Review: Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 18 “Mindwalk”
“Mindwalk” presents Star Trek: Prodigy’s funniest episode yet, even though it comes at the cost of some eyebrow-raising science to tell its story.
After the Living Construct sabotaged Hologram Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and allowed the Dauntless time to catch up to the Protostar, our young heroes need to escape the larger ship without accidentally infecting the Starfleet vessel. It’s a near-impossible task, especially since the Living Construct still controls the Protostar until Zero (Angus Imrie) realizes they can combine their telepathic abilities with Dal’s (Brett Gray) dormant telepathic genes to contact Vice Admiral Janeway’s (Kate Mulgrew) pursuing ship. The experiment is successful, although not in the way Dal or Zero originally planned: it turns out the young captain and Janeway switched bodies! Yes, it’s one of those wonky science episodes, folks. Strap yourselves in.
Let’s get this out of the way. The science in the episode is distractingly wobbly, even for Star Trek. In our eyes, “Mindwalk” presents some “Spock’s Brain” or “Threshold” — levels of dubiousness to tell its story. If you can cast this unbelievable science aside – which we realize is strange advice for a science-fiction show – you’re in to enjoy quite the whimsical episode.
Dal, in Janeway’s body, wakes up in a closet. Remember, the Diviner (John Noble), along with his partners in crime, knocked Janeway unconscious when she walked in on the evil trio in “Masquerade.” Finding himself thrust into the experienced captain’s role, Dal needs to keep the Dauntless from capturing or otherwise communicating with the Protostar – but he also doesn’t want to lose his ship and friends if the Dauntless were to abort its pursuit. His efforts at walking this fine line are stymied thanks to the Starfleet crew determining Janeway must be ill in some way and sending her to sickbay. While in sickbay, Janeway comes face-to-face with the Diviner, who actually allows her to escape as repayment for her helping find Gwyn.
Being transferred to Dal’s body is quite a surprise for Janeway, as, after all, the vice admiral has been pursuing these kids for quite a while. And while it can be easy for the audience to get confused about who is in whose body, we want to praise Kate Mulgrew and Brett Gray for this episode; the two voice actors shine as they inhabit the other person’s body. Mulgrew personifies Gray’s vocal style and personality perfectly, and vice versa, which results in laugh-out-loud moments as the Dauntless crew is perplexed by their captain’s sudden strange behavior.
On the Protostar, Janeway, in Dal’s body, learns of the crew’s plight regarding the Living Construct, and they ultimately determine the best way to reverse the body swap is to have the two swappers physically contact each other. This was, after all, the way the swap occurred in the first place thanks to a phaser beam between the Protostar and the Dauntless. To accomplish this contact, the crew visually communicates with Dal via an energetic game of charades and expresses that he needs to venture outside the ship and float closer to the Protostar while within the ship’s shared warp bubble.
Dal suits up to launch himself away from the Dauntless, while Janeway enlists the elastic Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) to stretch her across the gap between the two ships. When the Dauntless starts to tractor Janeway back to the larger ship, a quick-thinking Janeway (in Dal’s body) determines a low-powered phaser blast is sufficient to connect the two entities and swap bodies again. This works because of… you know science!, and Dal is returned to the Protostar while Janeway is back on the Dauntless.
Not all is said and done, however, as the Protostar is stopped in space thanks to a Federation blockade organized by the Dauntless crew. This is quite the exciting moment (are we getting some fleet action in the next episode?), and we have to wonder how the Protostar escapes both the Dauntless and this massive fleet of 24th-century Federation vessels. But that’ll be a problem for the two-part season finale.
“They told me what you did. I’d be hard on you, but I already know how hard you are on yourself.”
“After what I did, Dal, deactivating felt like the easy way out.”– Janeway, in Dal’s body, and Holo-Janeway.
It’s easy to label this episode as weak thanks to its ludicrous science, but that would be a disservice to some noteworthy character-building moments hidden within the dodgy plot. For example, the two Janeways talking face to face, a scene which, smartly, removes Dal’s character model in exchange for Janeway’s, was a long time in the making. In addition to some remarkable self-reflection for Holo-Janeway, the vice admiral uses her Starfleet clearance to remove the memory block on Hologram Janeway, which allows her to remember what happened to Chakotay and the rest of the Protostar’s original crew. Although how either the real Janeway or the Holo-Janeway can use that knowledge remains to be seen.
Taken together, “Mindwalk” is dumb fun, and offers more chuckles than most other quirky Star Trek episodes. It also serves as Brett Gray’s and Kate Mulgrew’s best-acted episode yet, and it’s really their performances that prop this episode away from total ridicule. Plot wonkiness aside, this episode does have serious implications for the season finale. The Federation has blockaded the Protostar, so is this journey’s end for our crew, or will the Living Construct accomplish its mission and complicate matters for our heroes and the Federation fleet? And what will happen to Dal if his friends do make it into Starfleet? After all, Janeway advised Gwyn that because Dal is an augment, he would never be allowed to serve. We certainly hope there’s a happier ending in store for Dal.
- Neural patterns traveling between people via a phaser blast? That sounds almost as ridiculous as Janeway and Tom Paris being turned into salamanders (and then, more ridiculously, back again). Speaking of which…
- It’s been a long time coming that Star Trek self-depreciatingly references how ridiculous the events of “Threshold” were, so we were quite pleased when Janeway mocked her transformation in this episode.
- Even if the two ships are as close to each other as the Protostar and the Dauntless are in this episode, we highly doubt they are close enough so that two parties could play a game of charades.
- Why is the Diviner allowed to watch over Janeway in sickbay alone?
- How was Dal, inhabiting Janeway’s body, able to sneak his way to an airlock, suit up, and exit the ship without anyone stopping him?
- Just how far can Murf stretch?
- We see Sovereign-class, Akira-class, and Centaur-class ships welcoming the Protostar. The Centaur-class is rare in Star Trek, only being seen in a few Deep Space Nine episodes. A Centaur-class ship is also at the center of the upcoming Star Trek: Resurgence video game.
Star Trek: Prodigy streams on Paramount+ and stars Kate Mulgrew (Admiral Janeway/Hologram Janeway), Brett Gray (Dal), Rylee Alazraqui (Rok-Tahk), Angus Imrie (Zero), Ella Purnell (Gwyn), Jason Mantzoukas (Jankom Pog), Dee Bradley Baker (Murf), along with Billy Campbell (Captain Okona) and Robert Beltran (Chakotay).
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