Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 14 – Debuted Thursday, November 17, 2022
Written by Lisa Schultz Boyd
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn & Sung Shin
The action ramps up in an episode full of tension, fun, and a few familiar faces.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“See you soon”
Determined to connect with Starfleet without triggering the hidden weapon, the prodigies have decided to “stash” the Protostar on an icy planet, home of the Denaxi Depot, a hive of scum and villainy “haven for smugglers and anyone wishing to disappear.” Sorrowful goodbyes are given to Holo Janeway as she is put in sleep mode by the kids bundled up for the cold. Murf is now ensconced in some kind of slimy egg, which Rok stows in a cute Murfymjorn. The Protostar gets hidden under a phaser-induced avalanche and they head to the depot where they soon meet up with a Thadiun Okona, the outrageous captain of a run-down freighter who offers to take them to the nearest Starbase at warp 4. (Pog is not impressed.) Right before a price can be agreed on, Okona is arrested by local security for smuggling.
With a blizzard coming, the depot is put on lockdown, so the kids head inside, where Barniss Frex—the frazzled Starfleet officer from the former CR-721—is holding court and telling tales of the “savages” who blew up his station. Meanwhile on the Dauntless, the Diviner is still loopy but putting together the pieces—and finally remembering his daughter’s name. Tracking the warp trail left by the Orions who saved Frex, the Dauntless arrive at the depot to find the wayward Denobulan, unaware of just how close they are to the “thieves” who stole the Protostar.
Janeway’s team splits up to allow for some fun one-on-one encounters, starting with Commander Tyses walking by Rok as she unsuccessfully tries to find passage. Pog literally runs into Dr. Noum, and the two Tellarites, naturally, start arguing. Jankom’s desire to connect with Starfleet is usurped by anger over the doctor’s cracks about his diminutive size. Gwyn has some trouble with a Klingon captain, but Asencia comes to her defense. Recognizing Gwyn’s name, the Trill offers help, but the girl flees when she learns that this ensign is working with dear old evil dad. Last up is Dal, who finds Janeway—the genuine article—after immediately recognizing that voice. Flustered by this big moment, Dal struggles his way through trying to explain just how much he wants to join Starfleet, but he gets cadetblocked by Tyses, who shows up with Frex, which is Dal’s cue to slink into the shadows.
The Denobulan starts to brief Janeway about the “ruthless savages” who destroyed his station while the unseen Dal hilariously chimes in from the shadows that maybe they had “good intentions.” Janeway is skeptical about that call from the peanut gallery, but hearing Frex’s “purplish complexion, creepy dingle-dangle off the back of his neck” description has her realize she was just talking to the leader of the Protostar heist gang. She also realizes Frex failed to mention they were kids. Dal makes a break for it as the real Starfleeters pursue. He regroups with his crew, who face the realization that Admiral Janeway may not listen, since she thinks they kidnapped her old pal Chakotay; even worse, it appears she is working with The Diviner. WTF? She’s not going to believe “a bunch of fugitives” about the danger on the Protostar. Time for a new plan, which is to lean into their new outlaw profile and steal a hoversled to get the heck out of Dodge Denaxi. Oh, and Murf is starting to hatch!
“Don’t let them get away”
Admiral Janeway gets depot security to go after the kids, and the exciting snow chase is on. The gang is surprised to find Captain Okona hiding out on their sled, which is now under fire. In between quips, the smuggler identifies some illegal space fuel to give their sled an exhilarating “exothermic” boost to jump across an ice chasm. They arrive at the buried Protostar, where Holo Janeway isn’t happy to learn their adventure was over before it started—and she’s curious about the guy with the eyepatch, too. Real Janeway arrives on the scene just as the Protostar reveals itself… but she isn’t impressed with the cool snow effects, and her team beams up to continue the pursuit.
Even at maximum warp, the Protostar can’t shake the Dauntless. Holo Janeway is still trying to catch up but isn’t liking the kid’s odds going up against the real her. They know not to answer the incessant hails which could trigger the weapon, and Captain Dal hopes Pog can “go fast” them out of this mess with the protodrive. So—of course!—now is when Murf hatches, and he’s got arms and legs! Murf 2.0’s first act is on brand; he jumps on a console and accidentally launches a torpedo at the Dauntless. Real Janeway is now real pissed and orders the Protostar’s third nacelle “crippled,” knocking the ship out of warp. The ever-helpful Okona has another illegal idea, so the kids remodulate the shields to hide the ship from sensors and head into the Romulan Neutral Zone. Real Janeway wants to pursue, but First Officer Tyses won’t do it, accusing her of acting emotionally due to her personal connection to Chakotay. To make his point, three Romulan Warbirds show up, and the commander tells Janeway if she goes in, she will start a war.
“Crossroads” is a welcome injection of action and conflict into the series, bringing the Protostar and Dauntless crews directly into conflict instead of stringing it out. While still being a solid standalone episode on a new world, you can see how lessons learned by Dal in the previous episodes are being applied immediately and addressing the obvious question: Why don’t they just find another way to contact Starfleet? Instead of endless exposition, Prodigy shows instead of tells you the answer, with an exciting little adventure featuring spectacular effects and music to sell the tension. Even with all that going on, “Crossroads” keeps things light with some of the funniest moments of the new batch of episodes, Jason Mantzoukas’ Jankom Pog is still doing most of the comic relief for the show.
But “Crossroads” goes deeper as it continues to explore the theme of the back half of the season of what it means to be part of Starfleet. Here we have the kids each literally running into members of Starfleet, and each time there is a nice little moment with a focus on that iconic badge. There is an interesting juxtaposition between Barniss Frex and Dal, as Admiral Janeway questions the Denobulan’s worthiness to be part of Starfleet, and has a moment when she starts to help guide Dal to his goal of becoming a cadet. Which one is really representing the true value of Starfleet? (The answer is Dal, BTW.)
With real Janeway’s crew prominently featured, we also now see how much the Prodigy kids are really kids, from Dal’s flustering to Jankom’s blustering. “Crossroads” gives us a better sense of the Dauntless crew, adding a few more layers to each: Asencia shows more of her empathy, Noum adds a bit of humor to his crankiness, and Tyses steps up to confront the admiral in a big way. The question of Janeway’s emotions getting the better of her is likely to create more conflict, probably with her boss, the previously announced Admiral Jellico, who has yet to arrive this season. Most of all, we can see how Admiral Janeway is different from her younger self on Star Trek: Voyager and very different from the Hologram version on the Protostar. Since she has to rely on the likes of Frex and the still-fuzzy Diviner, it continues to make sense that Admiral Janeway sees the prodigies as adversaries, but we are starting to see some cracks, like her surprise that they are all kids. Hopefully, real Janeway starts putting the pieces together sooner rather than later, because she is supposed to be pretty darn smart and has a scientific mind. All of this shows how densely packed Prodigy is to be able to cover so much ground with so many characters and only a little over 20 minutes a week to do it.
The return of Okona was a lot of fun. While “The Outrageous Okona” may not be the best episode of The Next Generation, “Crossroads” offered Billy Campbell a second chance to add some nuance and even more zing to the character. It was also a nice canon touch that he was still flying the Erstwhile, the same old freighter from his time on TNG and he is sporting the new eyepatch he had from his cameo as a party DJ (without lines) on Lower Decks. Even new fans can easily follow along, as the lovable rogue is an easily identifiable and relatable character who is now offering the kids a different kind of guidance, teaching them how be outlaws, since that is technically what they are. It will be interesting to see if this alternative worldview comes into conflict with Holo Janeway, who has been teaching them how to be good Starfleet recruits. All of this gives extra meaning to the episode title “Crossroads.”
Blue legs and hands
Another storyline Prodigy didn’t string out is the ballyhooed “metamurfosis,” with the cute little blob emerging from his cocoon egg as a whole new Murf. While still talking in adorable squeaks and squeals, Murf (recently revealed to be a Mellanoid slime worm) now has arms and legs, appearing more like a small blobby child that could have been taken straight from the pages of Dr. Seuss. This could be a game-changer for the character, as it appears Murf is growing up, and it’s possible he will soon be showing off different abilities and maybe be able to communicate. It’s unclear where this is all going, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to that adorable blobby Murf, but his evolution could be a kind of touchstone for the show itself as it grows and changes, showing yet another layer of meaning to the episode title.
Another sign that the show is growing up is how much lore is on display. While fans may take so much of this for granted, the galactic politics of Star Trek is complicated. Prodigy was able to quickly introduce the Romulans as cagey adversaries and the idea of the Neutral Zone quickly without getting bogged down in exposition, although having the three warbirds appear just off the bow of the Dauntless and warn Janeway not to enter the Neutral Zone may be a bit confusing unless you assume the Neutral Zone is just a few feet wide… more of a Neutral Sliver. Still, it’s welcome, and impressive, how much this show is seamlessly and quickly incorporating so much Star Trek lore in the back half of the season, from the Borg to the original USS Enterprise and more. And on top of all that Treknobabble, “Crossroads” is another example of not dumbing things down, using a lot of real-world science with terms like “exothermic” thrown around, making the show educational and inspiring, just like Star Trek should.
“Crossroads” is just as exciting and full of sci-fi tension as some of the better live-action Star Trek episodes over the years. The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, but it still stands alone without feeling like half of a two-parter. The second half of season one continues to impress with how much it is moving both the story and these characters forward each week. Can’t wait for the next one.
RANDOM BITS AND CANON CONNECTIONS
- Stardate: 61302.7.
- Jimmi Simpson continues to be credited as Drednok but has not appeared since episode 10.
- Depot security was run by Xindi Reptilians in their first 24th-century appearance since being introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- The plan was for the kids to trade Deuterium for passage. This real isotope of hydrogen has been established as the actual fuel Starfleet uses for matter/anti-matter warp engines.
- Chlorine trifluoride is a real gas compound used in rocket fuel today, possibly illegal in the 24th century due to being very toxic.
- Rok identifies nimbostratus clouds and shows she has a grasp of being a good meteorologist, telling Pog “it’s not an exact science.”
- The ship buried in ice gave off USS Voyager in “Timeless” vibes.
- The Dauntless crew wore a new hooded cold-weather variant to their Starfleet uniforms.
- The contraband Okona was smuggling looked like the spherical Ferengi ship interfaces.
- Frex was rescued by Orions, another indication the show is getting closer to more familiar space.
- The Kazon that Frex was talking to appears to be the same slave trader who sold the Caitian to the Diviner in the series premiere.
- Gwyn first showed she learned to speak Klingon in the two-part series premiere.
- Tyses mentions “negotiations” with the Romulans, possibly indicating a thawing of the relationship following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, set five years earlier or possibly negotiations regarding the evacuation of the Romulus system after the discovery of the impending Romulan star supernova.
- Heading into the Romulan Neutral Zone triggered a “Priority 7 Red Alert” on the Protostar, which is a new thing.
- The Romulan warbirds were the classic D’deridex class first introduced in the season one TNG episode “The Neutral Zone.”
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.