Star Trek Rewind: “Lost and Found”

“Did someone ask for help? I am Hologram Janeway, your training advisor for exploring the greater galaxy. On behalf of Starfleet, welcome aboard. How can I be of assistance?”

Teenage alien Dal (Brett Gray) is a prisoner working on a mining colony in the Delta Quadrant. After a thwarted escape attempt, he is offered a choice of either finding the elusive “Fugitive Zero” (Angus Imrie) or being executed by being abandoned on the planet’s surface. He chooses the former, but quickly sets about formulating another plan for escape with his mining “buddy,” Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui).

In their travels, they come across a derelict starship (the U.S.S. Protostar) and, with the help of Tellarite engineer Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) and crawling wad of goo, Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), they get the ship up and running soon after finding “Zero,” who turns out to be a Medusan, and has run afoul of the colony’s leader (known as the Diviner).

Horribly disillusioned after ten years of substandard entertainment passing itself off as Trek, you can imagine my surprise at coming across something so shockingly satisfying as Star Trek: Prodigy, Secret Hideout’s latest entry into the cramped franchise. Produced in association with Nickelodeon, Prodigy may market itself as children’s entertainment, but, refreshingly, this is a decent bait-and-switch, because it requires dramatic storytelling without the need for graphic violence and strong language, which is how Star Trek initially got off the ground.

There is also the fact that Prodigy premiered to very little hype. I remember there being a preliminary announcement, and then that was it. This is a Trek that wants to build on word-of-mouth rather than expensive marketing and demographics studies, and it is refreshing to see story take the center stage over characterization and unbelievable situations.

There are some puzzling canonical Easter eggs strewn about. The opening scene makes reference to a Kazon character. I had thought the Kazon were ultimately assimilated as a species by the Borg. There might’ve been stragglers along the way. In addition, the “Medusan,” first seen in the Original Series episode, “Is There In Truth No Beauty?,” has built a robot body so that he may easily transport himself and protect others from viewing his visage.

“Medusans” have a habit of driving people crazy with their physical appearance. What is a Medusan (and a Tellarite, for that matter) doing so far from home? Still, it is nice to see these call-backs to previous species. The best surprise is saved for last. When Rok-Tahk unknowingly says the word, “help,” a hologram in the form of Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) appears and offers assistance.

I almost had tears in my eyes watching this, the first episode of a promising series that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence, doesn’t resort to gore, nor does it swim in idiocy and “woke” smugness so redolent in newer Trek shows. I like these characters. I’m enthusiastic for new episodes and it occurs to me: this is what Star Trek is supposed to be—even though what we’ve seen so far indicates the show will have very little to do with Starfleet or the Federation, it’s a nice change of pace to get a civilian’s perspective into the 24th century.

There were some complaints about similarities to recent Star Wars shows, namely Rebels and Clone Wars, and they may be accurate, but it doesn’t hinder the experience for me, and because those shows were, more often than not, excellent, why not let them be the inspiration for this latest Trek? Star Trek: Prodigy is wonderful.

 

LawlerD

David Lawler has written for Film Threat, VHS Rewind, Second Union, and his own blog, Misadventures in BlissVille. Lawler has produced several podcasts including That Twilighty Show About That Zone, Two Davids Walk Into A Bar (with co-host David Anderson), EQ Lawler/Saltz (with Alex Saltz), and Upstairs at Froelich's (with co-host John Froelich).

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