Recap/Review: ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Teaches Us A Lesson In “Temporal Mechanics 101” [Episode 204]

“Temporal Mechanics 101”

Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, Episode 4 – Debuted Monday, July 1, 2024
Written by Keith Sweet II
Directed by Ben Hibon

A fun, compact episode flies by in no time as the various stories converge.

Janeway is having Tom Paris shenanigan flashbacks.

WARNING: Spoilers below!

RECAP

“We need to build a time machine.”

Dal and the gang on future Solum know they screwed up the timeline, and Jankom tries to maintain his new polite demeaner as he explains the Infinity isn’t going anywhere. Thanks to Rok-Tahk doing some science on the Voyager, Janeway makes contact from the past with bad news that they have lost contact with Gwyn’s shuttle. They lose the connection but they receive a mysterious message to “Save Gwyn” along with some coordinates on Solum. Dal and Zero head to the coordinates, with Maj’el coming along to make sure Dal knows he is a very illogical being. The mystery message leads them to that ritual chamber where they find Gwyn, or part of her that is displaced in time, the rest in the past with her caring father, and she, too, is hearing mysterious messages. There is no way they can help Gwyn, at least not from when they are. Zero and a suddenly engaged Maj’el sort out they just do a little time travel to the other end of Gwyn’s temporal tether, 52 years ago. They return to the Infinity to tell Jankom not to worry about getting the ship to fly, and Janeway gets back in touch to be briefed on their new crazy plan. With Gwyn now the only thing connected to the original timeline and Tars Lamora, the admiral figures it’s “worth a shot.” At Dal’s request, she sends them a copy of Temporal Mechanics 101 (episode title alert!).

Pog regrets not deleting his browser history.

 “Don’t screw up time if you don’t have to.”

As Dal catches up on time travel (guided by Dr. Erin Macdonald), the nerds get to montaging the Infinity into a time machine. Somehow they get the ship into the chamber where Gwyn is, but they’re running out of time as little nasty Watcher robo-bugs attack. Jankom loses his cool when the time machine refuses to work, hammering the console in frustration. Percussive maintenance is back! They jump back in time to find Gwyn in pain. Zero administers something to stabilize her but it’s only temporary. They really need to get her back to the Voyager but the Infinity still can’t… wait… The little ship begins to glow, hover, and transform. Deus ex time machina! Thanks, mysterious benefactor. As Asencia pushes the Vau N’Akat elders to militarize, they can only watch as they see the Infinity fly off, arriving at Voyager in time for The Doctor to give Gwyn a new temporal stabilizing (but temporary) armband. As for that mystery benefactor, we get a clue with a glimpse of the holodeck and Murf, who is talking to a shadowy figure who is relieved everyone is all together before having to end the call: “I don’t have much time. They are coming for me. Good luck.” Who, what, where, how? Answers for a later time…

I swear, I am not evil (yet).

ANALYSIS

Getting the band back together

Full of fun and action, this fourth episode is also full of heart. Dal’s clear feelings for Gwyn and the heartbreak he feels knowing he may be responsible for her demise drive the emotion with a strong performance from Brett Gray. There is also a sweetness to the relationship between Gwyn and her father as they forge an entirely new relationship,. John Noble continues to bring life to Ilthuran and also gets to do a bit of his old Diviner evil thanks to a glimpse of his original character in the future timeline. And it was nice to see the ice on Maj’el finally thaw a bit, with the hint of a special connection to Zero. All of this adds up to reinforcing what really makes this show work: We care about these characters. They are all growing and learning, especially Dal, who is starting to understand his actions have consequences. Still, his bravery remains, telling Maj’el how sometimes “doing the right thing means taking risks,” his version of Kirk summing up the business of the final frontier. As for Jankom, hopefully, he has learned something from his attempt to be calm and play by the book and doesn’t just regress. But Pog is certainly a great source of humor and Jason Mantzoukas is always reliable for a laugh. So is Robert Picardo, although the “I’m a doctor, not an exorcist” gag just felt a bit forced. Still, together all of these characters continue to reinforce the Trek themes of family, friendship, and working together… something the mysterious benefactor made very clear is important.

Why is everyone staring at me?

This episode was quite clever in how it handled the exposition of time travel, explaining it to an audience that may not have years of watching Trek to understand. Having real science advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald explain things is a bit meta, but the presentation was fun and still included important facts and elements of Trek lore. They simplified things but how they are handling time travel is still holding up. What didn’t make sense is how they got the Infinity (which they made very clear couldn’t move) into the chamber, only attracting attention after they somehow towed it across Solum. As this episode gathered the gang back together again, it also pushed forward what is clearly a big mystery of the season, who is the mysterious entity? Presumably, the source of the messages, Gwyn’s space vision, the Orb from episode one, and the figure talking to Murf are all one and the same, with some unknown agenda. If this show was being released weekly it would certainly be the source of plenty of speculation but the binge model means answers are likely coming soon. Let’s just hope any resemblance to “Future Guy” is just superficial.

Why are you mysterious entities always so… mysterious?

Final thoughts

Four episodes in and we have our crew reunited, all on Janeway’s new ship. This new season is not missing a beat, and not wasting any time as we learn more about our characters and start pivoting to the bigger mystery of the season. Let the binge continue…

No, I haven’t seen Star Trek: Enterprise, why do you ask?

BITS

  • Stardate 112152.1 (for future Solum in 2437)
  • The Voyager-A has “temporal shielding.”
  • The Dr. Macdonald character was introduced in the season 1 finale, now given the name Erin.
  • Her time travel lesson incorporated images (and time travel incidents) with the original USS Enterprise, the HMS Bounty from Star Trek IV, and Judge Q.
  • Maj’el said her idea of using the wormhole to energize the Infinity as a time machine was inspired by Lt. Worf from doing the same with a shuttle and temporal anomalies from the TNG episode “Parallels.”

This is getting meta.

TrekMovie’s Prodigy July binge-watch

Since all 20 episodes were released on Netflix at once, we’re binging it in five-episode arcs; we can’t stick to watching just one a week! Each All Access Star Trek podcast (every Friday morning) will cover five episodes, while written reviews for all five will publish throughout the week, with two-parters paired up.

This will all wrap up just as San Diego Comic-Con kicks off at the end of the month. We also hope to have more Prodigy interviews and analysis in July and beyond.

We welcome fans joining us through July covering 5 episodes each week. However, for those choosing to binge the show even faster, we ask readers to avoid spoilers for episodes beyond the latest recap/review in our comments section.

Season 2 of Prodigy is available to stream on Netflix globally (excluding Canada, Nordics, CEE, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Mainland China) and season one is currently available on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Central and Eastern Europe with season two coming soon. Season two has launched in France on France Televisions channels and Okoo.


Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

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What I don’t get is why Chakotay returning to the Protostar screwed up time and prevented Gwyn from being born, but preventing the Civil War on Solum doesn’t do the same thing.

Yeah, it’s not clear. You could argue it is the catalyst for her timeline, but then again, that timeline wouldn’t exist without the civil war.

I’m confused about this as well. I mean Gwyn could still be born under very different circumstances but the whole timeline should unravel if the civil war is prevented too.

The moving the ship thing was a big oversight. Not sure how that got past anybody. Also, while the Quantum Mechanics “book” was fun, it’s not super believable that the Starfleet text on one of the most complex subjects would be “fun” and would include a “you shouldn’t mess with this… but if you do!” style warning.

I love this show and it’s some really good Star Trek, but it’s not written as a kid’s show. It’s a show about kids, but it’s more complex than TNG was. I watch a lot of kids tv with my five kids (ages 1.5 – 6), and this is definitely more advanced than anything geared for them. It introduces Star Trek concepts in ways that are great for a new viewer, but not to intro young kids to Trek. (Seems like ages 10-12 would be the lower end.)

Trek really needs something like Star Wars has done with Young Jedi Adventures or what they did with the Short Trek, Ephraim and Dot. (My kids started watching that at 2 and LOVED it and it got them very excited about Star Trek. They watched that 100s of times but haven’t had any other real way to get into it since then. Prodigy was too talky and scary for them.) But an Ephraim and Dot style series that introduces kids to the world of Star Trek by being able to visit different events in the ST timeline in a fun way… they would eat that up!

I kinda thought 10-12 was Nickelodeon’s target audience anyway. Younger than that go to channels like Nick Jr. and Disney Jr.

Just finished a rewatch of S1 last night, about to jump into S2. I humbly offer that PRO is most consistently the best Trek that has been produced in years. Marketed as a show for kids, but the writing is geared towards an older audience. Loving it.

Totally agree with you (as usual) Danpaine. As much as I also love Lower Decks and SNW, Prodigy is easily the best written and most captivating show in modern Trek.

And you are in for a treat with season 2. I”ve seen the entire season now and it takes season 1 and turns it up to an 11.

A lot of fantastic and surprising stuff in it.

Always a pleasure, Tiger. To me, this is easily the best of ‘Nu-Trek.’ I loved PIC S3, but sadly that was an anomaly, come to find out. SNW is trying too hard to overwrite TOS, and I’ve yet to find a groove with LDS. Still trying. Cheers. 🍻

No one has to love everything or even most things, as long as you find something that really connects to you. And I think we both agree Prodigy has done that in spades for both of us.

It hit all the marks for me, especially since I love the time travel and weird anomaly stories the most in Trek (big reason why I always loved Voyager itself). Add on a ton of exploration along the way with solid story telling and characters, you have at least one devoted fan out there at least.

I brought this up in another thread but the ratings for season 2 are off the charts on IMDB. Every episode has either an 8 or 9 rating for all 20 of them. The only other season that has 8 or 9 ratings across the board is Picard season 3.

No matter your personal feelings for either shows or seasons but they are both a huge hit in the fanbsse. And it’s more proof most fans isn’t out to hate NuTrek. When something is a winner as a whole, it gets celebrated everywhere. Even here lol.

The response on this site may be overly positive but it is also very limited (so far, may still pick up). If I remember correctly, you were arguing months ago that the low number of comments at the time meant that fans simply didn’t care about Discovery. Solely based on comment activity, it seems like fans care even less about Prodigy.

You bring up Prodigy’s IMDB score. As of this moment (Friday evening) all season 2 episodes are indeed rated 8 or above, with some rated higher than 9. However, most episodes only have less than 100 votes. Discovery episodes are rated much worse, but most of the season 5 episodes have more than 1000 votes each.
So it seems like Prodigy doesn’t get the excessive downvoting that Discovery got (if you look at the breakdown every DSC episode has a large share of people giving it 1/10) but it seems like the usual naysayers are simply staying away from Prodigy instead of actively downvoting it.

I really hope that Prodigy is getting (reasonably) good numbers on Netflix and it’s simply not reflected in the amount of online chatter here or the number of people rating it on IMDB. It would be a shame if the show was ignored because (same as you) I enjoy it very much.

” If I remember correctly, you were arguing months ago that the low number of comments at the time meant that fans simply didn’t care about Discovery. Solely based on comment activity, it seems like fans care even less about Prodigy.”

Um if you go back to 2022, you a-l-s-o would see a litany of posts from me saying the EXACT same thing about Prodigy season one.

I said it over and over and over again that because season one of Prodigy had so few people posting here AND other places like Reddit, YouTube, etc that I was worried it was on the verge of cancelation.

As said, this was back in 2022. In fact I predicted two shows were on the chopping block back then: Discovery and Prodigy in that order. But when Discovery got canceled, I held out hope maybe Prodigy will be saved only to see it get canceled too a few months later.

They were probably canceled for very different reasons but end of the day it probably mostly comes down to enough people weren’t watching them and that’s life. So are we straight on that? Great.

“You bring up Prodigy’s IMDB score. As of this moment (Friday evening) all season 2 episodes are indeed rated 8 or above, with some rated higher than 9. However, most episodes only have less than 100 votes. Discovery episodes are rated much worse, but most of the season 5 episodes have more than 1000 votes each.”

Considering the show has only been out 5 days, yeah. The point being how high the ratings are THUS far. And it’s more impressive because it’s the first time a Star Trek show has had an entire season released at once and yet it remains consistent through the entire season.

And sure the numbers can drop in time but the fact they are so high tells me they won’t fall a lot. Picard season 3 proved that when those numbers also started high when that season ended and a year later they are still just as high, minus a few points higher or lower.

And if you look at Prodigy season 2 Rotten Tomato score score it’s currently at 90%. But I didn’t include it because there are so few ratings so far but again very impressive.

The point is the people who are posting REALLY likes it so far and it’s consistent on both IMDB and RT.

“So it seems like Prodigy doesn’t get the excessive downvoting that Discovery got (if you look at the breakdown every DSC episode has a large share of people giving it 1/10) but it seems like the usual naysayers are simply staying away from Prodigy instead of actively downvoting it.”

I pointed this out before Picard season 2 got even more down votes than Discovery did, at least season 4.

But then oddly enough season 3 got the highest votes a season later than any other Trek show ever. Where did all the haters go in season 3 then?

I get your point, I do but maybe just maybe most people are just voting on how they feel? Yes I know and I get review bombing is a real thing. Same time I don’t remotely believe that’s the reason why Discovery alone isn’t well liked. I generally think people just don’t like the show. If that was the case then why does LDS, SNW, Picard season 3 and yes Prodigy don’t get the same treatment?

For the record I liked the last season of Discovery but it still seems to be a highly mixed season depending in who you talk to. With Prodigy it seems to be much more liked…at least for now.

I remember those posts very very well. Because a few of them were aimed at me at the time lol.

You did in fact say several times you thought Prodigy was getting canceled because there were very few discussions over it back then and you were worried fans didn’t care about it because it was dubbed a kids show.

I actually disagreed with that idea then but here we are.

But I totally agreed Discovery could get the ax though. I wasn’t surprised about that at all.

And it’s not some conspiracy to hate Discovery. People jist thinks it’s a bad show. People also thought TNG, DS9, VOY and definitely ENT were bad shows at one time or another. Maybe in the future people’s minds will change like with a lot of those but Discovery still feels like a mess of a show to me and I never rated it on IMDB either.

So happy to see the Prodigy ❤️ though!

Yep!

In fact most of my discussions about Prodigy after the first season was the fear it may not get another season even with the general praise it got. It seemed very obvious to me there just wasn’t a lot of traction with the show (and that others disagreed or pushed back on at the time as well).

And when I say not get another season I was really just talking about season 3 since season 2 was already shot and nearly completed by the time season 1 had ended. What genius would cancel a season they already brought and made that could at least get some views even if not as big as expected on a fledging streaming site? And on top of that excised from the service completely that blatantly marketed said site was now home to every series or movie in the franchise? But welcome to the strange world of streaming I guess.

And lastly I wish people stop turning this into another woe is me Discovery argument. I haven’t brought up Discovery or said anything negative about it while discussing this show. Nor suggested anyone should like this show more than that one. Because it’s not a competition and people should just like what they like. Stop taking everything as a personal slight. I personally think Prodigy is a better show than Discovery. But guess what I also think it’s better than Picard, SNW and LDS as well. OK? But I’m also guessing I’m in the far minority on that too lol. And yes I still think it is the least watched show out of the five in season 2. But hopefully more are watching this time. But that will probably be a few weeks before we know one way or the other.

That’s essentially the problem and why it was cancelled from Paramount+(we will see about Netflix). Kids just aren’t interested in it. Unfortunately, that was the whole premise for its existence. As much as I really like it, I have to acknowledge it failed in its purpose.

I appreciate that Boring, but I would offer that perhaps PRO has contributed greatly to the Trek universe as a whole. I think this show, and especially certain episodes will be looked upon fondly for year to come. It captures the spirit of the original premise the best, to me, and I was about seven y/o when I saw TOS In first syndication. So, maybe it’s all a kid’s show? PRO has done the franchise Well, imo.

Also agree. Prodigy will be the show people will be stumbling onto for years and see how well it represents what Star Trek is and all the amazing stories it tells in this universe in 24 minute bites.

And it will turn them on to the other shows like Voyager obviously but also TOS and TNG. It’s a great gateway into the franchise regardless of age.

My kids liked it at the beginning when it was about kids exploring the galaxy. I was excited as there was the potential for some STEM. That uh, faded faster than I would have liked. Luckily in some alternate universe a time traveller goes back in time and sticks the landing (yeah, they let everyone die in World War 2, but saved the show, you got to take what you can get).

totally agree. best trek in years.

I love the payoff here to the prior episodes running gag about Dal not having read Temporal Mechanics 101. Dr. Erin Macdonald just straight-up being herself as a Star Trek character tickles me.

“They simplified things but how they are handling time travel is still holding up.”
Sorry it doesn’t and really never did hold up.
Feel sorry for Nickelodeon investing in this thinking they are getting STEM with a real exciting scifi adventure. Instead of exploring the universe the series degraded into “time travel is still holding up” ignoring real science in favor of magic mushrooms and time travel.

Can you please explain where the “magic mushrooms” come in to play? Or are you just trolling as usual?

I think you know the answer.

Oh 100%

That was a shot at Discovery, you are correct that doesn’t apply to Prodigy Season 2.
The time travel shot doesn’t apply to Prodigy at the beginning, which was superior to this season.

I guess I missed the press release where it said the show was supposed to be a STEM show?

You’re such a weird dude.

Well you said it and I am sad to say you are right. NOT a STEM show.
Apologies as in 1986, way back there, I watched a cartoon Star Trek episode called “Beyond the Farthest Star” that just blew my mind with the technology, dangers, dilemmas yet some how in a fun story even a six year old could follow – after that I had though it would be impossible to do a Star Trek show that wasn’t STEM.
Six year old me was wrong wrong wrong! You win that argument for sure!

No one ever said it was supposed to be a STEM show. Only you. Don’t blame them for something that was only in your head and no one else’s. Thats just weird.

And considering how much people are loving this season proves they understand and get Star Trek very well.

I absolutely loved this episode and it was a really strong twist with Gwyn now being out of time. I enjoy every minute of seeing Janeway and the Doctor on Voyager and how balance all the characters felt on it. The Dr. Macdonald appearance was another fun moment and did a good job explaining time travel.

Just an amazing show. I know I repeated that 20 times since Prodigy started but it’s very true. 😉

This episode was great but the entire season was! Star Trek at its finest. 😎🖖

As much as I prefer the buildup that occurs in a weekly format for full live action shows, these episodes are so short, this is way better. I think a 3-4 episodes per week release would be ideal.

Fully agree. Because it’s more serialized this season, it really does benefit from being binge watched. And it is a lot of fun to watch it this way.