“A Moral Star, Part 1”
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 9 – Debuted Thursday, January 27, 2022
Written by Kevin & Dan Hageman, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Lisa Schultz Boyd, Nikhil S. Jayaram, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Chad Quandt, and Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Ben Hibon
The initial entry in the two-part mid-season finale is a finely-tuned character-focused adventure which expertly weaves in elements that have been building all season long, with the only downside being the weeklong wait for part 2.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“You are not in this alone”
As the Protostar crew hangs out recalling the time-twisting events of the previous episode, they stumble upon a recording embedded in what’s left over from Dred 2’s broken robot body. Their revelry is rudely interrupted by an ultimatum: The Diviner gives them one day to return the USS Protostar or he will kill all the “unwanted” miners. What a &*#!… sorry “monster,” as Rok sums up. Assembled in the ship’s conference room TNG-style, they debate their two options… protowarp to the Federation with the vague hope Starfleet can help in time, or head back to Tars Lamora to try (somehow) to save their former enslaved compatriots. Janeway makes it clear, the choice is Dal’s, and Gwyn drives home the point: He wanted to be in charge, now he has to make the tough call. But the kid captain has learned from his mistakes; he is not willing to dive into what looks like a no-win scenario with one of his “half-baked” plans and risk losing his friends and everything they’ve fought for.
With a “catboots” callback to the series premiere, Gwyn gets Dal on #TeamSaveEveryone by reminding him that the crew he is worrying about is actually his strength. Cue the montage as the friends hatch a (hopefully fully baked) plan which involves jet packs, phasers, blueprints, Murf… and lots of coffee. Janeway is really rubbing off on these guys. With this buzz of activity, Dal reflects on how far he and they have come since escaping Tars Lamora and realizes it’s time to put away the last trappings of that past. And it just so happens there is a shiny new Starfleet uniform that fits him perfectly in his quarters, and the rest of the crew follow suit. Janeway beams with pride as she looks at this newly minted, fully uniformed crew and upgrades her outfit to match, along with giving them one more Starfleet pep talk. Now in full serious captain mode, Dal starts issuing orders like a pro and soon enough it’s time to “engage the protodrive” and “go fast”… okay, he’s still got a bit of kid in him.
“No turning back now”
Once back at Tars Lamora, the ship gets towed in by the Rev-12 as the miserable miners, including that adorable Caitian kitten, look on with a new spark of hope. Dal assures himself and the team they all “know what to do,”—with their final prep involving the cargo transporter and Murf playing “dress-up”—and they disembark to face the Diviner and his ominous henchman Drednok. The worst dad ever sneers at the new uniforms, but a defiant Gwyn channels her inner Picard to proudly clap back about “a commitment to strive for a better future.” Riled up, The Diviner changes the deal because of course he does… so he wants his daughter back too. Determined to make up for her past, Gwyn makes this sacrifice willingly, albeit with some tearful goodbyes and even a hug with Dal, and trades herself for the Rev-12 and a way for her friends to get off that desolate rock. With his progeny at his side, The Diviner makes good on his pledge, frees the slaves, boards his precious Protostar, and takes off.
The Vau N’Akat patriarch makes himself at home on the bridge, quickly dismissing the “Starfleet nuisance” Janeway, who Drednok quickly reboots into a goth more compliant and sinister form. And to prove just how much of a big bad he is, The Diviner destroys the power generators on the Rev-12, leaving everyone on Tars Lamora without gravity and a ticking clock until the shield (holding in all the air) gives out. “I promised them a ship, not their lives.” Wow, does this guy have some kind of evil villain handbook for all these lines? Gwyn uses the time to try to get The Diviner to finally explain his obsession with the ship, but he soon figures out she is hiding something—and the ship is missing something important. Back on Tars, the gang stops pretending to be in distress and gathers to reveal they have the Protocore, hidden inside the indestructible Murf, hidden inside a fake Zero. Genius! Gwyn baiting her dad to trade herself for the ship was all part of the plan too. The real Zero emerges with those handy jet packs—hoot hoot! They immediately get to work to “save everyone,” ominously hoping “Gwyn can buy us enough time for this crazy plan to work.” Cliffhanger!
It’s all been leading up to this
While it is just the first half of the mid-season finale, “A Moral Star, Part 1” shows just how well-crafted this first season of Prodigy has been since it started strong with the two-part “Lost & Found.” Everything has been leading up to this moment, with every character beat and element—including those uniforms—well earned. That said, the abrupt cliffhanger makes it feel very much like the first half of a two-part episode meant to be seen all at once, just like that series premiere. But even with that, “A Moral Star, Part 1” contained all the elements that have made this one of the strongest Star Trek debut seasons since 1966, with action, humor, lore, heart, and a strong sense of the themes at the core of Star Trek: teamwork, hope, and family.
The whole season has been building up to this crew finally donning their own Starfleet uniforms, a staple of all Star Trek series. The quiet moment where Dal puts aside his old Tars Lamora goggles before reaching for his uniform was perfect. The design was nice and fitting with the series, appearing to call back to the provisional ensign uniform worn by Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And while the outfit itself may have been too conveniently located in the captain’s quarters, it could be yet another indication that the ever-observant (and clearly evolving beyond her programming) Janeway put it there, knowing it was time. As Zero nicely put it, the USS Protostar was designed to “do more than joyride across the galaxy,” and they finally look like a crew on a mission instead of some kids who stole a ship.
All the characters had their fun little moments, yet this was a particularly strong outing for the primary leads of Gwyn and Dal, with both Ella Purnell and Brett Grey rising to the occasion. Both characters built on the progress seen all season, with each now feeling fully realized in their respective roles but still having plenty of room to grow. While sometimes The Diviner ventures too far into the cliché, John Noble imbues him with a malevolence mixed with melancholy that keeps you wanting to know more. And what more can be said about Kate Mulgrew who both shines as the guiding light of the best of the Federation while having some fun chewing up the scene as her own sinister counterpart?
Even with lots—and lots—of teases and lead-up, Prodigy is (presumably) leaving the big mystery behind The Diviner’s connection to the USS Protostar to the back half of the mid-season finale. We do see how he knows the ship well and it’s indicated he and Drednok are well-aware of the Solum code built into Janeway, making it a snap to turn her to their whim. It has also become even more clear The Diviner has a particular brand of hate for Starfleet, hinting that Captain Chakotay (who was nowhere to be found this episode) really pissed The Diviner off sometime in the past (likely due to the miracle of time travel). But all this extra bit of teasing and repeating of finally revealing “the truth” how the ship is his “salvation” was part of the frustration of the cliffhanger and the one-week wait.
Speaking of Chakotay and waiting, there isn’t much time left for Robert Beltran and the three other guest actors playing Starfleet roles to squeeze into the first 10-episode arc of season one, making one wonder if they are mostly for the second part of season one due later in 2022.
Next week can’t come soon enough to wrap up this excellent (so far) mid-season finale. From the music to the production design to the writing and performances, this episode and season are all working together in almost perfect precision. Let’s just hope they can stick the landing after leaving us to wait for seven long days.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND CANON CONNECTIONS
- “A Moral Star” is an anagram for Tars Lamora.
- This is the second two-part episode, following the series premiere, also directed by executive producer and creative lead Ben Hibon.
- The entire season one writers’ room gets script credit, setting a Star Trek record with nine total writers.
- Dal’s head tail can be used to hold tools.
- Zero has insecurity over the harm their “true appearance could afflict,” as being a Medusan they can drive people mad if they weren’t inside his robot body or other protective enclosure.
- Is “Hoot, hoot!” Zero’s catchphrase now?
- Same question for Dal and “Go fast.”
- Dal describes his choice as a “Kobayashi Maru” calling back to when he ran himself through the famed no-win scenario in the episode “Kobayashi.”
- The USS Protostar’s maximum warp factor is 9.97, making it the second-fastest known Starfleet ship (without its Protodrive engaged), following the Intrepid class at 9.975.
- Kate Mulgrew is credited as both Hologram Janeway and “Corrupted Janeway.”
- While likely coincidental, Mulgrew also made her debut this week voicing Mirror Janeway (and Admiral Janeway) for Star Trek Online.
- Pog line of the week: “Jankom takes to acting like a pus hog takes to phlegm.”
More to come
Every Friday, the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.
New episodes of Prodigy premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. It is available on Paramount+ in Latin American, the Nordic Countries, and Australia. It will debut in 2022 in parts of Europe with the launch of the Paramouint+ Sky partnership.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.
This show is so good!
First off, LOVE the new uniforms! They now feel a bit closer to Star Trek vibe and feel more cohesive as a group. And how many new Starfleet uniforms have we seen now since Discovery started lol. I think almost a dozen at this point. Contrast that between the last era from TNG to Enterprise I think we got about a half dozen uniforms. But its a lot of fun to see new ones constantly popping up with all the shows and various time periods.
And them working together back on the planet was great. I was completely fooled! And I assume next week we’ll get the question what does the Diviner want with the ship. And hopefully the other big question, where is Chakotay??? It’s crazy to know this is his ship and he’s been away from it for 17 years now at least. That’s going to be a HUGE reveal whenever we do see him next time in either the past, present or future. ;)
This show has really exceeded my expectations in so many ways. It does something different from the other shows but still feels the most Star Trek at the same time. It’s a nice mix of new young characters but does a great job of honoring the legacy characters like Spock and Janeway. It’s made for kids but still appeals to adults. I’m just excited to see where it’s all going!
Really liked Bad
Hahaha! Nice one, and strangely appropriate. The Good Place is a wonderful show that is very unlike Star Trek in some ways, yet very much like it in others.
Well, now we know why these characters weren’t included in the Playmates toy preview. It would have spoiled everything. Good call on this, Tony! You called it! I LOVE THIS SHOW!
Are we certain Playmates has the licence for these?
It’s a Nickelodeon show although they decided to release it to Paramount+ first.
Yes, it is certain.
Yes, I see that in the news release from last summer.
Well, we can hope that Nickelodeon’s team will have some review and sign off on the Prodigy related toys.
The licensing lead for Star Trek clearly needs to set up his standards for products destined for the kid market.
Also, it’s weird that one company gets an exclusive licence. Usually, Nickelodeon licenses to different companies in different age niches.
It would be great to have Fisher Price do the kind of figures and sets that the offer for SpongeBob and co. Or to have Spinright figures.
And as I’ve said before, a Playmobil line is needed, not just a $500+ complete TOS ship for collectors.
A few notes:
1) exclusive licenses are not unusual at all, they typically just cost more.
2) we actually don’t know if the license is exclusive (unless I missed an announcement) — just that Playmates is the only one we know about, or who has signed on to make toys so far. As the shows increase in popularity, particularly with younger viewers, you could very well see more companies like FP, Mattel, Hasbro, etc sign on for smaller slices of the pie. But it looks to me like Playmates paid big dollars to be the master toy partner.
3) Nickelodeon doesn’t own Star Trek, Paramount does, and while they could have paid for sub-licensing rights, the fact that they’re a subsidiary of Paramount made that kind of moot. Keep all the licensing under one roof for the brand, with one team of people working on the deals.
I’m a fully grown human and I bloody love this show. It feels like the most trek-like show since Voyager, and is so very watchable. And to boot, it’s bloody beautiful and the sound design is as good as any movie production, let alone the music. I will enjoy repeat viewings of this show 😅
I agree with that too. And also like it’s following Voyager’s direction (at the moment at least) and being a ship far away from Federation space in the Delta quadrant. This was a very smart move to have the kids feel like they are all on their own, although it seems like they will probably end up back in Federation space by this season unless there is some big left turn somewhere.
Prodigy continues to be the best Trek show out there today. Yes, it was pretty obvious everything they went through when they arrived was part of the plan. But it still worked because… Wait for it…. I actually care about the characters!
I do find “two part episodes” in shows with season long story arcs to be kinda silly, however. Each episode is a continuation of the previous one. So I just don’t see a need to put that in the titles. That was something that Enterprise rarely did. I think the only time they had a two parter with the same name was “In a Mirror Darkly”. The rest of their two and three part arcs each had their own separate titles.
There was also Stormfront. And Shockwave, but that one was before the show was really serialized.
I should have remembered Storm Front. I own season 4 on BD. And then there was the season 1 cliffhanger that I did not recall. But yeah… those three parters and most of the two parters had their own titles.
Glad you finally found something that your narrow view of Trek can enjoy! Welcome to the party.
To be fair, season 4 of Ent is one of the best seasons in the franchise.
“Narrow view”? Just because all the nu-Trek from Secret Hideout before Prodigy has been crap means I have a “Narrow view” Maybe you are just someone who like everything no matter how crappy it is?
TOS was great. DS9 was good. Voyager was good. Enterprise was good. Half of the TOS and TNG movies were good. How is that “narrow”?
Some people… If you don’t like everything they do you must have a “narrow” view. Jeez.
I love Prodigy and I love the characters.
Where they started off is incredibly different from where they are now, and how they relate to each other. Each of the characters’ arcs and development feel earned. They all have their own unique voice and bring something to the table in terms of story texture, a true ensemble. And all in 9 episodes!
But what I enjoy most though is that the writers seem really interested in exploring and utilising many classic tropes and story devices that we’re all familiar with and that make Star Trek Star Trek, all the while weaving a unique, new story within that framework. It is all beautifully done, great visuals and sound design. The team at Prodigy have really hit it out of the park and I think this is the strongest first season of any Star Trek show in terms of consistent high quality.
Discovery and Picard really let me down. Discovery’s writing, for me, is really atrocious; from the ridiculous burn to the inability to create multiple multi-dimensional characters with earned development. And, for me, Picard painted a really bleak, sad, xenophobic and violent version of Trek’s future which left me with an odd feeling. While Lower Decks has really entertained me, and I enjoy that show for what it is, I am truly thankful for the Prodigy team for finally giving us a Star Trek show that does balance telling a good story with good character development. I am so excited to have a Trek to truly love again.
Tiger2, you’ve hit the key points.
“ But what I enjoy most though is that the writers seem really interested in exploring and utilising many classic tropes and story devices that we’re all familiar with and that make Star Trek Star Trek, all the while weaving a unique, new story within that framework.”
This is what the showrunners of all the other Trek properties need to consider their “prime directive.”
What ever issues Discovery and Picard may have had with Les Moonves’ personal agenda or too many cooks with competing visions, this seems to have been what they had lost sight of.
Interesting that it was the children’s show, with creators and who mainly had no Trek experience at all who did the research and listened to their consultants until they got it right.
Trekutopia hit those key points! But I agree with nearly everything they said! :)
As for your point and too many cooks in the kitchen with Picard and Discovery, I agree with that too. But we also know Discovery started off on a different foot because of all the behind the scenes drama of its first two seasons.
And I also think they probably felt a lot more was riding on Discovery and Picard for obvious reasons, and probably both cost a ton of money on top of it. It looks like the animation shows have less people questioning every little thing and just put trust in those creators. Discovery has had 5 different show runners (although two of them were a team) from season one until now. Picard has had two.
But Mike McMahan is clearly in total control of LDS and you can feel every inch of his vision for that show on the screen even if you hate it. But that’s what sets it apart from Picard and Discovery IMO. And he’s simply a great writer with a great staff.
And looks like the same can be said for the Hageman brothers and Prodigy.
Apologies to Trekutopia!
It’s very nice though to find another fan here who clearly shares my views.
It very often seems that Tiger2 and I are writing from the same place even though we’re in different countries and thousands of kilometres apart.
This is really great. And… Not to borrow too much from Beyond, but… what if The Diviner is Chakotay. Or… Chakotay did his people wrong?
Yes. It has crossed my mind too. The Diviner or Drednok.
How could Drednok be Chakotay? We saw Drednok board the Protostar behind Capt. Chakotay in the hologram.
I was worried about them getting uniforms and becoming TNGized, soooo glad the uniforms are different. Let these kids explore the universe and stay away from the stagnation of TNG. Let’s see colors and functional sets like it’s the 23rd! Maybe their little corner of the galaxy can escape the Burn.
Do you really have to make disparaging remarks about The Next Generation era at every available opportunity? It’s tedious and frankly it’s bordering on trolling.
First off, this episode was great. Can’t wait for next week. Second, how many of you out there love the opening credit theme? It is so uplifting and fun to hear each time.
Ok I LOVE the opening theme tune and never skip it. I’ve even started to give it a spin on Spotify the odd time when I want to feel the Prodigy buzz. it’s even longer than the one used in the credits and has a really lovely opening section that reminds me of some of the Generations soundtrack.
I love both the theme AND the visuals. It is very reminiscent of Voyager. I especially like how they’ve incorporated each of the characters within the visuals.
Kate Mulgrew is getting more involved with Star Trek a lot with both Prodigy and Online.
Kate Mulgrew and especially Janeway has had a big resurgence back into the Trek universe in the last few years and it’s so amazing to see! I’m still holding out hope we see her put on a uniform and a cup of black coffee in live action one day too!
Kate seems to be responding to the growing awareness that Janeway was an important cultural influence for many women in science and engineering.
It sounds as though Kate had things to work through in her personal life, and her books address these. She seems to be in a place in life to return to Janeway with a lot of joy – which is what’s needed in actors in legacy roles.
So much better than Lower Decks. Can’t wait for the finale!
Lower Decks is awesome. So is Prodigy. If anything it can be said the animated side of Star Trek is killing it while the live action side could use some improvement. Hopefully Strange New Worlds breaks that streak
Yeah the animated shows are on fire. The live action shows not as much IMO. I will say I like Discovery a little more every season but it and Picard are still my two least favorite shows at the moment. I’m hoping this year they both break that streak.
Completely agree. Not only better than Lower Decks but Picard and Star Trek Discovery as well.
Prodigy is funnier than Lower Decks (which is supposed to funny but not), has more heart than Picard and smarter than Star Trek Discovery.
Savage as usual lol.
I’m not as hard on these shows as you are but I have to agree Prodigy is probably the best show out of the new ones. Fans overall seem the most receptive to it too, especially when compared to Discovery and Picard.
I, too, love Lower Decks, but I will say my highly positive opinion of it didn’t quite gel until the last few episodes of the first season; for the first few weeks my appraisal was more one of cautious optimism. With Prodigy, I’ve loved it right from the beginning. That could fairly be interpreted as meaning I think its first few episodes are better than the first few of Lower Decks, but since around “Veritas” the latter show really ramped up for me, and my cautious optimism became ardent love outright.
It’s hard to compare the two shows when both are still new and ongoing, especially when one has had fewer than ten episodes while the other has had twenty, let alone compare either still-new, still-running series to one that finished its run decades ago in a wholly different era of television animation, even before taking into account the wildly different aims of the three shows, but I love all three animated Star Trek series – TAS, Lower Decks, and Prodigy – and consider all three tied for fourth place in my own personal rankings for favorite Trek series (below TOS, TNG, and DS9, themselves in a three-way tie for my favorite). At this point I’m not particularly excited for any forthcoming live-action Trek productions that we know about (unless we count the HD restoration of the TMP DE), but I am dying for more Lower Decks and Prodigy alike.
Great review as always, Trekmovie. But I’ll also say Prodigy is the best Star Trek in the past 21 years, by light years. This show is really, really good.
Its good, but I wouldn’t say its the best in the past 21 years. Personally, I prefer Enterprise, Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks.
I know we’re not even halfway done with this season, but thus far, save for maybe TOS season 1, season 1 of Prodigy has been the best and most confident first season of any Star Trek show. As good as LD season 1 was, it took a number of episodes for it to find its feet. Prodigy hit the ground running and hasn’t let up. It is abundantly clear that the writers went into Prodigy with a plan, not just about the story they wanted to tell, but who they wanted the characters to be (and casting pitch-perfect voice actors for these characters – seriously, this voice cast has been phenomenal), what they wanted the setting to be, and most importantly how they wanted to tie it in with Trek lore. I have been immensely impressed.
I also think that because of it being 3D animated, that his given everyone more freedom in how to tell these stories. Instead of having to figure out sets and costumes and makeup, the writers can let their imaginations go wild!
I agree noraa.
And given that it took two pilots to get TOS greenlit, this seems to be the Trek show launched with the least amount of chaos and false starts.
Tiger2 and others have speculated that it may be because the creators and show runners of the animated shows were given more freedom to deliver their vision without micromanaging.
I’m not sure that’s the whole story.
It does sound like there were specific, well-spelled out strategic objectives for Prodigy that were agreed to by both the franchise IP holder (CBS) and Nickelodeon as the original platform.
The Hagemans aren’t experienced with Star Trek but they have a strong record in producing quality animated series for preteens, including for licensed IPs. So, they made sure that they had support to deliver Trek and listened.
Last, we don’t know how much the out of the gate success of Prodigy and Lower Decks is due to Heather Kadin. The two animated series were under her oversight while Kurtzman has focused on the live action shows. She has commented how animation was new to her and she was surprised by how long the lead times were to bring a show to screen. She’s talked about reviewing and being involved in editing decisions along the process. So, how much is owed to her leadership and understanding of when to let the showrunners do their thing is something we’ll probably find out down line. She is leaving Secret Hideout now that her 7 year contract is ending.
If Ms. Kadin is more responsible for the animated shows then it looks very much like she learned from her mistakes with Lower Decks.
Could the Diviner be Chakotay? Since time travel is on the table. His no longer being human would echo the villain’s transformation in Star Trek Beyond.
I have a feeling this is going to be the case, could be the Diviner or Drednok.
They have so much knowledge of the ship, the Federation, feels like they have a deep and personal connection with the Protostar.
I have speculated that they (The Diviner and/or Drednok) were either part of the crew or involved in the development of the ship. That could explain why they know so much about the ship and also why there’s code in their language in the ship’s systems.
I wouldn’t necessarily go so far to say that Chakotay turned into one of them.
Yes. I agree. I really hope this is not the case. I really want to see Chakotay alive and healthy, looking exactly the way we remember him.
At some point, really want to see him to be part of the show, like Hologram Janeway.
For some reason the story took me to think about this. Watching the Diviner and Drednok so comfortable with the ship, knowing so much. Even bypassing the ship security and sending the data for the vehicle replicator to build a copy of Drednok.
Chakotay being captured and rescued will be an easy and expected outcome. The big surprise for fans will be something totally different for the character.
He was a Maqui, but not a bad person. Really wish the writers will not turn him to the dark side. :D
Given that Prodigy is aimed at children and has (so far) spent quite some effort introducing kids to Federation ideals I hope they don’t go the way of turning an established, legacy Starfleet character (one of the “good guys”) into the main baddie.
Also, maybe that’s putting too much trust in the actor, but I would hope that Robert Beltran wouldn’t have returned only to turn his character into a monster.
They could either be members of the crew or part of the ship itself. Or both.
The show is very good, but one thing I still don’t get…
Why the heck is it called “Prodigy“?
Prodigy: a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities.