It’s our ONE HUNDREDTH EPISODE! Can you believe it? We are so happy to be here, and grateful to our listeners for coming with us on this journey of digressions, ritual mourning for exploded admirals, Star Wars feelings and alleged misandry.
ALSO we have some Star Trek to discuss! And … quite a lot of Star Trek coming in the next six months, prayer circle for … us.
- Prodigy! Time travel! Technobabble! Space program history! TRAUMATISING CHILDREN!
- In an unexpected twist, we LOVED Jankom this week
- (We also loved everyone else, but that is only to be expected.)
- Anika imprinted on Aliens at a disturbingly young age
- It’s interesting that the usual suspects aren’t calling Rok-Tahk a Mary Sue…
Anika: Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, it’s our 100th episode, and we are discussing Star Trek: Prodigy, season one, episode eight, Time Amok.
Liz: And so many other things! Okay. Let’s start with our 100th episode game.
Anika: So, I’ve started posting the prizes on Twitter. There is a Team Cornwell jacket, I believe it’s a small and a medium.
Liz: Oh, cool!
Anika: It could be a medium and a large, I should’ve looked this up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a small and a medium. So they’re little, you don’t have to be as tiny. A Prodigy tote bag, a very nice heavy canvas bag with the Star Trek: Prodigy logo, as well as Nickelodeon and Paramount Plus.
Anika: A Data art print that is stunning, absolutely beautiful, done by a freelance artist who has also done a whole bunch of covers for Marvel, DC, Image. She’s very prolific, and does beautiful work, and she did these three Star Trek characters, Dax, Seven and Data. And I’m keeping Dax and Seven. Sorry, guys. But I’m putting the Data into the prize pile.
I have a funny collection of action figures, including Riker, Troi, Data, Lursa and B’Etor … It’s a funny selection. Dr. Crusher and Tasha Yar. You can choose which of these random, mostly TNG characters … Because they’re all TNG characters. Again, I’m keeping Seven and Nine. Sorry.
Liz: No. Don’t apologize. Obviously, you keep the Seven.
Anika: And I know that Liz is working on stickers.
Liz: Yes. I bought a Cricut at the beginning of summer, which is, like, a vinyl and paper cutting machine. And then yesterday I finally bought a proper printer for stickers. And so there’s some trial and error going on. I did a draft of a What About Man Person sticker, and realized that the font I had chosen is just too fine for display. Like, it doesn’t really turn up. So I need to rethink my aesthetics, but stickers are coming down the pipeline.
And in the meantime, I made a Discovery Admiral vinyl sticker for my laptop, which no one else can have, because I love it.
Anika: And so how you enter to get one of these wonderful prizes is, number one, you can leave a review on any review leaving podcast place.
Anika: And just let us know where to find it by mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liz: Or just tweet us!
Anika: Yeah, you can tweet us, I guess you could use Facebook. I’m on Facebook intermittently, but allegedly we have a Facebook. Or on Tumblr. Shout us out on social media. You could also, if you wanted to, like, tweet to your followers, “Hey, everybody, follow Antimatter Pod.” That counts as a review as well.
Liz: Honestly, you could just @ us on Twitter going, “Hey, I like your podcast, I think it’s great. What do you have for me?”
Anika: Exactly. easy. And starting next Tuesday, when this episode airs, I’m going to have little questions on the Twitter, like, you know, who’s your favorite Star Trek character, something like that, to get people talking. And if you engage with those tweets using the hashtag #AntimatterPod100, then you also get entered.
Liz: Awesome. I didn’t think of that at all!
I want to flag that, given the nature of the world right now, we’re setting a pretty loose timeframe on actually sending things out, because, for example, USPS is not shipping to Australia or New Zealand at all.
Anika: We will, of course, pay for the shipping, but we can’t guarantee that it’ll come at any time. Women at Warp is also having the same problem with shipping. It’s pretty much across the board, I would say, difficulties getting places. I ordered gifts on Etsy that I’m still getting now, in January.
Liz: I ordered you a gift from a Melbourne company. And it is still in transit. So … Suffice to say, if you’re in the Antipodes, maybe request a sticker, and then you only have to wait on me and whatever the hell Australia Post is doing.
Okay. That’s that. Anika, we have so much Star Trek coming down the pipeline.
Anika: Ah, oh my goodness. So last Trek Tuesday, they announced all of the dates for Star Trek for the next year, basically, at least, you know, through the summer. And then Lower Decks is coming at some point. The past two seasons have been gone at the end of August, so we’re assuming that’s when Lower Decks will come again, although that wasn’t actually announced.
Liz: Yeah. We have dates through to July. There is a constant stream of new Star Trek coming, including three weeks of overlap between Picard season two and the end of Discovery, season four.
Can I say, as a podcaster and as a human being, I’m not happy about that. The way time zones are, both of those start hitting illegitimate feeds on Thursday night. Thursday night is also Good Sam night for me, assuming it hasn’t been canceled by then. I’m like, I don’t know if I have enough emotional spoons to deal with all of this!
Not to mention that we know from the end of Prodigy and the beginning of Discovery that we as podcasters sort of struggle with two Star Treks in one week.
Anika: It’s a lot even just to watch.
Anika: And then watching with a … I’m not going to say critical eye, but with an eye for more than just enjoying.
Liz: Yes. It’s really, hard.
Anika: That’s a lot. Especially, I mean, often I will watch these episodes more than once if I don’t have enough to say the first time, or if I didn’t like it and want to say something more than, “I didn’t like this.”
I mean, I watch a lot of television, so I’m not gonna say that it’s … You know, I watch new episodes of all of my shows, all of my procedurals, but watching a couple Law and Orders or FBIs or one Chicago, 911s … Good Sam. I have a lot there. And they’re all franchises now. It’s getting a little crazy out there. Or even Good Sam, all of those, they don’t take the same amount of energy as Star Trek or, like, The Book of Boba Fett.
Liz: What I want to suggest is that we simply let Discovery end, and do our regular weekly episodes for Discovery, and then pick up Picard and talk about those three episodes and the fourth one.
Like, my plan personally, if you don’t mind, is to just mute all of the hashtags and the chats and everything, and watch Picard on Sunday night, because I need that time to process Discovery and do our podcast without a second show getting in the way.
Anika: I think that’s fair.
Anika: I think it’s crazy that they’re overlapping like this. It seems…
Anika: As unnecessary as having Discovery on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just me, I guess.
Liz: To me, it’s doing Discovery a disservice, because they’re coming to the end of the season and their big finale. And we know that in terms of mainstream attention and coverage, Picard is always going to trump that.
Anika: Right! And then, as if that wasn’t crazy enough, the season finale of Picard and the season premiere of Strange New Worlds are happening on the same day. Who made that decision?
Liz: Again, we know that Paramount is not good at this.
Anika: But that just steal his thunder from both.
Liz: I do think that this is better for casual viewers. And that actually makes me happy, that that’s the demographic that they’re targeting. But at the same time, I’m just a podcaster standing in front of a corporation, asking it to think about my time management.
I almost think we should see how we go with holding back our conversation about Picard, and maybe with Strange New Worlds, we can think about going back to bi-weekly episodes, and maybe alternating, you know, we can finally do our Kai Winn episode, and then cover a month of Strange New Worlds. See how that goes. See how we feel about it.
Anika: Let’s see what happens. But we’re going to be so exhausted.
Anika: But I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled to be getting all of this Star Trek. I’m very excited for all of these things. I have become ridiculously invested in Picard. When the first season aired, while I was watching it, I was not super invested, and I didn’t like the finale. So I’m surprised at how excited I am for Picard. And they released a new trailer today, and I am so excited. I cannot wait to see these characters again. And I’m more excited for the whole time travel and modern times shenanigans.
Liz: One hundred percent.
Anika: I don’t want it to be fighting with Discovery because I want, I don’t want to be looking to Picard instead of watching the back half of Discovery, you know?
Liz: Right. Right. I want to take everything as it is and not have it competing with other things for my attention.
Just like with Strange New Worlds, I really want to be able to sit down and enjoy it on its own terms, instead of hoping to see the characters that Discovery left behind or blew up.
Anika: For Strange New Worlds, I really have no idea what to expect. I’m just going in, not blind, because I know what things are, but I’m not looking for anything in particular from that show.
Liz: I’m afraid that I am, and accordingly I’m trying to manage my expectations strictly.
Anika: Okay. There were also some renewals announced. Discovery has been renewed for season five.
Liz: I was totally wrong. I own that. I’m happy. We get to outlast Enterprise, and isn’t that great?
Anika: It is going to be only 10 episodes.
Liz: Yeah. What I was reading was that the 13 to 15 episode thing was a Netflix request, and with Netflix paying for a large chunk of Discovery, that made it work, but the standard for Paramount Plus is 10 episodes.
Liz: And certainly their other limited series, like, I’m watching Yellowjackets, and that is 10 episodes. [Note from Liz: Yes, Yellowjackets is on P+ in Australia. It’s where most Showtime properties stream these days.] That’s just how modern streaming television runs.
Anika: Right. And so Discovery was renewed. We already knew that Prodigy and Picard were renewed for their second and third season, respectively. Strange New Worlds has also been renewed for a second season.
Liz: Yeah, they are really gung ho about this.
Anika: I mean, there was a lot of people clamoring for that show before it was even announced, so I’m not surprised that it’s getting a full court press, as it were.
Liz: Yeah. I really hope that it is not the crowd pleasing throwback that some fans are hoping for. I think the cast is certainly interesting outside of the white, familiar main trio.
I’m optimistic now. I’m cautiously optimistic, given how heavily Akiva Goldsman is involved, but if nothing else, a week to week episodic series is harder to mess up than a 10 or 15 episode arc.
And frankly, I’ve watched three episodes of Good Sam. I am in no position to claim to have taste or critical sense or standards.
Anika: I just listed off all the terrible television that watch weekly. I definitely have no standing, but at least I admit that it is terrible. It hits that right — and this is what I’m actually looking forward to and expecting from Strange New Worlds, is maybe that procedural effect of telling a story.
And all of these shows have arcs and the characters change. That’s what I’m hoping for, for Good Sam, certainly. There is still a formula to it, that each episode you get the, the formulaic stuff, as well as the overarching themes and character developments.
Liz: Right. And I’m certainly optimistic that there won’t be an emotional reset on the character arcs, the way Voyager occasionally did.
Anika: Mm. All right. So we’re going to be exhausted. We’re going to be watching Star Trek forever.
Liz: Yes. We may be changing up the format of our show, but…
Anika: But, you know, raise a glass.
Liz: I am delighted. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Anika: And now let’s talk about what I consider the best episode of Star Trek: Prodigy, and one of the best episodes of Star Trek, Time Amok.
Liz: It’s funny because the buzz around it was like, they finally found a way to do something new with a temporal anomaly. And then I watched it and I was like, I saw this Farscape episode a few weeks ago.
I love this episode, but I love it more for the character stuff than the plot, because the plot, the plot was great, but I’ve seen the plot.
Anika: I don’t care about the plot at all. Even the whole time aspects, that was all just a gimmick for the character stuff, in my opinion. In my perception, not opinion. The way I watched this episode is, I couldn’t explain the time stuff and I don’t care. Unlike Rok-Tahk, I’m not going to teach myself quantum physics in order to watch this episode.
Liz: I do think that they walked a really good line, in that there was a lot of technobabble at the front of this episode. And I was like, oh, I’ve already failed trigonometry once, I don’t care about sine waves. And then they got into the stuff with Apollo 13, and I was like, yeah, this is what I love. This is what I want kids to know about.
And so I really feel like they hit both of those sides in, pleasing the nerds. Or, I should say, the science nerds and the physics nerds, and the history nerds, like me.
Anika: I was proud of myself for knowing that tachyon particles means time travel. Also, I loved that they went into a space cloud, just like on classic Voyager. That made me so happy. I love space cloud adventures.
And I almost felt like — because, okay, so at the top of the episode, we were having a Janeway lesson in cooperation, basically, and, you know, all working together to solve this riddle.
Liz: Getting the fox and the grain and the chicken across the river. I think it’s a bold move to have Kate Mulgrew and a chicken on a screen together these days. even in animated form. It was so great.
Anika: Just as the Deadwood reference was an Easter egg, that had to be an Orange is New Black nod.
Liz: It seems impossible to think that they didn’t at least think of it. I actually could have watched a whole episode of these kids trying to figure out the riddle.
Anika: I know. It was so sweet. So they’re all terrible at it. And they couldn’t work together, and no one listens to the people who had ideas, and Dal gave up, and said that they weren’t cadets, they weren’t Starfleet, they weren’t a crew. walked out stormed off
Liz: [sarcastically] Oh my God, he’s acting like a teenage boy.
Anika: This was Dal’s peak teenage boy ness episode.
Liz: It very much was. But I love him, and I understand.
Anika: But so after that, the Protostar drives into a space cloud that creates a Star Trek time travel, time work, fun times Thing. And so I was like, did holo Janeway decide to go into the space cloud, hoping that create a crazy situation that they would have to work together to get out of? Because that’s what it seems like to me, that’s something that non holo Janeway would do.
Liz: Maybe she just wanted some coffee.
Anika: There’s coffee in that space cloud.
Liz: I started out thinking that this would be a Janeway episode, and it kind of was, but really everyone got their moment in the sun. I really, really loved what they did with Jankom this week. He had two outstanding lines that really me feel for him.
Liz: “Jankom was afraid it was a physical manifestation of how he feels.” Yeah, all been there, Jankom.
Anika: I relate.
Liz: Yeah, that is a pandemic mood. And then at the end, remembering being dead is pretty heavy stuff.
Anika: That is. It’s so heavy. And the fact that he went first, and he really did – like, we saw him blow up, he’s the one that we saw happen.
And also, I really liked that he said the reason he was upset that Dal spilled the beans about them not being cadets is that he wanted to go to the Federation. He said, “We could have gone to the Federation and had a better life.”
Anika: I’ve struggled to connect with Jankom and this episode really I still don’t know enough about him, but I had a lot of empathy for him.
Liz: Yeah. And he still got to do the comedy engineering stuff and even when he’s released from his obligation to pretend to be a cadet, he is still determined to look after the Protostar and be her engineer. And I think that’s an important character beat for him.
Anika: I agree. And I liked those lines that had this sort of dark undertone to them, all three of those lines, make it seem like his comic reliefness is a defense mechanism.
Anika: That he is protecting himself by being the butt of the joke. And I really like that. That builds his character for me in a positive way.
Liz: Yeah. And it’s a very common way for teenagers to behave. Certainly that was how I learned to be funny as a weird and insecure teenager. And I had all my limbs and did not look like a warthog, so.
Anika: Right. And we, don’t know enough about Tellarites and we haven’t met enough to, like, know what they do, what they gravitate towards. You know, how like Klingons are mostly warriors, for example, and Vulcans are scientists, right? But we don’t know enough about Tellarites.
And so, because of that though, the Tellarite engineer kid like that is … it doesn’t feel natural. It doesn’t feel like something that he would gravitate towards, because we haven’t seen it before. We don’t have that context. And so it feels like he’s that, you know, outcast, nerdy kid, that yes, tells jokes in order to put himself down before anyone else does.
Liz: And now I wonder if the whole gag where he hates beauty and thinks beauty is ugly, I wonder if that is also not a sincere expression of his aesthetic, but another defense mechanism.
Liz: Or a running joke that he has made part of his identity, much like my hatred of birds. [Please don’t tell anyone on Twitter I said this, no one can know I don’t hate birbs.]
Anika: I really like how this episode, again, develops Jankom into much more of a full character. I have a better handle on who he is.
We see Zero interacting with Janeway for, I think, the first time. And they are very much the responsible kid who is on good terms with the authority figures and the adults in their lives.
And I love that, and I love that Janeway seems surprised that they’re not cadets. And I wonder how sincere that is, but that it’s Zero who stays back to explain the context to her, and Zero who comes up with a way to save the ship. They had a smaller role this episode, but I love them.
Anika: Zero’s role and Zero’s way of dealing with things is to put their head down and do the work.
Anika: And they’re not looking for glory, the way Dal, for example, is. They’re just doing what they can.
But they also had a few moments that were sort of heartbreaking. This is a very heartbreaking episode. It’s like everything that happened to everyone was really heartrending for me.
Liz: This episode was all about traumatizing children, and I’m into it.
Anika: So Zero had one line where they’re like, “I don’t have control of my hands, if only I had better control of my hands,” and then, “if only I could tell everyone what they mean,” or something like that.
And I was just like, oh my goodness, Zero wants that connection that, you know — everybody in the crew really — that’s what it was. It was so amazing because they’re separated, and once they’re separated, all of them realize how they wanted to be a crew.
Liz: Yes. I was also thinking, I have considered Jankom as a disabled character, given that he has a prosthetic arm, but I hadn’t quite made that connection with Zero. They’re disabled in the way that a capital D Deaf person is disabled, where there’s nothing wrong with their body, it simply doesn’t fit the societal norm and they need technology to adapt. And so what Zero needs is better adaptive technology.
[Liz note: I got sort of muddled as I spoke, and did not mean to imply that Deaf people need assistive technology! The social construction of disability is complex and I should not attempt to discuss it before breakfast.]
And I kind of think maybe it would be cool for Jankom to design better hands for Zero, because clearly Jenkins prosthetic is amazing and can go from a hammer to a very fine tool. And Zero just needs better hands.
Anika: I have high hopes, though. Now that they’ve had this experience and they’re all realizing that, in order to be a crew, like, what really makes a crew is people caring about other people and worrying about the whole, not just the individual.
Liz: Yeah. And some of them were on their way there already. Like, I think Rok-Tahk has always been incredibly communally minded, but also she’s a little girl and they ignore her as they did in the teaser. We’ll get to Rok-Tahk.
Anika: We’re not there. We’re at Dal. Dal had a smaller role this episode. This was very much an ensemble episode.
Liz: Dal has had a lot of focus and doesn’t need the attention this week.
Anika: Right, exactly. He didn’t need the attention. And I think that was good. But he still broke my heart, because he said, “I’ll mess it up. I mess up things.” And then when he did, when it didn’t work exactly right the first time, he said, “I told you, I was just going to mess it up.” And that is really sad to me because, again, we’ve only really seen Dal telling everybody how great he is.
Liz: Yes. And I think it’s proof, again, that his alleged cockiness has been a front that he’s putting on. We talked about the Kobayashi Maru teaching him how to fail, and it did to an extent, but his first serious failure has really, really knocked him for a loop. He’s never felt that before. He has had struggles, but he’s not really made big mistakes.
And learning to be resilient in the face of your own flaws is hard. And I completely understand why he took to his bed to play video games, because that is…
Anika: Oh, that’s my child. That’s what that is. Like, this is a very familiar … And it’s not like I don’t. And I’m in my forties. So.
Liz: As an adult and a viewer, it was like, oh, come on, get it together. But as a person, I completely understand. And I have had days where I’ve gone, existing is too hard. I’m going to lie on my bed and play Two Dots.
Anika: Exactly. Especially this past, you know, two years.
Anika: But he did rise to the occasion and make his warp matrix to Zero’s specifications, but out of whatever he could find, as they did in Apollo 13. And that was great.
Liz: That was brilliant. And he also had the bright idea of using the vehicle replicator, which I think was super smart. I don’t know why the other replicators wouldn’t do it either, but maybe the Drednok virus broke the whole replicator system in that time…
Anika: I mean.
Liz: I don’t know.
Anika: Who knows what happened there?
Liz: I’ve just made up a reason and I’m happy for it to, yeah, I don’t need to think about it again.
I really liked his storyline. It broke my heart, but I also knew that Dal is on a trajectory to becoming a fully realized adult and this is an important phase for him to pass through, even though it is very annoying, teenage boy … I mean, there are worse things teenage boys can do.
Liz: Then we have our daughter, Gwyn. Can I just say watching, Yellowjackets? The first major scene is Ella Purnell’s character faking an orgasm and it was … I was unprepared.
Anika: Oh dear.
Liz: Oh no. No,
Anika: Well, so Gwyn had to deal with Drednok, and therefore had deal with her father and her past, and, her own complicity, in a way.
Liz: Absolutely. And she also had Janeway at her side, and this was exactly what we were wanting. Janeway, helping Gwyn along her redemption arc.
Anika: Yes. And I loved her. I liked a lot, actually that, because we’ve seen her use her wrist, her magical arm thing, whatever it is, to great effect. She did very well on murder planet with it. I mean, eventually they took her down, but they had to overwhelm her in order to take her down.
And yet, because [Drednok is] her father’s version of her arm thing, just like a sentient version. And so he not only wasn’t taken down, he injured her. And I really liked that. I liked that. It was like, I can’t just fight this the way that I fight everything.
Anika: And yet she also was completely undaunted.
Liz: Yeah. Also, Drednok probably trained her. So he has no doubt been looking for an opportunity to kick her ass for a long time, because he’s not a good person.
Anika: He’s not a good person. Droid.
Anika: Whatever he is. We’ll get to Drednok. I did like that. He was a very formidable enemy and yet, like I said, Gwyn was undaunted, which was in contrast to Dal who was very daunted.
Anika: And she used that in order to encourage Rok-Tahk, the way that she needed to.
Liz: Yeah. And in terms of acknowledging that she has not always treated Rok-Tahk well, even since she came onto the Protostar, but she believes in Rok-Tahk, and that means a lot.
But also, Gwyn is such an interesting character to me, because she seems like she should be the captain, just as Dal does, but they’re both so young.
(I feel like one imposing a strict hierarchy on a bunch of teenagers is always a bad idea. There are multiple Star Trek episodes about how giving cadets too much authority is bad.)
But I think that both are separately going to become really strong leaders because of their experiences here. Much like Mariner and Boimler, they’re an amazing team, regardless of who is quote-unquote in charge.
Anika: That’s what I was going to say! That, regardless of who ends up captain and who ends up XO, you can tell that they are that Trek duo that we get in every series. And I appreciate that.
Liz: Also, consider Michael and Saru, who have literally swapped around as captain and first officer.
Anika: Because they realize that you know, different times call for other people.
Liz: And that they can relinquish all authority without fearing that they’ll lose it forever. I think that this 21st century take on the chain of command is maybe not true to the military experience, but it’s very mature emotionally.
Anika: Yeah, but maybe Starfleet isn’t supposed to be militaristic.
Liz: I mean, people have been having that argument for decades.
Anika: Yeah. And I’m not landing on the side of that. It’s not because I’m landing on the side of — it very much is based in the military. However, people have been arguing it for ever and ever, and so maybe this is an attempt to show that side. And I appreciate that.
I also want to point out, while we’re discussing Dal and Gwyn that when Janeway was saying, “Haven’t you noticed that no one’s here,” Dal called on his communicator, he called Gwyn and then everybody else.
Anika: That is notable.
Liz: Because they’re in love! I mean, they’re not, but they’re friends and they’re going to fall in love.
Anika: She’s the one that he relies on the most. She’s his person.
Liz: Yes! And then we have, then we have our precious traumatized rock child. Did you notice how intensely she was cuddling the fox in the opening scene? Once again, this child needs a hug.
Anika: I told you! Touch starved!
Liz: I did not doubt it! And in fact, I noticed Professor Mohamed Noor on Twitter this morning, discussing whether or not hugging Rock, or being hugged by her, would be a painful or hard, like she’s a rock, or would it be like hugging a porcupine.
Anika: Oh, I love Rok-Tahk so much, this episode was such a beautiful –because, yeah, she’s a kid. She’s the most kid of the kids. She’s nine. And she does so much.
I loved “Go away, Janeway.” That was, again, so true to real children, that has happened to me personally. And I get it. Sometimes it’s just too much. Kids are physically incapable and physiologically in capable of handling all of those emotions.
Liz: Their brains are still building themselves.
Just the idea of Rok-Tahk spending any time alone, but something in the order of, I guess, at least months, is just devastating to me. It’s one of those things where it was so shocking that I thought, they have to reset this. They have to fix this, they can’t let Rok-Tahk be alone this long. And then they didn’t fix it.
Anika: And then they didn’t fix it
Liz: And that’s great. I love traumatizing characters. It’s just that I prefer when they’re not eight years old.
Anika: Well, yeah. Okay, but Aliens…
Anika: The movie Aliens, with Ripley, but more importantly with Newt.
Liz: I see where you’re going.
Anika: I saw Aliens when I was not old enough.
Liz: I’m not old enough to see it now.
Anika: I should not have seen that movie at the age that I was. Basically, I was Newt, and I one hundred percent related to Newt when I saw that movie. It fundamentally changed me. And I count it as one of those movies, along with Return of the Jedi, as creating my personality, because I imprinted on Newt so much.
And I understood that level of aloneness, that absolute abandonment, and then finding people who are not your people, but they are people, and you are ready, and you will do anything to be a part of that community and latch onto them.
Liz: And that’s Rok-Tahk.
Anika: Right. Exactly. That’s Rok-Tahk.
Rok-Tahk, in this episode, loses her family and has to fend for herself, and has to take care of herself, and also stop the disaster from happening. And that level of resilience in these small children is heartbreaking and horrible and should never be necessary. But again, in the current world that we live in, we are living it every day.
Liz: Oh my God. Rok-Tahk was in isolation and remote learning.
Anika: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. This is so important and wonderful. A story for this moment specifically.
Liz: I didn’t make that connection until you pointed it out, but that’s amazing.
In spending this time and teaching herself all the science, she has found her identity and found her calling as the Protostar’s science officer. And I’m so, so happy for her. I love that. The biggest, most monstrous looking of these children is also the youngest and maybe the smartest.
Anika: Right. I loved that they acknowledge that, that they say, you have brains and brawn, and you are so important to the crew. And I loved Gwyn’s message also, I have to say Gwyn’s message was so heart-warming, and it builds on that idea of Gwyn being the person who listens, who observes.
Anika: Also, I really liked that there was this sort of Janeway to Gwyn, Gwyn to Rok-Tahk progression. That was beautiful. Women supporting women and creating a little family of mom and big sister and little sister. And it’s just like, this is so precious.
Liz: I saw, I think it was a Tumblr post, and I think it was shared by you, that said, Janeway is the mother that we needed and Gwyn is the big sister that Rok-Tahk needs.
And I think what’s particularly great about this is that even though all of this is building on, for example, Janeway’s relationship with her Voyager crew, and particularly with Seven and Kes, it doesn’t feel like holo Janeway is being put into a motherhood role as the default. You know, she’s a mentor, she’s teaching, she’s encouraging and she is a mother figure, but she’s not just a mother figure. I think that’s really, really well done.
And I think fandom could stand to learn something from that, because the of times I see Janeway being described as the [Voyager] crew’s mom … When I came up, we were all writing fic where they’re all having sex. Anyway.
Anika: I want to talk about your comments that no one is calling Rok-Tahk a Mary Sue.
Liz: Oh, yes. I went along to the Star Trek subreddit, because I hate life and I hate joy and I hate myself.
And actually, the buzz for this episode was really positive, because it turns out the nerds actually really like Prodigy. It is proper Star Trek to them, and this one had a lot of technobabble, so they were very much in favor of it.
And they were talking about how great Rock is, and how smart she is, and she learns so fast and they just love her. And I was like, okay. But then you think about how you were talking about Michael and Beckett and Dal and Tilly…
I don’t want people to call Rok-Tahk a Mary Sue. Obviously, I think that would be terrible, and I would be really mad if it was happening, but I also think the absence of that is also very…
Anika: Yes. It’s very interesting.
Liz: I think it’s, in part, racism, but it’s also misogyny that leads men to dislike empowered and intelligent female characters. It’s very much bound up in sex. And these guys, thank God, don’t see Rok-Tahk as a sexual figure.
Anika: I was going to say she’s not pretty.
Liz: I didn’t think of that, but you’re right. You’re right.
Anika: Which is related. Those two comments, I think, are similar.
Liz: We know about Bronies. We know that some men don’t hesitate to. Sexualize small girls in animation.
Anika: I just think that she’s not a girl to them.
Liz: Yeah. Because she’s big and she’s not attractive, she is allowed to be super intelligent because what else does she have going for her?
Anika: Exactly. How could she possibly find worth as a person?
Liz: But also, because she’s not humanoid, [technically untrue] and she’s little, [also false] she’s also not being fat shamed the way Tilly is.
Anika: I’m, like, shuddering at this whole conversation. It’s–
Liz: I’m sorry.
Anika: I just…
Liz: Honestly, I look at, for example, Star Wars subreddits, and I go back to the Star Trek sub subcultures and think, gosh, we’re doing pretty well. But it is awful.
And I will say that one of the things I love about Prodigy is that it seems to be universally appreciated throughout fandom. The guys complaining that it’s a kid’s show are very far in the minority.
Anika: Hmm. I would say it’s a kid’s show, but it’s created to be universal, as opposed created to be just for children.
Liz: Yes. Yes. This is something that I think about, sometimes, that family television doesn’t really exist anymore. We can’t really go backwards and change the media landscape, but I do wish that there was more to family entertainment than kids’ shows which are also appealing to adults, like Prodigy, and stuff like Doctor Who. Which is great. Like, I love Doctor Who, but what if we had this, but also other genres?
And I had sort of hoped that Strange New Worlds would fit into that category for Star Trek, because really Star Trek has Prodigy … and everything else. And Prodigy is the only one where I would be completely comfortable watching it with a kid. But Strange New Worlds, we know, has an intimacy coordinator in its IMDb credits, so that to me suggests that there’s going to be – it’s certainly not promising.
Anika: I would say most of The Next Generation is pretty family friendly. Not all of Next Generation, but most of Next Generation. Most of Voyager. Deep Space Nine, no…
Liz: I think the thing with Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Voyager is that Rick Berman was very, very insistent that this was family television, and it was part of the whole syndication thing, that to function in syndication, it had to be able to be sold into any market and air at almost any time slot.
Liz: And, you know, I think Deep Space Nine got a bit more explicit. Voyager got a bit more explicit as well, but Voyager was very … I just think UPN didn’t know what they wanted.
Anika: Voyager had the wrestling issue, in that the only other thing that was popular on UPN was wrestling. And so they were like, “okay, so we have to appeal to wrestling fans,” and they assumed that wrestling fans are like, you know, men. Bros.
Liz: Yeah, I would say the lowest common denominator of heterosexual man.
[Obviously this is completely unfair to wrestling fandom, but that was the vibe in the UPN era.]
Anika: Right. So that was an issue. But at the same time, Voyager was led by a woman, had multiple strong women characters. And not just strong in the, I can punch you out sense, but also strong in the multifaceted…
Anika: Yeah. Complicated, like, have the same sort of arcs as a Kirk or a Spock type characters. So it’s interesting when you think of, like, Voyager was somehow the most feminist and the most sexist Star Trek. It’s interesting.
Liz: I’ve been watching Farscape, which started in 1999. So it sort of overlapped with the end of Voyager and then Enterprise. I was actually shocked at how sexist it was, how misogynistic and how homophobic. And, hot take coming in, I think it’s good that Rick Berman would not allow a shadow of queerness to touch Star Trek in the nineties, because otherwise it just would have been no homo jokes all the way down.
Anika: All right. So let’s talk about Drednok and Chakotay..
Liz: Oh boy.
Anika: Which is what we’re supposed to be talking about although, honestly, I think it’s a good conversation.
Liz: Oh it was a great conversation that I am absolutely going to cut.
Because Drednok uses Chakotay’s voice to wipe the Janeway hologram, there is a theory going around that Chakotay is Drednok. I love it.
Anika: It’s an amazing theory.
Liz: First I saw it as a joke on Tumblr and then I saw people proposing it for serious on Reddit. And I was like, guys, guys, guys.
I don’t believe it for a minute. I do think that it was Chakotay who wiped the Janeway hologram, and part of the mystery we’re going to be solving is why. And I do think that the Diviner has, or has had. Chakotay as a prisoner.
Anika: It reminded me of The Hunger Games, when they have the, um…
Anika: Is that what they were called?
Anika: That’s what it reminds me of.
Liz: Using a loved one’s voice against a person. Yeah, because Janeway clearly has an emotional reaction to hearing that.
Anika: Which is also so great. I love that holo Janeway has Chakotay feelings.
Liz: I’m like, is this an unrequited thing? Because the gender relationship there is not great, on a purely emotional level, I kind of like it.
Liz: I am aware that I am the person who complained about Zora being in love with what’s his face in that Short Trek. I think it’s a sexist cliche, but also Janeway and Chakotay and my adolescent feelings…
Anika: I just think it’s interesting because, again, it brings it back to the Janeway hologram versus the Doctor hologram and how they’re similar and also different. And I really liked that stuff. I’m really into it. I want to know more.
I mean, I’m very interested in how Captain Chakotay ended up with a Janeway hologram in the first place.
Liz: And how many jokes this involved? Yes.
Anika: It just hearkens back to the whole ‘delete the wife’ situation. I have a lot of questions. So very interested in all of that and I’m excited, but also I just, I have a lot of questions about how Drednok is a creature that can be recreated by the vehicle replicator and still know exactly who Gwyn is. There’s a lot going on with that subplot that I’m very interested in.
Liz: One of the things that always bugs me a little bit with the Doctor is that they don’t really play with him being an artificial intelligence who is basically a piece of software. Like, there’s always one physical doctor and he’s always played by Robert Picardo, except in very special episodes where, you know, whatever. But he’s always in one place at one, time for example, and I feel like Drednok, the individual, is software and he can be uploaded into any — he’s like a virus, and he could be uploaded into any mechanic and anybody can be replicated for him.
Anika: Which is super interesting.
Liz: It’s cool. It’s something that Star Trek has not done with AI before. Other media has, of course.
Also I think the final shot of his remnants in the replicator, and his glowing red, it was very reminiscent of early Terminator, which is … I did not see the Terminator movies until I was an adult, but I was nevertheless terrified of Terminators when I was a child. I kind of still am now. So I’m very much in favor of inflicting this trauma on modern kids.
Anika: That’s adorable. So much like Aliens, I really loved the Terminator movies. And my daughter really loves the Terminator movies too, cause she’s really into time travel that is closed like that, like a loop. The whole idea of that time travel, she’s really into that kind of stuff.
And, you know, obviously this episode had time-travel in it, and the voice, like, that’s something that Terminators can do. And definitely at the end, it was very Terminator reminiscent. I’m really into that.
I love the idea of bringing in … You know, it’s like The Greatest Generation were doing Future’s End, and they were saying it was very reminiscent of contemporary scifi shows like The X-Files. And that’s absolutely true. And they did on purpose. And I feel like they do that on purpose in Prodigy, as well.
They make Drednok be both Grievous and a Terminator on purpose, because we have those intellectual and emotional touchstones of something that we’ve seen before, and we know how we’re supposed to feel about it. The glowing red eye also was reminiscent of a Borg.
Liz: Oh, of course!
Anika: I just really like how they’re playing with sci-fi and Star Trek emotional beats and putting them into something new. And again, when I said it is reminiscent of Rebels, they do that on purpose because we have a connection to that idea.
Liz: But also, it’s iconic enough that it’s universal, in that you don’t have to have seen Terminator to find a disembodied machine person with a red eye disturbing. It’s tapping into the same imagery that those previous media were also building on.
And so it’s a really great introduction, not just to Star Trek, but to science fiction in general for the young viewer. And certainly, as someone whose introduction to science fiction as a child was via Star Trek, I think that’s fantastic.
Anika: Yes. I love it. So, yay. Good job, Prodigy. This episode was amazing. This episode was pure Star Trek. It was so enjoyable. Every single character had a moment where I was emotionally connected to them. It was a fun plot. A-plus.
Liz: I am going to be deeply traumatized forever by Rok-Tahk’s tiny plush Murf.
Anika: Oh, my goodness. the goodnight, everybody, I just wanted to cry the entire — I mean, I am not kidding when I say sobbed during this episode.
Liz: Gosh, no.
Anika: It was devastating.
Liz: My tiny giant child. Okay.
Thank you for listening to our 100th episode. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media, credits for our theme music, and transcripts of our episodes, many of which are correctly punctuated.
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And join us next week, when we’ll be discussing the next episode of Star Trek: Prodigy, A Moral Star Part One. I cannot believe that I have to return to work for the year with the beginning of a Prodigy two-parter ahead of me. How dare.
Anika: I’m excited though. I’m excited for it.