Anika and Liz are here to drink holographic coffee and talk about episode 3 of Star Trek: Prodigy … and they’re all out of coffee.
- Long Janeway is Clippy, and we’re sort of into it
- The kids who choose their roles and the kids whose roles are given to them
- It’s wild that (adult) viewers are criticising Dal for mistrusting authority and not being a perfect Starfleet cadet, and there are also some racial undertones
- Likewise, Gwyn has done terrible things and has bad opinions, but she is also at the beginning of her journey to learn better
- The Federation is a classless utopia, yadda yadda yadda, but let’s talk about how the Tellarites are sort of working class and marginalised
- Why is Paramount so bad at merchandising Star Trek?
- They’re also missing a great opportunity to introduce kids to science!
- ALSO there should be two prequel junior novels, by known middle grade authors, on shelves by Christmas, how is Paramount so bad at this?
- Dal doesn’t trust authority, but Star Trek fandom kind of loves authority too much
- 42:29: discussion of real life rape and murder, and the use of the carceral state as a tool to abuse Black children
- In conclusion: imprisonment is bad and redemption stories are good, and also is anyone else excited for the prospect of Team Protostar meeting Seska’s kid or the Lizard Babies or any of the other many children Voyager abandoned in the delta quadrant?
Liz: 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 Star Trek: Prodigy episode three, Starstruck. Your first note here is, ‘Janeway is sexy Clippy,’ and…
Anika: That was your comment, so you should introduce it, and what you mean, because it was perfect. It was the best. It’s the best.
And it’s funny, because we were having Clippy nostalgia at work just the other day. And when I say Clippy nostalgia, I mean, laughing about how terrible it is. But it was funny that it came up in conversation in a totally different context. And then you said that, and I just lost it. It was so funny to me. Because that’s exactly — like, the way that you just did that sentence. You know, “it looks like you’re doing this.” And Dal treats her exactly the same as all of us do when Clippy shows up, we try to figure out how to turn them off.
Liz: No one likes unsolicited advice.
Anika: Especially teenage boys.
Liz: Last year in season one of Lower Decks, I peer pressured my beta reader into writing Badgey/Clippy porn. And then I messaged her yesterday being like, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Prodigy yet, but I have a new Clippy OTP for you.” And she just replied, “No.”
Anika: A one word response. But we got a lot more Janeway in this episode.
Liz: We did! She was exposition as well as — she was Encarta as well as Clippy.
Anika: When we saw the pilot at NYCC, Janeway only says one line. And so Kate Mulgrew jumped up and was like, “I made them make a little extra for us, because it’s not fair to get that little Janeway in your special event.” And so we saw that scene where she is introducing herself, and the Tellarite insults her and so she insults the Tellarite right back. It’s just like, okay–
Liz: So racist.
Anika: Zimmerman had some responsibility in programming this hologram, is what I get out of that.
Anika: But I really liked her explanation of the Federation. I could definitely see that thesis statement of, this is going to be the introduction to Star Trek in that whole bit. I love that she said the iconic TOS intro.
Liz: To boldly go. Oh, chills. Kate Mulgrew never got to say it before.
Anika: Exactly, it was very exciting. I really liked Janeway’s presentation, and I liked that it was the same, you know, ‘I’m going to wave my hands and this,’ you know, I think the first time I ever saw that effect, it was in Iron Man, not Star Trek, but now it’s in Discovery all the time, and I enjoy that. You know, we are close to creating that in reality. So let’s get on it.
Liz: It’s part of the modern language of science fiction, but it also feels like a natural progression from where we are now to where we will be in a few years. To the point where I think talking on screens and stuff is going to seem as anachronistic as carrying a whole pile of PADDs around to share one file. And it’s cool to get the impression that the Federation is redeveloping this technology.
Anika: Yes, that’s fun.
My second note here is at the settling — in quotations, quote, unquote, settling into roles of Starfleet cadets, I want to talk a little bit about the people who chose what they get to do on the ship and the people who have been dragged into what they get to do on the ship. And that’s interesting.
And I’m hopeful that we do… either it gets shaken up, and people switch around a little or … Rok-Tahk, mostly, embraces her role and we get to see her making it her own and wanting it, as opposed to being thrust into it.
Liz: I felt really bad for her being told that she was the muscle, because we already know that she sort of — no rock jokes intended, but she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder about being big. And I don’t think that security is necessarily where her skills lie. I understand why they sent her, but I think she … Part of her story needs to be learning to assert herself, and to say, “No, actually I don’t want to be the muscle.”
Anika: I’m hopeful that that’s where it’s going, especially because everybody else did sort of jump in and just — like, Dal, obviously, has been just saying, “I’m captain, I’m captain, I’m captain.” He is the most assertive, even though literally no one treats him like the captain, no one on that ship seems to respects the idea that he’s captain, but they all also go along with it. You know? It’s like, “Well, okay, Dal, fine. You can be captain.” But they don’t actually respect it.
Liz: I feel like obviously he has a lot of growth to do, and he has a long way to go, but he is the person who looks at a situation and wants to solve a problem, and has ideas. Whereas everyone else has a slightly narrower focus. And I think that’s the starting point. And that’s why he’s the best option for captain right now.
Even Zero, who seems a lot more level-headed, their first reaction to landing in the star system is like, “Oh, this is a really exciting way to die!” And that’s hilarious, and I love them for it, but it’s Dal who’s going, “We should fix this.”
Anika: “We need to get out of here.”
Anika: And I also think that — at least on Star Trek, I don’t know if this is true to reality, but at least on Star Trek, the person who butts heads with authority is always the captain.
Anika: So I actually think he’s exactly the personality that ends up in control of a Starfleet vessel. For better or worse.
Liz: There was certainly a lot of complaints around, you know, “Dal is just like frat boy Kirk, he’s arrogant and self-assured and cocky, and he doesn’t deserve to be on a Starfleet ship.”
And I’m like, he’s 17. He is a child. He should be maybe a Starfleet cadet, not commanding a ship. And the language that people are using to criticize Dal is exactly the language they use to criticize Michael Burnham and Beckett Mariner.
And I just think … It’s not consciously racist, and no one is actually using the word ‘uppity’, but there is a strong sense in corners of fandom that young Black people who don’t conform to white standards of behavior don’t deserve to be in Star Trek at all. And I don’t like that.
Anika: I don’t like that at all either. And it’s also interesting — not to be a Jim Kirk apologist again, but that’s literally the point of quote, unquote, frat boy Kirk. That’s the arc of the movies, that he grows into being the Captain Kirk that we know and love. That’s literally the point. So the fact that people are comparing Dal, who, as you said, is a 17 year old child who grew up in a prison, and has never been in space before, or anywhere other than prison–
Anika: The fact that they want him to trust authority at all is ridiculous. And the fact that they want him to conform to something like an officer? Those are the people that were literally keeping him down and trying to murder him last week. So, no. Dal has no reason to trust anyone in a uniform, to trust anyone with a title, to trust anyone in an organization. He has no reason to trust any of this.
And I’ve said this about Michael and about Beckett Mariner, too. Like, yeah, their arcs are similar to Kirk’s in the Kelvinverse films, and I’m pretty sure that’s on purpose. That’s the story being told, that the Jim Kirk personality can exist within these other personalities, these other people who don’t look like Jim Kirk. And that’s a statement.
Liz: And also the original frat boy turned captain is Jean-Luc Picard.
Anika: Who everyone calls the most staid and respected captain.
Liz: Right. And even Pine Kirk wasn’t going out getting his heart stabbed out in a bar fight!
And meanwhile, I just look at these kids in Prodigy, and they are doing their best, and they are doing so well. And yeah, Dal is not a good captain yet, but he has also never in his life had a positive experience with anyone in authority. He doesn’t know what good authority looks like.
Anika: He has had zero role models. He doesn’t have parents. He doesn’t know what species he is. Like, give this kid some slack.
Liz: That’s the thing. And so there are all these complaints about Dal, and to a lesser extent Gwyn, who is called out rightfully on her complicity in her father’s crimes. And I’m like, yes, these kids have a lot of growing to do, and the show knows it. And that is the point. This is not Star Trek: The Next Generation, where everyone comes in as a fully formed perfect character who has already achieved self actualization.
Anika: Right. Exactly. And I am on record saying that, that’s why I don’t like The Next Generation as much as I like Voyager, because Voyager has characters who have all these edges that they need to have, you know, they need to sand down into their perfect self.
And that’s way more interesting to me than someone who was elevated to the flagship of the fleet. And doesn’t have any of those edges that maybe he did in the past, like Picard. But the Picard that we meet in the beginning is the staid professor diplomat.
Liz: Yeah. If anything, he loosens up over the seven seasons of Next Generation and embraces his flaws again.
Anika: Which is good. We want that.
Liz: Part of the reason people have a problem with Dal and Gwyn is that they think kids media needs to be full of perfect role models for children to emulate because, as we know, children will copy uncritically anything they see on television.
Anika: Right. We discussed this previously. I’m super against any moral panic about any children’s media, and all of those people, like, I am just over it, I’m just over it. That’s one of those opinions that I just point out and say, no, you’re wrong.
And like, fine, you can go have that opinion, but you’re going to go have that opinion away from me, because I will not be convinced. And I don’t really want to try to convince you because it’s just obvious to me that a flawed character is a better role model than a non-flawed character. I say this as a parent!
Liz: And Gwyn is obviously wrong to think that it’s okay to enslave convicted prisoners, but I’m going to put it out there that a lot of adults in the Western world, particularly the US and Australia, are pretty okay with that. They don’t put it in those terms, but you think about the extent of for-profit prisons and the use of prison labor in both of our countries, like, Gwyn is 17, and there are grown adults who think that this is okay. She’s going to learn better.
Anika: Real adults. Not even adults in the show, but real people.
Anika: And props to the writers who made the choice to have Gwyn be in that space.
Anika: I assume she’s going to learn, like she’s already starting to change her mind and realize that the world is a lot wider than she was told. She also should not trust authority because they were lying. But to put Gwyn in that position and to have the people that she’s stuck with, that are the direct — the people who she contributed to abusing be a young black man and a little girl, and a — the Tellarites get a lot of flack in Star Trek. They are considered the dumb, ugly people.
Liz: It’s interesting to me that Jankom Pog, in his appearance and with his prosthetic arm, is sort of a working class figure.
Anika: Absolutely. The Vulcans are the elite, and the Andorians are the middle-class, and the humans, you know, think that they are better than everyone, regardless of where they came from. And then the Tellarites are the people that the other three look down on.
Liz: Yeah. And Gwyn is absolutely positioned as a privileged white girl who has used her privilege for ill. And, to be blunt, that’s going to be a lot of the audience. And I think seeing her learn and grow will help them learn and grow. I hope.
Anika: And that’s a better role — see, again, it’s better to have a role model who’s imperfect, that you can grow along with because the kids who are watching this, like, I’m sorry, I don’t care who your parents are, you are not perfect. You are not going to be this amazing self-actualized ten-year-old who who is okay with everything and knows everything.
A lot of, you know, maybe not ten-year-olds, but that 12 to 17 group of kids, they do think they know everything. Even all the way through college, I would say. [Note from Liz: Can confirm, was once age 12 to 17.] Kids think they know everything and that adults are lying to them and that adults are trying to change them. And so having these characters who also have that opinion and that flaw, like, that’s important. You can connect to those characters on a personal level.
I just think that you shouldn’t be looking to a real life hero, quote, unquote, as a role model. You should be looking to them … maybe as inspiration, but a role model should be someone who gets through the tough stuff and realizes their wrongdoings and their flaws and accepts them, and tries to be better. And that’s the actual role that you should be modeling, is the, ‘we’re all on a journey, we’re all still learning, no one knows everything, people are flawed individuals. That’s just the way we are.’
Liz: And that’s kind of why I’m really excited to see if they take hologram Janeway and make her more than the Emergency Training Hologram. Because right now she has Janeway’s quirks, and she has the swagger and the sip of coffee as she accepts Dal’s request for help. But she’s essentially the voice of the Protostar.
I am really, really keen for them to explore that, and for her to transcend her original programming. And for her to become someone who is a semi adult figure, and certainly she has more knowledge than the kids, but someone who is also at the very beginning of her life’s journey.
Anika: Yeah. it would be super interesting. Because they’re sort of in the same position that Voyager was in when they got stuck with the Doctor, in that they don’t have any human teachers. Normally a Janeway teacher hologram would be like the extra or, you know, the intro course, but they wouldn’t be in charge of actually bringing these kids to the end of their journey or through school. They would have real instructors. And they wouldn’t be relying on the Janeway hologram.
Like, the Janeway hologram, I don’t know, but I get the impression that this ship and this hologram are like, kind of like the enterprise in Star Trek II, where it’s like, we have some classes on this ship and we use it for that. But it’s like a special part of the program. It’s not the program. Why would Starfleet outsource Starfleet Academy to a hologram?
Anika: That doesn’t seem like a great idea. so I think that that means that Janeway has the opportunity to grow in the same way that the Doctor does. And I’m interested for that to happen, and for her to have opinions and get to know these kids as they get to know her, and change. I think that would be interesting.
Liz: Because certainly she is not Janeway, because Janeway would not have mistaken these children for cadets. And she would have taken one look at them and adopted them all with extreme prejudice. But the Protostar’s computer has to be sophisticated enough that sooner or later, it’s going to figure out that–
Anika: Right. And also, Janeway would not have waited for someone to ask for help. That is a negative. There’s no chance. Janeway decides that you need help, and then she helps you. And then, afterwards, you can yell at her about it.
Liz: There’s a Voyager tie in novel called Fire Ship from the late nineties, where Janeway is separated from Voyager for months, and she thinks that Voyager is lost, but she ends up on this ship that’s crewed by very young … I would say older teens and young men. And of course she becomes the captain, and of course she saves them, and of course she teaches them how to be a crew.
And I kind of want to reread that book, now, because that’s the vibe that I think we want to impose on hologram Janeway. But no. She is two days old.
Anika: It’s super fun to me to have Janeway, but not Janeway. That’s like my favorite thing. It’s like the mirror universe, you know, it’s just so exciting to me. And it’s even more exciting than an actual, like, alternate or variant of a character, because this is a, a program, they’ve been programmed to be like Janeway, but they’re not actually Janeway at all. And that’s really interesting.
Liz: I keep coming back to the fact that she’s the voice of the Protostar. Along with Bonnie Gordon, the computer voice, who I shout out because she is a friend of my friend, Lauren, and recorded a reminder for them to take their meds in the Prodigy computer voice.
Anika: Oh, awesome!
Liz: Bonnie Gordon, friend of a friend. I’m practically famous.
But I love the idea of Starfleet vessels developing sentience, and clearly my next hologram Janeway OTP is Zora, the sphere data slash Discovery entity. I like the idea of a 24th century ship having a voice in this way.
Anika: It’s a lot of fun.
Liz: Yes. Because I love the Protostar already, even though I don’t think she’s wheelchair accessible.
Liz: Maybe there’s a turbolift you can’t see.
Anika: Yeah. I mean, I feel like there’s a lot of the ship that we haven’t seen, because the kids don’t even know what any of the words mean.
Liz: It seems like a tiny little ship that’s designed to do maybe one or two things. And they are mainly, go fast and go faster.
Anika: Right. Yes, that’s what I mean about it being like a prototype, not prototype, but like a program that is just for this one thing that you do on it. And like, you know, you learn deep space exploration or something. it’s a module that you take as part of your course. It is not the course itself. And that’s also is the same story of, this is a module of deep space exploration, but then you have to actually explore real deep space. That’s a different story and that’s interesting.
Liz: But also, the Protostar is a prototype, because she has the NX designation, which means she’s the first Protostar class ship.
Anika: Aha. And they lost it.
Liz: They lost it. She seems to have an experimental drive system. You have the two warp drives, and then there’s a third one, which I’m guessing is for transwarp conduits. So it’s cool to see Starfleet technology evolving. But I do have one question, and that’s, where did her crew go?
Anika: Well, these are the mysteries. Maybe it was like a maiden voyage, and they didn’t really have a crew and it was just Janeway.
Liz: Just remote control?
Anika: Like, it was like a drone and they hit the trans warp and then it went away and they were like, oops, we messed up.
Liz: Given that Starfleet’s usual approach to experimentation is to try it out on the holodeck and then put a person in the real version, I can definitely see the benefit of trying out uncrewed missions.
Anika: Maybe it was Zero. I mean–
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. Can we talk about the fact that Zero is a Medusan and they’re meant to have this amazing affinity for navigation and space, and Zero can’t tell left from right?
Anika: But they did choose navigation. Like, this is what’s so interesting to me, that Dal is like,” I’m captain, because I am the egotistical, you know, arrogant kid who wants to be captain,” and thinks that – not — he doesn’t think he’s better than them. He just thinks that the best option for being in charge.
Liz: I also think it’s that he is so accustomed to following his own course and not letting anyone else make decisions for him, that it never crosses his mind to let someone else be in charge. And that’s ego, but it’s also trauma.
Anika: Oh yeah. absolutely. All of these people are traumatized, including Gwyn.
Liz: Oh yeah.
Anika: So Zero chooses navigation, but then doesn’t really know how to do navigation. Jankom Pog chooses tactical, like, he’s in the pilot seat, but he’s definitely doing tactical.
Liz: Yeah, which is weird to me because he’s the engineer.
Anika: Yeah, it’s weird because, right, he’s the engineer, but he’s like super excited to be tactical. Like he wants to blow things up and-
Liz: I mean, who doesn’t?
Anika: –which is, I mean, that’s kind of an engineering thing too. Like, most engineers want to put things together, but there are engineers who want to blow things up.
Liz: The original series had, like, phaser control, which was staffed by engineers. So there’s definitely overlap.
Anika: He’s 16 year old kid and he’s a punk. It fits him, but it’s just interesting that they just sort of jumped into those roles. And neither of them are trying to be captain.
Liz: I think Zero sees themself as having a sort of first officer role, and being able to read minds is a really useful skill in that area. But they do seem to accept that Dal is the ideas guy, even if they don’t always agree with his ideas.
Anika: And that’s from before they even really met. Like Zero chose Dal because of this, again, what I’m going to call Star Trek captain personality. Zero responded to that. And that’s how this all happened.
Liz: Yes. And then Murf and Rok-Tahk don’t really have a place yet. Rok-Tahk as a child, she doesn’t need a job, but also I suspect that once she comes around, Gwyn will fill the tactical slash security role, and that leaves Rok-Tahk free to find her own. And Murf is obviously a professional chair eater. And they’re doing very well.
Anika: I love Murf so much. At the end of the episode, when Murf just decided to sit in the captain’s chair, that was my favorite. I was like, I love you, Murf. I want. Like a you know what are they called? A Funko pop of Murf in the chair. That’s what I want.
Anika: Murf’s not doing anything on purpose, as far as I can tell. And that’s also Murf’s job. At one point they, like, shout to Murf, you know, “Got any of your crazy ideas?”
Anika: And that’s when they eat the chair, right?
Anika: It’s so funny. But I also loved it when they were wandering around and they were like, Janeway said it was starboard, whatever that means. And then they’re like Murf found starboard, like, that was so cute. I love Murf.
Liz: Murf is great. I want a Murf dress. I want to take a picture of Murf into a nail salon and get Murf nails.
Anika: I want a Murf hat.
Liz: Oh, that would be nifty! I reckon you could probably crochet, with the right yarn, a nice ombre bobble. I’m actually a bit disappointed in Paramount’s merch for Prodigy so far. It all seems to be for adults? There is a Prodigy pint glass? [Note from Liz: I checked again later, and there are T-shirts in child sizes with the logo, but nothing else.]
Anika: Really? I have not looked at merchandise — I’ve been disappointed by startrek.com merchandise pretty much as a whole since forever. I talk about this all the time. I have a ridiculously giant Star Wars collection, and my Star Trek collection is like a sixth of the size. Because, first of all, they don’t have as much merchandise. And second of all, the merchandise that they have is nothing I want. Many people love little ship models. I do not.
Anika: I don’t want those. I want a Murf doll.
Liz: Obviously the sole purpose of kid’s entertainment is not to sell merch, and that attitude would be terrible. But at the same time, you know, kids love books of the shows that they watch, and they love comics, and they love toys, and they love clothes. And right now I go into a shop and I cannot move for Bluey stuff. And it’s great.
I just think they are missing out on such a great opportunity to make a pile of money, to promote their show through fans wearing their stuff, and to let fans show how much they love the show.
Anika: I think it is an ongoing issue with, specifically Star Trek, but also most things that are not owned by Disney. Disney understands how to make merchandise for children and adults. So there’s a lot more Star Wars stuff for kids than there is MCU stuff for kids, but there is still MCU stuff for kids. Whereas Star Trek, they don’t understand, like, even though this is clearly — they’re getting kids. And so we should be happy. Bonus points to whoever decided that Prodigy should exist in the first place. Good job. I agree. Yay.
But they have not figured out how to … They haven’t even figured out how to market to me. I think that that’s another thing where it’s like, okay, Star Trek has this weird reputation that it’s, like, the most nerdiest. And it is only for not even just adults, but educated adults. Like, there’s this weird thing where they’re only after yeah, the people who want a pint glass.
Liz: The other thing I noticed, you know, we have this whole science fiction plot of the Protomatter [note: obviously I meant Protostar, but also it’s just a matter of time before I call it the Protomolecule] flying into these collapsing stars. And that’s really cool. And I took a look at startrek.com and there is not a single, like, kid friendly ‘this is what happens when a star dies. This is a binary star system…’
Anika: Oh my gosh, they should hire me. Or they should hire my daughter, who is actually in science communication, but I would one hundred percent take a side job writing kids’ content about science. And I’m not completely unqualified for this. I actually am qualified for this. And I also literally know actual scientists who study actual exoplanets and exploding stars. Like, I have them on speed dial.
Liz: Even videos with Dr. Erin McDonald, the science advisor, would be better than the nothing that they’ve got now.
Anika: Do you follow Kate Mulgrew on Twitter?
Liz: No. I should, I know.
Anika: Kate Mulgrew — I’m assuming that this is something she’s going to do for each episode, because she’s done it for the past two, and it’s adorable. But so she has this little video where she’s like — it’s like a teacher, right? So she’s saying, the lesson of this week’s Star Trek: Prodigy was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and this is why it’s important. And I was just like, this is the cutest, most wonderful thing. I do think that the videos are on Star Trek, or they’re at least on Star Trek‘s Twitter.
Liz: They’re on startrek.com. I saw the thumbnail. And that is cheesy as hell, but–
Anika: But also cute
Liz: Yes. And it’s going to be useful for some people. And I just think that this is a really great opportunity to introduce kids to science and science communication.
Anika: One hundred percent. And the daughter that I mentioned, that literally works in science communication, she wants to work in educating people who are not scientists about science, because that is something we desperately need. People don’t trust scientists.
Anika: And she wants to make that not a thing. And she has a YouTube channel where she does a lot of video games where it’s like, “This is a something that happens in Mario, or this is something that happens in Zelda, or this is something that happens in Animal Crossing. And this is the real science that it’s based on.”
And so that’s what I’m saying she’d be perfect for the Star Trek job that I just created, because, yeah, you are completely right, that a little video about, this is what a protostar is, this is what a white dwarf is. This is what happens when a star explodes. Those are interesting things that we do know the science of, that you could get kids excited about, that directly relates to your product.
Liz: Yeah. Obviously, we don’t need to go the full seaQuest educational video over the end credits route, but just a little “Go to startrek.com/ProdigyScience to learn about the real science behind this story,” you know. What an opportunity to learn.
Anika: It’s like what I forget what it’s called, but it was the Jayne Brook and–
Liz: Biotrekkie and the Admiral. Yes.
Anika: Again, it’s like, that’s not – it’s affiliated, but not startrek.com, but it was sort of the same idea of, like, this is what happened in Discovery this week, and this is the real science about it. And I just think that it’s worthwhile to have those things, especially for kids.
Liz: Especially if we want to ease them into Star Trek‘s alleged real science background, and let them have fun with it. Even the Prodigy coloring pages were only part of the press kit, and are not available for actual kids to print out and color.
Anika: It’s so weird. I want the Prodigy coloring pages. All I got was a tote bag. I’m not surprised, because again, I just don’t think that people — Paramount is really bad at it. They just–
Liz: They are.
Anika: Not to say that Disney is better because Disney’s the evil corporation. They’re still my favorite evil corporation, because they market directly to me and to my family, and they have everything.
Liz: It just occurred to me that all of these objections, all of these criticisms, might be premature. I think I read somewhere that after it has aired, or after it has run on Paramount Plus, Prodigy will run on actual Nickelodeon. And it may be at that point, when I assume it will have a bigger audience, there will be…
Anika: Mainstream. That’s possible. I don’t think this is the same as when The Mandalorian premiered and there was no merchandise. But that was specifically to keep Baby Yoda secret.
Liz: Yes. And also it had the side effect of building up massive demand for Baby Yoda stuff.
Anika: Right. I just really want a plushy Murf. I really want a Murf hat, and I really want Murf slime. I just want Murf everything.
Liz: Where is my Murf Christmas ornament? And where is my Gwyn t-shirt?
Anika: Yeah, I totally want a Gwyn t-shirt.
Anika: We should just make one. We should make our own.
Liz: I want something like, not literally with her face on it, but in the colors of her design. And then with the pattern of her sword/shield/armband.
Anika: I have totally made Padme t-shirts as you’ve just described where it’s like, it’s not Padme, but it’s clearly Padme, using the color scheme and the imagery. So, yeah, that can exist. I mean, maybe it does. I haven’t been on Etsy for Prodigy, but I’m guessing not.
Because Star Trek just — Star Trek just isn’t out there. There aren’t as many people making … I mean, it’s just not as big, too, but I also think that there is this stigma that I think that they should — I really, I honestly — you know, Paramount doesn’t care about me and doesn’t want my advice, but I really do think that they should work hard to combat the stigma that Star Trek is only for people who can get it. I don’t think that’s fair.
Liz: I completely agree. And Prodigy is doing that with storytelling, but Paramount can also do that with capitalism.
Anika: And I also like the tie tie-in novel idea. Junior novels. Come on. We had those cute little Starfleet Academy ones. So this is another thing. I volunteer as tribute. I will one hundred percent write your novel.
Liz: It’s ridiculous that we haven’t had them announced, and that they’re not being written by known middle grade authors.
Anika: They should be coming out monthly. Each of these characters should have an origin story junior novel–
Liz: Oh my gosh.
Anika: –by the end of first season. Like, I’m sorry. That’s just the way it should be.
Liz: And also the first two should be out by Christmas.
Anika: Absolutely. Dal and Gwyn.
Liz: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I look forward to Murf’s origin story. I would write that myself. It would just be a series of letters on the page. Forming sounds that are not words.
Anika: It could be a picture book. There’s so many great ways this could go.
Anika: Once again, why doesn’t Star Trek just hire us?
Liz: It’s, as usual, a mystery. But let’s talk about the heartbreak of Rok-Tahk not having a food that she remembers from her life before enslavement.
Anika: I’m so sad about everything Rok-Tahk. Everything that Rok-Tahk did in this episode it made me cry. The fact that she didn’t have a food, and that she literally knows no other food than the gross prison food that she was given. That is a tragedy. And then, when she confronted Gwyn–
Anika: I mean way to have agency, Rok-Tahk, way to have a voice. I was so proud of her and I was so excited. I was like, yes, hold her feet to the fire!
Liz: Yes. And when Gwyn says, “Well, I was just following orders, like you are now,” Rok-Tahk rightfully dismisses that as being a ridiculous comparison. Because Dal is not a good captain yet, but he is not an abusive slave owner. Like, come on, Gwyn.
Anika: Clearly. And she wasn’t even following orders. She, like, agreed to do what they asked her to do.
Liz: And I simply do not believe that she looked at that little kitten last week and went, “Ah, yes, a convicted criminal.” I think she may have believed that at some time in her life, but–
Anika: It became clear.
Liz: Yeah, and she kept going. And I understand, she probably didn’t have a choice. This was not, ultimately, a safe situation for her either, but she needs to deal with her own responsibility here.
And I’m really glad — I think it’s really brave of the show to take its very second episode and go, actually, these two lead characters that everyone really liked last week? Here are their flaws. I think that demonstrates a level of trust in the audience.
Anika: Yes, me too. Me thousand. because that’s what’s missing in current media, is trust in the audience.
Liz: Yeah. We’ve talked about Discovery‘s flaws in that regard, and Picard‘s. And before we started recording, we were talking about The Morning Show, which is an absolutely ridiculous piece of television that does not trust its audience on any level.
Anika: On any level. It can almost be universalized. Something has happened since the time when I grew up and now, I don’t know, that they feel like it’s necessary to explain more. And I think it’s partially because there’s so much more television, now, that they feel like they have to keep their audience. And in order to keep their audience, they have to talk to their audience or, you know, like they have to address their audience in a very specific way.
And it’s also the things like CSI and House. There are these shows that are built entirely around explaining what’s happening to the audience. I love both those shows, but it sort of created this reality where, for whatever reason, no one trusts the audience anymore.
Liz: And I think definitely, Star Trek audiences have not been trustworthy. Consider the way people uncritically buy the line that Michael Burnham started the war, when the show makes it clear that she didn’t. Admiral Cornwell says that she’s a scapegoat. But people are like, “Oh, I hate Michael Burnham, she started a whole war.”
Anika: I mean, how can you watch the end of the second episode, where it’s Michael Burnham and like the shadow court, and think that the shadow court are the good guys. Like, I don’t understand how you can watch that. That’s the kind of thing, where all of the subtext screaming that she is the victim and they are the problem. And yet people just blindly believe that she should be punished and it’s like, no. There is no way that this punishment is correct.
And there’s no way that these are the people you’re supposed to trust. Like, you can’t see their faces. They are literally a shadow court. I cannot watch that and think anything that – these are the bad guys in Evangelion, these are the bad guys in the first Avengers movie. Like, there are cultural touchstones that make it very clear that these are the enemy. That authority is the enemy.
Liz: But Star Trek fans love authority! And this is why they criticize Dal, and–
Anika: And Beckett.
Liz: Yes, and Beckett. And yet they also criticize Gwyn for believing in the authority that is clearly bad.
Anika: That’s so weird, so weird.
Liz: I think black kids and girls can’t catch a break.
Anika: And which is why we have to support Dal Beckett and all of them. Michael. I just — it makes me crazy. Because I literally do not understand how you can watch these scenes and read them as ode to authority.
Liz: But the thing is, like, Black kids, particularly Black boys, are racialized and institutionalized.
Earlier this week Women at Warp posted an essay about how Black women in Star Trek are disproportionately subjected to criminal justice and imprisonment. It was a great essay.
And then My Favorite Murder had an episode where Karen discussed the imprisonment of a 16 year old Black girl who was tried as an adult for murdering a man who raped her or tried to rape her—
Anika: She murdered her abuser.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. She was an underage sex worker, but she was tried as an adult. And after quite a few years in prison, she was eventually released, and is now an advocate for keeping black children out of the criminal justice system, especially girls.
And this led into a discussion of an incident a few years ago in Louisiana, where I think, six kids, aged down to about eight, were arrested for being present while two boys had a fight. There was a big ProPublica article on it. I might put it in the show notes.
And all of the people in authority in this town were white women, and they were all talking about how, you know, kids today have no respect, and they need structure and they need to go to prison for their own good. And then they talk to these.
Anika: Okay, first of all, no one needs to go to prison for their own good.
Anika: Zero people.
Liz: And then they talked to the actual boys, who are now young men, about the trauma that they experienced from imprisonment, and the way that society treats them as a result of their being Black and having been in prison.
And I think that there is — not consciously, not deliberately, but there is an aspect of that in the way people are talking about Dal and saying he is undeserving of any authority.
Anika: I am so upset about society right now.
Liz: No, no, me too. It’s horrible.
And I think it’s a really hard line to walk because, yes, Dal is young and he has a lot to learn, and he has made mistakes, and he is going to keep making mistakes. That is because — I was about to say that is because he’s a human being. That is not the case. But he is a person. And that is what people do. And he should have as many chances as frat boy Kirk.
Anika: Right. Frat boy Kirk who, like gets demoted and then re promoted in like an hour later, because shit happens. And like, I get that, but also…
Liz: Yeah. It’s frustrating within the time limit of the 2009 Star Trek movie that Kirk goes through these experiences so fast. But consider Tom Paris, who was also kicked out of Starfleet, returned to Starfleet, like demoted, promoted. Dal deserves as many opportunities as Tom Paris. And he has his own Kathryn Janeway to give them.
Anika: Aw! I’m gonna cry now, that Dal’s the new Tom Paris.
Liz: And Gwyn is different. Her needs are different. But she is [the timer goes off, because that’s how we’re staying on topic these days] oh, the timer. But I think Janeway also has a lot of experience with reclaiming—
Anika: She’s the Seven.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. Reclaiming young women who have done terrible things, and need to — first need to learn that those things were wrong, and that she deserves redemption.
Anika: Right, to learn both of those sides. I want that for everyone. Like even, you know what I said, that no one deserves to be in prison for their own good I also mean criminals. I know that that’s a radical statement, but everyone deserves the opportunity to acknowledge what they’ve done, learn from it and move past it. Treating people are cruel with cruelty is not a way to treat them. It’s not a way to teach them kindness.
Liz: No, and even people who have done terrible things and who are very, very dangerous deserve dignity and quality of life.
Anika: Yeah. This is my Seska argument, and it’s true for Gwyn, if you were taught a certain way, and that’s the world view that you were given and that you were born into, it’s hard to step back and see the flaws in it and see how it was wrong and see the traumas that you created–
Anika: –and the harm that you perpetrated. That’s a lot for people to take on, but I think that it’s a hell of a story. That’s the story I always want. I want the story where someone says, “Oh, I did this horrible thing, what can I do now?”
Liz: Yes. Yes. “How do I help people? How do I undo the consequences?” And sometimes there is no undoing them, and that’s really hard. Sometimes you’ll never be forgiven, and you can only find your own peace. But I feel like Gwyn’s story’s not going to be that bleak.
And because you just mentioned Seska, I just want to end pointing out that this show takes place around the time Seska’s son would be nine or 10 years old, and I cannot wait for Team Protostar to adopt a runaway half-Kazon half-Cardassian.
Liz: We know Chakotay is in it. And maybe this is why. Maybe, after all of this, he does have to parent Seska’s kid. That is messed up. And I like it.
Anika: That is the best way for Chakotay to be in this. Like, I’m sorry to all the shippers, I one hundred percent want to see, ‘Chakotay has to parent Seska’s kid.’
Anika: That sounds amazing. I want that more than meeting up with the lizard babies. And if you know me, that’s a big thing to say!
Liz: Oh, my God, I didn’t even consider the possibility of Team Protostar finding the teenage lizard babies.
Anika: And that’s not a fan service, that is just awesome, okay? It’s just awesome. I guess it’s serving me as a fan–
Liz: Yeah. It’s definitely not serving the wider fandom, because I don’t–
Anika: No, these are things that literally only you and I want. However, I really want them.
Liz: Yeah. I just think there are so many possibilities. And more than anything else, I have realized that I want Chakotay to come in and be a dad to these kids.
Anika: And that would make the shippers happy, too, with Janeway as their mom. So it all works out.
Liz: Also, if he’s like really weirded out by her and like, she’s this fake version of his friend, and she doesn’t know about their weird relationship because she’s a computer, why would they put that in the program? Yeah. Yeah.
Anika: Oh, my goodness. So many possibilities.
Liz: Hologram Janeway is saving herself for Zora, the sphere data.
Anika: Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod, we really truly appreciate it.
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Liz: I wonder if I can crochet a Murf beanie.
Anika: Oh, everyone should leave a five star review in order to get a Murf.
Liz: No beanies guaranteed.
Anika: Join us next week when we will be discussing episode four of Star Trek: Prodigy, whose title has not yet been announced. And to be fair, episode three isn’t even really anywhere. It was only watching it that we found out what the title was–
Liz: Yeah. Yeah.
Anika: –because no one is on top of this the way they should be.
Liz: Maybe it’s going to become really spoiler-y and, like, episode 10 will be called The Episode Where They Get Back To The Alpha Quadrant And Meet Real Janeway.