The reviews of the first few episodes of “Star Trek: Prodigy” are in, and for the most part, they are positive. Fans have been rating it at 70%, and critics are giving it an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which means that the show is probably worth a watch (according to their system).
As expressed on the Heavy on Star Trek Facebook page, many fans won’t give “Prodigy” a chance because it is an animated series which will air on Nickelodeon. One fan summarized what many must be feeling with this comment:
“TNG, DS9, Voyager & Enterprise were all just as good. Even Discovery is pretty good. The new bug-eyed cartoon is crap.”
Another fan writes on his blog that the show “checks its boxes off cleanly and efficiently, offering colorful, family-friendly action-adventure that may bring some younger fans into the fold and perhaps even give their 1990s-nostalgic parents something to chew on as well.”
While not an endorsement, this fan can see the value in what “Prodigy” is trying to do — introduce young potential Trek fans to the franchise before they are sucked into a galaxy far, far away.
That being said, while “Prodigy” is animated and aimed at a younger demographic, they are still incorporating essential items from the Trekverse into each episode. On Reddit, one fan observed that they look forward to Janeway teaching the young crew about how the Federation works. They also questioned all of the Trek technobabble, which is a hallmark of the franchise.
The writers of “Prodigy” are also sneaking in some clever references to the rest of the shows and films, whose shoulders they stand on. While these are not quite the Easter Eggs fans might expect from a show like “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” they are subtle and important.
A Species from ‘The Original Series’
Perhaps the show’s lynchpin, the character Zero, is based on one from “The Original Series.” First seen in the Season 3 episode, “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” the Medusians are beings who have evolved from needing physical forms. They are almost clouds of floating energy, which can be housed in a chest (as the first Medusian was in the TOS episode), or the robotic suit that Zero has.
During the episode, the characters of Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) debate if an old Greek ideal still exists in the 23rd Century. This was the thought that things that are good must also be beautiful.
This was a reference to the extraordinary beauty of the human companion of the Medusian, named Dr. Miranda Jones, who was played by actress Diana Muldaur — yes, the same Diana Muldaur who played Dr. Pulaski on “The Next Generation” and Astrobiologist Mulhall on “Return to Tomorrow.”
During the episode, Kirk concedes that he must rely on the tremendous navigational abilities of the Medusian to get the Enterprise out of danger. According to the episode, the Medusian race all have an excellent sense of direction beyond all humanoid life.
For this to happen, Spock needed to join with the Medusian to operate the controls aboard the ship. Because looking at a Medusian would cause insanity for a human, Spock was the only being aboard the ship who could handle this challenge. The show later reveals that Dr. Jones is blind, and that is how she can interact with the Medusian.
Medusian on ‘Prodigy’
This stands in contrast to the way Zero acts on “Prodigy.” When they finally get aboard the Protostar, Dal (Brett Gray) orders Zero to navigate the ship. Zero, the Medusian in a robotic shell, seems to not know where they are or where they are headed. This might be because Zero is unfamiliar with piloting a Federation ship, or it could be because the Medusian is holding back something.
From the start of the show, the villains were after Zero for something. Could it be that they plan to harness the powers of Zero for something nefarious? Possibly, but it also could be that Zero has a much more significant role to play with this crew of castaways. Zero could be a character like “The Lord of the Rings’” Gandalf, who was aware of much more than he let others believe.
Medusian on ‘The Original Series’
To be in the presence of the Medusian, Spock needed to wear a shield over his eyes. This eye shield is often used in memes and also appeared on “Lower Decks.” Fans must assume that the shielding technology present for Spock’s visor must also be present on Zero. Since there are no humans aboard the Protostar, Zero’s side-effect of driving folks insane might not be a problem.
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