Saturday, April 16, 2022

Prodigy, Season 1: A Moral Star, Part 1

Prodigy, Season 1
A Moral Star, Part 1
Airdate: January 27, 2022

8 of 20 produced

8 of 20 aired


The crew of the Protostar must make a difficult choice when the Diviner offers them the freedom of their fellow miners - in exchange for their ship.

"Are these lines slimming on me? They totally are, aren't they??"

Matthew's Thoughts

Going into it, I was concerned that this episode had so many writers (what seems like perhaps the whole writing staff). Frequently in Kurtzman Trek, this is the "too many cooks" situation in which the broth ends up being a wretched stew of offensive disappointment. Happily, my fears were allayed. There are solid individual scenes that set up the central conflict of the story, and the dilemma the crew faces. And these scenes were crystallized by my favorite thing from Classic Star Trek - the conference room scene. I love conference room scenes! I love when characters have differing viewpoints on a question, and then argue for them cogently. We learn about them as characters, but we also learn about a world in which words and ideas matter more than fisticuffs and firing phasers. Although, again, I don't really know why this crew follows Dal, especially after the last few episodes of mishaps, his decision is portrayed well. He is reluctant to go back because he spent his whole life wanting to escape the Diviner, and he is worried about losing his friends to them. Better still, the crew acknowledges that the Diviner is probably negotiating in bad faith, which is savvy and intelligent, and they begin to plan for that contingency.

After this setup, the action plays out well. I was legitimately moved by their desire to do good - the music cues and emotional beats as they warped back to the mining colony felt earned.  Do I love the uniforms? Well, they're better than some of the post 90s unis, but I'm still not sold on them. Nonetheless I like what they represent. Anyway, the emotional conflict as Gwyn returns to her father was well played, and does create some actual tension in the story, as we don't know for certain whether she will remain true to the crew. The moment when Holo-Janeway changes colors to match the Diviner is silly, but still a little chilling. And the switcheroo at the end, showing us that the crew wasn't actually caught unawares was effective and rousing. 

When it comes down to it, this is what the show should feel like. The pacing in this episode was almost exactly like a 45 minute teleplay, just with a cliffhanger in the middle. Scenes were given a chance to breathe, allowing them to create genuine emotion. I was totally involved both intellectually and emotionally, and I'm completely invested in finding out what happens next. I think this is a very solid, above average 4.

Beth's Thoughts

I don't even know where to begin with my praise of this episode - it's really good. It's tightly paced, each step within the storyline is logical, the voicework and musical cues continue to be top notch, and the animation is just "next level" good. When Gwyn's face is zoomed in on and the viewer can see her individual eyelashes, it's just striking how far computer animation has come. It's stunningly good (no phaser pun intended).

I agree with Matthew's notes on the uniforms. When they don them, I'm left thinking, "Why yet another uniform redesign?" Honestly, the constant changes in uniforms from series to series (and sometimes from movies to movies) has always bothered me to some extent.  "Bothered" might be too strong of a word... perhaps "perplexed" is the better adjective. I've never understood the need to constantly reinvent the wheel with the uniforms, and it really is never explained within the stories either (I'm speaking of Trek at large, not just Prodigy). But what they represent is something I can stand behind.

The character and plot lines are solid. Their decisions are within their established character profiles, and it becomes more and more clear how the crew has become a family unit and cohesive. I would temper Matthew's criticism of the crew's acceptance of Dal as captain at this stage, mostly because his decisions in this episode are quite the payoff for all his struggles in the previous episodes. To me, this demonstrates the growth and maturity he has gained from his past stumbles and struggles. It's like I tell my son: Our successes aren't what define us as people... its our failures and how we accept them, take ownership of them, and learn from them. This episode shows that Dal has learned from his mistakes. He may not be perfect, but he's becoming less impulsive and more mature.

If my only real criticisms of this episode are the uniforms and the choice to change Holo-Janeway's literal colors when her program is rewritten (as Matthew points out), those aren't going to tank an otherwise stellar installment. I agree with Matthew's 4, bringing us to a total of 8.

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