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88. Murf Slime Possibilities (Prodigy 1.01-02)

“Obviously Grogu and Murf are friends.”

It’s time … for brand new Star Trek! Anika and Liz sit down to talk about Star Trek: Prodigy, and discuss: 

  • It’s a little bit Star Warsy … but we think that’s a good thing
  • Star Trek has a reputation for being extremely serious, and its fandom for being utterly humourless, and Prodigy is taking Star Wars and MCU fans and showing them that’s not true
  • Save the cat (no, please, save that poor kitten!)
  • We love and adore Gwyn, a character who was practically made for us
  • The darkness of children’s stories
  • How did all these alpha quadrant species end up in a prison mine in the delta quadrant? We smell shenanigans!
  • Angus Imrie’s Emma Thompson impression
  • Anika’s theory as to how Drednok is a Jason Isaacs character

It’s the episode where we are definitely shipping Dal/Gwyn!

Transcript

Anika: Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re discussing the first episode of Star Trek: Prodigy.

Liz: And a big welcome to all those people joining us in 2022 because they waited until Prodigy was legally available in their region. I hope you’re enjoying whatever horrors the future brings.

Anika: What a terrible thing to think about. Oh, dear.

Liz: I know. But they have new Star Trek. And we have new Star Trek.

Anika: New Star Trek! Yay!

Liz: So the complaint that you predicted that everyone would have, and you are right, is that it looks a little bit Star Warsy. A little bit Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anika: Yep. I mean, to be fair, that’s what I saw immediately. So I’m not saying that they’re wrong…

Liz: No, not at all.

Anika: …to compare Prodigy to Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy.

Liz: But.

Anika: But I do not have those complaints. I don’t think it is a bad thing to resemble modern takes on space, when you are introducing a new modern take on space.

Liz: No, exactly. Star Trek has this reputation for being incredibly dour, and it’s silly, but it’s humorless about it. And it’s got these really tedious gatekeeping fans. And I think a lot of people find that offputting, and don’t want to watch Star Trek because they don’t know that it’s fun. This is a franchise about people in silly overalls, standing around having serious conversations about ethics, and Prodigy opens with these bright colors. It’s sort of taking the Star Wars and the MCU fans by the hand going no, no, it’s okay, we are silly. I promise, we’re just going to ease you into it, and we’re going to teach you how to speak our language.

Anika: Yes, exactly.

Liz: The plot device of the translator, I thought, it was really cleverly used.

Anika: Right. I mean, I love both Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy and to be fair, I’ve described Guardians of the Galaxy as the Star Wars of the MCU. Star Wars, in turn, was also inspired somewhat by Star Trek. Because it came first. So it’s like, you don’t have to choose one. You can actually enjoy space opera, space drama, and, and just be happy about it. It’s just funny to me that immediately, I saw so many comments.

Liz: Oh, absolutely.

Anika: ‘Cause I follow the Star Wars trending topic on Twitter, and they were talking about Star Trek: Prodigy in the Star Wars trending topic, and how it looked like Star Wars. And so it was just funny. It’s like, oh internet, always so predictable.

Liz: I think the design is very beautiful and it was a clever notion to introduce it this way. And there is no reason that Star Trek cannot be brightly colored and silly and beautiful, and not just a bunch of guys in ugly outfits and one beautiful lady in a catsuit, standing around having a conversation.

Anika: You’re describing Star Trek, which we obviously love enough to have a Star Trek podcast, as this – I mean, I don’t think I would want to watch a bunch of guys in silly outfits and one lady in a catsuit talking for an hour. That sounds bad. I think that’s a bad reputation and we should avoid it.

Liz: No, but that is sort of how the franchise has been perceived. In a way, the fandom doesn’t help, because any time we try to evolve beyond that, you know, with 2009 and then Discovery, the fandom kicks up a stink. And so many people are put off watching the new Star Treks because they’ve heard, oh, the fandom doesn’t like it, so it mustn’t be very good.

Anika: Yes, absolutely.

Liz: And Star Trek has always been silly and brightly colored and incredibly enthusiastic about what it loves. I’m delighted that new viewers are going to be introduced to that.

Anika: You’re right though, that it has this reputation of being serious. People take it super seriously, that it takes place in quote, unquote reality because it’s not in a galaxy far, far away.

Liz: And it’s not in a magical or pseudo magical universe, like the MCU.

Anika: And they don’t have mutants. They don’t have magic powers. They don’t have Norse gods.

Liz: And I, absolutely think that there is a place for that serious business science-fiction but Star Trek

Anika: Is also silly.

Liz: And Star Trek is joyous. And you know I hate the hope versus optimism, the optimism versus idealism thing, but it is hopeful. And I think just because it’s realistic and real people in space doesn’t mean we can’t be any of those other things as well.

Anika: Right. And also, what is wrong with real people being silly in space? You know, the internet went crazy when that one astronaut wore a Starfleet uniform and pointed to a nebula and said, there’s coffee in there, because that was great. That was an amazing call back to Star Trek, but it was also silly as hell, like that was having fun with Star Trek.

And I think that we should acknowledge that scientific exploration or advancement is not inherently only serious, like, that you can’t actually have scientific advancement if you aren’t also creative and imaginative and thinking outside the box.

Liz: I think that puts it really well. And we had this terrible backlash against Tilly’s, “That’s the power of math, people” line a couple of years ago – I really just think Star Trek fans are Star Trek‘s worst enemy. Next to Rick Berman.

Anika: Our throughline.

Liz: And then your note here is, ‘save the cat’.

Anika: Save the cat is a concept in screenwriting and storytelling that, you know, you have to get people invested in your storyline by having these heroic characters. And so saving a cat is shorthand for being heroic for the sake of being heroic, not for some big, giant thing. That it’s just a part of your personality. That’s the very bare bones version of the idea. And I just loved that there was literally a cat–

Liz: And they need to go back to save her?

Anika: Yes. And it’s like they’re winking at the idea of storytelling, which I think goes hand in hand with the thesis I discussed last episode, and that you just mentioned, taking new fans by the hand and saying, come into our story and learn all about Starfleet and the Federation and what Star Trek is.

It’s like they’re saying, “We are telling the story of Star Trek,” and they had this cute little cat girl, and I was just like, this is so hilarious to me. And also everyone in the audience, the big NYCC audience watching this episode, and especially my friend who was sitting right next to me, was like, “Look, not only does that cat need to be saved, but like, why hasn’t that cat already been saved? This is a plot point that we need to have wrapped up.” And I just thought that was clever in this like, you know, tongue in cheek, but also adorable way.

Liz: I did not make the connection with save the cat, the storytelling concept. But I did walk away thinking, okay, so this season is about them learning to become heroes, and learning to use the ship, and then they go back and rescue, not just the cat, but all the slaves.

Anika: All of them. Right, exactly. Everybody was instantly invested in that character, and we knew, you know, that character wasn’t in any of the promotional material, so it was like, “Oh no, what’s going to happen, that they leave them behind?”

It was just a really good way of getting people invested, not in just the characters, but also in the story and the plot and the idea of what was happening beyond, “We found a ship and we’re escaping.”

Liz: In terms of literally saving the cat, also, Gwyn’s reaction to seeing such a young child being brought in as a slave, and her kindness the cat, immediately tells us that she is maybe an antagonist right now, but she is not a terrible person. And that’s great because she’s my favorite.

Anika: She’s my favorite too. She’s like literally made for me, though. That character is my type of character. The, “I am terrible because I’ve been created to be terrible, but I’m not actually, like, I want to be a good person, I want to be better. I want to do the right thing. And I just don’t know how, because no one’s ever shown me.” And then you get the story of them being shown and becoming, as you said, the hero that they are and could be, and that we want them to be.

Liz: Yes. Whereas Dal, I think – I like him a lot. I think he’s going to be a lot of fun as a lead character, but he doesn’t have the same internal conflicts as Gwyn. And that’s fine. You can’t have an entire team of deeply conflicted people in need of redemption.

Anika: He’s clearly the chosen one in this. He’s literally chosen by Zero. He’s the chosen one in this story and, I guess, going on the hero’s journey. And so I like that they have these, you know, two central storylines that are going to be parallel and eventually, I’m sure – sorr,y I already ship it. I don’t think that is crazy, I think that that’s where it’s going to end up. This is children’s storytelling, so it’s not going to be complicated. You know what I mean? It’s like, they’re not trying to trick us.

Liz: No. Although having been in Avatar and Legend of Korra fandom, and having watched Voltron and She-Ra fandoms, the idea of combining Trekkies with the teen kids animated series shipping fandoms is just terrifying to me.

But I like Dal. I think he reminds me a lot of Sokka in Avatar: the Last Airbender, in that he doesn’t have special powers, he’s just a guy who is smart and knows how to use his brain. And–

Anika: Pays attention.

Liz: Yeah. And he has a lot to learn along the way.

Anika: Yes.

Liz: Yeah. After Boimler, I’m kind of like, really another boy who thinks he should be the captain? But I actually think he and Gwyn are going to make a great team.

Anika: And then there’s Rok-Tahk, who is adorable and wonderful.

Liz: My stony daughter. Yes.

Anika: And it’s just so much fun. The moment when the translator kicks in, and we hear her truly for the first time was another, like, everyone just went, you know, [there was] a collective excitement in that moment. And the voice actress is adorable

Liz: She does a very good job.

Anika: I wish her all the best in, in life because she’s, just, you know, she’s young. She is Rok-Tahk. she is that, “I’m just super excited to be here” person and that’s really fun.

Liz: And I appreciate that as the youngest that we know of – obviously Murf is still a question mark – she is the one who sort of embodies, not just the Star Trek optimism, but the belief in others, whereas Dal and Gwyn and Jankom are all pretty bruised by their experiences, and a bit more cynical. I think we really need Rok-Tahk to balance that out.

Anika: Yes. Also, you know how we talked about how Gwyn immediately is worried about the Catian for being so young, and Rok-Tahk sort of tricks everybody. We don’t realize how young she is. And I live just like the idea that that optimism and that youth is embodied in this big rock girl who–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –you don’t automatically – like, again, with the cat, you immediately are like, oh, look at the little kitten we have to protect.

Liz: You definitely don’t have–

Anika: [With] Rok-Tahk, you don’t have that.

Liz: When she says, “I might be big, but I’m not dumb,” that really kind of broke my heart, because my little sister was a bigger girl as a kid, and she really had to deal with a lot of prejudice about that. Not just from kids, but from adults who saw this tall, chubby, shy kid and went, “Oh yeah, no, she’s dumb as a bucket of rocks.” I think Rok-Tahk is sort of the same, and I just want to protect her and keep her safe and appreciate her for how very clever she is.

Anika: I’m sad.

Liz: Hmm.

Anika: And you said that the older trio, who are 16 and 17 are more cynical. And it’s not explicit how long they’ve been in child enslavement mines where they literally murder you if you go outside the bounds. But I would be cynical too.

Liz: No, no, that was not at all a criticism of those characters. And honestly, it’s a miracle that any of them are functioning beings and not curled up into a fetal position 24/7.

Anika: I am very curious to know if the authors meant to make this origin story quite so dark. Because it’s not played that way. Even though they’re literally using words like ‘child slave,’ and ‘this one is too young and never bring me another one,’ and Dal is going to be murdered. All of that happens and is textual, but it still has this, you know, super optimistic and colorful and you know, big ending, and then Janeway shows up and he’s like, “Hey everybody, how you doing? Let me tell you what’s going on!” This very Star Trek ending.

Liz: It may have started before Avatar: the Last Airbender, because that’s sort of where my knowledge of kids’ animation begins and ends, but that is a really, really dark show. You know, it deals with genocide, and imperialism, and Zuko’s dad literally sets his face on fire because he’s an extremely handsome piece of shit.

A lot of kids’ media is really, really dark, and kids enjoy that, but they also sort of … It’s less horrifying to them than it is to adults. Like, I read The Hunger Games now and I’m like, oh my God, these children are fighting to the death. And when I was 16, I would have been like, “Oh my God, these kids are so powerful and they’re so responsible for their own lives.”

It’s sort of that childhood fantasy of not understanding how dark something is, but needing a story where kids like you endure and come out.

Anika: Yeah, I don’t think it’s new. I think you’re right. I remember when my daughter was in seventh grade, or in between seventh and eighth grade maybe, and was required to read a book over the summer. And the list of books was literally all about death. It was like, which book about death do you want to read on your summer vacation?

And I was just like, why? What is going on here? You’re taking these 12 and 13 year olds and forcing them to literally grapple with existence and the end of existence. And it’s just like, what is going on? What is the purpose of this exercise?

Liz: And sometimes that can really backfire. Like, when I was 14, just after my parents’ marriage ended – and it did not end on good or unviolent terms – I had to read a book for school about a girl basically forgiving her father for burning her face off with acid because he was aiming for her mother, and her mother was a horrible bitch who deserved it. Suffice to say I did not cope well with that assignment. And I still don’t think that book is one that should be recommended to children. It’s not good.

But at the same time, like, we were talking in my writer’s group just this week about the stories that kids write themselves. My friend had to judge a children’s writing competition, and all of these 12 year olds are writing about war and death and domestic violence and murder. She was like, none of these kids have experienced that stuff themselves, but they live in this world and they still need to process its dark side through fiction.

Anika: Yes. And you were right about it being the difference between a child reading it and an adult reading it. And when I say child, I mean up through 28, because that’s when your brain is an adult, that’s when your, your brain gets to adult brain, and adult brain handles the – adult brain thinks about life and death in a very different way than child brain does, and adolescent brain, and those questions of morality and questions of inevitability and invincibility and all of that. Those are the last parts of your brain to develop.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: So you’re absolutely right. And the science backs all of that up. I’m not saying that this is bad. I’m just saying this is crazy. And it’s, so it’s so interesting to me that we always do this. I mean, you look at The Bad Batch.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: The Clone Wars started out as this sort of goofy story about these characters, like, we’re going to have the happy times before Revenge of the Sith.

Liz: Yes. Those good, fun war times.

Anika: Yeah, those were good. That was good, fun war times. Like, I described the pilot episode as ‘cute, but doomed is my aesthetic.’

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It was always there even in, even when it wasn’t–

Liz: Mm.

Anika: –as explicit as the last eight episodes, where they really go jump right off the deep end into ‘this is the most devastating cartoon you have ever seen in your life.’

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Then that’s literally where The Bad Batch starts. This is hard. This is all rough times. And that is in Star Wars, which as we were discussing earlier, is seen as the more hopeful and fun and, and not too serious space opera the two. Which is completely wrong, but that’s how it seen.

Liz: I definitely think that an asteroid full of child slaves would be treated very differently in live action Star Trek. And I think that’s true, whether it would be TOS or Voyager or Deep Space Nine, any live action Star Trek.

Anika: You’re right. Yes. It’s just super interesting to me. And it’s also, you know, you mentioned that, when you were 14 and what you were thinking about – when I was that age, I was surrounded by death. I did experience it at a young age.

And so I’m not – I’m maybe not the norm. I’m not the same audience. Even when I was that age, I wasn’t the same audience as this audience is. Although I will also say that the last two years have been pretty terrible, and so possibly those children are at that place.

Liz: The great thing about science fiction and fantasy is that you can explore dark and terrible stories, but they’re not … You know, the kids watching Prodigy are not going to have been child slaves.

Anika: There is a veil between them.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. They might feel lost and confused and alone as they journey through adolescence. But most of them have families and support networks and they’re not literally marooned on an asteroid where people are trying to kill them.

Anika: And it is a safe space, as you said to, to explore those ideas. So, yeah, it’s good. It’s probably healthy at the end of the So, so good. It’s just a little terrifying to me.

Liz: No, I understand. And certainly I’ve seen people, like, debating, “I guess my eight year old could watch it, but I think his six year old brother is not ready yet.” And I think that’s a decision that every parent has to make. And I also saw a couple of people going, “Oh, you mean, I should watch this with my kids? I should pay attention to what they’re consuming and consume it with them?”

And yeah, I grew up with parents who read what I read, not because they were keeping an eye on me, but because were genuinely interested.

Anika: Mm. So during that summer where my daughter had to read about death, she totally didn’t. I read the book for her and told her what it was about, because she didn’t want to, and I was like, you know what? Fair.

Liz: Also, by that age they understand their own tastes and their own preferences.

Anika: Exactly. She read one and a half books of Twilight and said, “No, I do not have to finish this. I do not have to continue. I do not care how popular it is. It’s not for me.”

Liz: And that’s the great thing. Like, we talk about young people and teenagers as this mass, but they do have preferences and they do have tastes. And just because something is popular, doesn’t mean they’re all going to consume it. And just because something has X message doesn’t mean they’re all going to take that message from it, either.

Anika: Absolutely.

Liz: My sister and her friends were very into Twilight, and my mum was a bit concerned about that, parentally speaking. And then she actually sat and listened to them talking about it, and she was like, wow, these girls are just completely deconstructing the messages I didn’t like in those books. And they’re so smart about it.

Anika: I always err on the side of trusting the teenage girl reader to not look at something like Twilight as a how-to books. It’s like this, isn’t how you’re supposed to live your life. This is just, again, a story where you are empowered to explore these dark ideas and these feelings that you might have in a safe way that is not going to hurt anybody. And so, you know, infantilizing them and saying that if you read Twilight, you’re going to automatically fall in love with a domestic abuser.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: That is putting a lot on a book and on the girl, as opposed to the alleged domestic abuser. Like, let’s blame him for the problem, not Twilight or this girl who happens to like it.

Liz: Right. And I think what’s kind of great about Prodigy is that there are a lot of different types of characters for kids to identify with. I do wish there were more girls. I know we have Rok-Tahk and Gwyn, but then there’s Dal and Jankom and Murf, and Zero is nonbinary.

Anika: So both Murf and Zero are non-gendered.

Liz: The official stuff around Murf is using he. But yeah, like I don’t think Murf’s gender is powerful.

Anika: The official one I saw was ‘unknown species, unknown gender’. But that doesn’t mean that people are aren’t calling it him. I’m just saying that. And, you know, it has a male voice actor, so people might gravitate towards that.

Liz: Also, there’s a question mark at this point over whether Murf is sentient or an animal.

Anika: We literally know nothing about Murf and it’s kind of delightful how much everyone loves Murf.

Liz: I mean, you give a person a purple blob…

Anika: A happy, yeah, just, it’s just a happy piece of goo.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’s just so funny. I think that eventually Murf is going to be sentient, but at the moment, really seems a lot more like a pet. I’m really getting a lot of, you know, sort of this is a weird comparison, but like Daenerys’s dragons, where they’re a little bit smarter than a dog, but not a person.

Liz: So a cat. No, that’s my feeling so far. Exactly. And Merv sort of fits the same role as Pabu in Legend of Korra or Momo in Avatar, and the smart animal who is very personlike, but is an animal.

Anika: Right. I do have to mention though, that, like, first of all, they had the Murf emoji for Star Trek: Prodigy, which was adorable. And then Trek Central was doing this, like, “Tweet us a photo, and we will add Murf to your photo,” like Murf photobombs. And so I put up a picture of me wearing a Grogu hoodie, a Baby–

Liz: Love it.

Anika: –Yoda hoodie. And because I was like, obviously, Grogu and Murf are friends. Like, that is the crossover that needs to exist. But the way that I’m posing in the picture, it doesn’t look like Murf is photobombing me, it totally looks like Murf and I are posing together, and that Murf and Grogu are friends, in fact. And I was just so happy. It made my entire day.

Liz: This delights me unspeakably. Do you remember those horrible sort of sticky plastic gel toys that you can get now and then? They come in and out of fashion. They collect a lot of dust. I’m really looking forward to getting a Murf one.

Anika: Throw one at the wall and it like slowly goes down. Yes, yes. I know exactly of what you speak. But I also would totally take a Murf slime?

Liz: Oooh, nice. Nice

Anika: Slime is sort of in vogue right now because it can be seen as like a fidget toy, which is totally why I own slime. I don’t like fidget spinners or that popping bubble stuff that is the newest, the latest one, but I love slime. I can just sit there and, you know, move it around in my hands. And it’s a wonderful anxiety reducer. You can make your own slime and there’s recipes. And so I’m like super excited for the Murf slime possibilities. And if no one else makes it, I will just make my own.

Liz: I have definitely seen slime kits to produce a specific type of slime. And get on that, Paramount. Get on that.

Anika: I would one hundred percent buy some.

Liz: Yes. I don’t have much to say about Jankom Pog yet. Save that, I think he’s going to be a bit Neelixy in that he will be a bit annoying, but maybe I’m prejudging because he looks more like a Talaxian than a Tellarite.

Anika: Tellarite. I agree that he doesn’t look like a Tellarite. It’s weird to me. And none of the others are alpha quadrant aliens.

Liz: No! Rok-Tahk is from the New Frontier books. Sorry, Rok-Tahk is a Brikarian, which are from the New Frontier books By Peter David

Anika: I haven’t read those.

Liz: I read the first one and it was the most awful Gary Stu nonsense I have ever read. And I say that as a person who has read a lot of Mary Sue fic. But I think actually everyone whose species is known, except for Gwyn, is from the alpha quadrant.

Anika: So they’re being stolen. I mean, there was the Caitian, too, so–

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Is this a Caretaker situation? Like what’s going on here?

Liz: The Star Trek subreddit has many theories. All of them seem pretty silly to me, save for the one that suggests that the Diviner or his agents have access to transwarp corridors, or, because this is a few years after Voyager got home, the Federation is exploring the transwarp corridors and are getting lost. They’re just losing children all over the place.

Anika: The ship is there. So, clearly somehow, they’re connected. Delta quadrant and alpha quadrant are connected. Which makes sense because, right, Voyager got home. And if I know anything about Starfleet – and if I know anything about America–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –because Starfleet is very American, they would be all over that and would want to explore, quote unquote, it immediately.

Liz: If nothing else, they should be sending out a California class starship to, like, do second contact with everyone Janeway met along on the way, and go, “Hey, uh, yes. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. You’re welcome. We saved you. Sorry about everything else.” The Starfleet apology tour.

Anika: The Starfleet apology tour, that is another series. I would be willing to watch if anybody wants to make that happen.

Liz: But we don’t know much about how anyone came to be there, save the Catian who was brought in by our friend the Kazon slave dealer, which I’m like, dude, it’s a generation since your people were slaves, I think you can do better.

But we don’t know how old Zero is or how long they were a prisoner on the asteroid. And everyone else, I think we can assume that they were born elsewhere and brought here as children.

Anika: Yes, but again, based on the Catian being considered young…

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I’m not exactly sure how old they are, but let’s say, like, six. And so let’s assume maybe 10.

Liz: Which is old enough for Dal to be socialized, and, you know, understand sarcasm.

Anika: That’s older than Rok-Tahk is now, but we’ve discussed that Rock-Tahk is, not obviously a small child

Liz: Yeah. And I think we should. Also assume, though this might be contradicted very quickly, that Gwyn did not communicate with Rok-Tahk. Because otherwise I’m going to have questions.

Anika: So I’ve lost my thought.

Liz: Let’s talk about Zero.

Anika: Oh yes! That’s what I wanted to talk about! I was going to say that Zero. I can’t explain why, but I can only picture Emma Thompson.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: And I’m just like, that is a non-corporeal Emma Thompson.

Liz: I had forgotten that they cast Angus Imrie, but I remembered that it was a man. And when we realized that that was Zero speaking, I was like, he sounds like a grand dame of the British stage. It’s just such an impressive piece of voice work.

I guess I’m inclined to throw some side-eye at casting a binary actor playing a nonbinary character. But also I think we’ve learned over the last few years that we don’t know what’s going on in a person’s life or how they feel about their identity. And it is just a bloody good performance.

Anika: It is. And again, despite being a man, I picture Emma Thompson. So, so well done. It was just hilarious to me the entire time. I was just like that’s Emma Thompson. That’s who that –which makes no sense.

Liz: No.

Anika: And I admit that – I’m just like putting that out there. I realize this is ridiculous, but I have decided that Medusans are secretly Emma Thompson.

Liz: All of them. Yes. I love this. I really like Zero. I kind of keep wanting to put them into the morally ambiguous, older female character box.

Anika: Exactly.

Liz: Which is obviously a problem, because we don’t know their age, they’re not a female character, and I don’t think they’re morally ambiguous, but they are certainly very pragmatic in a way that I enjoy.

Anika: Absolutely. I was like, this is, and I think I said this in discord, I was like, this is our Discord’s character. That is the vibe I was getting from Zero, and I enjoyed it.

We don’t know how old Zero is, or what they’re doing or, you know, what any of it means. They didn’t know how to use the ship any more than the rest of them did. For the first half or so, I was convinced that Zero was going to be a more adult character who was there for some other reason.

Liz: Perhaps a crew member from the Protostar, because I have a question about where they all went.

Anika: Exactly. And so it was going to be like, getting the kids back home, or to like, you know, there was some purpose to it all. And like there was, but it wasn’t about the Protostar, and it wasn’t about any of that. It was because they don’t know any more about it. Like, they didn’t know how to use anything

Liz: They’re definitely not Starfleet.

Anika: Right. It was very interesting. Like. There’s a lot of mysteries, which of course it’s the pilot episode. So they’re not going to explain everything. They’re going to set up a bunch of mysteries, and they did that. You know, Dal being an unknown…

Liz: Species.

Anika: He doesn’t know what he is.

Liz: I think at this early stage, we can assume he is not a Founder. Question mark over Murf in that regard.

Anika: They were saying on Twitter that no one has guessed what Murf is yet. And that Murf’s species has not been seen on screen prior to this, that they’re aware.

Liz: So we should be looking at, like, Diane Duane’s non humanoid book characters.

Anika: We should find obscure–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –like, beta canon

Liz: Look, they’ve already brought in the Brikarians so yeah, but let’s see.

I love the Diviner. He is terrifying. I hate the Diviner because he’s terrifying. And Drednok is basically what if General Grievous was also a chibi Reaper, and I’m into that.

Anika: General Grievous is another character in Star Wars, who most people only know from the films. Like, mainstream audiences. And then Star Wars fans know him from Clone Wars, but even in Clone Wars, he has less characterization than Dooku or Darth Maul or–

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: –the clones, or Bail Organa, even.

Liz: He’s really just a secondary tier villain after Palpatine and Dooku, and he’s not very interesting. Whereas Dreaknok – we’ve only had him for 45 minutes. It’s too soon to say whether he’s more interesting, but he is as interesting as Dooku [I meant Grievous, but either way…] after many seasons of The Clone Wars.

Anika: Right. He’s already getting there

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: The Diviner and Drednok were sort of, you know, bickering, kind of, the entire time, about Gwyn and about Zero and Dal, and what’s happening and what do we want to do about it? And that was fun.

I like that Dreadnok doesn’t take the Diviner as the word of God. He sort of questions him and is like, “Yeah, you’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean that you will always know better than me and that I’m not going to speak up.” He’s like a Jason Isaacs character in that he’s a little bit too arrogant to be second in command. He is second in command, and that’s his position, but he thinks he deserves better, regardless of if it’s true.

Liz: He subordinate, but not subservient.

Anika: Yes, which is different from Grievous. Cause Grievous is completely subservient.

Liz: Absolutely. But Drednok is also a bit ridiculous in a way that you need in a kid’s villain, in that his professional rival–

Anika: Yes.

Liz: –is a 17 year old girl.

Anika: Yes, exactly.

Liz: That leaves room for the Diviner to be purely menacing and terrifying.

Anika: And John Noble is a good choice for that role.

Liz: Yes. Love John Noble. Love his work on Fringe. Did not care for it in Sleepy Hollow, but there were a lot of things I wound up not caring for in Sleepy Hollow. Let’s put it that way.

Anika: My favorite John Noble performance is The Good Wife, literally my favorite episode of The Good Wife. He is a main character

Liz: And he’s very good.

Anika: And he’s perfection. And totally creepy. Totally this weird presence that just sort of hangs over the entire story, completely ridiculous.

Liz: Much like the Diviner, who–

Anika: Exactly.

Liz: It’s not that he’s ridiculous – yet, but he does have a menacing and constant presence. And his progeny has just been stolen and, more importantly to him, the ship he wanted.

Anika: He didn’t want Gwyn to be taken or destroyed, but it was also sort of like, if that happens, ‘Oh, well.”

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: “I will just move on and it’ll be okay.” Which, in that part, reminded me of Lord of the Rings.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’s like, oh, well I guess my daughter is lost. Too bad.

Liz: It’s also notable to me that it’s only in the promotional stuff that Gwyn is referred to as his daughter, and actually in the show, she is always his progeny. So I wonder if there’s some sort of cloning scenario happening here, or some other form of reproduction. And I’m really keen to find out. A messed up father-daughter dynamic is what I’m into in a cartoon.

Anika: One hundred percent.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Or anything.

Liz: Or anything.

Anika: Let’s be honest. Absolutely. Every story.

Liz: I want another teenage girl in the cast, because we have two teenage boys. And I want hologram Janeway to take Gwyn under her wing. And I just want everyone to give Gwyn a hug. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

Anika: It’s not

Liz: Thank you.

Anika: Everybody deserves hugs

Liz: Yes. Let’s talk about the animation. Because it is beautiful, and Gwyn’s design in particular just magnificent.

Anika: It is absolutely beautiful. The crispness–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –while also being this really colorful sort of painted effect. It’s just really interesting to me when things are sort of ethereal, and when things are very sharp.

Liz: The painted quality reminded me of Star Wars Rebels, but the level of detailing in the costumes is just something else altogether, especially with Gwyn, because I think she has much nicer clothes than the others, obviously given her status, but the intricacy of her armband that becomes a sword, and the design on her cloak. It’s just really impressive work.

Anika: I get Ghibli feels from it

Liz: What impresses me is that even the most humanoid characters, like Dal and Gwyn, have designs that would be really hard to pull off in live action.

Anika: Oh yes. But I love that they lean into that, that with all of the characters, we are going to absolutely go past what we can do with quote-unquote realism, which sets it apart from Lower Decks

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –which is very sort of tongue in cheek about their animation. There’s a very fantastic feel to Prodigy that sets it separate in that that realm of, it would be very difficult to reproduce this in a live action setting.

Liz: Even the Protostar’s bridge would be prohibitively expensive in live action, with that big, open roof. But it’s beautiful. And it looks a little bit like Discovery and it looks a little bit like the 2009 Enterprise. The design in this whole thing is so impressive.

I saw some people saying that the editing was a bit choppy. I didn’t see that myself, but I wasn’t looking for it, so I’ll take their word for it.

Anika: If I notice the editing, it’s bad–

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: –so I’m going to say I didn’t notice, and so that means it’s at least not bad. Maybe it’s not the best, but I didn’t notice it.

Liz: That’s about the same for me.

Tell me your feelings about the music, because, like the editing, I don’t really notice the music. So, share your thoughts.

Anika: It’s Michael Giacchino, you know, who did 2009, and it has a very Kelvinverse feel to it. At certain points, I was convinced it, in fact was Enterprising Young Men remastered for Prodigy.

Which isn’t – I can say that about John Williams too. John Williams is like the best composer of film scores ever to have existed, but you can always tell that it’s John Williams. And so you can tell that it’s Michael Giacchino. And so that’s not like a negative on him. I’m not dinging him by saying that there were times where I was like, I think this is literally the theme from the Star Trek Kelvinverse.

It didn’t fit the story as well as Discovery, and particularly Picard. I am on the record as being completely obsessed with the Picard soundtrack. That is like my favorite or co-favorite part of the entire Star Trek: Picard reality, is the music. I love the music so much. And the only thing that’s a rival for it is my Romulans. My Romulanisters.

I think that Giacchino’s music matches Kelvinverse better than it matches Prodigy, but we’ve only had one episode. And there is a second composer, right?

Liz: Yeah. Yeah.

Anika: I’ve forgotten who it is.

Liz: I think it’s a woman but that’s all I can tell you.

Anika: I think it’s a woman too. That’s exciting to me, building on what exists, like building on the theme versus the interstitial music which eventually becomes the theme, because eventually they’re doing all of the music. And so it’s recurring. I don’t know, it’s fun to me.

Film music is my favorite instrumental music, and pretty much my favorite music. I listen to a lot of music, I’m obsessive about Spotify playlists, but whenever any one asks me what my favorite artist is, or my favorite band, I should say, usually they ask you, like, “who’s your favorite band?” And I’m like John Williams. And they’re like, “I don’t think that’s a band.” And it’s like, yeah, but the reality is that film scores are my favorite music.

And so that’s what I’m excited for in Prodigy, to see how we’re going to take the Kelvinesque themes and create, you know, Gwyn’s theme. I’m super excited for Gwyn to have a theme, and for me to learn it, and for it to end up on one of my playlists.

Liz: Yes. My only thought about the music is that I was kind of disappointed that it begins with the same sort of orchestral music that you get in most Star Trek. It would have been cool to start with something different, you know, maybe more electronic, and then ease into the orchestration as the Protostar is found.

Anika: I like that.

Liz: Seems like a missed opportunity, but no one asked me.

Anika: No one asked you. No one asks us and they should

Liz: Yes.

Anika: We are brilliant.

Liz: Do you have any thoughts on the voice acting?

Anika: I’ve mentioned that I think the John Noble is really killing it. I think that Angus…?

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Emma Thompson is totally killing it.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: And Rok-Tahk. The young woman who is doing Rok-Tahk, who is a child, and she has so much aplomb for someone her age. Precocious little child actresses always sort of have that thing, but she is still so innocent. And really brings a lot. I’m very impressed with her.

And I also, I got to say, I think that Dal, because he is the protagonist, I think that’s a lot to put on – again, you know, he’s a kid. He’s not a kid the way that Rok-Tahk is, but he’s still young. And this is one of his first jobs. And I think that, given all of that, he is very earnest. It’s sort of like, I can tell it’s his first job, but it works for the character,

Liz: Yes. I had some thoughts on Dal and Gwyn, because I was kind of like, Dal sounds like a kid and Gwyn sounds like she’s 35 years old, and that sort of bugged me. And so I looked it up, and both actors at 25. I think the woman doing Gwyn is amazing. She is English, but her American accent is flawless to my Australia ear.

Anika: I did not know she was English, but it sort of makes sense to me, because there is that inflection.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It’s not a British accent, but it’s like in Star Wars, everybody with a British accent is upper-class. And from Coruscant.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: That idea that she is elevated to more of an upper-class, whereas Dal comes across as quote unquote normal standard county type.

Liz: Yes. Gwyn has a mid-Atlantic quality that I think will make her very interesting in conversation with Janeway.

Anika: That’s fun. But I think that that’s actually what I, she didn’t come across as older or 35 to me. It, it came across as upper-class to me, it came across as, “I’m a princess.”

Liz: It also – once I realized that she was British, it made sense because many British actors drop their voices when they’re doing American accents. You hear it particularly with Jason Isaacs, his American voice is, I would say, considerably lower than his day-to-day English voice. And I don’t know why that is. I don’t know why British actors do that, but it’s delightful. But yeah, I definitely don’t think that they were badly cast. It’s just the contrast between their apparent ages and their voices threw me.

Anika: I think it works for the characters, because he is … He’s youthful. And in terms of experience, she is 10 years more.

Liz: Absolutely.

Anika: She is way ahead of him.

Liz: She is privileged and educated and confident. And he’s the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is stealing her and her heart.

Anika: Aw!

Liz: Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media and credits to our theme music.

You can also follow us on Twitter at @antimatterpod and on Facebook.

If you like us, leave a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you consume your podcasts. The more reviews, the easier it is for new listeners to find us. Let us know if you leave a review and you go into the draw to win a wee prize.

And join us in two weeks, when we’ll be – no! Join us in one week, when we’ll be discussing episode two of Star Trek: Prodigy, whose title is TBA.

Anika: What a great title.

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