Previously on Star Trek: Prodigy, our crew escaped a planet of illusions AND Gwyn’s evil dad the Diviner when they learned the Protostar‘s secret feature – an engine that harnesses the energy of an actual protostar.
Captain Daphne, our intrepid nine-year-old guest reviewer and I are back watching Prodigy after the mid-season break and some additional complications due to *gestures at the general state of the world*.
Scroll down for our audio review!
Recap (Spoiler Alert!)
“Kobayashi” (Season 1, Episode 6)
If you were looking for Prodigy to reference previous iterations of Star Trek, “Kobayashi” should do you for a while! The episode starts with the crew learning where they ended up after activating the protodrive: almost 4,000 lightyears away in the Gamma Quadrant, kindling the hopes of DS9 fans everywhere.
A bit later, Rok-Tahk, Jankom Pog and Zero come to talk to Dal in his ready room, where he’s playing the game from TNG’s “The Game.” They all want to go to the Federation but he doesn’t really want to listen and repeats that he thinks they’ll just end up getting arrested for stealing their ship. But they realize that Murf hasn’t weighed in yet, so they go looking for him.
While they search for Murf, Dal comes across Gwyn hiding out in the dark in sickbay, clearly sad. She thanks Dal for saving her life and he lets her know they have quarters set up for her, then leaves.
They track down Murf on the holodeck where he’s taking in the snows of “Andoria IV.” None of them have ever seen a holodeck before and Janeway quickly tours them through programs that reference Treks past, including Ceti Alpha V (TWOK), a Vulcan kal-if-fee arena (“Amok Time”), the tropical resort where the Voyager crew used to hang, the “Fistful of Datas” version of Deadwood, and Janeway’s fave: a Jane Eyre holonovel.
Dal comes across the Kobiyashi Maru holo-program and when Janeway explains it’s used to test the greatest captains in the Federation, he takes it as a challenge.
Meanwhile Rok-Tahk tracks down Murf again, who has somehow eaten a bunch of photon grenades. At the same time Zero checks on Gwyn in sickbay, notes that she’s in perfect physical health, but she says she’s in sickbay because she’s sad.
“I don’t belong here. I don’t belong anywhere.”
Zero takes on a bit of a counsellor/mentor role, sharing their own experience of loneliness and reassuring Gwyn there is a place for her on the ship: after all, the computer can translate languages but it can’t interpret information the way she can.
Man, a lot happens in this episode.
Next we go to a flashback from 17 years ago, when the Diviner convinced Drednok to clone him to create his progeny (Gwyn) so his species didn’t die out. Clearly we haven’t seen the last of them.
Now back to the Kobayashi Maru simulation, which takes place on the bridge of the Enterprise-D. Dal doesn’t know what crew members to pick so he tells the computer to select “some of the best you got” and we get Uhura, Dr. Crusher, Odo and Spock.
Spock gives the background of the simulation and then they start. Dal’s first approach is just to leave the stranded crew in the Neutral Zone, which the holo-crew takes him to task for. By the time he decides to go save them he’s ambushed by a Bird-of-Prey and the simulation ends. He gets a Captain Assessment Score of 3%, a Leadership Score of 2% and a Judgement Score of 0.1%.
Meanwhile Gwyn and Zero activate Hologram Janeway and ask about the ship’s purpose, but she is unable to say because the info is classified.
“If you’re going to poke around in my head I’ll need some coffee first.”
Back on the holodeck Dal has lost the Kobiyashi Maru for the 42nd time. Holo Dr. Crusher is very unimpressed with his stubbornness. We see a montage of several more attempts before Dal gets frustrated by Jankom Pog’s critiques of his strategy. He kicks him out and Jankom Pog says: “Maybe if you listened to your crew once in a while, you would do better. Dal replaces him with “a better engineer”: Scotty.
In case you were wondering what happened with Murf and the photon grenades, Zero tells Rok that he should explode in a burst of gamma rays and cease to exist but instead we see him let out the biggest effervescent burp, then smile and let out a tiny Murf toot.
On the bridge Zero and Gwyn find information in the ship’s databanks in the native language of Gwyn’s homeworld Solum. She uses her interpretation skills to unlock the code.
Dal can’t quit trying to beat the Kobiyashi Maru and on one of his last, crazed attempts he blares rock music over the audio channel to confuse the Klingons, a homage to Zefram Cochrane playing Steppenwolf in First Contact.
It almost works but the simulation keeps throwing problems at him until he loses again. Finally he listens to Spock, and recognizes that a good captain puts the needs of his crew before himself, and he needs to listen more. He finishes the simulation and the computer lets him know that it was designed to be impossible to win.
Dal returns to the bridge to see everyone else looking at the data, which includes photos of officers. Rok-Tahk touches an icon of a man’s face and it activates a clip of a holo-recording of Hologram Janeway and Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran). Janeway realizes…the “cadets” weren’t her first crew.
“First Con-tact” (Season 1, Episode 7)
At the start of the next ep, Dal catches us up in a log entry. There are still more questions to be answered about the Protostar but the kids have come up with a game to help pass some of the time, experimenting with the transporter, starting with a piece of pie and moving on to Murf, who ends up accidentally floating in space.
Soon they’re called to respond to a distress call that appears to be from a woman on a ship full of sick orphans. But Dal immediately recognizes it as a scam run by DaiMon Nandi (Grey Griffin), who basically raised him. Nandi is flying a Ferengi ship called The Damsel and appears to have really missed Dal when the crew transports over to see it. Nandi asks for Dal’s help to get a crystal from a nearby planet to help repay her mounting gambling debts. Dal doesn’t entirely trust her but he’s conflicted, especially when Nandi promises them her cloaking device in exchange. All they need to make it work is some chimerium, which they have.
Dal agrees to stretch the truth a bit for Janeway and his friends, saying they just want to go to this planet for a “diplomatic exchange.” Janeway warns them sternly about the importance of first contact with a new species and informs them of the Prime Directive, which restricts interference with less-advanced cultures.
They head to a desert planet where the sand seems to be able to change shape almost magically. It seems to be potentially hostile though, surrounding them in a sand dome. Gwyn figures out they are dealing with a type of alien that uses “somatics” (basically sound waves) for “acoustic terraforming.”
Back on the ship Hologram Janeway is rewatching the holorecording of her and Chakotay and figures out that they were boarded by a being that looks like a robot – one we know to be Drednok.
The aliens shift the landscape to lead the away team into an underground cavern where crystals hang from tendrils on the ceiling. Each crystal emits a unique frequency and they all realize the beings need each crystal and they can’t take even one. But Nandi isn’t willing to leave empty-handed. She tries offering the dented metal plate they brought and asks for a gift in return. The beings, ethereal and floating, gift them a song with accompanying show of light and sand movement. The kids all agree it’s an amazing, beautiful gift (except Jankom Pog, who protests it’s awful even as he wipes away a tear).
Not satisfied, Nandi starts ripping out crystals. causing everything to start caving in. She even tries to shoot Zero for trying to stop her, and yells Rule of Acquisition Number 21: “Never place friendship above profit.” In the end she can’t get away with more than one. Dal starts plugging the ones she’s dropped back in, but they have to get out before they’re buried.
On the planet’s surface Dal tries to get the crystal back. In the confrontation with Nandi she lets slip that she knew he was in the mines, and he realizes he wasn’t kidnapped – she sold him. He sees her Ferengi ship uncloak on the surface and realize she also stole the chimerium. They both grab at the crystal but Nandi gets away with it and says they’ll cross paths again some day.
Dal is transported onto the Protostar where the others ask what happend to his comm badge. They realize he put it on the crystal so they could beam it back and return it to the planet. They’re feeling celebratory but Janeway chastises them for doing irreparable harm, breaking the Prime Directive and making a terrible first impression of other species for the aliens on the planet.
As we wrap up the episode, we see Gwyn and Dal start to connect over their shared sense of trauma and abuse at the hands of their parents. We also see Nandi get a message from the Diviner offering a reward for information on the Protostar.
“Time Amok” (Season 1, Episode 8)
The next episode starts on the holodeck where Hologram Janeway is leading the crew on a team-building exercise. But even this can’t quite cheer up Dal, who’s still beating himself up after all he’s been through in the last two episodes.
When they beam back to the ship he tells Janeway they stole the ship and aren’t really Starfleet cadets. Zero gives a bit more background but Janeway notes that she’s still programmed to help her crew. Just then the ship enters a tachyon storm.
We cut to the Diviner, who is speaking on a comm channel with Nandi. The Diviner can’t get to that location quickly but can reach them remotely – we see him access the program for the ship’s vehicle replicator.
Meanwhile, the tachyon storm is compromising the warp containment matrix on the Protostar. That’s not good because it could destabilize the protodrive. Jankom goes to try to fix it. Hologram Janeway follows and tries to help but the anomaly produces some kind of temporal wave that seems to split her momentarily. Then for some reason, the ship seems to think Jankom Pog is the only one aboard. He estimates they have 10 minutes to stabilize the protodrive but the ship explodes mere seconds later.
Janeway rematerializes back on the bridge and soon realizes the crew has been split into slightly different times. Jankom Pog’s time was moving very fast. Janeway finds Rok hiding and realizes the time that they’re in is moving very slowly. That means Rok has a good chance of being able to repair the protodrive – what should be 10 minutes will feel like ages. Rok-Tahk is so scared she doesn’t want to hear it. She covers her ears and tells the ship to deactivate Hologram Janeway.
Next Janeway encounters Zero, who has already come up with a possible solution: a warp matrix that can restabilize the drive. Zero realizes they can’t make it themselves in time but can finish the schematics, which Janeway can pass on to someone from the crew who is in a slower time dimension. The ship explodes again and Janeway finds herself in a corridor, where she announces to the next crew member: “It’s up to you to save us all.”
Turns out it’s Murf. Janeway facepalms and says, “Oh no” before the ship explodes again.
Janeway finds herself with Dal, who is preoccupied with video games. Janeway stops him and explains the situation. He doesn’t feel he can actually make a warp matrix, and for some reason the vehicle replicator isn’t working.
Janeway points out that Dal has ingenuity that he needs to draw on, and he starts building a very DIY warp matrix. When he finishes he’s about to plug it into the drive but realizes he didn’t make a dilithium coupler. He looks forlorn but Janeway says he moved them forward because now they know they need a dilithium coupler. They can trust the others to finish what Dal started.
In the time where Gwyn is things are moving more slowly and she’s able to build the matrix but she can’t seem to find the right type of coupler. Then we see what the Diviner was doing with the vehicle replicator – replicating Drednok’s body so he could take over the ship.
Drednok is able to mimic Chakotay’s voice and he orders the computer to erase the Janeway holoprogram. Gwyn tries to fight him but she can’t beat him. She tells him the ship’s just going to explode, but he finds the right size coupler easily and goes to repair the drive. She asks if he’s going to leave her and just take the ship but he says that would be against the Diviner’s wishes: “You are his greatest mistake.”
Gwyn has a surge of defiance and won’t let him take the ship, choosing instead to blow him into space, but the warp matrix flies out into the vacuum with him. Not quite defeated, she records a log entry before the ship explodes.
It’s now down to Rok, who’s going to sleep by herself, wishing goodnight to everyone by name even though they’re not there. She reminisces about good times they had together when a message comes through from Gwyn: the log she recorded.
Gwyn apologizes to Rok for them making her security chief but says she has faith that she can save them. Rok starts to object, “I can’t” but Gwyn gets through to her.
Next we see Rok restoring Hologram Janeway from the memory banks, since Drednok hadn’t thought to delete all her core files. It’s clearly been a while. Rok has already built the matrix but needed to bring Janeway back because no one told her where it goes.
Finally she plugs it in and all is restored. Time for a group hug.
As the episode concludes we see the shell of Drednok on the floor, and one eye lights up.
Overall Captain Daphne and I really enjoyed these three episodes, but there are a few things that might not work for everyone. In “Kobayashi,” with the exception of Dr. Crusher, newly voiced by Gates McFadden, dialogue for the other three was built from clips from previous Treks. I personally loved this even though hardcore Trek fans can place where every line came from and it does take you out of the story briefly. To me it felt like a lovely tribute, but I did see some fans who found it in poor taste.
In addition, there was so much packed into every episode, including technobabble and Trek references that I hope they revisit some of the big Trek concepts like first contact protocols and the Prime Directive. Overall though, the episodes were exciting, funny and poignant. “Time Amok” was my favourite episode so far – good character development with heavy themes, done really well for a kid audience. It was all well-rendered but parts like the visit to the desert planet in “First Con-tact” were absolutely gorgeous.