“All the World’s a Stage”
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 13 – Debuted Thursday, November 10, 2022
Written by Aaron J. Waltke
Directed by Andrew L. Schmidt
Prodigy indulges in a fun yet heartwarming Trek lore-filled adventure on a delightfully strange new world.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“They truly believe themselves to be Starfleet”
After learning the living construct weapon will attack if they make any contact with the Federation, the prodigies are dejected, seeing their dreams of joining Starfleet go “poof.” But the Protostar can still help others, so they answer a distress call from a planet surrounded by a subspace distortion field. A resigned Dal leads a landing party to the lush surface with an even more reluctant Pog, along with the more eager Zero and Gwyn. (Rok is staying behind to look after an ailing Murf.) They soon run into a couple of natives dressed in what look like old threadbare Starfleet uniforms—and then one stuns Pog with an old phaser. After Dal makes it clear they come in peace, one of the aliens identifies himself as “James’T.” He. Is. Really. Excited. And greets the visitors from “Star-Flight.” Um, WTF? A call to Holo Janeway assures Dal no ships have been in these parts in over a century, and there is no recorded contact with this planet, so these guys are for sure not Starfleet. Things only get weirder as James’T leads them to the “Enda-Prize” made from jungle scrap and filled with more aliens wearing the same green classic outfits and practicing their “live logs and proper” (not right) Vulcan salutes.
Everything here is oddly familiar and also totally off, but Zero senses the aliens really believe all of this. Pog mocks them as “dum-dums playing dress up,” which cuts a little close for Dal, who sees they aren’t so different from his crew, they just have more makeshift equipment. Things get clearer when the aliens put on a play telling the tale of James’T, Sprok, Scott’EE, and Sool’U of the Star-Flight Enda-Prize. The hero is “En Son, Bearer of Crimson” and with context clues, it’s clear a 23rd-century Starfleet ensign made his way to this planet and left behind the logs and video records plus his own teachings, which have become the core of this civilization’s mythology. This ensign promised “Star-flight” would return, so Dal’s landing party is the fulfillment of this prophecy. They sent the distress call because they are being plagued by “The Gallows,” a monster that spreads disease. It has struck poor Cadet Huur’A and Dr. Boons (you are seeing the naming pattern here, right?), and there’s no cure. Pog’s heard enough—time to go!—but this disease is spreading, and now Dal has it too. Zero is confident they can create a cure, but someone is going to have to go to the source of the “great evil.” This fun cosplay adventure just got serious.
“This is no longer a rescue mission”
Over on the USS Dauntless, The Diviner is awake but not playing with a full fizzbin. He continues babbling about his daughter and how someone stole the Protostar. He has seen Chakotay and says he was taken prisoner. His ramblings to Admiral Janeway leave out how his people were the ones responsible for all this, only spouting bits about “the atrocity” and “the intrusion”… so, not super helpful. The ever-helpful Asencia keeps Janeway’s mission on track with the news that she found an escape pod from the Starfleet relay station destroyed in episode 11. It’s empty, but there is a warp trail to follow, so they are still in the game — or as Janeway now sees it, a “manhunt” for whoever stole the Protostar.
“But you don’t need a real ship to believe in what it stands for”
Dr Boons assists Zero by soothing a freaking-out Dal with some good old-fashioned leech therapy. The alien healer admits they know they aren’t really part of Starfleet, but they believe in the ideals it stands for. He reveals how they kept the original Starfleet ensign’s uniform in a place of honor, pointedly asking Dal what he believes in. Rok hears Dal is in danger, so she leaves a sick Murf in Holo Janeway’s care to bring down EV suits, and the gang heads to the “cursed” cave. Jankom’s fear factor increases while Gwyn ably leads the team, they slide into a cavern after a ground quake. Finally confronting The Gallows with its glowing eyes and puffs of smoke, they learn its true nature: It’s an old shuttle… a shuttle named “Galileo.” Deploying her science, Rok sorts out that the interaction of leaking plasma with dilithium crystals is causing the toxic disease and radioactive interference. This is a monster Pog is ready to tame, so he bravely jumps on board the Galileo—which is teetering dangerously on the edge—to use its radio and call Zero with the info to make a cure, which Zero does amazingly quickly for someone who just “skimmed the manual” on antidotes.
With things getting precarious in the cave, Dal calls for Janeway to extract the landing party, but the radiation prevents it. Someone is going to have fly the ship manually, and Dal has a crazy idea. Beaming up with some Enda-prizians, he aims to put their years of “Star-flight” training to good use. After some bewildered staring at the 24th-century tech, the aliens are made to feel at home when Holo Janeway switches the bridge to old-school cool. The away team huddles in the shuttle, which is slipping into a toxic pool. The chaos triggers the last log from Starfleet Ensign Garrovick, who explains how he was left behind by the USS Enterprise and saved by the locals. Just in time, the Protostar phasers into the cave, rescuing the landing party as the Galileo makes its final journey, falling into the toxic pool. Joining the locals to seal up the cave for good, Dal comes to learn while maybe these people may have gotten some of the details wrong, they got the ethos of Starfleet right. This is a message he takes to heart as they leave the Enda-prizians behind with some medical supplies, new stories to tell, and the right method of doing the Vulcan salute. Things wrap up back on the Protostar with Dal determined to find a way to make contact with Starfleet and a new Murf mystery as the cute little guy is found ensconced in a cocoon. Oh no!
Acting the parts
“All The World’s a Stage” is a very special episode of Prodigy that uses franchise lore to teach the kids—and the audience—lessons about friendship, teamwork, and hope… in other words, it teaches them about what makes Star Trek Star Trek. Coming from avowed fan Aaron Waltke—the same writer behind the lore-filled episode “Kobayashi”—this episode is a genuine love letter to Trek. For all the indulgence in TOS style and fun, at its heart, this is an episode about the Prodigy characters and their journeys. This primitive civilization playing Starfleet “dress-up” is a wake-up call to Dal, who is having his own crisis of imposter syndrome. It’s through their love and embodiment of Starfleet ideals that he sees a path for himself.
As we get past the first couple of episodes of season 1.5, the show is nicely returning to planetary adventures. The crew is also adjusting into their various archetypical Trek roles, each getting their own mini-arcs and hero moments in this episode. Pog is a standout, offering plenty of his comic relief, and Jason Mantzoukas also conveys how the Tellarite is held back by fear but is able to overcome it using his engineering confidence. The episode shows how far these kids have come with Zero’s increasing confidence as the doctor, Rok covering the science, and Gwyn stepping in as first officer to lead when Dal is out of commission.
Wanting to spend as much time on the Enderprizians’ planet as possible, the episode briefly touches on the Dauntless storyline with just enough to move Admiral Janeway and crew to the next clue in their hunt for the Protostar and Chakotay. Prodigy has a tough balancing act of juggling multiple storylines as it sets up payoffs in future episodes like the change in Murf and the potential return of Frex from episode 11. Even within the confines of the shorter animated run time, the series continues to keep the serialized arcs going without feeling like it is just teasing the audience—and certainly without feeling like they are wasting any time. Like most episodes of Prodigy, you can feel how tight they have cut it to keep the pacing going with taut action while still leaving enough time for some lovely, quiet character moments.
Obsessed with Trek
Finding a planet obsessed with Starfleet was a clever way to give Dal and the Protostar crew their mojo back. While seeing all the elements of Star Trek: The Original series got a bit meta, this episode was not built solely around fan service and should work for all fans, including more casual or new fans. Some elements bordered on camp, especially Dee Bradley Baker’s (James’T) Kirk, which was more Kevin Pollak as Shatner than actual Shatner, but there is an internal logic to the heightened legends, meant to come from an oral tradition told through the generations.
This episode is no parody of Star Trek and never traffics in some of the more overblown stereotypes like Kirk as a lothario; instead, it is a celebration of Star Trek and the ideals it stands for. While TOS was the start, the portrayal of the Enterprizians was clearly, lovingly influenced by the Lost Tribe from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, along with elements of TNG’s “The Royale” and Voyager’s “Muse,” with a dose of Futurama’s “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,” which portrayed Star Trek becoming a religion.
For Star Trek fans, “All The World’s a Stage” presented a fascinating exploration of the fate of a red shirt, with a fun “what if?” scenario where one of the red shirts left for dead survived and made first contact with a primitive species. Picking Garrovick from the TOS episode “Obsession” was a great choice, as he was one of the few red shirts to survive an episode and actually got fleshed out a bit before he was never seen again. Now we know why. We also learn the fate of the replacement Galileo shuttle seen in season 2 of TOS. In “Obsession,” Garrovick had an arc with strong parallels to Dal as he faced his own crisis of faith in himself and Starfleet.
You can get a little lost in the weeds trying to sort out how the Enderprizians could so perfectly recreate the look and sounds of the original Enterprise bridge—plus have the training to actually fly it—but there was just enough technobabble and backstory exposition to explain all this away without getting bogged down, although it might take you a couple of viewings to catch it all. However, the fast pace required has this episode leaning onto the old Trek trope of various technologies working or not working at different points to keep the drama going when needed.
The bottom line: This episode was fun for Star Trek fans from start to finish. It is a heartwarming celebration of the fandom we love through the eyes of the Prodigy kids and this strange new world filled with a different sort of fans of Starfleet. It’s so densely packed, it really takes a couple of viewings to fully appreciate it, which helps hold you over as we wait to see what appears to be the coming clash of the Janeways… and find out what is going on with poor Murf!
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND CANON CONNECTIONS
- Stardate is 61296.9.
- Dal is getting much better at his captain’s logs, which now include a “supplemental.”
- Dee Bradley Baker (the voice of Murf) voiced James’T.
- Fred Taasciore (voice of Shaxs on Lower Decks) voiced Garrovick, Dr. Boons, and Sprok.
- Eric Bauza (who has voiced guest characters for both Lower Decks and Prodigy) voiced Sool’U and Scott’Ee.
- All three voiced other unnamed “Enderprizians,” as did Ella Purnell (Gwyn).
- Samantha Smith, who played an Eldreth Leader in the series premiere of Strange New Worlds, voiced Huur’A.
- According to Dal, Holo Janeway “says the rules about second contact are a bit fuzzy” which could be a nod to Lower Decks (set a few years earlier) and how Captain Freeman has suggested changes like Project Swing By.
- Fun detail: Some of the Enderprizians were practicing Kirk-Fu.
- Jankom Pog correctly identified Gallileo as a Class-F shuttlecraft, revealing he has been studying 23rd-century Starfleet tech and knew it had a duotronic comm relay.
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.