Recap/Review: ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Takes A Deep Dive In “Observer’s Paradox” [Episode 205]

 “Observer’s Paradox”

Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, Episode 5 – Debuted Monday, July 1, 2024
Written by Jennifer Muro
Directed by Ruolin Li & Andrew L. Schmidt

An entertaining, lore-filled episode focuses on the characters and their new season stories.

Coffee… Janeway is in her happy place.

WARNING: Spoilers below!

RECAP

“Guys, we can fix this.”

The temporal tinkering done by the gang that took the Infinity for a joy ride results in an official inquiry that only leaves Janeway flustered by the kids, leniently chocking it all up to an unfortunate accident. With the usual exception of Dal, they realize they got off easy by only being put on probation. But when Murf recreates the spiral from Gwyn’s vision with bits of their lunches, they realize their blobby friend has been talking with their mysterious benefactor, and start a new goal of figuring out how to communicate with the Mellanoid slime worm. This latest scheme requires the gang to figure out how to avoid The Doctor, who has been tasked with keeping an ever-present holographic eye on them, so Zero takes one for the team by engaging him in a discussion of his latest holo-novel. As Dal and Gwyn catch up in a nice moment, they also research that spiral and have the breakthrough revelation that it is a petroglyph tied to an ex Federation colony… one that used to be the home of Chakotay. After Pog’s humorous but failed attempt to program the universal translator to understand Murf, they turn to a very reluctant Rok, who wants nothing to do with their rule-breaking shenanigans. But after they tug on her heartstrings–and she gets a nice slimy hug–she agrees to put her big brain into it and gets a big assist from her even bigger new friend, a whale named Gillian, who’ll do “anything for Rok.” Aww.

Murf shows off what he learned at improv classes.

 “The mission is over.”

The kids aren’t the only ones wondering if Chakotay is connected to the mysterious entity, as Janeway’s investigation leads her to the same possibility. But unfortunately Admiral Buzzkill Jellico doesn’t care; he orders her to close the wormhole and head back home. She acquiesces, but has to retreat to her ready room full of memories of her time on the original Voyager as the order is given and her possible only link to her former first officer is lost forever. “Am I a fool to hope that he is still out there?” she asks the consoling Doctor… heartbreaking. Maybe the kids will be that hope: It turns out Murf is aquatic, so after some convincing, he and Rok jump into Gillian’s tank and the little blob takes to it like a—well, like a fish, and he and the whale have a nice chat. She translates the message “find me” and coordinates for Gwyn’s new temporal armband. After she convinces Dal it’s worth the risk, Gwyn dials in to find herself flying through space, returning to that spiral and an ominous voice, “Find me before they do.” Returning to Voyager before she loses herself to the void of time, she exclaims, “Chakotay, I know where to find him!” Holy A-koo-chee-moy-a!

These kids are Gillian’s favorite show.

ANALYSIS

Say hey, Chakotay!

This episode was deeply satisfying in many ways, but especially to longtime fans of this series and Star Trek: Voyager. Now that we’ve tied things together from the first four episodes, we start to deal with the consequences, which this show doesn’t shy away from. While Janeway is a bit lenient, the kids (for the most part) show how much they get what they have done has an impact, which is an important lesson. The one character fighting his own growth is Dal, but that appears to be by design, although he is able to have real conversations with Gwyn, which shows emotional growth. Speaking of characters having real conversations, Gillian is a delightful addition as a friend and perhaps new mentor for Rok. A standout character in this episode is Robert Picardo, who gets to have fun minding the kids and espousing his latest holo-novel, adding his unique humor but also being the perfect person to console Janeway when she loses the wormhole connection to Chakotay in that heart-wrenching movement, with the perfect (and very Star Trek) message that “hope is never a foolish thing.” However, the introduction of Picardo’s Doctor is coming at the expense of Dr. Noum and Commander Tysess, even though those characters introduced in season 1 are voiced by excellent actors, so hopefully they will be explored more in the rest of the season.

Now this is how you improv!

The flashback scene of Janeway and Chakotay was also heartbreaking, with a nice performances from both actors that should keep J/C fans buzzing. But his character was also woven throughout the episode, as he has been throughout this series. Prodigy went out of its way to honor Chakotay by bringing back key parts of his story, including turning his iconic medicine bundle into a key plot point and a key emotional trigger. In addition to reminding us of aspects of Chakotay’s background, the episode also added some elements, like connecting his background to the Nicarao people. And in another deep cut from the extended universe, the episode officially canonized Chakotay’s homeworld as Trebus from the novel Pathways, written by Voyager co-creator Jeri Taylor. All the focus on Chakotay was a nice reminder of the stakes of the series, and it certainly looks like he is at least connected to the mysterious entity that has been communicating with Janeway and the kids all season long, which is exciting.

That look says Janeway has been reading some J/C fanfic.

Final thoughts

As we make our way through the first episodes of season 2, it’s nice to see this show does not shy away from diving deeper into character stories and their franchise history. This show should still work for new fans, but it is also delivering on a new level for the old fans. The first five episodes have done a good job of resetting the story and setting up the stakes for a fantastic season of Star Trek, in any medium, and for any audience.

What if we agreed to that four-shift rotation?

BITS

  • Stardate 61865.1
  • The Doctor’s latest novel is titled Love in the Time of Holograms.
  • Referring to the kids, the doctor says he hasn’t seen a crew that dysfunctional since the Cerritos, indicating he is visited the main ship from Star Trek: Lower Decks.
  • Gillian the whale is named for 20th-century cetacean scientist Gillian Taylor from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • Gillian is a descendant of George and Gracie, the humpback whales that were brought to the future with Dr. Taylor in that movie.
  • Gillian is voiced by Bonnie Gordon, who voices the ship’s computer as well as other characters.
  • The flashback scene with Chakotay and Janeway appears to pick up right after the flashback scene in the season 1 episode “Asylum.”
  • Captain Chakotay’s personnel file showed his birth year (2329), serial number (47-alpha-612), and affiliation to the Rubber Tree People, all previously established on Star Trek: Voyager. His status is listed as “Unknown” as of 2383.
  • In addition to Chakotay’s medicine bundle, Janeway’s ready room has a number of keepsakes:
    • Her Starfleet Academy diploma
    • A model of the original USS Voyager
    • Her old Voyager badge
    • Her old Voyager phaser
    • The hairpin from her time as Queen Arachnia.
    • A compact mirror connected to the short story “Isabo’s Shirt” by Kirsten Beyer from the Distant Shores anthology.
    • An official seal of the city of her birth, Bloomington, Indiana.

Janeway should keep all her memorabilia in the box to be considered mint condition.

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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Another episode which kept me engaged and entertained. Upon hearing the whale’s name is Gillian, I couldn’t help but smile. This show keeps hitting me in all the right places, and the story is compelling as well, with a tight plot and good placement of humor. I’m trying to pace my episode-watching with Anthony’s reviews to enhance the experience, but it’s a challenge not to binge them all. Successful so far!

I’ve binged the whole series now and am very impressed, this is as good as any of the new shows since Discovery started. It really has the “heart” of trek.

Wasn’t this review of episode 5 supposed to be posted last Thursday, before the podcast? I’ve been holding off listening to the latter until after I read the former. Just wondering…
Love the pod!

Janeway, Chakotay, the Doctor, Jellico. Is this yet another show that trades on nostalgia and legacy characters to win fan affection?

No.

Literally every show in the modern era has done that, with Picard and SNW being the worst culprits by far.

But what I like about Prodigy is that those appearances A. Feels more organic and B. Doesn’t go overboard with them.

Most of us know another big legacy character shows up soon but the way they used them was fantastic and really service the story. In fact I went on a diatribe on another board about the character and how lazily he was used on one show versus this one. It’s night and day.

(It’s a little odd to speak in code for a show whose entire season has been out a week now but I get it but I just want to talk about it too)

I’d say Picard did nostalgia right, especially in the final season. SNW though… yeesh. There is literally no need for repeated Kirk visits, Scotty turning up and just so happening to be Pelia’s former student, no need for La’an to be related to Khan etc etc.

Yeah for the most part Picard was OK. None of it felt very forced, especially because it was a sequel it’s easy to throw in whoever you want as long as they aren’t dead…but this being Star Trek…

But there were things like having Moriarty show up that just felt so unnecessary since it added nothing. Or having Kirk’s body being held by Section 31…like why?

But overall it was OK. But I agree with you on SNW. It feels like overkill at this point and I love the show. But season 1 alone added six legacy characters just as guest star roles ON TOP OF the main roles like Spock, Chapel, Uhura etc. And it wouldn’t be so bad if so much didn’t feel forced or completely out of canon like T’Pring and definitely Kirk. Again if you want to do a prequel, fine, but still have it make sense.

That’s another reason why I love Prodigy because none of it feel forced and they are much conservative in terms of adding legacy characters.

Again not trying to ”spoil’ anything but only 2 additional legacy characters shows up and only one of them has a major role.

But it’s not a revolving door of legacy characters like it is on Picard and SNW.

Oh please. You’ve got it backwards. Picard season 3… Random inexplicable cameos from the likes of Tuvok, Ro, Shelby, Moriarty, Lore, the Enterprise D, the Enterprise F, the Enterprise G… Picard S3 was an utter mess, and the only reason it was popular was because of nostalgia.

Stop acting like you are the arbiter of what is good and bad Star Trek. This kind of gate keeping is what gives this fandom a bad name. My opinion is my opinion and don’t get to tell me I’m wrong.

Surely not.

Another big winner. As a huge Voyager fan, I really appreciated all the nice Easter eggs in it and yes Chakotay’s backstory. That was a great reveal.

And I completely missed the name of the whale was Gillian. Not only that but that it’s a direct descendant from George and Gracie from TVH. Yeah I know, duh, but it didn’t hit me until someone said it on another site.

These are the things hard-core Trek fans love. Prodigy is just one big love letter to Star Trek just like LDS feels.

So basically you love these new shows because of nostalgia, references and legacy character back-stories?

What happened to boldly pushing the franchise forward?

🙄

Sometimes I really hate the internet.

Harry I was the BIGGEST proponent of Discovery going into the 32nd century because I wanted just that, something completely new and fresh that didn’t rely on legacy characters or storylines. I really loved seeing Pike and Spock in season 2, but I had zero qualms to leave them behind to see Discovery do something it should’ve done in the first season and just be its own show in a new setting. That’s what I wanted from the beginning. Many did in fact.

I am also one of the dozens and dozens of fans actually excited about SFA because it stays in the 32nd century and hopefully build more on this period than Discovery did and have said so more times than I can count.

That’s me happy they are pushing the franchise very forward and boldly, correct?

I can also enjoy seeing my favorite characters back, especially when done well on shows like this. But I don’t understand how hard is it for people to get you can simply enjoy both? Why is this simple concept to grasp that you can enjoy seeing Spock, Seven or Worf again but still JUST as excited to see the franchise boldly go somewhere new with new characters and concepts. It’s not a binary choice, seriously. I was the guy who was hoping Discovery ended up in a new galaxy at the end of season 4 and so then in season 5 we start anew again. Instead they attached the season to a 30 year old TNG episode and brought back the Breen. I wasn’t asking for either but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

I love this board but I get sick of all the whining over anything people disagree with or people making bizarre assumptions about you because you have the nerve to be excited about something you’re not.

Chill out. You can hardly blame my comment when your original post about the show/episode boiled down to three bullet points:

  • Voyager easter eggs and Chakotay backstory
  • The Voyage Home reference
  • The above two being “things hardcore fans love”, a “love letter to legacy Trek” and calling out Lower Decks, the ultimate nostalgia-bait show.

No I will not ‘chill out’. Dude you attacked me and made bizarre assumptions because I’m happy they gave gave backstory to a known character and filled in the universe a little more?

How does that mean I ONLY care about a show if it has legacy characters or nostalgia? Do you understand how logic works. Did those three lines imply I don’t want new things?? You do realize this is the second season of the show and I’m simply commenting on the things they were advancing from the first season?

This is the show Harry. You whining about having legacy characters in a show that already came out..wait for it now, 3 years ago is eye rolling at this point.

I don’t know if you are new here or not but this topic comes up every other week for years now. I have been accused of this myself about a dozen times now, half of that by one poster alone who spent all her time here telling people they only want more nostalgia. Thankfully she’s gone now because she had become a broken record that you managed to do in just two posts.

I can guarantee you Harry when this show was first announced not once did I say this show better have a lot of VOY and TNG characters or I won’t watch it. We didn’t make any of these shows, we’re simply watching them and praising them on the things they do well just as much when we think they got something wrong.

If you think there is too much of an alliance on legacy characters, nostalgia and constant call backs I’m not actually disagreeing with you, but this has been the case literally since 2009 when the first Kelvin movie premiered. It’s now 2024, it’s not going away.

Hopefully SFA will be a show that just does it’s own thing and not somehow tie into DS9. But trust me once it shows not enough fans care about it they will figure out a way to bring in Dax and put them on the show as a professor or something.

That’s supposed to be reliance. ;)

I “attacked” you? LOL, ok.

You don’t get to attack people on this forum and then get uppity when they call you out on it. That’s not how this works. You don’t like Prodigy? Fair enough. But how about showing a bit of respect for those of us that do.

Word! 🙂👍

Thanks!

It’s not a binary choice

That is the absolute truth, thank you for saying that.

Four episodes in and sadly am still not getting the praise. It seems to me that the secret to telling a story about young adults in a dramatic context is to let them be *fallible* young adults who must bear the responsibility for their decisions. Yet, having created a full-on crisis, they so far face no sanction at all. Even worse, forgetting what prompted a near fan-revolt over the character of Wesley Crusher in TNG’s first season, the writers seem content to have them be the key to solving every problem, at the expense of officers with far more knowledge and experience.

Even the show’s visual style, which I had highly praised last year, seems to be taking more of its direction from the final season of “Star Trek: Picard,” a live-action production where budgets were obviously a factor. Like the Titan-A the Voyager-A feels dark and severely underpopulated, and its bridge design is wholly unmemorable.

Will watch an additional episode tonight to be in synch with the reviews going forward, and sincerely hope that my feelings on this season, which I had quite looked forward to, ultimately turn around.

I was hoping you like this season more Michael but that’s life. There could be things coming up that could change your mind on some of it but having seen the entire season now you may hate it more lol.

I will agree with you about Voyager A though, it does feel a little underpopulated for a ship that holds 800 people

In retrospect, the first season was a near-perfect distillation of the childhood fantasy of being free of adult supervision while learning your place in the world and having a grand adventure doing it. The kids were entirely on their own, but had a holographic coach and a ship sophisticated enough to translate their speech and run itself while they learned the ropes. It was a stretch, but in Trek’s fantasy context I could buy into it. So far, to me this season feels a lot less sincere, and much more pandering towards its target audience, and that’s disappointing. The good news is that Steve Shives, a YouTuber whose opinions I generally respect, gave the second season a rave review after stipulating that he found it took about six episodes to achieve liftoff. So, I’m still hopeful.

Reading this, all I can say without spoiling anything these writers really get both the spirit of Star Trek and their show. I really hope you keep watching now.

And absolutely love Steve Shives; been watching his channel for years. Even though he hates Voyager (my third favorite show) I agree with pretty much most of his opinions and stances on Star Trek. Very insightful even when I disagree with him. I didn’t realize he reviewed season two of Prodigy yet. Will go have a look.

These kids are *traumatised* from their time on Tars Lamora. Janeway isn’t coming down on them because doing so will likely deepen the issue instead of solving it.

Then they should be in a rehab center, getting the help they need to become functional members of society. Not in Starfleet, playing with top secret equipment and making decisions that will impact the lives of millions? billions? trillions? of people.

Why can’t Starfleet act as rehab for these kids? It’s been that for many, many people over the years.

Really?! Citation needed, please. Organizations which operate spacecraft that have the firepower to level planetary surfaces shouldn’t serve to ‘rehab’ anyone, sorry.

…well respectfully, since this is the same organization that rather recently made a convicted mutineer the captain of a starship, I’d say their standards are loosely up for interpretation.

And I thought that was a real dramatic misfire as well. For my money Burnham’s redemption arc should have taken up the entire run of the series, and if the producers and Paramount had the courage of their convictions she would have never entirely achieved it.

That said, she made one really bad judgement call amidst a plethora of good ones. These kids are another matter — talented, but mostly untrained and undisciplined. So far they’ve spied on their superiors, inadvertently stolen and wrecked an experimental spacecraft, and placed the timeline in jeopardy, while Janeway hasn’t even sent them to bed without their supper. It makes her look pretty ineffectual, frankly.

I think what you want is (if you are in the USA and are older than 40, you will know this reference)… what you want is an After School Special that is a morality play with emo-stakes and which ends with a tile on-screen that says, “The More You Know.”

That is not this.

It never will be.

Rather it will be and will reflect the full intent, plan, and strategy of the paid writers and producers on staff, and not the that of the commentariat class on these websites.

Our job is to watch and enjoy… hate-watch and kvetch… or “Netflix and chill” with some other show.

My prayer for every Trek Fan:
– God, grant Star Trek Fandom the serenity to accept the Star Trek shows they cannot change…. 
– the courage to enjoy specific attributes of any Star Trek shows that they can tolerate… 
– and the wisdom to know the difference.

God knows I used that prayer a million times for DISCO and PICARD. I stopped moaning over them and stopped posting my moans some years ago. This is my first time back here in about 2-3 years.

See you all in 2-3 years… when we can see if Skydance-Paramount’s plan for Trek has been fruitful!

I’m not certain about much in these fraught times, but my hope is that we might have a productive discussion — even in the case where we have differing tastes — without one party making assumptions about what the other wants. Rest assured, fwiw, that in my case at least an “Afterschool Special” definitely ain’t it. As to the rest of it, I’m not exactly sure what point you were trying to make.

Fair.

Hate watch and chill as you like.

I don’t hate watch anything —life’s too short — and in fact I made it pretty clear that I was fond of this show, at least in its first year. Again, not entirely sure of your point.

The Prodigy kids — except for Gwyn — spent most of their childhoods AS SLAVES. Expectations of them are different because their backgrounds are so very different. The fact that these kids still want to save people and be helpful is a testament to their characters; that they don’t really grasp chain of command or looking to adults to solve problems is completely understandable, given their background. Benevolent authority isn’t something they have much experience with…