“Kobayashi” is a completely shameless exercise in fan service and nostalgia and I loved every moment of it.
Faced with a crew that is beginning to doubt his leadership skills (and with very good reason because he sucks), Dal takes the Kobayashi Maru test on the holodeck with some of the greatest officers in Starfleet history as Gwyn struggles to find a place and purpose on the Protostar.
First of all, the fan service: Having Spock, Uhura, Doctor Crusher, Odo, and Scotty not only be part of Dal’s Kobayashi Maru test but having their parts voiced by the original actors, created from archived audio, was such a potent hit of love and nostalgia that it instantly made this episode amazing. I didn’t care that some of the dialogue was awkward, I didn’t care that the audio quality was all over the place… I loved it. I loved every glorious moment of it and it was such a stunning statement to what an animated Star Trek show could. James Doohan, Rene Auberjonois, and Leonard Nimoy may be gone, but their characters can live forever. The fact that Prodigy has introduced these characters to a new generation of Trekkies is not lost on me.
Beyond the nostalgia, the Kobayashi Maru test and the interactions with these characters had what looks like a lasting effect on Dal. For one, we can see that, despite his personal shortcomings and character crapiness, he has what it takes to be a great captain. He thinks outside the box, his ideas, though unconventional, seem to work and, despite everything, he got very close to beating the test. Secondly, he understands that he has shortcomings and has learned to overcome them… to become a better person. The fact that it was none other than Spock who taught him this lesson is also not lost on me.
If there is any substantial criticism for this episode, it’s that it did not give Dal his moment redemption with his own crew, cutting him off at the most cruel and unnecessary moment before he could tell them that he wanted to hear what they had to say and that he valued it.
On the other side of the coin, in what is almost a mirror of Dal’s story, Gwyn is also looking for a place on the ship. It’s a less bombastic story, but it’s growth none the less where Gwyn sees that she has value and others see it as well, to say nothing of it advancing the mystery of the Protostar and reintroducing another legacy Trek character.
I loved this episode, not only for what it means for the past, but also what is means for the future. We often hear the phrase, “passing of the torch,” but very rarely do we see that sentiment applied to fans. Prodigy represents a passing of the torch from our generation to the next and I’m oddly happy about that… because it means that, just like James Doohan, Rene Auberjonois, and Leonard Nimoy will never die as long as we remember them, Star Trek will endure and continue as well.