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90. Janeways All The Way Down (Prodigy 1.04)

Liz did not get a chance to draw attention to the careful sculping of Janeway’s holographic bum, but be assured, she noticed.

Liz and Anika execute a flawless landing and hang out talking about episode 4 of Star Trek: Prodigy! Along the way, we talk about how:

  • We’re glad we don’t have to cover two Star Treks at once, but we’re gonna miss these characters when Prodigy goes on hiatus
  • Janeway is a week old and also a single mother and we love her
  • Every single character is an orphan with a tragic backstory (or a hologram) and we have a lot of feelings!
  • We should be more like Rok-Tahk
  • The Alice in Wonderland of it all
  • Connections between Star Treks
  • Anika has an extremely controversial Garak opinion and will be recording future episodes from Nerd Protective Custody

Transcript

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

Liz: When the title was announced, I think I said to you that if this is the episode that introduces Chakotay, I was going to burn something down. So good news for my criminal record. I don’t have to set anything on fire this week!

Anika: It actually had no terrible allusions to indigenous people at all.

Liz: It’s a low bar, but we cleared it.

Anika: It’s a low bar.

Liz: For once, Star Trek has listened to us, and Prodigy is going on hiatus after next week. So, yay, we don’t have to cover two Star Trek series simultaneously. But boo, I’m not prepared to lose these characters for two months.

Anika: No, I love them.

Liz: I know.

Anika: They’ve rapidly really just crawled into my brain.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I was so excited that we were going to talk about it today because I just have so many things to say. I’m so excited.

Liz: Yes. And also, I feel like we have not had enough episodes yet to really get enough momentum for fic to happen. So, yeah, I just feel like it seems too soon to go on hiatus, and maybe they should have started a few weeks earlier to get more of that momentum happening. Also, if next week goes the way I expect and I guess we can get into my predictions later, I worry that we’re in for two or three months of discourse about how Gwyn is a terrible person.

Anika: I don’t want that at all. I want none of that.

Liz: No, no. But I do have a pretty clear idea of where next week would end up. And so far, the series has not really surprised me in terms of narrative beats. So I will be … I will be shocked and humbled if I’m wrong, put it this way.

Cut to next week where I’m completely wrong.

Anika: It is a kid’s show. I think it’s following a narrative more readily than something like Discovery does. Although Discovery also follows the narrative. Just, people get angry about it.

Liz: It’s true. And certainly, you know, this week was the, ‘this planet has given you everything you want, what if it’s a trap?’ story. And that is very familiar to the experienced Trekkie, but the experienced Trekkie is not the target audience here. And I feel like this was a well-executed version of that trope, and we got a lot of character development along the way.

Anika: Exactly. This episode was entirely about character development. Things happened, but the plot was secondary.

Liz: This week was about setting up the characters, and I think next week we’ll be reuniting with the Diviner.

Anika: And reuniting with the plot in that way.

Liz: Yes. Yes. And it was great. Even in the first scenes, we got a lot of character development for these kids. And also for Janeway.

I think it might’ve been a mistake to take one of the most relentlessly curious captains in Starfleet and make her the template for the training hologram. Because I think that holo Janeway knows that these are not cadets, and she’s going along with it because she’s curious about what they’re doing. And she genuinely wants to explore the universe with them

Anika: Oh, that’s so Janeway.

Liz: And she’s only a week old! She has the knowledge and skills of an adult, but she is also very young. And so while people are going, “Well, obviously it’s silly to send a bunch of kids off onto a strange planet in the Hirogen system,” I don’t know how reliable an adult Janeway is.

Anika: She’s also not an adult. Actually, this entire ship is run by children.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Including the hologram. And however old Zero is.

Liz: My heart broke when Janeway said she couldn’t leave the ship.

Anika: Yes, I was so sad.

Liz: That’s the other reason I think that she was the wrong choice for this hologram, because that must be so heartbreaking, to have sort of the drive of a Starfleet captain, and be unable to fulfill it.

Anika: And have to rely on your charges, your very unreliable children, to do the work for you.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: When she was trying to get in touch with Dal, and he was totally separated from, anything related to the communications!

Liz: Yeah, look, we’ve got to have to have the ‘captain lets us know when he takes his commbadge off’ talk. But I think that is part of the journey that Dal is on in terms of learning how to be a leader and how to be responsible.

And again, for the people complaining, he has literally no, model for any of this. He is making it up as he goes along.

Anika: Yes. And he’s always had to rely on himself.

Liz: Yeah. But my heart broke for every single character on the Protostar this week. I was just sitting on the train with my phone in my hand, and the Paramount Plus app open, going, “I love these children and this hologram.”

Anika: You can see in our notes here that I have a little list, ‘what made me the most [the emoji with the little wibbling eyes]’. I watched it again today, specifically because I want to get every moment of wibbling down on my list. And most of them, I remembered, but I wanted to describe it accurately and in order.

And it was so much fun to just watch it again, knowing everything that was going to happen. I was so emotionally invested in nearly every moment of this particular episode.

Liz: There was a point early on where I was like, “Oh, I know how this story is going, let’s just cut to the bit where the planet is creepy.” But that is, again, because I am not the target audience for this story.

And I really did love the character beats that we got through seeing everyone’s illusions. You have the note here, ‘Rok-Tahk and Jankom get comfort, Zero gets a puzzle, Dal and Gwyn get family and validation.’

Anika: It’s the things they most need.

Liz: It’s a sort of Maslow’s hierarchy of alien kid needs.

Anika: We first get — I think Zero is the first one to really get something, with their puzzle, that they go into the labyrinth and are drawn to the engine of the ship, which is obviously not there.

Zero is so interesting because they spent the entire time, as soon as they step on the planet, describing how it’s inaccurate and the readings are wrong and everything’s not going the way it’s supposed to be going, but they’re still drawn into it. And they still get completely trapped.

Liz: So what you’re saying is that Zero is a Trekkie?

Anika: Yes, exactly.

Zero’s like, “All of my Spidey sense s are going off here, but I’m going to ignore them completely and continue going forward, so that I can figure it out.” And that’s what I mean by this puzzle. It’s like they can’t help themselves. And, in addition to just it being a labyrinth itself was, was very Alice of them.

Liz: Yes. I love that they’re non-corporeal and they’re immune to, for example, Jankom’s farts, but they’re still susceptible to the intellectual mystery of this planet. I love them. If they had a body, I would give them a hug.

Anika: You can give them an intellectual hug. A brain hug.

Liz: I think that’s just telling them that I liked them a lot, which I do.

Anika: I guess. If you want to be prosaic about it!

Liz: And then Rok-Tahk, as the little girl, gets small, cute animals to play with. But I think the important thing is that they love her and they want to be with her and they want to receive affection from her. This is a child with so much love to give, and aside from Murf, she’s not really in the place for that.

Anika: I get that. Yeah.

Liz: She is still finding her place, and the others need to take her needs into account because she’s a lot younger than they are.

Anika: Yeah. And I don’t think that they realize what that means. And it’s hard, because she’s like the biggest one of them. And she’s literally a rock, so she seems like she’s stable. But, in fact, she’s a child, a very young child who clearly wants affection.

And I would say [she’s] touch starved, which makes perfect sense. Because again, she’s a rock. And she’s been living in mines with people who are twice her age who think that she’s a monster. It wasn’t just that it was a cute little animal. You know, she wanted to go on the adventure. She wanted to see something fun and she found a cute little pet.

Also, like, she says that their kisses were so wet, or something like that. And that was so heart wrenching when you really think about what that line means to her, it’s like, oh my goodness. She just wants someone to interact with her on a very base level of, you know, ‘I want affection and they’re giving it to me.’ The opposite of Zero and our prosaic, we’re going to tell you we like you. Just showing.

Liz: Yeah. And it’s interesting that the animals are sort of a consolation when she’s left behind by everyone else. I think there’s no malice in the other kids, but it has a really … it has the natural dynamic of a bunch of teenagers and a much younger child. They forget how young she is, they forget that she’s not self-sufficient. And I think that’s pretty normal, but also heartbreaking.

Anika: Completely heartbreaking. So heartbreaking. Everything about it.

And even Jankom, like, you mentioned his fart and. I didn’t … I mean, you know, like, whatever, they always put fart jokes for little boys. I get it. Fine.

But I don’t love that Jankom is really the most, I don’t even know how to describe it, but he’s like — last week, we called him working class and the butt of the joke. And I don’t want him to be the face of farts. I just don’t.

Liz: It’s heartbreaking, again, that what he’s drawn to is the stew that he was fed on the Tellarite sleeper ship, which I guess suggests that he maybe isn’t even from the 24th century, and that’s why he had never heard of the Federation.

Anika: And it would also explain how he’s in the Delta quadrant.

Liz: Yes. I like him, and obviously his story was as heartbreaking as anyone’s, and we learned more about his backstory, but you’re right, it’s a bit troubling that he is sort of the most … earthy, physical comedy, physical needs character, you know, he farts, he eats, he is very much a teenage boy in that respect.

Anika: Yeah. It’s like it’s again, not my type of character. And that’s okay, cause there should be a character for everybody. You know, they should have lots of different kinds of kinds of characters so that everybody feels represented, and feels like they can relate to something.

But I don’t relate to him and I wish … I want to like a Tellarite. And I’m not saying I dislike him, but he’s the one that I’m least invested and engaged with.

Liz: Yeah, same. And I wonder if that’s partly his appearance, and that he is the ugly looking, stout guy who looks like a pig. And I don’t like what that says about me, but it’s also that he is written as the comic relief in a kid’s show.

Anika: He also had that line where it’s like, “Janeway said that this planet was beautiful?” On a sort of like an intellectual level, I want to be like, oh, it’s cool that his aesthetics are different from ours, and that’s a good thing. But again, it comes off as, he doesn’t fit in with the rest of us and he doesn’t see beauty in what is beautiful.

Liz: Yeah, he’s ugly, so he thinks that ugly things are beautiful, and he is wrong.

Anika: Yeah, I don’t like that,

Liz: No.

Anika: Maybe it’ll get better.

Liz: I think it will. And I think that his history is clearly very interesting, as he’s also a character with a prosthesis, which I think is important. And it is cool to have a character with a disability who is who is the comedic character, and whose comedy doesn’t come from his disability. I just think he’s just not the character for me. And that’s okay.

Anika: Okay. You know who he is? The character for me?

Liz: Gwyn.

Anika: Gwyn!

Liz: Yes.

Anika: One thousand percent. Everything she did this week, I was like, this is my girl.

Liz: I saw someone go, well, if she could do that with her weapon, why didn’t she do that last week? I was like, because Rok-Tahk would have put her straight back in the brig.

Anika: The only one that she can manipulate is Murf.

Liz: And even that doesn’t really go well.

Anika: But I feel like she was sort of like, “Murf is going to be my co-conspirator.” Like, she’s sort of like, “I can use you.” I kind of liked that she looked at Murf and saw a potential ally instead of putting Murf in prison in her place, which she could have easily done.

Liz: She was initially curious about them, and even after she’s figured out that, if they’re sentient, they’re still not helpful, she still saves Murf at the end.

Anika: Right. I mean, that was amazing. That was the best moment.

But I also liked it when, after she gets out and she breaks the ball, or something and she’s like, “Eat up Murf, we’re going on an adventure.”

Again, she didn’t just throw him in the brig. She was like, “Murf, you’re still here, and you’re going to be my guy.” And, you know, “you might be useless, but I’m not alone if you’re here.”

Liz: Yeah. I think she is lonely. And in not siding with Dal, she has lost really the only friend she’s ever had. And that he is the only friend she’s ever had really is another thing that breaks my heart.

Anika: When she is talking with the hologram, and she’s saying, you know, “My father taught me astrophysics and propulsion, and all of this stuff. And I didn’t know why, but it’s so that I could pilot this ship, so I would be in charge of this ship,” that was really sad to me because it means that she’s a tool for her father. She’s the means to his end. Whatever his end is, she’s just another pawn in the game. And that it’s just really sad.

The way that it was delivered, it felt like she was saying, “I finally figured out my place in my father’s plan and I have a goal now and it’s great. And he was grooming me for this wonderful job,” and like, she was happy about it. And yet, I was sitting over here going, it means he doesn’t care about you at all. And it was just was devastating.

Liz: And we, as the audience, know that he is more upset about losing his ship than losing his progeny, but she doesn’t. And I think that is the realization she has to have to bring her fully onto Team Protostar’s side.

Anika: What a horrible, heartbreaking thing. Again, this is the character made for me, because I can see where her story is going. And it is so sad, and she’s going to have to go through so much to get to where she needs to be.

And that is just — you know, I don’t see her as this evil person. I see her as a victim of circumstance and her society and her upbringing. And I’m so sad for her to have to go through all of this, even though I know that she’s going to go through all this, and there are still going to be people who are going to call her a war criminal, say that she can’t be redeemed. And I just don’t — as you said, at the top of this, I don’t want to go through it. I don’t want that whole experience that I am envisioning because, again, she’s my character and all of my characters, I’ve gone through it with all of them.

Liz: So over in Avatar, we have Zuko, the greatest redemption arc of all time, according to Tumblr. I mean, it’s really good, but it’s not the only good one.

But Zuko has a younger sister, Azula, who’s fourteen, and she is literally a war criminal. And she is not redeemed by the end of the series. And I was called problematic in Avatar fandom because I was like, “Yeah, I realize that she’s done terrible things, but I don’t think this fourteen year old girl, who was also raised by an abusive father and trained as a child soldier, and who has a complete mental breakdown, is actually irredeemable. I think she has the potential to be a good person.”

Anika: I spend a lot of my time in fandom spaces, talking about how all of these quote unquote war criminals are not irredeemable. That’s my first point is, no one, certainly no one in fiction is irredeemable. Because that’s what fiction is! We are not talking about real people. How can you want an irredeemable person in a kid’s show? Like, what is the lesson that you’re telling children?

Liz: Also, I understand the difference between a character in a kid’s cartoon and Henry Kissinger, for example.

Anika: Exactly. Again, it’s fiction. And I’m not saying that to excuse what they do. I’m saying that that means that it’s a safe environment to explore these stories, and it doesn’t actually have any real world consequences. Absolutely, it can inspire people. It inspires me, but that is different from consequences, from actual harm to actual people. I’m on my pre-emptive Gwyn soapbox. I’m so sorry.

Liz: The second she started interacting with Janeway, part of me was like, okay, this is where Janeway turns her to the other side. And I was so happy! Except Janeway is a hologram and Gwyn restored her factory settings.

Anika: I really enjoyed that. I got to say, I really liked Janeway being like, “I’m going to report you and I’m going to lock you out of everything.” And then she’s like, “I guess I’m on your side now.” It was great, because holo Janeway clearly knew that, like, she was reset back to factory settings, but not entirely. Because she was acting like, you know, “maybe we shouldn’t be doing this?” Her programming forced her to go along with Gwyn as captain, I guess, now. I don’t know. It was a really interesting interaction, the two of them.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: As much as — and we’re going to get to Dal and I’m going to cry. As much as Dal needs a parent, Gwyn definitely needs a parent not treating her like a tool. The fact that she was treating Janeway as a tool, in a way that even the others don’t, even though they know that she’s a hologram, that she’s a program, they’re starting to treat her differently already. But Gwyn was like, “No, you’re the exact same thing as my sword, and you’re going to do what I need you to do.”

Liz: The others started out treating Janeway as a tool as well, and a tool they didn’t really want to use. So I don’t think that is just a Gwyn thing, but yeah, it’s an interesting parallel and I just want every single person on this ship to get a flesh and blood adult in there to look after them and tell them it’s okay.

Anika: So I used to work for a comic book blog. So every Friday we would do these questions and there was this one week where we did like, who’s your favorite orphan in comic books? And let me tell you, there’s a lot of orphans comic books.

When it was, suggested, you know, one of my, co-bloggers was like, “I don’t know how you’re going to choose between Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne.” Yeah. I did not choose. I listed, like, ten orphans in comic books, that were my favorite orphans in comic books. And I bring this up because everyone in the show is an orphan.

I’ve written a lot about this. There are reasons that you make a character, especially in middle grade and young adult fiction, an orphan. It’s because everyone has parents, and so everyone has the ability to understand what not having parents would be like. So it’s a very easy way to get, like, sympathy for that character and to make them a damaged person.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: And that’s where you want to start with a hero.

Liz: And also, in young adults and children’s media, in order to have the fantasy of the child with agency and the child who is completely responsible for their own life, you kind of do need to sideline the adults a bit. You don’t necessarily have to kill them off, but you need to give your children independence.

Anika: So I love that this series was like, we’re going to make all of them have really tragic backstories and no parents. And that’s going to be our default. That’s going to be where we start. And they literally have to band together and raise each other and build their own family unit. And that is always my favorite story. So I just love it. I love it. And I love — like we were saying, that Gwyn is not going to be a part of the family until she orphans herself, basically, until she says, “I got to get away from this terrible person who is my father.”

Liz: Until she Spends a few hours reading r/raisedbynarcissists and goes no contact. Yes.

So Dal’s hallucination — Dal takes off in the cool dune buggy, because Patrick Stewart’s legacy is weirder than most people realize, and he goes hooning around. And then he sees his parents or his idea of what his parents could possibly look like.

Anika: Because he doesn’t have–

Liz: Yeah. It–

Anika: It reminded me of two things.

[overtalk]

Anika: No, no, go ahead. You started.

Liz: Oh, it reminded me of Star Wars Rebels, and the arc where Ezra is looking for his parents and trying to find out what happened to them. And–

Anika: Thank you! One hundred percent that was the first thing I thought of!

Liz: Okay, Okay, cool. Cool

Anika: Especially the fact that they were facing away from him, and you only saw the back. I was like, this is straight up right out of Star Wars Rebels.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: That arc, he eventually gets basically the same thing, where he goes through the wall, and he gets to see his imaginary life and everything that he might want. And then it’s interrupted by Emperor Palpatine. I was just like, this is extremely Star Wars Rebels. This entire sequence could have just been pulled right out. Again, that is a compliment. That is not a complaint. But even the way, because they were faced away, and the angles, it was the same image. And it was just very, very strong to me.

And then the other obvious connection, that I would say, is the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter.

Liz: Oh, of course. Yes

Anika: And that’s heartbreaking, you know. Harry didn’t know anything about his history, either. He knew that he was human, but he didn’t know he was a wizard, and he didn’t know who his parents were. Or anything about how they really died.

It’s like those connections again, orphans and longing. Ezra gets a family. I believe in Dal finding his family. But what I want to talk about, part that–

Anika: –is that, so the planet can’t actually give Dal like his parents, exactly. Because he doesn’t have any memory of his parents. He doesn’t know any other people that are like him at all. None. In the whole universe. And so the planet knows that that’s what he wants, but the planet also knows there’s a zero percent chance that he would find his parents on this random planet. And the planet understands that, and has to give him other things. And even, like, talk to him as if they know it’s an issue.

So Janeway shows up and I immediately started crying, because that means that Janeway is his parent, is the parent that he’s reaching out for and wanting. In the same way that Ezra imprints on Kanan and Hera, Dal has Janeway.

And that is such a fun place to be, because Janeway is a hologram that it’s a week old, is not a real person, is exactly as imaginary as his parents are, is Janeway. He knows it’s not Janeway right away, because he’s like, she said she couldn’t come off the ship, so it’s not you.

It’s really interesting, like, this is my favorite version of the illusion, because the planet is bargaining with Dal. Which, to me, means that it read something in Dal, and then was like, you know what? You want to stay here and be safe. You know? You don’t want to be on the run. You don’t want to be worrying about this stuff. Just stay here and we’ll take care of you. It’s, like, giving him these options. Like, it doesn’t give any of the others the option, but it does give him the option to like, choose to stay there. And that is super interesting,

Liz: I think that’s, again, the sign that he is the best choice for captain.

Anika: Right. Yes. The planet recognizes it, which is great. But he doesn’t agree, and he runs back to the ship and he calls out, “Janeway!”, to the real Janeway, to the ship Janeway. I was just like, I can’t handle the feelings I’m having about this little purple teenager and his hologram mom. I was done in that moment.

Liz: I do love that Janeway is a week old and a hologram and a single mother. I love this for her. It’s great.

Anika: Exactly.

Liz: And yeah, the respect between Dal and Janeway is really something that I’m eager to see grow. Oh gosh. This show just makes me so happy. I’m incoherent…

Anika: So happy.

Liz: Yes. Also let’s talk about how great Kate Mulgrew’s voice work was in this episode. The sadness, when she says she can’t leave the ship, the knowingness as she calls them Cadets and threatens to call their parents, I mean, Starfleet. Which — I don’t actually think the Protostar had any intention of doing, because I think the Protostar–

Anika: The Protostar knows, right? It’s in the delta quadrant?

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Starfleet isn’t here.

Liz: I’m assuming that they’re exploring the transwarp barriers, and that there is some option for communication, but I also think the Protostar thinks, via Janeway, that it’s on a very nice adventure, and it’s going to see what happens. You know. If Janeway and the Protostar are essentially the same entity at this point, that is what I think the ship is thinking.

But Kate Mulgrew’s voice was just amazing. And then as evil plant Janeway, a replica of a replica of a real person, it’s Janeways all the way down.

Anika: She had to play four different Janeways, and I didn’t need the visuals to tell the difference. She did a really good job of conveying what was being done. And that makes sense to me, cause Kate Mulgrew is a voice actress. Even when she’s in person, you know, like on Voyager, she has a very specific tone, and she absolutely is able to convey things with just her voice.

Liz: And as I think we saw with Marvel’s What If, just because you’re a good screen actor doesn’t mean you have the skills to be a good voice actor, but Mulgrew does. And she has a lot of experience.

Anika: She does a lot of audio books.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: As Janeway and as herself. It’s a performance. Like, she’s just really good at that. So props to Kate Mulgrew.

Liz: I feel like, of all the captains they could have scanned to be the emergency training hologram, I do think Kate Mulgrew is the best choice.

Anika: I love that it’s Janeway. I love it. I love that. I said all of that, but especially Dal called her ‘Janeway’, not ‘Captain Janeway’, because everyone on Voyager calls her ‘Captain Janeway’, or, maybe, once in a while, ‘Kathryn’.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: You know, as someone who loves Voyager, and can recite entire episodes, I obviously have a deep connection to Janeway, and that one little difference of calling this hologram ‘Janeway’ and not ‘Captain Janeway’ makes it a whole different character.

Liz: The familiarity.

Anika: Yeah. It takes away the familiarity I have with the character, so that I can connect with her as a different person than the Janeway that I know. And that’s super clever.

And it shows, again, that they are clearly not cadets, because they do not care about any kind of rank or title.

And again, the way that Dal shouts for Janeway in that one moment, it’s not a title and it’s not a name. It’s like a term of endearment, almost. Like, “Hey, you are the person that I need, you know, come help me.” I love that choice.

I don’t know who in the writing room made that choice, but it is an A-plus. I am just so grateful for them.

Liz: Yeah. And I think the series stands on its own, and so I am not hanging out, waiting for them to meet Chakotay or to meet Admiral Janeway, the actual person, but also, I really, really hope that they do meet Admiral Janeway, the actual person, because I want to see how much of their relationship with the hologram Janeway maps onto her, and for her to realize she sort of has a bunch of step-kids.

Anika: You said that maybe there’s not enough time to write fic or something, but now I’m like, okay, I want to write fic about them meeting real Janeway, and Dal being like, “Yeah, you’re not my mom. You’re like, you’re my weird drunk aunt.”

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I just am so excited for all of the possibilities. I want it to happen in the show, but I also don’t want it, because I don’t want it to ruin my headcanon.

Liz: The words “you’re not my real mom” just went through my head and made me so happy.

Anika: Oh my goodness. Again, the Dal and Janeway relationship is going to keep me going for weeks. I’m so happy. And it instantly made me love Dal, like he is my son and you cannot say anything against him. I will protect him with my life.

Liz: Just in the Dal is the new Tom Paris mode, the concept that we invented this week, I feel like Tom would also grab the dune buggy and go for a ride, and would also be enthusiastic about the hold onto your butt bars.

Anika: And he would want his parents, but also want Janeway.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Everything is very Tom Paris. So now I want Dal to also meet Tom Paris.

Liz: I was just thinking that, based on Lower Decks, I don’t know that Robert Duncan McNeill is one of those actors who’s also a good voice actor, but don’t mind. Like, the animation can do a lot of the heavy lifting here. The animation is outstanding. I just want Dal to meet his big brother.

Anika: It is so beautiful. Like, I cannot get over how pretty everything was. Even those stupid vines that the evil planet uses to capture people, which are definitely the most boring part of the animation, I could put up with them.

So when Dal is on the cliff, the animation of him, and then the animation of the environment he was in, were both like a masterclass. It was so beautiful.

Liz: And the animated acting, like when the fake Diviner says he’s proud of Gwyn and she says, “You’re not my dad,” everything in her posture and her face tells me that she wishes that that was true, and she wishes that her father was someone she could believe would say he was proud of her and offer her a hug.

Anika: Oh my goodness. That was another heartbreaking scene. The whole thing was very, very painful, and obviously the part where she said, “You’re not my dad” and she figured it out and him calling her by her name. Oh my gosh, not enough tears for that moment.

But just at the very beginning, when she says, sort of stiltingly, “You came out of your chamber,” again, how heartbreaking that he just always sees her through a viewscreen! Come on, Diviner, you’re not even trying to pretend that you’re a good parent. He doesn’t even respect her enough to pretend to be. It’s just so upsetting

Liz: Okay. This is what I think is going to happen next week, Dal and Gwyn and the others will form an alliance to save the ship and they’ll start to get along and put their differences aside, and Gwyn will be coming around. And then the Diviner will turn up and capture them, and reclaim Gwyn.

And then, as the season resumes after the hiatus, we’ll have Gwyn realizing that her father doesn’t actually need or respect her or treat her as a person. And then she will bust the others out.

Anika: Yeah. I can see that. That makes sense.

Liz: And hopefully this time they’ll bring the cat with them.

Anika: I was just thinking that! We didn’t mention that last week, the cat was in the episode last week. So it’s like, they introduced that cat for a reason, okay? They made a point of making that cat the face of innocence in this hell that all of these kids live in, and it’s important,

Liz: Now I’m wondering, because we were talking about how Rok-Tahk is sort of the only young child, maybe the cat, the Caitian kitten, is going to become a regular later in the season, and will be the friend and peer that Rok-Tahk needs.

And also, you know, cats like to be stroked and they purr, and I think this kitten, yeah, this kitten could be the source and object of affection that Rok-Tahk so badly needs, and which she probably needs as well.

Anika: I agree. But I do want to say that I actually really like the relationship between Rok-Tahk and Gwyn, which is obviously its infancy. They’re certainly not friends. They’re barely acquaintances—

Liz: They’re enemies.

Anika: Yeah. They’re enemies, but Rok-Tahk clearly cares about Gwen as a person, which is, again, more than anyone else in Gwyn’s life does.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: So good job, Rok-Tahk. She apologizes for putting the restraints on her so that she can’t escape. And then, at the very end, when it crashes, Rok-Tahk shouts, “Gwyn!”

Liz: Yes.

Anika: She’s really worried that something has happened to Gwyn. Rok-Tahk cares about taking care of Gwyn as a prisoner, the way that Gwyn and everyone else in the prison did not care about taking care of Rok-Tahk as a prisoner. And I think that that is commendable, and it’s a really good basis for a beginning of an actual relationship between those two characters.

Liz: And also, what we were saying last week on our prison abolition rant, about how even people who are dangerous need to be treated properly and with respect and kindness, even if they can’t have their freedom, that is what Rok-Tahk is doing.

Anika: Right? Exactly. And it’s like, in regards to prison abolition, people who get out of prison and don’t end up back in prison — most people who get out of prison end up back. It’s terrible.

But the people who get out and, like, do advocacy for people who are still in prison, they don’t want their guards to – there are horrible guards who absolutely misused their powers and do everything bad, but they’re never calling for those people to also be in prison. You know, they come from it with a position of compassion and kindness, and that’s what Rok-Tahk is doing. It’s like, “I have been where you are, and I don’t want you to live through that.”

Liz: Yeah. I feel like, if any character on this show is a role model, it’s Rok-Tahk. I want to be more like Rok-Tahk and I’m 39 years old!

Anika: We should all be more like Rok-Tahk, because she, yeah, she has this, this curiosity, this real belief that we should it be kinder to people.

Liz: Not in a cloying way. You know, she still calls out Gwyn, and she still objects when her needs are overruled. She has boundaries, and she is learning to assert them, but she is very kind at the same time. And I think that is a behavior that is really worth modeling.

Anika: Yeah.

Liz: You have a note here that the Hirogen system is a cute nod to The Killing Game. I obviously recognized the Hirogen, but I forgot about The Killing Game as a story where they make realities.

Anika: When I first wrote this note, I wrote it as a question, and it was, ‘is the Hirogen system a cute nod to The Killing Game, or is The Killing Game actually important to the plot?’

And I decided that it wasn’t, I decided that my foreknowledge of The Killing Game was getting in the way of my enjoyment of that cute nod. I think it would be ridiculous for this kids series to lean on a plot from a random Voyager two-parter from, like, season four or whatever, that was about Nazis,

Liz: Exactly.

Anika: Bad times, guys. But I do think that it is this cute nod to both The Killing Game and Shore Leave, you know, like an Easter egg for the Trekkies who are watching it.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: As opposed to–

Liz: The kids.

Anika: The kids. Or the new people. Yeah.

Liz: And your note about the Alice aesthetic made me, of course, think of Michael Burnham. There’s the maze. And I think Zero is a bit of an Alice figure. Alice in Wonderland is present throughout all of Discovery, and Michael Burnham is also an orphan who finds herself in space, and finds her family on a Starfleet ship.

Anika: And I love synergies. I love synergies. Again, as soon as I started pointing out in my head the Alice references, like the labyrinth is obvious, but also Jankom’s food is an Alice reference as well, I would say.

And obviously, you know, the whole idea of the things I think about come to life, which is in Shore Leave, which starts with Alice in Wonderland. So those things were occurring to me already. But as soon as I thought of it, I was like, and that intrinsically connects it to Michael Burnham. Obviously, the Star Trek universe exists all within one universe, but there’s so much of it now that it’s easy to not see that.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’s easy to say, like, I’m a Discovery fan, I’m a Prodigy fan. I’m a Next Generation fan. And like–

Liz: And then we fight. Yeah.

Anika: Yeah, and then we fight and it’s like, actually, we’re all under this umbrella. And I just really appreciate that Paramount Plus is nodding to that at all.

Liz: I think it’s notable that Alex Kurtzman brought in the showrunners because they had already run successful CGI animation series for kids, and invited them to pitch a spinoff. And they walked out going, “We’re not really diehard Star Trek fans, do we really have a story to tell?”

And obviously the answer they reached was yes, but because they didn’t come in as diehard Trekkies, I think they are using existing canon and existing elements really judiciously and cleverly and I think that’s good. I think you definitely don’t want another Lower Decks, which is amazing, but it is by Trekkies for Trekkies

Anika: Hm. Yes. I agree with that Lower Decks is one of those how can you watch this, if you are not a Star Trek fan, and Picard, too. Picard is so opaque to anyone who doesn’t know who Picard is, who doesn’t know who Data is, who doesn’t know what happened in those, you know, seven to 14 years of Next Generation. If you don’t know that, how do you understand that show?

Liz: Friends I have who were casual Trekkies, or who picked up Star Trek for the first time with Discovery, did not finish season one of Picard because it was not for them. They didn’t have enough affection for the characters to stick around despite the messiness of it and there was too much that they didn’t understand, so there was no emotional connection. You know, what’s this cube in space doing? Why is that important?

Anika: Right. Yeah. What’s a Borg? Like there’s so much. What’s an android? What’s a Maddocks? There’s so much that doesn’t make sense. If you don’t have that, like how can you watch it? And Lower Decks is less so, Lower Decks Doesn’t require you to know what all of that stuff is, but the humor doesn’t make sense if you don’t know what that stuff

Liz: A lot of it. Yeah. Like, I am not enough of a diehard TOS fan to appreciate the joke about the pronunciation of Mugato. That had to be explained to me.

Anika: I don’t even know what you’re talking. I don’t remember

Liz: See?!

Anika: that happening. So clearly that went right over my head.

Liz: And Deep Space Nine, I think, is the spinoff of the nineties that doesn’t have a sequel yet because it’s so self-contained compared to the others, and yet so dense with lore and characters and politics it’s actually–

Anika: If Deep Space Nine did have a spinoff, I would have to watch Deep Space Nine again, in order to get it. Also, I mean, again — not to — Deep Space Nine is great, and yay for everybody who thinks it’s the best Star Trek. You’re valid. Yay, you.

Liz: Mmmmm?

Anika: I do not have that experience. I can tell you, you know, in at least broad strokes, everything that happened on it, but Deep Space Nine, it got a lot into the weeds.

Liz: And I think, I think in some ways the complexity and self-contained nature of Deep Space Nine is why it has so many fans now. And particularly fans who haven’t really watched a lot of other Star Trek.

And I think that’s fantastic, but like, I could see a series, like set on Bajor, I could even see Nana Visitor coming back to play older Kira in the next phase of her life and career. I could see subplots about Cardassia and rebuilding and democracy after the war. But those are the aspects of Deep Space Nine that really interests me, whereas the Dominion and the Changelings? Don’t really care. The Klingons? Hate what Deep Space Nine did with the Klingons.

Anika: That’s the other thing. Odo was my least favorite character in early Deep Space Nine, right? Odo was just never going to be my favorite character. And much like how Voyager became a lot about Seven, Deep Space Nine became a lot about Odo. And I was like, I don’t care. I don’t care about his evil origins, I don’t care about these people who want to take over the alpha quadrant. I don’t care about any of this.

My favorite Cardassian is Seska. I feel terrible saying this, but I don’t like Garak.

Liz: My God. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Garak! I love Garak!

Anika: I’m a bad Trekkie.

Liz: No, look, someone has to take that bullet and I’m glad it’s you.

Anika: I can appreciate certain parts of Deep Space Nine. I absolutely love Esri. I love Far Beyond the Stars. I love Jadzia, when Jadzia got to be Jadzia and not Curzon or–

Liz: Yes.

Anika: –or a plot point. I don’t know. Jadzia was misused, I shall say.

But there are plenty of things that I like about Deep Space Nine, but — like, I’m always saying, I want more politics in Star Trek. I want to know more about how the Federation works. I want more people who saying the Federation is bad.

But the thing is that when I say stuff like that, people are always like, well, you should watch Deep Space Nine, if that’s what you want. And Deep Space Nine just didn’t work for me.

Liz: No.

Anika: I’m not saying that it’s bad. Far Beyond the Stars is honestly one of my favorite episodes of all Star Trek. I think it is perfect. It’s not really about Deep Space Nine. So it’s like, that’s the Deep Space Nine that I love the most.

Liz: The one with no Deep Space Nine characters.

Anika: I often feel like a bad Trekkie when I express these opinions. It’s sort of like with Babylon Five, I would probably enjoy it if I watched it, but have so many bad connotations, bad – like, just emotional feelings

Liz: Of nerds pressuring you to watch it and telling you how great it is and how much you’ll love it. Yeah. This is why I don’t push you to watch Avatar, because I don’t want to do that to you

Anika: Yeah, it’s hard. There’s so much television available to me, why should I watch something that I don’t feel?

Liz: No, someone once told me that I should be a Deep Space Nine fan, because Kira is basically a character who is made for me. And they are right. But also that made me hate — sometimes just telling me these things will make me go all contrary, dig my heels in.

Anika: I have a Kira block. I have a Kira block because she’s not Ro. And that’s totally unfair. To Kira and to Nana Visitor.

Liz: Absolutely a you problem, but it’s not the end of the world if you never get over it. Save that all this is going to make our eventual Kai Winn episode really difficult for you.

Anika: Kai Winn, now she’s not a hero, but she’s also not irredeemable. The other thing about Deep Space Nine that is a problem is that the end is so bad.

Liz: God. I hate the end–

Anika: I hate it.

Liz: –so much.

Anika: I hate it.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I know. Just, no,

Liz: We are wildly off topic and I’m probably going to trim a lot of this, because I feel like this is spoilers for our Kai Winn episode. So I am going to wrap up.

Anika: I just got real ranty there!

Liz: Do you feel better for having got it off your chest?

Anika: Yes. And we’ll have our Kai Winn episode one day.

Liz: One day.

Anika: When there’s not going to be new Star Trek.

Liz: It’s a long road, getting from there to here. Okay.

Thank you for listening to Antimatter pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media and credits for our theme music, and transcripts of our episodes, which tend to go up within a couple of days of an episode.

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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. In just ten-ish weeks, we’ll be recording our 100th episode and giving away free stuff for our audience. So get those reviews in now.

Anika, I meant to tell you, I am buying a secondhand Cricut from my friend so I can print stickers. We can bypass RedBubble all together. I’m so happy.

And join us next week when we’ll be discussing episode five of Star Trek: Prodigy, whose title has not yet been announced, and the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season, Kobayashi Maru, in which nothing bad is going to happen.

Anika: I am super excited for Kobayashi Maru. So ready. So, so ready for that.

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