Star Trek: Prodigy is back this week, teaching our young crew and audience about two important things in Trek lore. This is our first look at transporting and first contact. We meet a new species and encounter an old one as well. We also get an answer to a question that should be asked at the start of every episode of Prodigy–what will Murf eat today? Here are a few of my thoughts on episode 1×07 of Star Trek: Prodigy, “First Con-tact.”
I’m enjoying Prodigy just as much as any Star Trek series because of its high quality. I’m enjoying it so much that it’s easy to forget that it’s meant as an entry point for younger viewers. The amusement our crew is getting out of the transporter is a fun introduction to this staple of Star Trek canon. It’s also helpful that Jankom Pog gave the engineering textbook definition of a transporter.
Aside from this, the way the transporter is used in this episode is clever. Testing Murf in the transporter due to his apparent indestructibility is quite fun and funny, especially instead of sticking a com badge to him, they simply let him eat it. Is there anything Murf WON’T eat? Apparently not.
On the Cymari homeworld, Dal’s quick thinking to get the crystal back from Nandi and to return it via his com badge was a stroke of brilliance that I didn’t see coming. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. We also now have the interesting conundrum of a Starfleet com badge being left behind on a world where our crew shouldn’t have been in the first place. I’m not so sure that this won’t come into play later.
How NOT to Do First Contact 101
Unfortunately, due to Nandi’s influence and some poor decision-making on our crew’s behalf, today we get a lesson in what NOT to do during first contact. One of the interesting choices made by the writing staff was to introduce a Ferengi into the mix. The Delta Quadrant isn’t the home of Ferenginar, the Ferengi homeworld, so it looks like more Ferengi have made the journey through a wormhole to the Delta Quadrant as they did in the Star Trek: Voyager episode 3×05, “False Profits.”
Nandi (played by voice acting great, Grey Griffin) plays a stereotypical, profit-obsessed Ferengi. While this is a fairly good introduction to Ferengi society, it’s also important to note that the probable reason Nandi left Ferenginar is because of their poor treatment of women. That of course does not justify her actions in this episode. Her betrayal teaches Dal a hard lesson, but also offers a point of connection between him and Gwyn.
The point of connection Dal and Gwyn share now is a sad one. But it does create empathy within them both, particularly in Dal. Gwyn’s words to him, “I wish I could tell you that it’ll stop hurting, but I don’t know that yet,” gutted me. These two have experienced quite literal abandonment by their parents/parental figures. That’s one of the most painful things for a child, or even an adult to imagine.
The unfortunate reality is that many kids and adults watching Prodigy have likely experienced that kind of abandonment. There’s a thought within children’s literature that it’s healthy for kids to experience fear, death, and other difficult emotions through stories. They learn to cope with those difficult emotions through the safe environment in a story, which allows them to better handle those difficult emotions when they face them in real life. Prodigy is providing a safe environment for kids to explore these things, and I’m glad about that.
Finally, Nandi heightens her betrayal by reaching out to The Diviner with information about the Protostar and we get a glimpse about who originally stole the Protostar–Drednok. None of this is too surprising, given what we’ve seen before. But now that we know that the Diviner will have a trace on the Protostar, it feels like we’ll have a showdown with him soon.
What did you think of “First Con-tact”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Prodigy will air on January 20, 2022, on Parmount+.