Friday, March 18, 2022

Prodigy, Season 1: First Con-tact

Prodigy, Season 1
First Con-tact
Airdate: January 13, 2022

6 of 20 produced
6 of 20 aired


The Protostar comes across and old "friend" of Dal's, one who has a proposition for a business deal and a first contact with an unknown alien race.

Mmmmm.... Floor Pie.


Matthew's Thoughts

This episode has a lot going for it. It's a tale prominently featuring the Prime Directive, and offering a good illustration of why it's an important aspect of Federation culture and Starfleet policy. The kids, obviously not understanding it, don't grasp its import and are able to be manipulated by the Ferengi woman, Nandi. Janeway also gives them a good tongue-lashing after their screw-up. It's like this story has been written by someone who has actually watched Star Trek and taken the right lessons from it.

Then we also have the very alien non-humanoid culture of the Cymari - something Star Trek has gotten away from since, well, 2009, which gives me a nice "strange new worlds and civilizations" feel. This episode also fills in Dal's back story somewhat, showing us that he had been taken in by Nandi and then sold away by her to the Diviner's slave operation.

I do think the series has gone a bit too far with the "Dal lies or does something to outrage the crew" story beat - I can't help but thinking that they should rebel against his "authority" at some point. But the story wound up on a good point, with the kids restoring the crystals to the aliens. As far as animation, the aliens and their world were really well rendered. I liked the voice acting quite a bit too, with the main cast doing very well, and the guest star turning in a truly excellent performance. I'm somewhere between a 3 and a 4 on this one. It was an enjoyable story with a good serving of real Star Trek values. But I do think it's maybe one infraction too far for Dal as a captain. Since 3 is "solidly average" on our scale, I think that's where I've ended up.

Beth's Thoughts

There are several nice touches in this episode. 

First of all, the fact that Ferengi woman holds the title of DaiMon says that Rom and Moogie's reforms toward the end of DS9 seem to have stuck in Ferengi society. I think only a true Trek fan, one who knows the mythos, would pick up on that little nod to continuity. ...continuity sure is nice when it's followed... and not retconned... repeatedly. ((cough cough)) Moving on...

Secondly, I agree with Matthew on how this decidedly non-humanoid life form was depicted. This is the sort of rendering that lends itself extremely well to animation. Non-humanoid life forms are really difficult to show in a live-action setting because...well... all the actors are human. But technology limitations still make it difficult to insert CGI characters into a live action show, and have it be believable. This show is just so beautifully animated, and the Cymari really allow the show to shine there.

Third, the use of the Prime Directive - really clearly showing its meaning to the audience, and the consequences that ensue when it's not followed... this is a top tier depiction of it. Just extremely well done. We even get a good lecture from Hologram Janeway (despite the fact that the real Janeway occasionally played fast and loose with the Prime Directive), which helps shine a light on Kate Mulgrew's consierable voice talents.

With all this praise, there comes a "but..."

I also think the "Dal doesn't tell the truth to his friends, but they forgive him for it every time" trope is wearing a bit thin. When you consider that this is a crew of children, you'd think they'd eventually stop following his every whim. Yes, Dal is quick to action, but slow to consider. But most crews (or friends) would eventually tire of it. I would think that breaking point would be right about... last episode.

I'm wavering between a 3 and a 4 here. I think that the science fiction concept of the Cymari is really top notch, which certainly pushes this into above average territory. I think the depiction of their non-verbal communication is also really done well, and done in a way that seems very realistic for this type of life form. Adherence to actual continuity is refreshing, and as always, the animation and voice work is wonderful. Dal's impulsiveness is wearing thin... but not quite thin enough to drag down an episode of otherwise great quality. I'm going with a 4 for a total of 7.

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