Releasing Star Trek: Prodigy in small waves is perhaps the next best thing to creating that serialised vibe past series are known for. The first five episodes set up the dynamics in a new crew of misfits who end up finding an experimental Federation starship–presumably abandoned in the Delta quadrant–and figuring out what to do with it. The hologram that helps them out is a simulacrum of Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) from Voyager. As far as artificial intelligence goes, she’s willing to ignore the fact they’re not cadets.
This series is Paramount’s answer to Star Wars: Rebels. We have Dal (Brett Gray), a 17-year-old renegade without parents. The first episode focuses on him escaping a prisoner’s life and finding the USS Protostar to hide out in. He is joined by Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), Zero (Angus Imrie), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) and Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), but five is not enough if they are to escape from the clutches of Diviner (John Noble). He is Gwyn’s father (Ella Purnell), the reluctant sixth member, and is a tyrant of the imprisonment colony of Tars Lamora. Sources say this character is modelled after Kahn from the movies, but I think there’s more of an Admiral Thrawn type personality behind him. He’s in search for that Federation ship. As for what he wants to do with it, that’s anybody’s guess until the next batch of episodes is out.
This series gives this franchise a much needed refresh that doesn’t have to depend on what defined this franchise’s longevity. Only Deep Space Nine dared to give the world a dark spin with its Dominion storyline, and this latest entry delves into a similar territory where we have an enigmatic threat whom we know little about. There’s been a handful of past episodes where we’ve seen civilizations steal from another for advanced tech, and in what the Federation has may well be a game changer. They’ve created something faster than warp drive.
As a tale set in the Delta Quadrant, much has changed. It feels more like an environment out of Star Wars. Past series made fans aware it’s the home to the Borg Collective, the Kazon, the Talaxians, the Ocampa, and the Hirogen. We haven’t met four of the five in an official threat capacity, but it’s safe to say we’ll see them in the future.
In the sector where this storyline takes place, Diviner is tired of his hold on a rock and wants to expand his own empire. But he can’t when considering the resources he has. While the first three episodes focuses on the new crew getting used to each other, the next two deal with the fracturing relationship Gwynala has with her father. He has some love for her, but it’s not enough. He calls her his Prodigy, but why? She’s a fighter, perhaps this series version of Sabine Wren, and after Diviner abandoned her in “Terror Firma,” the die is cast.
This cliffhanger has me eager for more. The fact it’s developed for younger audiences makes for a better tone and escapism that Discovery lacks. I gave up on that series midway through season two. Having kids in charge hasn’t been done for a long time, especially when recalling Star Trek: TNG’s episode “Rascals.” I’m sure more of this dynamic will become prominent as more episodes are due Jan 6th 2022.