Star Trek: Prodigy is coming in hot this week with episode 1×02, “Starstruck.” Are you ready to boldly go into this week’s episode? We’ve got some thoughtful discussion of ethics, a lesson in humility, and some encouragement from Hologram Janeway. Here are a few things I enjoyed in “Starstruck.”
One of the things I find fascinating in this story is that even though Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) has some measure of understandable anger and bitterness towards Gwyn (Ella Purnell) for complying with her father’s, The Diviner’s, slave labor camp, she still shows Gwyn some compassion. Rok-Tahk brings her dinner, but also leaves Gwyn with a complicated question–“Why didn’t you do anything?” Gwyn is already wrestling with her own complicity in something that she clearly feels is a violation of her own moral code. Rok-Tahk’s question is one she’s going to be wrestling with for the rest of the season, I feel.
Rok-Tahk vs. Gwyn
Speaking of our gentle giant, Rok-Tahk, it was really fascinating to watch her and Gwyn face off when Gwyn takes an opportunity to escape. The fight gets Rok-Tahk’s blood boiling. Gwyn’s choice to try to leave, rather than to help them is tantamount to handing them right back to The Diviner (John Noble) in Rok-Tahk’s book. Even though Gwyn says, “It wasn’t personal,” it’s clear that it’s personal for Rok-Tahk. It’s personal for every other person comprised of “The Unwanted.” I love that we are getting challenging ethical questions in a children’s show! More thoughtful animation and storytelling for kids, please!
And on a completely aesthetic note, it was quite fun to watch Rok-Tahk and Gwyn fight, especially in the midst of an escape vehicle being replicated.
Learning to Lead
While the action of “Starstruck” is driven by Dal’s refusal to ask for help, it’s good for us to watch him learn this lesson in humility in real-time. Though he says it with a bravado of self-aggrandizing confidence, everyone around Dal (Brett Gray) knows that he’s got a lot to learn. Dal knows it too. The nice thing here is watching Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) educate and encourage this crew of young cadets, allowing them to learn from their mistakes, but also encouraging them and highlighting their potential.
Janeway has always been a great coach and it’s very encouraging to me to have that kind of figure, even in hologram form, in a show made specifically for children. Everyone (adults included) needs to hear, “You’ve got potential,” now and then. I’m glad to hear those words coming from her.
Though Prodigy is billed as a children’s show, I’m impressed with the challenging themes and arcs that are being discussed. Even just two episodes in, we’re digging into heavy stuff. Based on her dinner choice in the mess hall, we learn that Rok-Tahk has lived in slavery her entire life. That’s horribly tragic. The kindness that Janeway shows in saying, “I like a girl who knows what she likes,” definitely tugged on my heartstrings.
We learn that beneath all that bravado, that Dal has been in a situation where he was promised a better life, but instead ended up in slavery on Tars Lamora. Talk about a sad clown. I think we’re going to get a kid’s level understanding of trauma, as we unpack the why and how each of our crew ended up among “The Unwanted.” This is a much deeper story than what appears on the surface. Well done, Prodigy writers.
Also, Hologram Janeway still drinks that black coffee. *happy sigh*
Finally, I have this to say.
Please tell me we’re going back to get this ridiculously adorable Catian? I want to protect that baby at all costs!
What do you think of “Starstruck”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Prodigy will air on November 11, 2021, on Paramount+.