Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 12 – Debuted Thursday, November 3, 2022
Written by Diandra Pendleton-Thompson
Directed by Olga Ulanova & Sung Shin
Things get spooky in an episode that introduces the kids to the Borg, leading to plenty of action, emotion, and even a bit of fun.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“The Borg are sleeping”
After a helpful rerun from episode 10 in the holodeck, the prodigies are up to speed on Gwyn’s time-traveling dad and his dastardly plan to use the Protostar as a trojan horse to destroy the Federation. This sets off a desperate search for “the weapon,” with the evil red-glowing orb eventually found in a hidden subdeck below the bridge… yet another part of the ship Holo Janeway was unaware of. After some dubious attempts, it is determined this future tech isn’t easily destroyed and is too dangerous to just throw out an airlock, even if they could figure out how. Maybe Starfleet could help, but they now know they can’t go anywhere near Starfleet or risk a repeat of what happened to that communications relay station last week. And that’s when the ship detects another vessel… a real big boxy kind of thing.
Holo Janeway is definitely nervous, telling the kids they have stumbled upon the Borg, a race of ”enhanced humanoids, mindless drones that assimilate everyone they come across into their collective.” Instead of heeding her wise counsel to leave immediately, the kids are intrigued. Learning the Borg can adapt to any weapon, Dal sees an opportunity to get their help with Diviner’s weapon, and since it appears this cube is dormant, kid captain is foolhardy enough to think they can sneak in and get the info they need without becoming part of the collective themselves. Relenting, Janeway advises the kids to “act harmless”—the old standby for Borg away teams. Entering this “spooky” haunted house of dormant drones, they climb their way to the cube’s central nerve center to find the only way to tap into the vinculum (nice deep cut) and get the knowledge they is for someone to use one of those scary alcoves. Zero volunteers, as they have some experience with hive minds, and they are greeted by the collective, which soon becomes overwhelming… and starts waking up the drones who are quick to scan the fancy new tech ship that flew into their cube. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“We need him awake”
Meanwhile, someone who knows more than just about anyone about the Borg is busy trying to assimilate some tea (doctor’s orders). Commanding the USS Dauntless, Vice Admiral Janeway continues her hunt for Chakotay and her big lead is The Diviner, now in sickbay incoherently rambling about a “daughter” and a “mission.” We meet the cantankerous Dr. Noum, who appears to have just arrived from the jerk store. The Tellarite tells the admiral she should be thanking him for just getting this unknown alien out of stasis, but he has no clue how actually to wake him up for a chat. The ever-helpful (cough – admiral’s pet – cough) Asencia suggests using the fluid from the suit The Diviner was wearing, which impresses Janeway, and annoys the Tellarite doctor. While they wait to see what that does, the admiral orders the ship to the last known proto-jump point, Communications Relay station 721. She is closing in.
“Why are they waking up?”
With transporters not working (of course), the kids have to escape their way back to the ship and make the heartbreaking decision to leave Zero behind for the moment. Inside the collective consciousness, the Medusan is still on mission, trying to get Borg help on the weapon, which they describe as a “living construct,” but their only suggestion is to just assimilate the Protostar and crew… so, not really helpful. The other kids try to make their way back to the ship but are thwarted by Borg in a chase across the cube. After some heroics from Dal (and even Pog), all but Gwyn are captured. She can save them if she listens to Janeway and stops fighting, so Gwyn gathers all her courage and puts down her sword to walk against the terrifying tide of drones back into the heart of the cube. There she finds Pog, Dal, and Rok strapped to boards… awaiting assimilation. Oh, and Zero shows up with a few new attachments and an eerie green glow. Resistance was futile.
The Medusan drone begins the process of assimilating his former crew, telling Gwyn there is no Zero anymore. But she knows Z is still in there somewhere, and appeals to their love for their friends, reminding the Medusan of their desire to no longer cause any harm, like the harm the Borg are now making them do. Zero breaks free of the hive mind with the revelation they are already part of a collective, albeit a smaller and more adorable one. Their green glow turns back to purple and the Medusan resets the drones to their dormant state (for now)—so it’s time to go. The prodigies escape the cube, and find the mission wasn’t a total bust: Zero reveals the Borg confirmed The Diviner’s weapon cannot be deactivated or removed from the Protostar. Janeway is impressed at how this kid collective is adapting as they remain determined to use the ship to help those in need, and right on cue, they pick up a distress signal. Time to do some good deeds.
As for real Janeway, she and the Dauntless arrive at the relay station to find it completely destroyed. Shaken, she now knows Chakotay is not in command of the Protostar, and she’s phaser-focused on finding and stopping the madman who would destroy a helpless frontier outpost. And speaking of madmen, The Diviner wakes up.
A new mission
Following last week’s excellent return, Prodigy keeps up the momentum with another strong episode with a different tone. With a delightful mix of horror and humor, “Let Sleeping Borg Lie” does an impressive job of setting up the stakes and parameters for the rest of the season, with the Protostar kids learning they can’t pursue their goal of seeking out the Federation but can still live up to their new Starfleet ideals by using the power of their mysterious ship for good. The Borg were truly terrifying, balanced by some of the best comic relief of the series from the always-reliable Jason Mantzoukas as Jankom Pog, who went on his own little arc of admiring to rejecting the cube’s tech.
Even with the series’ plot arcs and deep dive into franchise lore with the Borg, this is a character-focused episode at its heart, primarily for Zero, who has not had enough attention on the show. Even though exposing their true Medusan form did save the day in episode 10, the accidental harm to Gwyn (now resolved) has been haunting Zero. One could see how the Borg collective hive mind could offer Zero a welcome reprieve thanks to a nuanced performance by Angus Imrie with a nice assist from Ella Purnell’s Gwyn, who helps them come through this collective crucible to find new peace and a new mission to save, perhaps setting them up as the ship’s doctor as this episode embodied their own discovery of a sort of the Hippocratic Oath to never again do harm. Maybe finding the solution through the power of love was a bit simplistic, but there were still many layers to this character story for a kids’ show.
This episode (along with the previous one) appears to set up a pattern of how the show will represent this dual track of Holo Janeway guiding Protostar crew through adventures and Admiral Janeway leading the Dauntless crew on the hunt for Chakotay and the Protostar. This week, we got our first good sense of Jason Alexander’s Dr. Noum; the show is really leaning into the argumentative side of Tellarites, as he is from the school of curmudgeonly Star Trek doctors but on a whole new level that could get annoying pretty fast if they don’t add some more layers to his character. We can now also see how it’s plausible for Admiral Janeway to have a totally different perspective on the kids, setting her up a conflict that will likely run through the season finale, and having the Diviner on board will only make that journey more interesting. Hopefully, it won’t be long until we see John Noble as the Diviner interacting with Mulgrew’s admiral, although possibly in a different form following his Medusan madness. While limiting the Dauntless scenes to just a few moments in each episode may be the right call, you are definitely left wanting more.
Using The Borg as a vehicle to move Zero’s character story forward along with setting the parameters for the “living construct” weapon was an inspired choice. It’s fun to see this classic Star Trek adversary through fresh eyes as these kids don’t know a Drone from a Denobulan, so we get to relearn the terror of the Borg all over again. And this episode also had an interesting connection to canon, picking up on the Voyager series finale with future Janeway’s neurolitic pathogen getting namedropped and explaining why these Borg resorted to Bond-villain style assimilation instead of using the more familiar nanoprobes. It’s fitting this episode arrived the same week as Halloween, as this was the scariest entry of the series so far, full of haunted house chills thanks to a sort of revitalized collective.
There was a subtle Murf subplot in this episode that seemed to go nowhere, but this series has shown an ability to play the long game with hints dropped early on that pay off in later episodes. So the brief moment played for a gag with Murf getting sick in the holodeck is likely just the start of the “metamurfosis” coming later this season. Keep a close eye on that cute little blob. It might have been fun to see how the Borg reacted to Murf, but so be it.
Star Trek: Prodigy is really showing its potential by revisiting a classic Star Trek race and giving both a canon update and a different perspective due to the nature of the show’s characters. With these first two episodes of this 10-episode arc behind us, we can now see the show settling in for some possible planet-of-the-week adventures while Admiral Janeway continues her pursuit, adding an additional layer of tension. The newly Emmy-nominated Prodigy continues to be much more than a kids’ show; it’s a show any Star Trek fan should be able to enjoy.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND CANON CONNECTIONS
- Stardate is 61284.3
- As Jankom scans the ship, he finds some Star Trek metals including tritanium duranium alloys and transparent aluminum.
- On the cube, Pog is impressed with Borg tech that includes carbon tubing, thermo-couplers, and monotanium aperture valves.
- Gwyn’s “heirloom” showed a new ability, automatically transforming into a key to unlock the hidden door to the “weapon.”
- Pog’s multi-tool hand includes a cutting torch.
- While Zero shed some of their Borg attachments, it looks like they kept some enhancements to their hands, like a cutting drill.
- The Borg designation for Medusans is Species 802.
- Pog line of the week: “Great, the Borg never assimilated a turbolift?”
More to come
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New episodes of Prodigy debut exclusively on Thursdays for Paramount+ subscribers in the U.S., and on Fridays in Latin America, Australia, Italy and the U.K. The series will air later in the year in South Korea, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Prodigy is also available on SkyShowtime in the Nordic countries, Portugal, and the Netherlands and will launch in Spain and central and eastern Europe in 2023.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.