Thursday, December 2, 2021

Prodigy, Season 1: Dream Catcher

Prodigy, Season 1
Dream Catcher
Airdate: November 11, 2021

3 of 20 produced
3 of 20 aired


The crew of the Protostar is tasked with following the Starfleet mission of exploring new worlds and seeking out new life - but with decidedly treacherous results.

Hey, look! We've found the golden arches! They really *are* in every market!

Beth's thoughts:

There is a lot to like about this episode. Not to beat a dead horse, but it is a STAR TREK episode. As a matter of fact, I can think of several episodes across several different series that this is reminiscent of (although refreshingly not identical). There's the original pilot for TOS "The Cage," where aliens are able to create vivid illusions within a person's mind, as well as The Menagerie, where Captain Pike is given refuge in these illusions, to allay his suffering. There's VOY "Bliss." Where the crew hallucinate their way out of the Delta Quadrant, but it's a trap to lure them into a "telepathic pitcher plant." There's VOY "Persistence of Vision," where Janeway experiences hallucinations inflicted upon her by the telepathic Botha. There's also VOY "Coda," where an alien takes the guide of Janeway's father in an attempt to harvest her neural energy (or something along those lines - but was definitely an entity trying to take Janeway's life).

I also thought (and maybe I'm reading too much into this) that it visits the trope of the crew of the Starship Voyager wandering into dangerous situations despite their primary mission being that they return home. Hologram Janeway still insists that her crew explore new worlds and seek out new life. Dal only relents because Hologram Janeway threatens to contact Starfleet. However, the crew is quickly overwhelmed by their greatest desires coming to life around them.

The rough landing of the ship provided some good chuckles, as well as Dal's confusion over the term "M-Class." One missing bit of continuity - no blue alert for the landing procedure (as shown in VOY "The 37s"). But also... I've been thinking, have they shown the use of transporters yet? Why not just transport down to the surface?

The drama is developed well with Gwyn successfully escaping the brig - although I might nitpick that her escape seemed far to easily executed. Why didn't Gwyn try to escape sooner, if her telekinetic bracelet sword thing was that powerful? Once free, she immediately tries to leave with the Protostar and leave behind Dal, Zero, Jankom Pog, and Rok behind. There is some good character development here. Gwyn desires her father's love, Dal wants to see his parents (whom he's never seen before), Rok wants to be immediately liked and not feared. Finally, when Gwyn is trying to escape the ship, she risks herself to save Murf - which proves there is goodness in her.

What really stands out though is that there is a really good sci-fi concept at the core of this episode. A planet that is really a macro-organism. The twist is that the planet is not a "good" sentient being - but rather one that wants to keep the humanoids on the planet using any means necessary. This forces the whole crew to work together to try to escape the clutches of the planet.

This is another visually amazing episode. The fake Janeway turns really menacing in a way that is truly disturbing.

I would easily grant this episode a 4. It has a solid sci-fi concept, while providing wonderful character development and visuals.

Matthew: Yeah, the "wish granting monster" trope is a well-explored one in both Star Trek and science fiction generally. I also immediately thought of the past episodes in which variations of this story has occurred. I have absolutely no problems with it for a few reasons.

Firstly, it allows us to see our characters' desires, hopes, and fears. This puts us in their heads and allows us to empathize with them, rot for or against them, and so on. I really liked Rok's interior life, for instance. She wants friends, something that it very easy to identify with. I liked that Jankom Pog is sybaritic, and his desires center on gratifying his impulses. Zero was interesting, too, in that she (?) seeks mental stimulation. So this episode succeeded on that level.

Secondly, tropes are tropes for a reason. They work. Are we really going to ding an episode or movie every time it echoes or recalls something that's been told already? At least these are new characters in new situations. Much worse would be a lazy, pointless reboot of old characters that completely misses the point and the appeal of said characters. But I digress...

Thirdly, I LIKE STAR TREK. You're not going to make me mad by making something that recalls past Star Trek. Is it the most staggeringly original? No. But it's ACTUALLY STAR TREK. I would say that the most original Trek-style stories currently being produced are on The Orville. But finally, for once at least, an actual Star Trek story has been produced by t he current regime of simpletons at Paramount. So I'm not going to look this gift horse over with too much scrutiny.

I agree that the visual design of the planet was nicely achieved. The music also served the tension of the story well. All in all, a cracking effort. We will see how the story gets resolved - too often these sorts of tales rely on the superhuman willpower of the captain or whoever (see also: TOS This Side of Paradise, Star Trek V, Star Trek Generations), but we'll get there when we get there. Overall I agree with the 4 for a total of 8.

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