen a montage/clip show work as well as it did here. Boosting the montage is what the USS Prodigy is doing in the background, making the clip show even more meaningful. The accompanying music was fantastic, really hitting the emotional beats for me. Finally, the montage’s success and placement in the episode provides it with the flexibility to operate as both a series finale and a hopeful launch for season 3.
         [2] Dal's decision to not immediately grab what he wants in the finale shows refreshing maturity and results in a surprising and well-deserved outcome for someone else.
         [3] “That guy” (trying not to include spoilers) wasn't thrown in for fan service sake; he was a legit part of the main storyline. I thought it was great! And I loved how he was channeling a little "Q" craziness there with his portrayal.
         [4] The tie-ins to the Mars attack and Picard’s Season 3 were solid, and I strongly appreciate the writers’ not-totally-successful efforts to bridge the unfortunate consistencies in uniforms. “not enough combadges to go around”

    CONS:
         [a] Dal and crew make errors leading to major consequences in the first half of the season, like Chakotay leaving with the Protostar and stealing a ship, yet face little punishment from Janeway. It's hard to accept, but if Kirk was rewarded for stealing a ship and cheating on an exam, I suppose it's okay that Dal & co. are praised despite their mistakes?

    OTHER THOUGHTS:
         [i] Given the title "Prodigy" and the focus on characters with special talents, what does Dal contribute to earn the prodigy moniker?
         [ii] Chakotay totally dicked holo-Janeway. 😆 You think we’ll finally see him get together with one of them?
         [iii] Jellico is a nice little bit of fan service, and he wasn’t a total toolbag.
         [iv] I just noticed that combadges aren’t always placed in the exact same spot across characters. Nice touch. But someone's gonna get a dressing down for not adhering to uniform dress code!
         [v] I'm surprised holo-Janeway was willing to "kill" (reset) herself as quickly as she did.

    I'll basically say for Season 2 as a whole, this was great. I just can't believe how good this show was. I'd arguably say it's some of the best of all of modern trek.

    The tie-ins to Trek lore and other shows was also fantastic, and it didn't feel "forced" or for "fanservice" but actually flowed naturally and had a point in being connected. I'd say this show in fact elevates "Picard" and all other modern Trek shows too.

    Also it's basically a sequel/follow-up show to Voyager. Getting to see what happened to Janeway, Chakotay and the Doctor was great. If this is the last we ever see of them, it's a pretty good sendoff. (and 7 of 9 and Tuvok on the last season of Picard, wonder what Tom/B'elanna and Kim are up to as they're the only ones not to appear besides Tom having a cameo on Lower Decks).

    Great show, the new cast was really likeable and for a "kids show" it was surprisingly deeper than most Trek shows. If it doesn't get another season and this is the end, it was a great sendoff.

    What an incredible finale. I gather chances for a season 3 are probably zero, and that's a shame. But it ends in a great place.

    . . .

    If I was a kid who had never seen Picard, I'd probably be "huh what the what now?!" with all the stuff near the end, but as an adult fan, I really, really appreciated the effort to tie continuity together as much as possible and give us fan service moments like Wesley going to see his mother and meet Jack.

    . . .

    Wow that wormhole technobabble scene went hard, huh? To any kid, even a smart one, it must have sounded like "blah blah blah blah." But that's okay. You get the idea. Heh.

    . . .

    Dal was definitely the most "kids-show" character in S1 and therefore the least interesting and most annoying of the main cast (even less interesting than Murph, as far as I'm concerned), but this season really addressed that and, in my opinion, fixed it. His arc this season of maturing was extremely well handled. Not to keep shitting on Discovery (okay . . . maybe just a little bit more), but no character arc on that show (were there any?) over five seasons was handled anywhere near as deftly. Prodigy EARNED this evolution of his character and it was accomplished in a way that felt very true to life.

    . . .

    Listen, it seems really clear to me that Chakotay and Janeway are bangin'. If they're not, that's dumb. Life's short and before it's even over you're old and gross. If you find someone you connect with like that, have some sex.

    IIRC the Hagemans have said they purposefully made it a bit ambiguous whether or not Janeway and Chakotay were romantically involved. They wanted to give some fanservice for shippers, but not make it 100% canonical.

    Just be glad the Chakotay and 7 of 9 ship from the end of Voyager was dropped. I don't know what the Voyager writers were thinking with that in literally what...the last 2 eps of Voyager.

    Now we also know Chakotay hasn't seen 7 in 10 years (due to being on that planet) as well.

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