Monday, March 28, 2022

Prodigy, Season 1 - Time Amok

Prodigy, Season 1
Time Amok
Airdate: January 20, 2022

7 of 20 produced

7 of 20 aired

When the Protostar is fractured in time by an anomaly, the viewers are left to wonder if this will be a retread of numerous Voyager time travel episodes from future days past.

"But have you tried reversing the polarity?"


Beth's Thoughts

I'm going to answer my own introductory question: surprisingly, no.

I was concerned that this episode would be a rehash of ST: VOY "Shattered" or "Relativity." However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It was distinct enough to stand on its own, and was honestly a really good story.
Of course time travel is a frequently used trope in Star Trek (whales, anyone?), so any time travel episode runs the risk of either being a retread of others, or even worse - in danger of being a way to "cleverly" retcon... everything. Again and again. Time travel can be the crutch of a lazy writer, à la "...but it was all a dream."

This ends of being a very well done version of the trope. There is some fantastic character development for Rok, who is in the point of time moving the most slowly, as the crew is all moving at different speeds through time. The MacGuffin is that they need to build a warp matrix to stabilize the fractures in time. Which... okay. Sure. That's why it's called a MacGuffin.

But in the end, the completion of the task falls upon Rok, who is emotionally very immature and doesn't perform well under pressure, because she has the same reaction to stress as a young child. Rok also happens to be chafing against the notion that she's the security officer, a role that she doesn't want. She succeeds and grows quite a lot actually, with her intellectual and emotional growth catching up to her physical size. She has now shown herself to be a fantastic engineer, and this will be her new role within the crew, and she has demonstrated those abilities by saving everyone on board from annihilation.

This ran the risk of being too similar to "Shattered," where Chakotay has to travel between fractured time frames in order to save Voyager. This manages to stand on its own though, because Rok isn't going from one time frame to another, and instead saving the ship from her own point in time.

The animation, again, is just beautiful. This is just a gorgeous show to watch, and I'm never let down on the visuals. The voice acting is phenomenal as well.

The only real negative point I can find of this episode is the continued immaturity and impulsiveness of Dal. It's getting old. He needs to either show some real growth as a leader, or have the rest of the crew reject the notion that he leads them all. Gwyn or Zero seem to be very natural and intelligent leaders, so why wouldn't they chafe against Dal's immaturity?

With the solid execution of this science fiction trope, time travel and MacGuffins together, and the wonderful character growth for Rok, I'm waffling between and 3 and 4. I think that due to Dal's continued immaturity, and the fact that it's become quite grating and distracting, I'll settle on a 3 here, which is still above average as far as I'm concerned. That's a 3 from me.

Matthew's Thoughts
I really liked this episode. I too was concerned that it would be a retread of "Shattered," but it actually presented a novel spin on the time anomaly episode, by playing with different speeds as opposed to different time periods. This is a more challenging and "rule based" route to take, as different time periods can just be arbitrarily chosen to suit the writers' whims.

With that said, I do have some story logic questions to ask. Accepting that people at different speeds won't see each other (I don't really know why the fast people wouldn't see statue-like crewmates from the slow periods) why can Janeway switch from time to time? How did Gwyn's log message get to Rok? Why do ship's systems work at all for Rok (such as the holodeck, or the replicators, or the log message) when gravity seems to act so slowly?

Ultimately, although I would have liked answers to these and similar questions, they are not the most important aspect of the episode in terms of enjoying it. The most important question is whether we learn about the characters and get a solid development story for them. Rok gets the best character growth, with Dal getting the second most. I think all of the characters would have benefited from having a 45 minute episode. This of course has been my criticism all along - clearly these writers are capable of telling good, deep Classic Star Trek stories, and they're being shoe-horned into a 22 minute format. We see some of Rok's solitude, I think longer scenes would have heightened the emotional impact. I agree with you, Beth, on Dal. They're making him too much of a punk, and he needs to get over that phase soon to preserve our credulity. But to be fair to him, he does grow in the scant screen time allotted him.

As far as score goes, 3 is exactly average. I think this above average, which is why I'm at a 4 for a total of 7. I think the novel concept was executed reasonably well in the time the episode allotted. I can wish for double the run time all I want (something I haven't wished for in Star Trek since 2005), but I still admire what this creative staff was able to cram into 22 minutes - it
makes more sense and achieves more character development than an entire 12-14 episode season of one of the live action shows. 
PS: "Time Amok" is a straight reversal of a classic TOS episode title, "Amok Time."

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