There are show premieres, and then there are LAUNCHES.
With Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 1 and Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 2, the newest member of the Paramount+ Trek family has proven itself as a show that sets out to blow past all expectations with no regard for animation standards.
With its cinematic artistry, immersive score, and layered character development, this is NOT your parents’ weekly prime time cartoon.
The core of Trek has always been its characters. If they can get you to care about the players, they have you hooked.
Dal, a rapscallion font of eternal hope, anchors our core cast with energy, humor, and the ability to survive anything. That includes several falls from enormous heights wearing no armor or padding or protection of any sort.
He epitomizes the Kirk confidence without the training, the Riker energy without the knowledge, the Paris swagger without the experience. Considering his lack of any sort of skillset, that Dal has made it so long on his own is somewhat miraculous.
Gwyn: You tried to fly a Class-D loader into space. Really?
Dal: Truthfully, I didn’t think that far ahead. But I would’ve figured it out.
Of course, his unknown heritage is a significant element of his mystique. He is the Neo of Tars Lamora. Will discovering his origins, his species, maybe his homeworld unlock hereto unknown powers and abilities?
Gwyn, the highly schooled, tightly controlled, by-the-books heir of The Diviner, is the yin to his yang.
Groomed to take her father’s place, she shows some subtle defiance in her interactions with Drednok. Like Dal, she lives in a state of ignorance of the bigger plans in place for her.
He’s mildly intelligent, but his abilities are few. He talks a lot.
Her penchant towards mercy feels at odds with The Diviner’s totalitarianism. By some second miracle, her upbringing has not snuffed out her empathy for those over whom she will one day rule.
Perhaps that empathy survives because she also sees herself as a prisoner despite her privileges and status, a sentiment both she and Dal express.
I wonder at Drednok’s repeated use of the term “progeny” when referring to Gwyn. It could signal that she is a cloned offspring or the product of some other form of reproduction.
Speaking of Drednok, now THAT is a villain that makes no pretense of diplomacy.
Part General Grievous, part Starscream, with shades of Victor Zsasz’s sadistic enforcer spirit (without the charisma), Drednok is the spider you don’t want to lose sight of in your bedroom.
I assume that he was built, or at least designed, by The Diviner and programmed to serve with enough autonomy to strategize and give orders without direct management.
All that, plus the fact he looks like a jump-scare personified, makes for a powerful figure to inspire terror and obedience.
And yet, even this potentially stock antagonist has a shrouded backstory and hidden motivations. His rivalry with Gwyn is a seemingly unnecessary personality quirk, while his dislike of Dal feels like it’s rooted in something more profound.
There’s obviously much more to learn about Rok-Tahk, Jankom Pog, Zero, and Murf aboard the Protostar.
(Murf! Who’s with me in already jonesing for all the Murf merchandising? Seriously, just take my money.)
As the crew grows into their roles, I predict we’ll be privy to far more nuance than Rok’s youth, Jankom’s opposition, Zero’s pragmatism, and Murf’s awesomeness.
Dal: Who wants an engineer who argues all the time?
Pog: Uh, someone who values a counter opinion that may very well save your life. Go ahead, surround yourself with yes-trolls. See how far that gets you.
Finally, we have the Big Bad, The Diviner, a figure of enigmatic power, completely dominating the lives of his prisoners, yet unable to locate a ship that two kids with a laser drill uncovered through sheer chance.
Voiced by Denethor himself, John Noble, we only catch glimpses of The Diviner inside his chamber initially. He controls everything, sees everything, plans everything from within his fluid-filled throne tube.
Breaking out of that capsule is a good indication of the level of his rage at losing his ship. One would hope Gwyn being kidnapped might be part of that too.
All of the world-building we see here is The Diviner’s world, a world purposefully designed by the show’s creators, Dan and Kevin Hageman, to be the anti-thesis of the Federation and Starfleet.
Every moment Fugitive Zero stays at large gives the Unwanted hope. And hope has no purpose here.
By banning translators among the prisoners, The Diviner effectively uses the Tower of Babel strategy to pre-empt any unity or organization or even comfort among The Unwanted.
Fugitive Zero is not only dangerous to this status quo because they elude capture but because, as a telepath, they can communicate where no one else can.
It has yet to be revealed whether Zero’s telepathy trumps the Protostar’s universal translator in communicating with Murf. My guess is that Murf will remain adorably unintelligible, but that is only a guess.
Of course, as long as Murf continues to be able to activate the weapons array with his butt slime, who’s really going to complain?
Zero’s fixation on Dal among all the minds on Tars Lamora hints at Dal’s hero potential.
Zero: We’re all trapped here, just the same.
Dal: Not me, I’m getting out of here.
Zero: Everyone wants to escape, but you’re special. You’re the only one who still thinks he can.
Dal: Who are you?
Zero: Just someone curious, who needs a little hope.
While Dal brings his aforementioned resilience to the table, as well as his almost unreasonable optimism and uncharted chutzpah, he doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in his crew.
Dal: I’m not an engineer. That’s your job!
Rok-Tahk: What is your job?
Dal: I thought I was captain!
It’s bound to be interesting to see him grow into that captain’s chair with Hologram Janeway’s guidance.
How AMAZING was it to hear Kate Mulgrew reprise Janeway in the final moments of this first adventure?
And, of course, the reaction of the crew — individuals with absolutely no idea about Starfleet or the Federation — was precisely as you’d expect when confronted with a talking hologram.
Their complete unpreparedness for Janeway’s appearance might be a meta-echo of how awe-struck audiences might be by this first embarkation of the Protostar and Star Trek: Prodigy.
Be honest; were any of you ready for how sweeping the landscapes were, how rich the details in the mines or on the planet’s surface are?
Did you expect characters with such depth or humor or subtlety?
Could anyone have predicted the level of intrigue seeded in a single hour?
So many questions!
Beyond seeing how the crew learns and gels with each other, I want to know about their origins, how they ended up on Tars Lamora. Were they orphans or criminals, or both?
How will The Diviner and Drednok pursue them? Will they commandeer the Caitian ship?
Will the Caitian child left behind play a role in future developments?
Do the replicators still work on the Protostar? How long before Jankom tries to “fix” them?
What questions are bursting in your brain? Who do you want to know more about? Hit our comments with your thoughts and predictions!
Welcome to the family, Prodigy! May you live long and prosper.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.