I was not expecting to get a holodeck episode in Star Trek: Prodigy, but here we are! Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×17 “Ghost in the Machine” gives our crew the first holodeck episode of their series, but it distinguishes itself from other holodeck episodes in other Trek series. I’ll elaborate more on that in just a moment. The safety protocols are off this week! Here are a few of my thoughts on Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×17 “Ghost in the Machine.”
Blowing Off Steam, Protostar Style
One of the more interesting things that holodeck episodes give us in any Star Trek series is the insight into how our crew blows off steam. You can learn a lot about a person by observing the things they do for fun. The Protostar is no different. Zero solves mysteries, Jankom Pog beats up 1980s-style biker gangs, Rok-Tahk plays in a magical veterinary hospital, Dal is a pirate captain, and Murf moonlights as a lounge singer–Murfy No-Shoes! I love what they had to say about Mr. Murfy No-Shoes. “He can sing! He can dance! Or he can reasonably lipsync!” All of these things are a lot of fun and give us a better understanding of our crew.
Ghost in the Machine
Episode 1×17 “Ghost in the Machine” points us not only to a major problem for the crew of the Protostar but forces the audience to reckon with a real-life question: What do we do when the adults in our lives fail us, even unintentionally? As it turns out, even holograms are not infallible. And when you think about it, the only real caring adult presence these kids have had is Hologram Janeway. Before, they’ve all been met with heartache, disappointment, and even abuse. Hologram Janeway has effectively been den mother on the Protostar, and now, though unintentional on her part, she’s put the crew in jeopardy.
While it breaks my heart for our crew, I love that it forces our audience to deal with the idea that even the most caring and best-intentioned adults in our life aren’t perfect. They’re going to let us down and make mistakes, even unintentionally. The sooner we learn to accept that, the better. It’s a hard, but important lesson, not just for our crew, but for everyone in the audience.
Episode 1×17 made a holodeck episode that serves a purpose other than filler. Props to our writing staff for this. As much as I enjoy holodeck episodes in other Star Trek series, they don’t usually have a large bearing on our overall story and this one does. Well done!
There are a few little things that really sweetened “Ghost in the Machine” for me. First up, the next time I have a rough day, I’m going to get home, open the freezer, and say “Pile! It! On!” as I scoop myself some ice cream. I’ve also got to say that Gwyn, while waxing philosophical on the insanity of the person who invented whipped cream, also takes a swig of it directly from the can. Classic.
There’s a delightful little Easter egg in Dal’s command code. Did you catch it? Dal’s command code is a bunch of 90s video game systems—GB64N32X—AKA Gameboy, Nintendo 64, and Sega 32X. As a curmudgeonly retro gamer, I laughed so hard when I caught that. *chef’s kiss*
Finally, I’ve got to give big props to composer Nami Melumad, for creating genre-spanning musical cues for this episode! Big band, epic pirate music, and 80s/90s rock, all went beautifully alongside her gorgeous orchestral work. As a film/TV score nerd, I can’t wait to hear more from her.
If you want to hear me geek out about Star Trek: Prodigy 1×17 further, tune into this week’s episode of We Are Starfleet where I get to fangirl alongside fellow Star Trek podcaster and YouTuber, Brandi Jackola. You won’t want to miss it.
What did you think of Star Trek: Prodigy episode 1×17 “Ghost in the Machine”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Prodigy will air on December 15, 2022, on Paramount+.