By the end of Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 3, I was pretty sure Dal would be facing a mutiny. I think the only thing saving his butt from the brig may be the fact his crew doesn’t know that it’s an option.
Setting aside Dal’s frustrating refusal to accept the protection and support we know Starfleet and the Federation might be able to provide, this first Protostar adventure has a lot of layers to unpack.
There’s a lot to think about, from Rok-Tahk’s obvious trauma from her experientially impoverished childhood to The Diviner’s insane ship to the questionable physics behind the Protostar’s salvation.
In many ways, this was the exposition for Starfleet, the Federation, and the Protostar that they couldn’t fit into the Star Trek: Prodigy premiere.
Not for most of the audience — assuming that the majority of viewers are already Trek fans or the children of Trek fans — but for our motley crew of heroes who have lived their lives in the Delta Quadrant, far from Federation space.
Janeway: The United Federation of Planets. An interstellar union of different worlds and species with shared principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality.
Rok-Tahk: E-quality? That sounds nice.
Hologram Janeway is a pretty awesome representative to give them the overview for Starfleet. She’s concise, descriptive, and uses lots of visuals.
It’s also convenient that she and the Protostar are pretty capable of keeping things running and crew members alive as long as they aren’t being commanded into the heart of collapsing stars.
If there’s one complete character development arc here, it’s Dal overcoming his knee-jerk rejection to Janeway’s offer of guidance.
Yeah, Janeway sings a nice song, but I can tell you from experience, people in authority lie. They try to sell you the good life, but it’s a good life for them, not us.
In keeping with the impulsive nature established in the premiere, Dal chooses a destination purely based on the fact that it’s red and shiny.
One might wonder if that moth-to-flame instinct is part of his species’ genetics or if it’s just that it’s a tendency that hasn’t gotten him killed. Yet.
Of course, this is his first impulsive action while in command of a starship. That amps up the danger potential significantly.
There are a few plot issues in the setup of this scenario.
Hologram Janeway accepts that Dal is the captain not because anyone supports his claim but because no one (except Gwyn, who is not trusted by the others) disputes it.
Her suggestion that the crew is a group of cadets provides them with a plausible explanation for their ignorance of protocol or procedure or even basic operations.
However, it’s doubtful that the program could have concluded that they’re cadets.
I would have suggested an exchange program. Maybe.
While Murf remains the star species of unknown anything, Rok-Tahk reveals a lot about herself through her reactions and interactions.
It’s a real shot to the heart when she chooses to replicate the slop they were fed in the mines because it’s the only food she’s ever had.
Pog: Nutri-goop? That slop they fed us back in the mines? Why?
Rok-Tahk: It’s… the only food I’ve ever had.
Janeway: I appreciate a gal who knows what she likes.
(Actually, it’s also a sad callback to Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 Episode 8 and Tendi discovering pesto.)
Her confrontation with Gwyn reveals that Gwyn probably accepted many things she was told about The Unwanted because it was easier than actually finding out the truth.
Rok-Tahk: For so many years, you watched them take us. How they treated us. What didn’t you stop them?
Gwyn: My father told me… I thought you were criminals.
Rok-Tahk: We’re not criminals. The only crime we ever committed was getting caught.
In addition, despite Gwyn’s ability to speak multiple languages, it doesn’t seem like she is familiar with Rok-Tahk’s mother tongue.
Which begs the question: Why is the Protostar’s universal translator able to decipher Rok’s speech but not Murf’s?
I mean, the tech on the Cerritos can translate beluga speech. Surely, Murf’s isn’t that far off? And the Protostar definitely appears more advanced than the California-class ships, hmm?
Back to the backstory baggage of the Protostar crew, I have SO MANY questions.
We know that The Diviner traded ore for Unwanted harvested from orphan and criminal populations throughout the quadrant (and probably beyond), but how were they trained for the mines if no one on Tars Lamora speaks the same language?
Gwyn makes a big deal with the Kazon slave trader about the young age of the Caitian child he brings to her, but how old was Rok-Tahk when she was enslaved if she has no memory of any food but the nutri-goop?
When was Dal taken into the mines, if he remembers seeing the Window of Dreams (a pulsar cluster mentioned on Star Trek: Voyager Season 7 Episode 7, YAY for canon-buffs)?
Just how old IS Jankom Pog? Is he an adolescent or youth in Tellurite terms? Or just a particularly rude and obstinate one?
Pog: Ugh. She’s hideous. Why is her forehead so smooth?
Janeway: You’re no summer peach either, Tellurite.
Pog: Hahahaha! Jankom Pog likes her!
Does Zero have a measurable age?
And is Gwyn truly capable of breaking away from The Diviner’s influence and training? Was there ever another parent figure in the picture? Has her experience in studying other cultures ever made her yearn for a different life for herself?
While there’s a lot of techno-babble spewed in the crisis of escaping the gravitational well, it occurs to me that the luck of surviving that event (which was almost an event horizon) was probably more pertinent than the ship’s capabilities.
What do we know for sure? A completely inexperienced, untrained crew is flying the Protostar.
Not only that, but Dal ejected all the escape pods in his misguided barrage of commands, effectively eliminating all their safety nets.
Dal has a way with words. Listen to them at your own peril.
So, while they do have Hologram Janeway and, potentially, a self-repairing ship, it’s survivors’ luck that’s keeping them flying.
It remains to be seen if Dal’s unexplored previous experience with interstellar organizations will continue to impede his willingness to open himself up to guidance and advice.
Janeway: I must caution you. That little red dot represents a…
Dal: Just tell us how to get there, holo-nanny.
Meanwhile, I have a little more confidence in Pog and Zero (and Murf!) figuring out how to keep them from crashing.
What are your thoughts, readers? Are you signing on for this adventure?
What are your guesses on Murf’s species? (On Twitter, I went with Mirror Universe Armus, which seems to have some social media support.)
For some insight on Dal, Gwyn, and Rok’s characters, check out the press roundtable with voice actors Brett Gray, Ella Purnell, and Rylee Alazraqui.
Beam down to our comments for your biggest hits and misses so far!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.