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Star Trek: Prodigy

The Year of Star Trek ends with a promising ‘Prodigy’ finale

"Supernova, Part 2" spends its first act quickly resolving the cliffhanger set up in part one before then moving into full coda/wrapup/setup mode for its second and third acts. This is definitely to the episode’s benefit, because in the process it ends up being the best and most satisfying episode of the season — not to mention demonstrating the most thematically resonant and relevant material that a kids’ Trek series of this type should be putting forward.

To make a short story shorter, the kids realize that to stop the weapon from destroying the entire fleet, they have to destroy the Protostar by destabilizing the engine core (resulting in the titular supernova). This would wipe out the entire star system and the present fleet, so they must move the ship far away at a fast enough speed to spread out the blast’s destruction and minimize it in any one location. This is the precise level of technobabble that a story like this needs — sensible and straightforward while making it about the characters’ choices.

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‘Prodigy’ unleashes catastrophe in penultimate episode

"Supernova, Part 1" ends on a Really Big Cliffhanger, and it’s at this point I begin musing whether the action-based scope of this show needlessly exceeds the thematic goals that should’ve been the real point of this season, which is to get these young misfits to into Federation space and Starfleet.

The season seems to be accomplishing that goal, yes, but in the meantime, it’s also doing one of those overly large "threat to the Federation" plots that have pervaded the Kurtzman era of Star Trek and become really tired over the past five years. And this time it will be kids coming to the rescue.

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‘Prodigy’ turns the holodeck into an escape room

After a hard day’s work running bridge simulations on the holodeck where they try to engage the Dauntless without infecting them with the Super Virus Weapon, the kids settle down for some relaxing ice-cream social time. But when it’s time to turn in for bed, strange things begin to happen, and our crew realizes they actually never left the holodeck. They’re stuck there for unknown reasons, until they can solve the computer’s puzzle by retrieving a mysterious skeleton key. The holodeck has become an escape room (which is not a bad high-concept pitch, to be honest).

After last week’s brisk journey through a series of fairly substantive backstories, "Ghost in the Machine" is unfortunately a pretty clear example of the pandering kiddie side of this series, which serves up episodic action sequences that have nothing to do with anything (or even each other) and exist mainly to fill screen time and cater to the assumed short attention span of our YouTube/TikTok-addicted youth. (Get off my lawn.)

Read the full review, as well as the delayed review for last week’s episode

‘Masquerade’: Insane neutral zone discoveries!

It’s at this point I have to wonder on what level I should be watching and reviewing this series — as an adult, or filtered purely through a kid’s mentality. Ideally, it should work on both levels (see much of The Mandalorian), but it’s becoming harder to take this seriously as Star Trek.

In the overly busy and superficial "Masquerade," the kids simultaneously flee Janeway’s Dauntless and the Romulan warbirds and arrive at Noble Isle, a city on a planet in the neutral zone where "cutting-edge" (i.e., unsanctioned) scientific experiments are conducted, and where the kids hope to obtain repairs to the ship — which, by the end, I don’t believe they ever actually get. The city provides a cool backdrop for the adventure, where our crew is greeted by Dr. Jago (Amy Hill), a scientist who scans Dal and tells him he is actually a genetically engineered being created from human DNA as well as that of 26 other species. It’s a crushing realization for Dal, who learns he has no parents and was created as an experiment in genetic augmentation by Dr. Arik Soong — although I’m not sure exactly how, since Arik Soong lived two centuries before Dal was born.

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‘Prodigy’: Worst. Communicators. Ever.

"Crossroads" is a wacky, fast-paced, entertaining mess, but ultimately too frustrating and contrived to recommend. It has our Starfleet wannabes deciding to shut down, abandon, and bury the Protostar under an avalanche of snow, so they can continue their mission to make contact with the Federation without infecting them with the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon that’s aboard the ship. They arrive at Denaxi Depot, a snowy Mos Eisley port featuring Xindi security guards, where they make contact with numerous shady characters, including a middle-aged, eye-patched Captain Okona, from the notoriously bad TNG episode, "The Outrageous Okona."

Meanwhile, Admiral Janeway and the Dauntless also arrive at this depot in their continued investigation into the missing starship and the vanished Captain Chakotay. (Coincidentally, Barniss Frex is also here.) The Diviner has already remembered his daughter’s name (but little else), and when Janeway’s crew runs into our wannabes, certain contrived misunderstandings prompt them to run rather than staying and explaining themselves.

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‘All the World’s a Stage,’ so play your role

Having put their quest to seek out Starfleet on pause because of the Unstoppable Super Virus Weapon, the Protostar crew embarks on a "planet of the week" adventure, answering the call from a world they discover is modeled on Starfleet — in particular, Kirk’s TOS-era Enterprise. These people, dubbed the "Enderprizians," invite their guests to a performance of a play, which documents a bevy of Starfleet procedurals.

At times reminiscent of Voyager‘s "Muse," where a meta play was produced to create a Star Trek story within the episode itself, "All the World’s a Stage" plays like the franchise’s ultimate self-homage, featuring people who imitate all the things they learned from an Enterprise ensign who was marooned there when he crashed on the planet more than a century earlier.

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‘Prodigy’ enrolls in Borg 101

After seeing a holodeck simulation of Gwyn’s restored memories, the young crew attempts to disable the sinister Trojan-horse-from-the-future weapon that the Diviner has integrated into the Protostar‘s system. They are unable to break its defenses, however. Coincidentally, the ship stumbles across a dormant Borg cube. Hologram Janeway warns the kids of the extreme danger of the Borg, but the kids think they may be able to use the Borg’s knowledge to figure out how to disable the weapon, so they board the Borg vessel and start poking around.

Attempting to tie these two storylines together is forced at best, and wrong-headed at worst. This is Prodigy‘s entry point into the Borg collective — which in theory makes sense since this is the Delta Quadrant — but this adventure plays out as one of the most ho-hum and tensionless encounters with the Borg to date, and even more so as executed on its rather naive, Nickelodeon-friendly level.

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‘Prodigy’ returns to make a first contact

A few weeks after their confrontation with the Diviner, and following the rescue of a sea creature in a way that attempts to avoid violating the Prime Directive, the young crew of the Protostar discover a Federation outpost — CR-721, the most remote station in the Delta Quadrant — and its sole occupant, Lt. Barniss Frex. (Why would Starfleet send this guy to be out here all by himself? Seems like a recipe for disaster.)

It marks the crew’s first official contact with the Federation, which knows a little something about all of them. The episode allows for some reasonably interesting discoveries, with bio-scans that reveal what species each of them is — except for Gwyn, who registers as "unknown," and Dal, who is mysteriously flagged as "Report to Starfleet Command." Meanwhile, Gwyn attempts to regain the memories she lost when Zero revealed himself to defeat the Diviner — including the crucial piece of information that she keeps hearing the Diviner tell her in her subconscious: "It is a weapon."

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Reviews: ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Season 1, Episodes 1-10

I finally was able to chip away and get reviews done for the first ten episodes of Prodigy’s first season, which is everything that has aired to date. We watch this with our kids, and they enjoy it. It’s their entry point into the Star Trek franchise. Maybe one day they’ll expand to watch some of the other shows.

So, it worked for kids under the age of 10. Did it work for an adult over the age of 45?

Read the reviews to find out…