The team behind “Star Trek: Prodigy” added a new chapter to the mission of the Protostar. The latest episode, released on January 13, 2022, is entitled “First Con-Tact” and was meaningful and fun.
As explained by “Prodigy” writer and producer Aaron Waltke, part of the show’s mission is to educate and entertain the audience, who might be composed of youngsters who have never seen “Star Trek” before. In an interview with Heavy, Waltke described how “Prodigy” will show new audiences some of the basics of “Star Trek,” like the Federation, the phaser, and warp drive. Sometimes they’ll include iconic characters in the stories, like Spock or Uhura.
Throughout the story, episode writer Diandra Pendleton-Thompson made sure that she kept things moving forward while making sure that this episode communicated two concepts: the transporter and the Prime Directive. Pendleton-Thompson gave viewers an intelligent and unpredictable story, which entertained at multiple levels, as this Trek fan explained on Twitter:
The show is also piquing the interest of new Trek fans, who want to understand the background of this new Holo-Janeway character. This fan shared his thoughts and his son’s thoughts:
We’ll reveal a few interesting facts from “First Con-Tact,” beyond what has been written above. If you have not yet watched the episode, please understand this warning:
ATTENTION READER: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS AND INFORMATION ABOUT “STAR TREK: PRODIGY” SEASON 1: EPISODE 7
Quoth Homer Simpson…
As the story begins, the crew of the Protostar are playing around with the transporter, which is a staple of Trek storytelling. Since 1966, fans have almost expected the sparkling fade-in of characters a few times per episode. For this motley crew of explorers, they apparently had never seen what a transporter can do.
To test out the machine, Gwyn (Ella Purnell), Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzouka), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), and Zero (Angus Imrie) transported a piece of pie around the ship. Yes, a piece of pie. At one point, when they caught up to the pie on the deck floor, someone (perhaps Jankom Pog) said, “Mmmmm. Floor Pie!” Homer Simpson famously said this in Season 5, Episode 8 of “The Simpsons.” A nice touch.
Writer Pendleton-Thompson might be as big of a fan of “The Simpsons” as she is of “Star Trek.” It could also be her clever way of welcoming new voice actor Grey DeLisle to the show. DeLisle voiced the new Ferengi character, Nandi, and is a regular on “The Simpsons.”
Or it could be “Star Trek” acknowledging “The Simpsons” after years of the comedy spoofing the franchise.
New Ferengi Character
Thanks to Quark, Ferengi females are now wearing clothes. That’s a good thing for everyone because now audiences can see the better half of the race in action. As mentioned before, Grey DeLisle is the voice behind Nandi, and this character is not to be trusted.
Fans of “Deep Space Nine” and even “Lower Decks” are used to a more sympathetic portrayal of the Ferengi, especially after Nog joined Starfleet. But Nandi is much more like what Gene Roddenberry intended for the species in their first appearance on TNG’s “The Last Outpost.” As explained by writer Robert Vaux, the Ferengi were supposed to be the enemies for “The Next Generation,” replacing the Klingons.
This did not work, and the Ferengi were molded into something different. But Nandi is a villain who cares only about herself and her profit. She also quotes a mean “Rules of Acquisition.”
Cloaking Tech Powered by a Crystal
The crystal known as “Chimerium” plays an essential role on “First Con-Tact,” as Nandi stole some of it from the Protostar to power the cloaking device aboard her ship. As writer and author Ryan Britt laid out so nicely, this substance was first introduced in Trek novels. It was chosen by “Prodigy” showrunners Dan and Kevin Hageman to hide the Protostar from the Diviner on the mining planet.
Britt feels that viewers will likely hear more about chimerium as the series progresses.
To Seek out New Life
That line is from the Trek mantra, recited by William Shatner for “The Original Series” and Patrick Stewart for “The Next Generation” episodes. It is undoubtedly the case in this episode, as Dal (Brett Gray) and the others encounter a new type of life that communicates in a way unknown to the crew. The Cymari are almost crystalline in form and use harmonics to move and create objects.
The Mystery of Chakotay
At the very start and end of the episode, Holo-Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) seems bothered that she cannot solve what happened to Chakotay (Robert Beltran), who appeared to have been the first captain of the Protostar.
There’s much debate about what Chakotay’s fate is. Still, Janeway finally watched the security recording to see the robotic Drednok (Jimmi Simpson) appear. This brings the story full circle, as the Protostar must have been acquired by Drednok for The Diviner (John Noble).