Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 18 – Debuted Thursday, December 15, 2022
Written by Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Directed by Sung Shin
A delightfully lighthearted episode still delivers emotional punches and perfectly sets up the two-part season finale.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“I am the Admiral, obviously.”
Picking up after last week’s cliffhanger, the prodigies find themselves facing off with the USS Dauntless and locked out of the controls by the Vau N’Akat construct. Holo Janeway is in anguish over being manipulated and beams herself away so she can’t cause any more trouble. As the Protostar warps off, there is even more confusion on the bridge of the Dauntless, where Admiral Janeway is nowhere to be found; elsewhere, the Vau N’Akat conspirators debate the merits of throwing her out the closest airlock but instead tuck her away in a closet and move her badge to her quarters, because apparently Starfleet ships still fall for that trick. Tysess orders the Dauntless to pursue, taking the advice of the re-Trilled Asencia to merge their warp fields in a move that is so cool Zero dubs the looming ship within the warp tunnel “interesting.” Then the Dauntless starts firing at them, and if it gets through the ship’s shields, they will take the ship and it’s game over for Starfleet.
Out of options (Rok had a great technosolve far beyond Pog’s percussive engineering capabilities), they move on to the weird: The plan is to communicate directly with Admiral Janeway telepathically via a hivemind of Zero and Dal (who has some telepath DNA in his genomic soup). Zero guides Dal’s connection, but right at the key moment, the Dauntless fires phasers and he blacks out, only to awaken screaming in confusion about where he is and what’s wrong with his voice. Zero figures it out: “This is not Dal.” Indeed, it’s Janeway, the real deal, heroic pose and all… which must mean, oh dear, Dal is in the admiral’s body and he’s even more freaked out as he works his way through the Dauntless with the grace of a drunk Pakled. His first challenge is being greeted by an officer, so he replies with “Hello, Starfleet person.” Nailed it! Admiral Dalway is beamed to the bridge and keeps the cover going, ordering Tysess to “quit it!” with the phasers, assuring the confused crew that he (as the Admiral) has changed her mind, but “not in a weird way.” Yep, totally nailing it.
“Still the Admiral”
Things are now calmer on the Protostar as JaneDal gets briefed on the Vau N’Akat living construct and the crew’s good intentions. She is a big enough admiral to admit she made a few assumptions about the kids “and they were all wrong.” Now on #TeamProdigies, she’s ready to help. With the reveal to Janeway that Dal is an Augment (file that for later) with telepathic abilities, the gang just needs to figure out how to reverse the swap to get her back into her own body, which Dal is currently driving worse than an alien in an Edgar suit. Asencia, who last saw the Admiral tucked in a closet, is especially confused but starts sorting out that Janeway has lost her memory. After the admiral violently rejects his coffee prescription, a rightfully suspicious Dr. Noum wants to run tests. Assuring him her “brains are fine,” Dalway makes a hasty exit, leaving “Antennas” (Tysess) in command. With the Protostar (and its mystery weapon) headed to the heart of Federation space, the commander tells Starfleet to send every ship they have to rendezvous. So actually, everything is coming up Vindicator!
JaneDal looks to the person on the Protostar who knows the ship best… herself, leading to a meeting of the Janeways, where the first order of business is to convince Holo Janeway that Dal really is possessed by her original recipe. Using her admiral superpowers, Janeway fully restores her hologram counterpart, removing the construct corruption and filling in all those gaps that have plagued her since episode one. In a pivotal touching scene, they review the logs of what happened to Captain Chakotay… who she is assured was still alive when the Protostar left him behind in the future. Together the Janeways go to the bridge, where the kids are ready with an even crazier plan: She is going to have to go on a spacewalk to try to touch Dal because he is part Organian. And she is totally in, assuring them she has done weirder.
“The Admiral’s on the hull”
To get the crazy idea to work, they have to communicate it to Admiral Dalway up on the Dauntless, which actually turns out to be super easy via a game of charades through the windows using Pog as a demonstration puppet. But the Dauntless crew has caught up to the “admiral” and have had enough of her obvious imposter weirdness, so they sedate her and lock her down in sickbay. Luckily for her, The Diviner is still feeling conflicted—Starfleet is his “sworn enemy,” but Janeway’s “kindness was unexpected.” Showing some needed nuance, he cuts her loose, a bit of payback for saving his life. So Admiral Dalway is back in action and soon enough suited up and outside the ship. The Dauntless bridge crew spots her but can’t beam her back because [technobabble], raising the irritation level with their commanding officer to its limit.
It’s time for JaneDal to say goodbye to the kids and it’s a sweet moment, as she praises Rok’s scientific ability and promises to help them in their quests to join Starfleet… except for the regular occupant of the body she is in. She heartbreakingly informs Gwyn that Starfleet is still strictly a No Augments Allowed club. Dal and Janeway (with help from Murf) both spacewalk their way to each other with Admiral Dalway taking a leap of faith towards the Protostar only to be yanked back by the tractor beam, and JaneDal hitting Murf’s stretch limit. But she improvises, shooting her phaser at herself to recreate that crazy swap… and it works! Dal and his crew celebrate his return to his own body and ship, but the good vibes end when Protostar reaches its destination to find a system filling with Starfleet ships. Admiral Janeway is back in her own body and ship too… but in the brig.
Janeway’s Freaky Friday
After pausing a bit for a couple of episodes, Prodigy gets busy with a surprisingly whimsical episode that still packs some big emotional punches. Body swap and possession are another time-honored Trek and sci-fi trope (seen most recently in an episode of Strange New Worlds), but this animated series was able to elevate the concept with sharp writing, subtle (and broad) animation, and truly outstanding vocal performances from Kate Mulgrew and Brett Grey. The Janeway and Dal reversals presented a series of hilarious hijinks accompanied by just the right kind of cartoony music to make this the funniest episode in the series, but at the same time, we are learning a lot about both characters and moving their stories forward in a big way that included the beautiful meeting of the two Janeways and some exploration of Dal’s complex background, which is likely setting something up for the finale.
It might have been dragged out just a bit too long, but it was great to finally get Admiral Janeway up to speed on the truth about the kids and the construct. This plot momentum also allowed for some sweet moments on the Protostar, which are likely telegraphing what could be the beginning of a whole new dynamic for the show. “Mindwalk” was a showcase for how well Prodigy has developed the main characters, with earned moments like Rok spewing off technobabble about reconfiguring the deflector dish setting up Pog’s priceless “beep boop!” reaction. And Murf’s evolution continues to pay dividends as he can now apparently be part of the plan and respond to specific dialogue, so could blob boy be destined for Starfleet Academy too? This episode was also a big pivot for The Diviner, with a nuanced performance from John Noble showing us the inner turmoil he is going through, possibly setting up a redemption arc for a character that has spent too much of this series as a one-note villain. That role appears to be moving to The Vindicator, with Jameela Jamil truly relishing it.
If there is a fault in this episode, it’s that it takes a few shortcuts to allow for all the fun. This includes conveniently forgetting that they fixed the Protodrive two episodes previously and making it plausible to play charades through a couple of windows of ships at warp. It was good to see how the Starfleet crew caught on to Janeway not being Janeway, perhaps confirmed by her rejection of coffee to seal the deal. But like with all Star Trek nitpicks, a great episode can wash them away with headcanon, or viewers can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Let’s face it, just getting the “I was once transformed into a salamander” callback to “Threshold” makes it all worth it.
Prodigy surprises again by using humor to move the plot and characters forward and deliver just as many laughs as a solid episode of the animated Star Trek comedy Lower Decks. After a couple of episodes that slowed things down, the pacing is back on point setting up what appears to be a huge two-part finale confrontation, on many, many levels.
- “Mindwalk” is also the name of a 1990 film exploring themes of viewing different perspectives of philosophy, politics, and physics.
- Dee Bradley Baker (Murf) and Angus Imrie (Zero) also voice unnamed Dauntless crewmembers.
- Merging warp fields was first done by the NX-01 Enterprise in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Divergence.”
- Janeway unscientifically calls the bodyswap “impossible” even though such things have precedent and she famously said “weird is part of the job” on Voyager.
- In Janeway’s quarters, Dal played with a model of the USS Voyager.
- Dal’s “pew pew pew” was a callback to the two-part series premiere.
- Dal calling Tysess “Antennas” surely must be a Starfleet HR violation.
- How is it that Starships can’t tell when com badges aren’t attached to anyone over three centuries after the invention of the Fitbit?
- Gamma Serpentis is a real star about 37 light years from the Sol system which also appears in Star Trek: Star Charts.
- To prove she was genuine, Janeway talked about Phoebe, which was the name of her younger sister as established in the novel Mosaic, written by Voyager co-creator Jeri Taylor.
- The Starfleet armada was made up of Sovereign-class, Akira-class, Defiant-class, and Centaur-type ships.
More to come
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New episodes of Prodigy debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., and on Fridays in Latin America and select countries in Europe. The series is also carried on SkyShowtime in the rest of Europe with the second half of season one expected to arrive in 2023.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.
This is probably my favorite episode so far in season 1.5.
Loved the Threshold reference.
This was so great, definitely one of my favourites of the season along with “Kobayashi”, “Time Amok” and “All The World’s a Stage”.
I cannot believe how well the physical comedy of the body swap worked within the limitations of the CGI animation, and absolute kudos to Kate Mulgrew and Brett Gray for getting the tone and cadence of each other’s voices down to a tee.
“Um, the admiral’s on the hull…” – brilliant stuff.
AND big up to Murfy no shoes ONCE AGAIN for saving the day! Honestly, they’d be completely lost without that little blobby delight.
This worked, because of animation. This would have been a disaster in live action.
It worked fine in Spock Amok, and Body and Soul and Renaissance Man both showed us that actors doing impressions of eachother can be funny in live action.
I’m picking a nit, I know, but how does an incorporeal being have DNA?
i thought they mention that “before they became non-corporeal…yadda yadda” so there must have been some records to go by
Dal has “proto-organian” DNA, and he swapped bodies with Janeway using an ability that the Organians had before they were non-corporeal, so obviously Dal’s Organian DNA comes from ancient Organians who hadn’t yet evolved to be non-corporeal.
Amazing. This show exceeds all expectations. Give this team the keys to the whole live action franchise.
The whole Season, amazing. So unexpected. And I thought Voyager had a great Season 1!?
Prodigy and SNW (also Lower Decks) are exceeding my expectations. Not only that, after Discovery and Picard, my God, these shows are being produced in a too good to be true mirror universe. :D
All these three series could stay for years, they could pull a very good movie, specially Prodigy. The quality of the story, the visuals, storytelling, is very appealing for both fans and the general audience.
Agreed, I love Voyager’s first season so much but maybe this show will surpass it for me. LDS and SNW first seasons has gotten close but Prodigy is almost on another level at times. I’m going to rewatch the entire season again after the finale.
And just think: the show hasn’t even grown the beard yet.
Well, now I can’t wait until Murf grows a beard in season 2.
You bet they will. Wait six years when Prodigy is finished, the crew will graduate to a live action series. The actors of Dal and Gwyn look exactly like the characters.
I mean the Lower Deck characters will be in live action on SNW next year so it could be even sooner for the Prodigy characters. I would love to see them in live action too.
I’d be alright with that. Even given that the show has to be streamlined for the target audience and the shorter episode length, the creatives behind Prodigy are doing a great job building stakes, keeping up tension, and creating new, intriguing characters that are allowed to breathe alongside the legacy characters. I’d love to see what they could do with a longer format program.
If they were so close, why didn’t they just put their intentions in writing and then the Dauntless crew could read it?
I was thinking that as well. They seemed to be able to peer right through the windows and see perfectly well. I suppose we should just chalk that up to creative exaggeration or something.
I am choosing to ignore these details as creative license. Many people have suggested ways in which the Prodigy crew could have told the Dauntless about what the device on board; writing it on the hull, flashing lights in some form of code etc.
I was hoping that they were going to go somewhere creative with the eventual reveal and I think they exceeded my expectations. If the crew had just told Janeway, or one of the other people, on that ice planet a few weeks back, or if they had managed to somehow just tell them through some means we would’ve been robbed of this body-swapping romp. and I for one am grateful that they just ignored logic and went with something more creative.
I simply loved everything about this episode! It was pretty close to perfect in my book.
Wow! That was so much fun! Brett Gray and Kate Mulgrew were downright amazing! Mr. Gray was so very Janeway; I could hear HER, even though it was his voice. And Ms. Mulgrew as Dal was hilarious. She’s so good at stately and commanding, who even knew she could be young and wacky?
It’s strange that they gave us this kind of episode so soon after SNW did something similar with Spock and T’Pring, but they did it so well — both times — that I don’t mind at all.
So true. Also outside of the ship in a space suit, like Burnham, at warp speed.
I read somewhere, these producers meet frequently. I think in their creative meetings and conversations, they come up with these ideas, they all want to do the same in their own shows. :D
I think we were all waiting for the scene where Admiral Janeway finally meets Hologram Janeway for the first time and did it in a crazy way only Star Trek can! Loved it! I still liked Spock Amok a little more in term of the body switching stuff, but this was so much fun too.
And you can tell Kate Mulgrew was having the time of her life lol.
And next week, damn!!! All that incredible ship porn. It looks like it could even surpass what they did in The Star Gazer.
Prodigy always gets things so right.
This show is such a (reliable) joy week by week.
It’s so great to have a Trek series to consistently deliver that again. 18 episodes in and it’s already established a beloved place in the franchise.
I’m really going to be missing it waiting for season two.
And yes, it does deserve a movie.
Yeah it’s going to suck when it ends in two weeks. I suspect we won’t get season 2 until next Fall the earliest.
But this show constantly brings it. And unlike Picard and Discovery, proves that Star Trek can do serialized stories right when you have the writers and producers this show has.
I didn’t like last weeks episode. But this one nailed it! Next to Kobayashi, this is my second favorite episode! Really good Star Trek!
Same here. Last week wasn’t too good, but this week’s episode nailed it! What fun!
Very happily surprised about the twists and turns, the pace, and the CARE that this show takes! And I am SO GLAD that it’s on the opposite end on the competency spectrum from Discovery!!! 🤞😊👍
P.S.: Anthony Pascale, you keep misspelling Tysess name. It ends on a double “s”! 😉
Is there a reason they couldn’t launch a shuttle to communicate with Dauntless? The comms in the shuttle are not connected to the construct.
… but each Protostar shuttle is REPLICATED by the ship itself, so they’re “infected” by default.
This one was excellent! Glad it got back to the story and action because the last 2 were not my cup of tea. In my opinion they belonged in the first half of the season. Anyway, good writing, good Trek and a hell of a lot of fun to see (hear) Kate and Brett play around.
I LOL’d when the Admiral crawled past the viewscreen camera hahaha.
The show is moving towards it’s end. It’s is not great but it certainly doesn’t suck. So I guess we should take the small victories where we can get them.
Still not thrilled with the KU style warp effect. Anyone remember what it was like when Trip had to move between Enterprise and Columbia when they were at warp? Why can’t we get back to that?
Last comment… I feel like Gray did a better job of Dal channeling Janeway than Mulgrew did of Janeway channeling Dal. But I think channeling Dal was the tougher of the two jobs.
I expect Dal may be instrumental in getting the prohibition against augments reversed. Unless they make an exception for him. The policy is still in affect after Una was arrested in SNW, so either she was excepted, or remained a criminal.
I saw someone make a valid point that Bashir was given an exemption as he was under 18 and without knowledge of it when the he was enhanced, so his father took the fall for it.
This could be the case for Dal too as he was subject to experiments and still…I believe…a minor?.
He was designed from conception it seems.
It’s not clear whom he was created for by the scientific team following the early Soong research, but there was no suggestion it was for loving parents.
We don’t know how he came into the possession of the Ferengi trader but as far as we have information he was a possession, a slave for all his life until he led the others to escape with the Protostar.
The ethnically question would be around making a person who was created (likely as a research experiment) to be a a possession be denied the full rights of a sentient person, forever marginalized by the choices of his original owners.
Sounded like it was the most fun Mulgrew’s had on Star Trek since Bride of Chaotica!