This article is part of our ongoing Star Trek Explained series, featuring the insights of our resident Starfleet officer Brad Gullickson. In this edition, we’re exploring Comic-Con At Home and going shot by shot through the new Star Trek: Prodigy trailer.
For the second year in a row, San Diego Comic-Con International could not open its doors to their usually massive crowd. As they did in 2020, however, they’ve brought their epic programming to their attendees virtually. Starting this past Wednesday night, their YouTube page flooded with content, and wading through it offers a daunting task. For us Star Trek obsessives, the Paramount+ Peak Animation panel sparks immediate interest.
Attempting his best Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell wrangled the cast and crew of two Starfleet-significant animated shows: Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Lower Decks. The latter show is scheduled to repeat what it accomplished last season, whereas Prodigy sets sail into the bold new arena of children’s entertainment. Although, the producers made double-sure to announce that all ages could and will enjoy this new adventure series. They didn’t say the words “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but that particular Lucasfilm vibe radiates from the first teaser trailer.
Watch the Star Trek: Prodigy trailer:
The return of Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway
Star Trek: Prodigy promises a classic Star Trek exploration told “through the eyes of characters who are outside of Starfleet.” In the trailer, we see a scrappy, young crew of aliens who discover a discarded experimental Federation ship in the Delta quadrant and use it to bust off the boring rock beneath their feet. Aiding them in this impossible mission is the hologram of Kathryn Janeway. Yes, you did hear Kate Mulgrew, iconic captain of Star Trek: Voyager, during those last few moments.
The series is canon, but it navigates Gene Roddenberry’s human adventure away from the usual Federation trappings. This is somewhat in keeping with Jean-Luc Picard’s recent streaming escapades. The current franchise keepers remind their audience that Star Trek is more than a uniform. They’re examining the ideals we latched upon during the original series and showing their value beyond the iconography.
Let’s drill into this idea a little deeper by pulling out four shots from the trailer for Star Trek: Prodigy. At first glance, neither Prodigy nor Lower Decks are mirrors of your past Trek loves, but neither is so foreign that they’re unrecognizable. Bridging the old with the new is what Star Trek is about. Discovery builds strength.
The Star Trek: Prodigy trailer shot by shot
The trailer opens with Dal (Brett Gray) shackled to a chain gang. He’s from an unknown species, and despite his mining camp imprisonment, he’s a kid that exudes hope and optimism. He refuses to let the misery he experiences every day poison his dream of something more. He’s our gateway character, and through him, we’ll meet the rest of the cast.
From offscreen, some wretched brute bellows, “No one shall escape.”
By its very presence in a Star Trek series, the declaration is instantly rendered moot. It’s a challenge to stir Dal into action. When his opportunity calls, he’ll answer.
Zero the Medusan
Zero, here, is maybe the most exciting new character on the show. They’re a Medusan. Voice actor Angus Imrie describes them as “a genderless, non-corporal entity.” Zero is basically a light source trapped inside a mechanical containment suit. Think of Zero as a friendly Lovecraftian creature. Because if anyone saw their true appearance, they’d be instantly driven mad.
Medusans have appeared in Star Trek before. In the original series episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty,” the Medusan Ambassador Kollos mind-melded with Spock when the USS Enterprise was thrown off course in the Milky Way Galaxy. Imrie is excited to add more depth to a similar entity. He explained how much joy it is to play a character who learns to understand emotions through awkward interplay. As a mind-reader, Zero constantly fumbles societal conventions, frequently blurting out what others are thinking.
Here’s the clearest look we get of Dal in the Prodigy trailer. His enthusiasm for the unknown is plain on his face. But we can also see that he’s been through multiple altercations. He’s got a chunk missing from his ear and a gash over his right eye. But, to hear Gray explain Dal, the character finds themself through interactions with others. He thrives through a “zipper effect,” connecting to those around him and becoming stronger as a result.
During the panel, Kate Mulgrew dropped a few more hints regarding Dal’s abilities as well. She said that Gray is a “vocal magician” exchanging all manner of “vocal tricks” when acting across Janeway’s hologram. Gray appeared visibly chuffed by the compliments but wouldn’t elaborate further as those vocal maneuvers could spoil Prodigy‘s early surprises.
The Star Trek: Prodigy ship
Here’s the shot that titillates the longtime fans. What is this starship? And why does it contain a hologram of Kathryn Janeway? Pinch and zoom, and you can see that its designation contains the NX marker, clocking the starship as an experimental class.
This is the USS Protostar and its arrival in the show signifies escape for the characters who need it most. Mulgrew wants it known that her hologram is very much alive. “She’s Janeway at her best,” she says. “She’s here to help this motley crew and get this defunct ship functioning.”
Her mission is to help those who need it, and these kids need her help desperately.
From Star Wars to Star Trek
Dee Bradley Baker is the Star Wars invader amongst the cast. He’s the voice actor who embodies nearly every Clone you meet in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Bad Batch. For Paramount+, he’s ditching blasters and inhabiting the sentient blob called Murf.
Baker acknowledges that Star Trek: Prodigy may appear to have a cartoon kiddie sheen on it, but it represents everything the original series sought to do back in the day. This Star Trek, like all Star Trek, succeeds in the optimism it presents. Prodigy delivers an “appealing ensemble of disparate characters and creatures that can work together.” They can see a bright future ahead, and by working as one, they’ll reach that destination.
Star Trek: Prodigy was originally scheduled to premiere on Nickelodeon but will now land on Paramount+ with the rest of the franchise. The release date is unknown.