Friday, December 16, 2022

Prodigy, Season 1: Asylum

Prodigy, Season 1
Airdate: October 27, 2022

11 of 20 produced

11 of 20 aired


The crew of the Protostar tries to make contact with a Federation communications relay, leading to disastrous results.

Look. Can we just CANONIZE their love already??? ...please?

Matthew's Thoughts

I like the intro idea here, that relocating an endangered species would be a worthwhile and mission-consistent task to undertake. This would be enough of a story idea for a whole episode, really, but that's clearly not what this installment is about.

I also like that they are finding a piece of the Federation now, not a remnant, not a long lost thing, not a destroyed dystopian Federation - just the Federation. Showing us a comm relay station is the sort of thing that is consistent with established canon (I'm looking at you, TNG "Aquiel") but also expands things a bit with a great set and a fun character in Barniss Frex. Why did he have a provisional badge on his neck? Who knows.

Then we have scanning the crew, giving them information about themselves. Dal is given a tantalizing clue, that Starfleet Command knows what his species is but that this is classified information. Murph is a Mellanoid slime worm (a callback to Wesley's argument with the Zaldan officer in TNG "Coming of Age"), which will also come up later.

The highlight of the episode for me was watching the flashback Chakotay and Janeway christening the Protostar. Look, I am firmly in the  "1987-2004 is the golden age of Star Trek" camp. I have made my reasoning on this very clear over the past decade of blogging. So to have it come back like this, with the original voices, and to be tonally consistent witht he Trek I love (unlike, say, the grim, dystopian, ultraviolent Star Trek Picard), it really hits me in the feels. I haven't felt this way about new Star Trek in a long time, and Prodigy is the only show that has delivered this feeling to me.

Ultimately, this episode is sort of a plot maintenance episode. It advances the overall plot and character stories without a well developed story of its own. I don't hate this, because the show has moved between storytelling styles (self contained vs. overall plot) with aplomb. The ultimate disaster on the comm relay was reasonably exciting, with well executed action sequences.  So overall, I'm probably at a 3 on this. This is good, solid, nourishing Star Trek, though it doesn't really possess the ambition to tell a deep sci-fi story.

Beth's Thoughts

Thank goodness this show is finally back.

I find the opening scene to be a lovely little callback to Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales, errrr "The Voyage Home." Saving a large whale like thing because it's critical to an ecosystem... yep... and she's pregnant. Check! I don't necessarily agree with Matthew about it deserving its own episode, as there's already a nearly two hour long movie about it.

Lt. JG Barniss Frex sort of comes across as... Neelix, if he ran his own remote outpost. This is not a bad thing... as I really love anything that reminds of Voyager. Seriously. But he's actually Denobulan, and that's fine too. Doctor Phlox was one of my favorite parts of Enterprise.

One thing I'm in full agreement on with Matthew - the throwback scene with Chakotay and Janeway is wonderful. I want more of that actually - a lot more. Can we establish that they're a couple yet? Please? I know why Kate Mulgrew fought against this - as it's possible to be a strong female leader without having romance thrown in. But they teased it so much that it would be a nice payoff after all these years.

I need to continue to heap praise upon Jason Mantzoukas' voice work as Jankom Pog. I find his voice work to be delightful and just... joyful and manic - in all the best ways. He's really dynamic as a voice actor.

This is indeed a plot maintenance episode. That's not a bad thing, per se, as there was really such a long gap between the halves of the season that the viewers need to be reminded of what the heck was even going on before the never ending break. But they do need to do a decent amount of set up for the rest of the season, and they accomplish that here. I agree with the score of 3, as it's certainly not groundbreaking Star Trek, but certainly enjoyable and showing hints of what makes past Trek great. That brings us to a total of 6.

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