Star Trek: Prodigy returns from its brief hiatus with “Kobayashi”, an episode that will delight long-time fans of Star Trek‘s various incarnations. The title itself is a giant flashing neon sign indicating that the homages to Trek lore are many in this episode. You will not be disappointed. (Unless Enterprise is the only Star Trek show you’ve seen.)
For those new to the franchise, the episode’s title refers to the Kobayashi Maru, a training exercise intended to test a cadet’s character by placing them in a no-win scenario. First introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the exercise appeared in the 2009 Star Trek reboot film as well as various novels and video games. In Prodigy, the exercise is used when Hologram Janeway introduces Dal and Jankom Pog to the famous holodeck.
As if the Kobayashi Maru wasn’t enough of an homage on its own, when Dal needs to fill out a crew for the exercise, he asks the computer to choose “the best” and is given Uhura, Dr. Crusher, Odo, and Spock (and later Scotty, after tossing Jankom out of the holodeck). Using archival audio files, Odo, Spock, and Scotty are still voiced by Rene Auberjonois, Leonard Nimoy, and James Doohan, respectively. Uhura and Crusher are, naturally, voiced by Nichelle Nichols and Gates McFadden.
I could see that coming as soon as it was clear that Dal was able to choose between previous Starfleet officers when picking his crew for the test. (Jankom mentions Kirk, but Dal exclaims that they don’t need another captain.) Still, I legitimately cheered when each character was “introduced” because it was such a delight to see all of them. I do wish that they had gone even further by including someone from Star Trek: Enterprise, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Introducing the Kobayashi Maru at this point in the series is inspired, because Dal needs to learn how to trust and rely on his crew more. He still has a superior attitude that since he is the captain, everyone should do what he says. But as Jankom points out earlier in the episode, when he, Rok-Tahk, and Zero approach Dal and suggest trying to find the Federation, Dal is self-appointed.
Dal puts himself through the exercise more than 60 times, trying everything he can think of. At one point, claiming that the only thing left to do is succumb to chaos, he jams the Klingon ships by playing rock music really loud, which was the tactic the Enterprise used in Star Trek Beyond. On his final attempt, I was almost convinced that he was actually going to win the no-win scenario, but then he makes a careless mistake and accidentally blows up the ship himself.
It is Spock who counsels him through the “loss”. Dal is desperate to prove that he has what it takes to be a captain. Granted, he wants to do so in order to get the crew to respect him enough to follow his orders, but even so. Dal has a lot of stuff going on, and in the end, it’s not really about the Kobayashi Maru but about feelings of inadequacy. Spock, however, reminds him that the duty of a captain is to put the needs of the crew ahead of his own ego. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
And yes, I did tear up hearing Leonard Nimoy say those words again.
While Dal is trying to prove his worth as a captain, Gwyn is trying to figure out if she has a place on the Protostar after what happened with her father. “Kobayashi” picks up exactly where the previous episode left off, and the Protostar just gets more mysterious. It turns out that the ship is unbelievably fast, as they traveled over 4000 light-years when they warped and are now in the Gamma Quadrant.
As we’ve seen in other episodes, there is some information in the memory banks that Janeway cannot access. It’s a little disconcerting, as the data is classified. Who classified it? When? We learn a little bit more about the ship’s strange origins when Gwyn discovers that the classified data is encrypted in the language of her homeworld, a language only spoken by her and her father, the last members of their species.
(On that subject, “Kobayashi” features a flashback to 17 years ago, where we learn that Gwyn was basically created using the Diviner’s genetic material because he desperately wanted someone to continue on after his death. We know next to nothing about their species, so maybe this is how they normally reproduce?)
Rok-Tahk accidentally accesses the ship’s log, where we see that the captain of the Protostar before it went missing was Chakotay. Chakotay was the First Officer of the Voyager, which was Janeway’s ship. Janeway also appears in the clip, but it’s difficult to tell if it is actually her or if it’s the hologram version. I am inclined to believe that it was actual Janeway. She knew Chakotay, and it seems odd that he would have a hologram of her on the ship.
But this just raises more questions! Was it the Diviner who encrypted the data? Could another member of their species exist somewhere in the universe? Is that perhaps why the Diviner was so anxious to get his hands on the Protostar? If, as Gwyn says, they’ve never encountered Starfleet, how did he even know about its existence?
It’s hard not to get excited with every episode of Prodigy. I am so curious about the Protostar and where it came from, but I’m also eager to learn more about Dal’s and Gwyn’s species.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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