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Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, Episodes 1–3 Review: It’s good to be back

Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, Episodes 1–3 Review: It's good to be back
Credit: CBS Studios/Netflix

Review: Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, Episodes 1–3

Star Trek: Prodigy season two has now graced the screens of U.S. watchers, and the wait – at least based on the first three episodes – was worth it. The kids-oriented animated show from creators Dan and Kevin Hageman captures the beauty, charm, and engagement that blessed the first season. Here’s what you can expect from the first three episodes.

It’s Time for a New Adventure

Six months after saving the Federation in the incredible season one finale, our young heroes are aiming to enroll in Starfleet Academy. They get their first taste of adventure when Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) calls upon them for a special mission. Welcoming them to the beautiful Voyager-A is the Doctor (Robert Picardo, reprising his role from all seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager), but Dal (Brett Gray), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), Zero (Angus Imrie), and Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) quickly get the sense the admiral and her senior staff are hiding something. Whereas Janeway asserts their mission is to study the temporal wormhole formed after the destruction of the Protostar last season, there’s certainly more to it than that.

Credit: CBS Studios/Netflix

If you don’t remember the season one finale that well, you may be wondering where Gwyn (Ella Purnell) is. As we expected, “Into the Breach, Part I” doesn’t shy away from reiterating for its audience the complex situation involving Gwyn’s species, the Vau N’Akat, inhabitants of the ill-fated planet Solum, which, 50 years in the future, will be subjected to a brutal civil war after first contact with the Federation. Gwyn is on a mission to prevent that war from happening, so she’s in a shuttle heading for Solum, which in the present day doesn’t even know extraterrestrials exist. There’s no way that mission can go wrong, right?

Aboard the Voyager-A, Dal and his friends discover Janeway’s true mission at the wormhole: Fly a temporally shielded, extra-chonky shuttle called Infinity through the wormhole to rescue Captain Chakotay (Robert Beltran). And if you don’t remember his situation from season one, “Into the Breach, Part II” has you covered. Basically, Janeway wants to get her first officer and friend back from the clutches of the Vau N’Akat 50 years in the future.

In the season’s second episode, Gwyn does indeed reach Solum and attempts first contact, but quickly finds a cold welcome. To our hero’s surprise, Asencia (Jameela Jamil), the person who was sent from future Solum to help search for the Protostar, has already reached Solum and prepared her people for Gwyn’s arrival; she asserts Gwyn is a spy and a traitor to the Vau N’Akat. (At this point, maybe just watch the last few episodes of season one to refamiliarize yourself properly with all the time-travel shenanigans.)

Credit: CBS Studios/Netflix

Asencia, using her younger self as proof, shows Solum’s elders she is truly Vau N’Akat, whereas Gwyn is just a Federation lackey. Luckily (and we mean really luckily), Gwyn escapes Asencia’s trap long enough to stumble upon the Vau N’Akat formerly known to us as The Diviner, Ilthuran (John Noble), who is simply a humble astronomer in this time. Oh, and he’s Gwyn’s dad, don’t forget – although for him, Gwyn hasn’t been born yet.

It’s pretty shocking for a person who doesn’t know aliens exist to find his extraterrestrial, not-born-yet daughter on his doorstep, but Ilthuran is joyed at the occasion and promises to help Gwyn prove to the Solum elders that she is telling the truth about her origin. This idealistic version of John Noble’s character is quite different from the villain we knew in season one, and to his credit, Noble makes the shift entirely convincingly. Similarly, Jimmi Simpson returns to Prodigy as Lorekeeper, a robot that helps Ilthuran keep track of Vau N’Akat’s knowledge. It’s the Lorekeeper who helps Gwyn realize there’s a way to convince Solum’s leadership of her origins.

As seen in “Who Saves the Saviors,” the disagreement between Gwyn and Asencia can be resolved (in quintessential Star Trek fashion) by a Vau N’Akat ritual, the Va’Lu’Rah, the victor of which will prove themselves as legitimately Vau N’Akat. After a few minutes of fancy fisticuffs in the depths of a treasured place in Vau N’Akat culture, Gwyn seems to be on the edge of victory until she starts to become displaced in time, no thanks to the adventures her friends are having after encountering the temporal wormhole.

“Jefferies Tubes only lead to trouble.”

– Rok, who must have seen every Star Trek episode, as Dal tries to sneak near the bridge to ascertain Janeway’s secret plan.

And just how are Dal and his friends causing temporal shenanigans? After arriving in the Voyager-A at the temporal wormhole, our heroes accidentally find themselves and their new rival, Nova Squad’s resident Vulcan Maj’el (Michaela Dietz), on a one-way shuttle to post-Civil War Solum. And yes, it’s that Nova Squad of The Next Generation and Lower Decks fame

By going through the wormhole earlier than Janeway planned, Dal et al. are placing the entire timeline at risk. Why? If Chakotay doesn’t send the Protostar, which contains the destructive Construct, back through time to abandon the ship on Tars Lamora, Dal and his friends would never find the ship and have their first-season adventures. The Federation could succumb to the Construct, Gwyn would never have been born, the Protostar crew would never band together, and the timeline would unravel and doom everyone. Got it? Kudos to your kids if they can keep up with this intriguing and complex plot.

“His sacrifice changed our lives.”

“He changed mine, too. And that’s why we have to save him.”

– Zero and Janeway about Chakotay.

By crash-landing on the Solum of the future, our heroes first assume they must stay out of Chakotay’s way, lest the captain not escape Solum, but they soon realize their presence must be the factor that aids the escape of Chakotay and his first officer, Adree-Hu (Tommie Earl Jenkins) since all these people soon find themselves sharing the same prison cell. Just as it appears their prison break is going to plan, our young heroes realize their involvement has altered the timeline, as Chakotay and Adree-Hu end up being on the Protostar as it escapes back in time from Solum, which wasn’t supposed to happen.

“Who Saves the Saviors” ends with Dal, Jankom, Zero, and Maj’el trapped on the post-Civil War Solum, while the Protostar zips its way to a time it’s not supposed to be in. Gwyn, meanwhile, seems trapped in the dark depths of present-day Solum, her temporal nature in flux considering the actions of her friends, and Asencia is in a position to ensure no outsiders ever come to Solum. Oh, and Janeway and the crew of the Voyager-A are facing off against an unknown presence at the mouth of the wormhole, a presence that warned the admiral against going through the tunnel. Did we leave that out?

A Kids Show for Everyone

It’s a bit to swallow, isn’t it, and tracks with what we know of Prodigy’s penchant for surprisingly complex science-fiction storytelling despite being aimed at kids. That’s the thing we like best about this show: It doesn’t talk down to its intended audience, and indeed adults will find Prodigy perfectly entertaining – perhaps even more so than Prodigy’s sister shows.

This show’s reputation for being a feast for the eyes hasn’t diminished, either, as locations like the Voyager-A, current-day and future Solum, the pit where Gwyn and Asencia fight and the temporal wormhole look as gorgeous as we’d expect. Find a “kids” show that looks this good, we dare you.

On the character front, we expect to see some interesting developments based on what’s in the first three episodes. A conversation between Gwyn and Dal before everything goes to hell hints at furthering their young, awkward romance, but much will need to happen to have these characters reunite across space and time.

Credit: CBS Studios/Netflix

“To touch, taste, smell, love… with your Medusan physiology, you may never experience these things the way humanoids do. In my experience, we all have an opportunity to grow beyond our programming.”

– The Doctor, to Zero.

Zero, a non-corporeal entity trapped in an environmental suit, is as wanting of physical connection as ever, as shown in the Medusan’s observation of Starfleet Academy students. It’s appropriate, then, that Prodigy’s writers were able to sneak in a small interaction between Zero and the Doctor, the latter of whom was able to relate about lacking physical intimacy (although really, Voyager was pretty spotty on that front… sometimes the Doctor could phase through objects, sometimes not. The show never picked a lane).

Rok-Tahk, lovable as ever, is thrilled to attend Starfleet Academy, and seemed to quickly make a name for herself before embarking on Janeway’s special mission; she created a method for stopping Tribble reproduction (Klingons would be ecstatic!) In the season premiere, it’s touching to see her finally find someplace she feels she belongs, after searching for her sense of self in season one. We don’t see much of her and security-officer-in-training Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), as they are left behind when Dal and company accidentally take the Infinity into the future, but we’re sure that pair will cross paths with their friends soon enough.

For his part, Jankom is trying to make some major self-improvement to his personality. Instead of being hot-tempered or rude to people, he is practicing being a nicer person, all the better to fit in with his academy training. To his credit, the Tellarite is more successful than not, but slips into good ole’ Jankom do appear, to some comedic effect.

The most prominent character spotlight comes via Gwyn, as we get the strongest look yet at Vau N’Akat culture both before and after its disastrous Civil War. Remember, Gwyn didn’t grow up on Solum, and indeed never saw the world before making first contact. Her culture presents strong ritualistic vibes, their remarkably detailed architecture and fashion sense strongly invoking the heirlooms Vau N’Akat holds so sacred. Good on Prodigy’s production team for crafting such a convincing presentation of Vau N’Akat culture. This show’s production values are spectacular.

We’re so happy to have Prodigy back. This show proves itself as something its recent live-action brethren generally aren’t: colorful, frequently chuckle-worthy (like Jankom with his bird puns), charming as hell, and liable to expose your inner child and pull at your heartstrings, especially if you’re a long-time Star Trek fan. We’ll never understand why CBS canceled this show, but thanks to Netflix for pulling through for fans. Now, let’s binge a few more episodes, shall we?

Stray Thoughts:

  • The first time we see Rok, she is lecturing about a certain Lt. Larkin and his experience with Tribbles, which is undoubtedly a reference to the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “The Trouble with Edward” and its titular character, Edward Larkin, played by H. Jon Benjamin.

  • Gotta love the hit of French horns (reminiscent of Voyager’s theme music) when we see the shuttle from the Voyager-A pick up the kids, and then when we see the ship itself.

  • The Doctor gets a stab at the classic “I’m a doctor, not a…” Star Trek line when he says, “I’m a doctor, but a butler” to the kids as they toss him their luggage.

  • The Lamarr-class Voyager-A is such a sleek, striking design. It has elements from the Protostar-class, the Sovereign-class, Intrepid-class, and perhaps even a tinge of Odyssey-class.

  • The Doctor mentions how the original Voyager is now a museum piece. The hectic journey of that ship to the museum is seen in Lower Decks’ “Twovix.”
  • The Doctor notes how Starfleet is currently preoccupied with the Romulan evacuation – the same one that is a catalyst for the events of Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek (2009).

  • It appears the Voyager-A allows turbolift entry directly into one of its holodecks, which isn’t something we’ve seen on a Federation starship. Voyager-A also contains Cetacean Ops, a department aboard many Federation starships but only seen in Lower Decks (and referenced in The Next Generation).

  • What are the chances Murf and Rok stumble upon Dal, Jankom, and Zero as they are trying to enter the unrestricted and mysterious shuttle bay three?

  • Why was Gwyn’s shuttle and its resident Starfleet officer so close to Solum’s surface during Gwyn’s attempt at first contact? The shuttle was within eyesight when Gwyn saw it destroyed. Having an alien ship easily visible to a planet’s populace is not a good recipe for first contact.
  • Why exactly did the Protostar’s black box contain footage of Chakotay’s escape not possibly captured by cameras on the ship?

  • Maj’el could have used Discovery’s instant-transporters during her much-delayed walk to shuttle bay three, yeah?

  • What are the chances Dal pokes the cloaked Infinity in exactly the spot that opens its doors?
  • Maj’el places Dal and company under arrest under Starfleet Regulation 7, Paragraph 4, which was previously mentioned in TOS’ “The Omega Glory” and specifies, “An officer must consider themselves under arrest unless in the presence of the most senior fellow officers presently available, the officers must give a satisfactory answer to those charges.” No, we don’t have that memorized… tip of the hat to Memory Alpha.

  • How would Maj’el know about Gwyn and her burgeoning romantic interest in Dal?

  • Maj’el notes of a couple time paradoxes in Starfleet history, including the Bell Riots (as seen in Deep Space Nine’s two-parter “Past Tense”) and Zefram Cochrane’s warp tests, as seen in Star Trek: First Contact. Interestingly, the subtitles for “Who Saves the Saviors” leaves off the “e” in Cochrane’s name.

The Star Trek: Prodigy voice cast includes Kate Mulgrew (Hologram Kathryn Janeway), Brett Gray (Dal), Ella Purnell (Gwyn), Rylee Alazraqui (Rok-Tahk), Angus Imrie (Zero), Jason Mantzoukas (Jankom Pog), Dee Bradley Baker (Murf), John Noble (The Diviner) and Jimmi Simpson (Drednok) in addition to recurring voice cast members: Robert Beltran (Captain Chakotay), Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Jason Alexander (Doctor Noum), Daveed Diggs (Commander Tysess), Jameela Jamil (Ensign Asencia), Ronny Cox (Admiral Jellico) and Michaela Dietz (Maj’el). 


Stay tuned to TrekNews.net for all the latest news on Star Trek: Prodigy, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and more.

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Written By

Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan, and isn't ashamed to admit that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis are his favorite Star Trek movies. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @khady93.

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