Recap/Review: ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Cuts To The Chase In “Crossroads”

“Crossroads”

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.

You couldn’t find a nice warm planet?

WARNING: Spoilers below!

RECAP

“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.

I picked the wrong week to stop drinking coffee.

“They’re here”

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!

A royal meeting?

“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.

Who knew trying to join Starfleet would be so complicated?

ANALYSIS

“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.

Get your Klingon face on.

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.)

Being an outlaw is more fun than being a cadet.

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.

Look over there, cold brew… oh right, sorry.

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.”

Remember me? Pretend I have two eyes.

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.

They grow up so fast…

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.

If I got you some coffee, would that stop you from violating the Neutral Zone?

Final thoughts

“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.

Can a rock creature get cold?

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.”

Once the Xindi pick an outfit, they stick with it.

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 PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsStitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.


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.

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Oh no, what have they done with Murf. Poor Laurie.

Who’s Laurie?

Other than that: RIGHT?! The blob was such a cute, fun, and versatile design, and… this one’s not! Appears somewhat anime in style?! YIKES!!! 😬

Laurie from All Access Trekmovie podcast, she talks about how she loves Murf like every week. I wonder what she thinks about this bizarre monstrosity. I hate it. But here’s hoping it’s not a final metamurfosis!

Ah, thanks!

Yeah, it’s a big step backwards in design, but I agree with you… this one’s a Pokémon that’ll go through more stages still! 🤞😕

The thing on the top of its head makes me think of California quail. They are decided not smart and make unintentional mayhem wherever they flock. So, a good look for Murf.

I actually thought teletubbies more than Pokémon, but let’s face it there are certain forms and colours that resonate with kids, and this show is first and foremost for kids.

And I guess we know why the releases of licenced Murf toys have been dragging. There will surely be multistage toy packs with Murf through every step of his development.

New Murph looks too much like a Meseeks to me. But the show has earned the benefit of the doubt so let’s see how this plays out.

It really was so good! Like last week it holds up next to live-action Trek. At some points (the show don’t tell part) even better than some live Trek has been. The classic meeting of the kids and the Janeway crew was exciting.

A few things had me frowning though: why are the Xindy still wearing their extremely old uniforms? And the new Murf reveal was kinda a let down, since it was hyped so much. Over-hyping never pays off does it?

Hey, the US Army just switched back to their World War II uniforms.

I must say, watching this show is an absolute delight. What a great way to pass 24 minutes, and compared to the live-action drivel SH has offered (most of SNW excepted), such a great Trek ‘feel’ to it. There’s an actual coherent plot, a compelling storyline, likable characters and respectful following of canon. This may be geared towards kids, but this 56 year old kid is enjoying the heck out of it. What a pleasure, so refreshing.

This show and Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds have helped me forget the complete disasters that were Discovery and Picard this past year.

For me it will take a lot more than one decent show to forget the disasters of Star Trek Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks and SNW. Honestly given Secret Hideout’s track record part of me is still expecting this show to take a huge nose dive. It has stumbled but hasn’t fallen yet. We shall see.

It really doesn’t feel like it’s geared towards kids. Lower end teenagers at best I think. I mean, these characters are more interesting and engaging and more adult than anyone on any other Secret Hideout show. It’s amazing how much better the show is with good characters

Negotiations with the Romulans certainly does not relate to Nemesis – This just has to be about the Romulan Relief effort that Admiral Picard should be leading at the same time.

Nemesis ended with Captain Riker commanding his first mission to Romulus because they were interested in talking following the defeat of Shinzon.

I’m really liking the direction the series is taking, and this episode was great. The action is ramping up, and we’re definitely getting more of that Star Trek feel we were promised. The personality of Janeway’s crew is taking shape, and I loved the addition of Okona. It was a great callback to TNG and fit in really nicely here. Couple of questions though that I wonder if the writers thought about:

1) Instead of ditching the Protostar and walking to the base to find help, couldn’t they have used the ship’s vehicle replicator to make themselves a warp-capable shuttle so they could go to an actual Federation starbase? Maybe they thought about it, but figured the corrupt programming would make its way into it also since it was created by the Protostar.

2) It’s mentioned in the review but if the Romulan warbirds appeared right in front of the Dauntless, it’s likely they crossed into the Neutral Zone to confront Janeway, meaning they’ve already committed an act of war. The Zone is definitely bigger than a few feet since previous Trek shows have mentioned planets and star systems that exist within it, have talked about bases lining the Zone, and maps clearly show it’s pretty wide.

One other general comment, it seems like each episode just…ends. There’s not really the same story crescendo leading to the final moments. It just kind of feels like it stops short while you’re watching. It definitely leaves you wanting more, but it’s an odd viewing experience.

I believe it was Aaron Waltke (one of the producers/writers) that suggested that you can’t trust a ship corrupted by the tech to replicate a shuttle that is free from that corruption.

That’s what I was thinking since it seemed like a fairly obvious option.

Doesn’t Spock say that the Neutral Zone is 1 lightyear across in Balance of Terror?

A light year is pretty big. Certainly not visual range.

Regarding the width of the Neutral Zone and whether the Romulans already crossed it: Trek has always gone for what looks good on screen vs. what would be an accurate depiction of relative size and distance. That’s why ships are generally too big when shown in orbit of a planet. And given how fast these ships move, they should never come as close to each other as they are usually shown in almost any shot that has more than one ship on screen. It’s simply that it wouldn’t look dramatic if you had two ships, but one of them was just a tiny point of light.
So, given what we saw on screen, either the Romulans or the Dauntless had definitely crossed into the Neutral Zone. Having them both stay on their respective sides of the Zone would mean you wouldn’t be able to see them together. So I guess they decided to simply go for the more dramatic shot.

That is what I have always just sorta subconsciously accepted. Many of the visuals are for the benefit of the audience and less so what would be actual in their world.

Yep. Trek has always been like, “we are x 1000 kilometers away, but you look at the ship or whatever and it looks like it is right there. If it were the case, the “ship” or whatever would need to be the size of the moon to look that big.

I figured that unless they built their own shuttle from scratch they could not trust the tech.

But my main plot beef was they met real Janeway right there. So what she thought they destroyed the station? Stay and tell her the situation. Dal & Co have already been dealing with hollo Janeway. It told them they could deal with real Janeway. Why didn’t they trust that? Instead they ran. I found that an odd decision.

One other thing… I’ve noticed that Secret Hideout Trek is still going with KU warp effect. Really not a fan. Makes the shows feel like they are in the KU and not the Prime.

Because the kids haven’t exactly had the best experiences of authority yet. Plus even if they tried to explain the situation it’s their word against Frex who has made them out to be terrorists.

Not really. All they need to do is board the Protostar and interact with the computer or the Janeway hologram. Sans their Star Fleet devices, of course.

It definitely started to feel ridiculous that most of the main crew encountered members of Janeway’s crew, and none of them bothered to explain the situation. I get that Gwynn was scared of her dad, and Dal was afraid that Janeway would misunderstand after talking to the Denobulan, but it would have been cleared everything up much more easily if they had just talked to Starfleet.

I’m also confused about where in the galaxy they can possibly be where they can run into Kazons and Xindi, and be just a few minutes away from the Romulan Neutral Zone.

I thought similarly that they should try talking, but then I thought about the interactions these kids have had with most adults in this series.

The Diviner imprisoned them
Nandi used them to steal an Artifact
Frex left them on the relay station to die

They probably thought they wouldn’t be believed and, let’s face it, Janeway IS emotionally compromised.

Janeway is emotionally compromised, but Starfleet isn’t just Janeway. Even if Janeway arrested them, they would eventually get a trial and have a chance to testify about what happened. That may be a risk, but not as big a risk as taking a Federation starship straight into the neutral zone.

Given that they just escaped being imprisoned on Tars La Mora for how many years, I can imagine that they wouldn’t want to risk being imprisoned again hoping to explain themselves during a trial.

And they have been relying on hollow Janeway who essentially all but told them they could trust real Janeway. After all they have been through it just didn’t make sense.

Kids rely on attachments to trusted adults.

A kid who grew up with reliable, trustable adults can transfer that trust to others, but not a single one of those youths have had that.

More, the one real-life Starfleet officer they have met was sitting right in front of them, embellishing his story at their expense.

So, it would be kind of pathological if they were to just go for it and hope for the best.

And yet they relied on and trusted hollo Janeway. If that was they case they would have shut that program down ages ago. And this entire time they have been growing and learning. So this really doesn’t seem like a realistic course of action based on what we have seen from this group.

They took most of a season to come to trust Holo Janeway, especially Dal.

That wouldn’t just transfer to the real life version, especially as he definitely sees holo Janeway as an AI.

If he trusts Holo Janeway it follows that if Holo Janeway said he could trust real Janeway then why wouldn’t he? Granted he has been the most distant of the group but it seems the others are more likely to want to go that route too. So I think it a stretch that they would not approach her when given the opportunity.

Great points! We have to keep in mind kids think differently than adults.

Yes. Those were questions I had as well. They must be far closer to Federation territory than I thought to have all these UFP aliens in abundance, the presence of a Star Fleet station as well as be right by the Romulan Neutral Zone.

The KU played fast and loose with galactic geography too. This is a minor thing compared to the characters and the story arc but it is noticeable.

This one was quite entertaining, and though there are a couple of elements I really don’t like, such as Kazon in the Beta Quadrant, a real feel of “tiny universe”, centuries-old Xindi uniforms and the Neutral Zone violation by the Romulans going unaddressed (both mentioned above), as wel as the limits of hurried animation on a lot of the characters’ faces, it moves along better and actually FEELS more like Trek than most current live-action Trek! And these writers are always choosing to show instead of just telling (looking at you, painfully underwhelming Discovery writers)! 🖖😉

Pssst: In one instance you guys refer to the Protostar as the “Prostar’! Intentional? 🤷‍♂️

Not just the current live action Trek but compared to other current animated Trek too!

True that, sadly! 😄

…and that’s why you should always leave a note.

I’m just yelling, “Morse code! With your lights!”

That’s what I was thinking as well. Was it done in any science fiction before?

Scotty used Morse code in Star Trek V.

Glad I’m not the only one who thought that!

Admiral Janeway giving the Xindi orders oddly made this episode alone for me! We see how much their relationship has become closer over the last 200 years. Maybe they are not in the Federation yet but we know it will happen by the 26th century. I hope we see them on Discussion next season too.

I love all the cool new connections we’re getting on this show. ♥️

Oh and end the episode going into the Romulan neutral zone (It’s neutral it says right in the name!!!) was a great ending!

And we only have a few more years seeing the Romulans with an actual Neutral zone again so enjoy it while you can! 😂😥

And super happy we got REAL Klingons again. TNG/DS9/VOY/LDS authentic Klingons. None of that weird Orc shit. 🙄

Lol meant Discovery, not Discussion! 🤣

Pretty much all I can say is the story is advancing. And unlike the other Secret Hideout shows I am curious how this will play out. The ending felt rather abrupt but I guess that is what happens with 25 minute episodes with season long story arcs.

One way to solve all of this confusion – All the crew of the Protostar has to do is write a detailed note on paper, and transport it over to Janeway

True but once you get to the point where you have a high speed chance adrenaline sorta kicks in and it becomes more difficult for people to think about such things under such stressful conditions. Particularly of one is unaccustomed to it To me the obvious move was to come clean when they saw Janeway.

I’ve been largely unmoved by Prodigy as a whole but enjoyed bits and pieces immensely, but this episode really moved things along for me with great story and action. It’s also really begining to feel like a 24th-century Star Trek show as we get closer to home and I’m really into it.

I realize it’s a kid’s show, but I’m not loving the bigoted Tellarite banter which seems out of place for a Starfleet officer in particular.

I’ll give the new Murf a shot before I dismiss the transformation as a flop, but the cuteness is gone for sure.

This episode was really a lot of fun. I enjoyed it so much. I loved seeing the Dauntless crew really involved in the story this time and mixing it up with the Protostar crew. Okona looks like he’s going to be tons of fun to have back and I was really excited to see the Xindi back too. The entire backdrop of the outpost was really impressive. Someone on another board said it felt like a mix of Broken Bow and Timeless with the snow aspect obviously but the feel of a more rugged, primitive alien outpost like we got in Broken Bow too. And then loved it when the Romulans shows up at the end. It was frustrating when it ended because I was so into the story by then, but it’s only a 25 minute show. That’s when you know an episode is good, you want it to keep going.

And man I laugh every time Jankom opens his mouth. I laughed so hard over the ‘This guy gets it’ line. The actor has amazing timing how he says his lines. The only other Trek character I laugh at pretty much everything is Dr. T’Ana, someone who knows how to swear better than my own grandmother ever could lol.

But per usual, Prodigy just delivered another solid episode and really captures the heart of Star Trek just like the classic shows did.

Disappointed. Very derivative.
the whole episode felt like a wasted opportunity to further the story.
The decisions the crew made were not logical…it seemed a bit of a mess to me.