‘Discovery’ and ‘Prodigy’ go where no ‘Star Trek’ has gone before
“Star Trek: Discovery” has returned with new uniforms matching the vivid “Next Generation” colors and an upbeat mood to match them.
Last week, the series’ fourth season premiered with Capt. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) confident in her new role as leader of the Discovery crew, which seems to have adjusted well after being transported nearly a thousand years into the future. The Federation is in better shape than Capt. Burnham and her crew found it, and the season begins with a sense of optimism that “Discovery” hasn’t experienced, at least not to this degree, since the series began four seasons ago on Paramount+.
And “Discovery” is among the proof that today’s “Star Trek” is going successfully where the franchise has never gone before.
As the new episodes airing on Thursdays show, Capt. Burnham and her crew are ready for new challenges, and it doesn’t take long for one to come. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, and before you read further, there are plot spoilers ahead.
At the end of last week’s season premiere, the “Discovery crew discovered it must deal with an unexpected gravitational anomaly, one that apparently destroyed the world of Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala). This week’s episode will pick up the plot from there.
“Discovery” has managed to evolve more than any other “Star Trek” series. (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” would be a close second.) Capt. Burnham is certainly wiser and more comfortable with herself and her crewmates than she was four seasons ago.
Still aboard the ship are Anthony Rapp as Cmdr. Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Lt. Sylvia Tilly, the first officer, and Wilson Cruz as the resurrected Dr. Hugh Culber. Like Capt. Burnham, they’ve all evolved in different ways.
And Cmdr. Saru (Doug Jones) is on the Kelpien home world to help the Kelpien they rescued last season, but there are hints Saru will return to Discovery.
Meanwhile, fans are enjoying not just one but two new “Star Trek” episodes a week because of the other series now on the air: “Star Trek: Prodigy.” Officially, it’s a Nickelodeon series, so it’s designed for younger viewers, but the producers and writers have created a series that appeals to adults as well. The storytelling and animation are compelling, as young people who escaped from a prison travel in the USS Protostar to truly strange new worlds. It’s a series with built-in mystery, and the animation allows for fluid storytelling.
The kids get help from a holographic training hologram: Capt. Kathryn Janeway (voiced by Kate Mulgrew). She’s based on the captain of the USS Voyager.
Leading the kids as the “captain” is Dal (voiced by Brett Gray), who faces the mystery of where he came from and what’s ahead. In escaping from a prison for criminals and orphans who had committed no crimes, Dal took a hostage, Gwyn (voiced by Ella Purnell), who’s evolving from a prisoner to a crewmate.
The funniest character is probably Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), a Tellarite who loves to argue and has great enthusiasm.
In a nice nod to the original “Star Trek” series, “Prodigy” features Zero, a Medusan, a non-corporeal being who walks around in a robotic-like suit. The first Medusan was seen in the old episode “Is There In Truth No Beauty?,” but unlike the Medusan ambassador in that episode, it’s safe to look at Zero. The computer-generated animation does allow for a nice depiction of Zero, one that couldn’t be achieved effectively in traditional two-dimensional animation.
Rok-Tahk (voiced by Rylee Alazraqui) and Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) round out the cast as unusual aliens who aren’t exactly what they seem.
Pursuing the USS Protomatter crew are Gwyn’s father, the Diviner (voiced by John Noble), and he has a strong interest in the USS Protomatter.
There’s a lot of mystery behind the characters, which is one reason why “Prodigy” appeals to fans of all ages.