So, last week I mentioned how much I enjoyed all of the characters in Star Trek: Prodigy and gave special props to the character of Dal, the de facto captain of the Protostar, a smooth talking teenage escaped prisoner who, despite having all of the indications that he was going to be an annoying little skid mark, was actually quite tolerable.
And then comes the second episode, “Starstruck,” and already I’m wishing this kid would confuse an airlock with a bathroom and suffer an unfortunately welcome accident.
Picking up immediately after the first episode, “Starstruck” finds the crew of the Protostar getting coached by a hologram of Captain Janeway which, for some reason or another, turns Dal into Captain Douchpickle who accidentally gets the ship stuck in the gravity well of a dying star. Meanwhile, Gwenn plots her escape.
Here’s the deal, lads… Everything in this episode: All of the damage to the ship, the crew almost getting killed… it’s all Dal’s fault. He’s the cause. Everything falls flat on his stupid dumb stupid shoulders. It’s not a group effort, no one contributed to his error, and no one else should share the blame. Dal got them into the mess and his insane inability to ask for help from the hologram who is offering it is just stupid. There’s no other word for it: Dal is written as a completely incapable idiot in this episode and it’s frustrating and grating to watch.
To make matters worse, not only is he the worst captain ever, but he’s a swaggering egomaniac who probably believes his farts smell of roses and roast beef. To make a point of it: I hated Dal in this episode. I hated almost every single moment with him. I understand that the show is setting him up as a character who grows and becomes more, but this was a lot… it was too much. There’s a difference between being inexperienced and being a completely overconfident twit.
It’s a shame too because, where Dal was written as shallow as possible, Rok-Tahk was written as a deep and troubled character — the way a child who just escaped prison SHOULD be. Rok-Tahk is damaged. She’s lost and angry and doesn’t know how to deal with it. The scene where she has an entire replicator that can make her any food she wants and she orders the same gruel that she had while she was captive because it’s the only food she knows was… just heartbreaking.
One thing that I love about Rok-Tahk is that, despite being gigantic and tough, Prodigy has not lost sight of the fact that she is a little girl in a big universe. She’s lost and doesn’t know where to go or what to do.
Speaking of Rok-Tahk, I absolutely loved the scene where her and Gwenn were fighting in the vehicle replicator and the shuttle was being built around them. It was visually fun, poked fun at Voyager’s endless supply of shuttles, and again highlighted that Rok-Tahk is damaged and angry.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the return of Kate Mulgrew as Janeway. Man, it is good to hear her voice again!
Hologram Janeway obviously knows that the children aren’t cadets, but it’s fun to watch her play along with the ruse. I enjoy how she’s supportive to the crew, giving friendly words of encouragement and advise. I really like the way they’ve set up this character.
The plot of this episode is pretty standard, merely extended because of Dal’s immature and agitating aversion to simply asking for help. While there were plenty of character moments that I enjoyed, the episode itself was not that great and suffered as a result of Dal’s terrible characterization.
I knew that, being aimed at children, Prodigy was going to have a little bit of cringe in it, but I certainly wasn’t expecting cringe this extreme or this much.
I really hope Dal learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person, otherwise I’m rooting for The Diviner.