Talk about giving your audience what it wants all in one go! The writers’ room really delivers in Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×16 “Preludes.”
Prodigy fans have been clamoring for backstories on Jankom Pog, Rok-Tahk, and Zero since these characters were introduced. Not only that, we FINALLY find out what happened to Chakotay, get some insight on The Diviner and Ascencia, and more. Even in an episode with a lot of buffer time, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Let’s dig into Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×16 “Preludes.”
I know there’s been much speculation in the Star Trek: Prodigy circles of the internet about the backstories of our crew. Dal doesn’t know who he is, so neither do we. We know Gwyn’s origin story, but the rest of our crew? Nope. We sure don’t. There have been little hints, but we know very little about Jankom Pog, Rok-Tahk, or Zero. We don’t know much about Murf either, but as Murf communicates in burps and gurgles, we’re probably not going to find out much more than that anyway. But Jankom, Rok-Tahk, and Zero? There’s a story to be told there and by golly, we got it this week!
In some ways, I’d have liked to have had an episode to tie in each character’s backstory. However, after thinking about it a little longer, I’m glad our writers’ room opted to truncate their backstories. If we spent an episode on each, it would’ve either been too repetitive of a structure, or it would’ve taken up storytelling space that we need for the larger narrative.
What I love the most about this narrative choice is that the focus is on sharing our stories, even if they’re painful. We share because it helps to talk about them. What a wonderful thing to teach the kids in the audience! What a wonderful thing to teach the ADULTS in the audience! Star Trek: Discovery has taken some heat for perhaps being a bit too earnest, but aside from Ted Lasso, I don’t know many other shows are talking about mental health. I sincerely hope that this is something we see in all of our Star Trek shows, from Lower Decks to Discovery to Picard. I hope other shows sit up and take notice too.
I think the biggest surprise this week in Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×16 “Preludes” is the reveal that Chakotay and his crew got stuck in a temporal anomaly! How will we get them back? Are they still on Solum? That was a bold move for Chakotay and company to send the Protostar back through the anomaly without being on it. But we get a couple more reveals too. Like that the Diviner used to agree with the tenets of the Federation? And that Ascencia chose the name “The Vindicator” for herself? The fact that they let slip that the Diviner used to agree with the ideals of the Federation might be hinting at a redemption story for him. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Oh, and The Diviner karate chopped Vice Admiral Janeway in just the right nerve knocking her out, and is looking to take over the Dauntless? Boy, are we in trouble now! Here’s hoping Tysess and the rest of the crew can counter this sneak attack.
In an episode without a lot of action, “Preludes” definitely delivers where it counts. Sometimes the most interesting episodes are based on characters sitting around and telling each other stories. That’s how we get to know people in real life. Why should it be any different in our TV? And when you think about it, isn’t that ultimately what TV is? We’re sitting around, listening to and watching someone else’s story. And as long we tell each other good stories, stories that matter, it’s time well spent. And that’s what I think we’ve got here.
The next episode of Star Trek: Prodigy will air on December 8, 2022, on Paramount+.