The latest episode of Star Trek: Prodigy does a theme and variations on previous versions of Trek, gives us deeper insight into what each of our crew desires the most, and makes us glad for those, “Hold onto your butts” Grab Handles because we’re left on a cliffhanger already in this week’s episode of Prodigy— “Dreamcatcher.” Take a note from Janeway and grab a strong cup of, “Coffee! Black!” for episode 1×04, because we’ve got a ton of heavy stuff to unpack today while we talk Trek.
Theme and Variations on “The Cage” and Star Trek: Nemesis in Prodigy
Prodigy writers are doing callbacks a little differently than other current Trek series. Lower Decks, which can sometimes be called, Callbacks: The Series, plays fast and loose with all the references to other things within the Trek universe. Prodigy is pulling a few visual cues and playing with ideas from previous Trek episodes and films. This week, the M-Class planet they land on reminded me of the original, unaired Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” The plant life on the planet shows our young crew the deepest desires of their hearts, but only to keep them there long enough to be consumed. This isn’t entirely unlike what the Talosians offer Captain Pike. Give him what he wants most, but he has to stay. The difference here is that this planet has a more sinister intent than the Talosians!
Dal’s turn in the “Runaway” reminds me a bit of the Argo Buggy in Star Trek: Nemesis, which got its own true callback in Lower Decks this past season. While the “Runaway” is a bit different from the Argo Buggy, when you drive a buggy around a desert-like landscape, it’s hard not to think of Star Trek: Nemesis. I’m curious to see what other sorts of callbacks we’ll be getting in Prodigy. While I don’t think they’re going to go the Lower Decks route in terms of references, I do think there will be subtle callbacks like these peppered in throughout the series.
What Dreams Are Made Of
As we go further into “Dreamcatcher,” we learn a little more about what each of our crew desires most of all. Some of these things we already knew–Dal wants to know who he is and where he came from, so he sees the image of this parents, or at least what he thinks his parents might look like. Jankom Pog sees a good meal. Zero sees a mystery to uncover and explore. These could reasonably be expected, but what the rest of our crew sees has a deeper ache to it.
Rok-Tahk sees all these cute little aliens. She loves them and they seem to love her. Rok-Tahk is so much the stereotypical little girl here. What little girl doesn’t love cute critters? The words she says when Zero and Dal pull her out of her illusion broke my heart–“But they liked me…” This tells us quite a bit about Rok-Tahk. She wants to be loved. There’s a good chance she’s spent most of her life feeling unloved, and that’s an emotional gut-punch if I ever saw one.
Gwyn’s is gut-wrenching as well. She sees her father, The Diviner. She sees him whole and is surprised that he made it to her so quickly. However, she realizes the truth of the matter when he says, “I’m so proud of you.” The sadness in her eyes when she says, “You’re not my father,” is devastating. From the information we’ve been given, Gwyn’s story is a sad one. I’m also noting some curious parallels between her story and Rok-Tahk’s. Both of these girls feel rejected, and while they have opposite upbringings, they share that same feeling of being alone.
Gwyn’s “Save the Kitten” …or the Murf Moment
I’m going to put it out there that I really like Gwyn. I think she’s got a complex story and some interesting nuances to her. She’s got some complicated villain tropes going on at the moment and I’m here for it. She makes escape look super easy, summoning her sentient armband/sword into her cell and breaking out. Then she makes contact with The Diviner! That’s no good!
When Gwyn realizes that she must escape or go down with the ship, she sees a trembling Murf and rescues him. When she is discovered by the rest of our crew, we see her clutching Murf to her chest, both of them scared and shaken.
The conclusion here is a tragic one. Gwyn, while intelligent and capable, is just a scared teenage girl trying to survive this horrible world her father has built up around her. She cares about other people but struggles with how to do right by them. It’s at this moment you get a glimpse of Gwyn who is a victim of her father’s lies and personal agenda. She’s a teenager who realizes she’s made a huge mistake that she can’t fix on her own. This is the sci-fi version of a teenage car crash. But in this scenario, she doesn’t have an adult to call for help. Gwyn has a choice to make. Will she help our ragtag bunch of misfits or will she continue to submit to her father’s will?
The Diviner is coming; will our crew be ready? We’ll have to make use of our, “Hold onto your butts” Grab Handles until we’re able to get off this bumpy ride next week.
What do you think about “Dreamcatcher”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.