Introducing a new generation of viewers to Star Trek ‘verse means framing situations for learning without the safety (or tedium) of lecture-heavy exposition.
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 12 is a master class of how showing is greater than telling.
Also, how in some cases, doing is better than listening. Of course, listening has less chance of assimilation. Just saying.
In the decades since the Borg made their debut on Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s incredible that I’ve never considered the Borg Collective as a metaphor for popular/powerful cliques at the school level. It took positioning them in reference to a group of kids for me to see it.
Against the backdrop of adults, the Borg hive mind looks more like a contrast of ideologies and culture.
When Zero plugs into the collective consciousness, it instantly invokes the brainwashing, fear-feeding, need-to-belong mob mentality of every adolescent “in-crowd.”
Zero still carries the guilt of causing Gwyn’s memory loss when they revealed their true form to The Diviner on Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 10, and Gwyn only just glimpsed them.
Gwyn: Fight the Collective, Zero.
Zero: There is no Zero. Zero hurt you, endangered you. Now Zero is Borg.
Gwyn forgave them immediately, recognizing their sacrifice in doing something so irreconcilable with their nature to save everyone from The Diviner.
But guilt is a weight no one else can carry or lift for you. Zero swore they’d restore Gwyn’s memories, and the crew’s adventure (trauma?) on CR-721 on Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 11 did that.
But when given the chance to lose themself in the Borg hive-mind, Zero’s self-doubt is a weak spot in their defenses, and they give in to the assimilation.
It’s Gwyn’s voice that brings them back, gives them confidence in who they are, and fuels their resistance to the influence of the Borg.
We all get hurt, Zero. It’s the risk we take for revealing pieces of ourselves to each other, but what you did trying to protect me was an act of love and you should never feel ashamed for that. If there’s any part still listening, protect us again, Zero, break free from their hold. Resistance is NOT futile.
It’s a powerful moment when Gwyn — who, of anyone on the crew, knows best the fear of being vulnerable — reminds Zero that, to be loved, one has to be willing to love others, and that means being willing to be hurt.
Dal: Zero, how did you escape the Borg hive mind?
Zero: I listened to a friend. While I may have harmed others in the past, I now choose to save. The same is true for our ship. It may be a weapon against Starfleet, but it can still be used for good.
For Zero to then turn that lesson about themself around and apply it to the ship they now know is a danger to the Federation, well, that’s just brilliant script engineering.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the Dauntless.
Tea? Really. Ensign Asencia is rightfully aghast.
Vice Admiral Janeway: Tea. Black.
Asencia: Admiral, you’re not drinking coffee.
Janeway: Doctor’s orders. Between you and me, Ensign, I need a second opinion.
It’s always interesting to meet a new crew.
While Tysess is still a bit of an enigma (but HEL-LO and welcome, Daveed Diggs) and Asencia is mostly emitting eagerness vibes, Dr. Noum has exactly the bedside manner one would expect from a Tellarite.
The Diviner: They took my daughter.
Vice Admiral Janeway: Who took your daughter?
The Diviner: My… mission. I have to save them.
Janeway: Save who? Can he hear me?
Dr. Noum: Not likely. Considering he seems like a frozen corpse, any sign of life means I’m a miracle worker.
In the “showing vs. telling” spotlight is The Diviner’s first coherent ramblings as he slowly revives from stasis.
The first thing he mentions is that they’ve taken his daughter. Before his mission, before any feelings of betrayal or failure, the loss of his daughter is foremost in his mind.
That’s a pretty stunning revelation.
When TV Fanatic spoke with co-creators Dan and Kevin Hageman, we asked them about that. In Dan’s words, “At his core, he loves his daughter.”
Having lost everything, it will be fascinating to see what The Diviner is willing to fight for in his weakened and Medusan-addled state.
At the same time, the crew of the Dauntless has an unreliable witness in The Diviner. While they know he’s suffered cognitive injury, they are unaware of his role in the destruction of Tars Lamora and the theft of the Protostar.
With Vice Admiral Janeway’s focus on finding Chakotay, and possibly discombobulated by the tea mandate, it may not occur to her to look too closely at this castaway of unknown species origin.
Asencia: Admiral, the suit we found him in contains some kind of life-sustaining bio-serum. Perhaps if we replicate it, we can revive him.
Vice Admiral Janeway: That’s a novel idea. One of many, I’ve noticed.
Dr. Noum: I wish I knew how to kiss tail like that, Ensign. Keep it up and we’ll be taking order from you.
Hopefully, her crew will provide some balance.
I mean, Dr. Noum’s going to argue everything anyway, but if she gets too fixated, I wonder if Tysess has the wherewithal to make the hard decisions.
The thing I appreciate the most about the Protostar’s crew is that even though Dal is the de facto captain, every single member of the crew knows that he knows precisely as much as they do — sometimes less — about flying a starship.
And they call him on it regularly. However, he’s still the captain somehow.
I will resist because I am already a part of a collective that is stronger than you will ever be.
In contrast, the Borg don’t have captains — although you could argue their units are ranked — and thanks to the hive mind, they really do know exactly what everyone else knows. They are extremely efficient at overwhelming their enemy, adapting to weapons, and persisting with a mission.
Take, for instance, their analysis of the living construct device The Diviner booby-trapped the Protostar with. Their first plan is to take it and use it to defeat the Federation.
Logical. Precise. Probably would’ve worked if it wasn’t for these pesky kids.
It’s Dal’s innovative strategy and Gwyn’s ability to follow Janeway’s direction, fighting her own instincts and training, that succeeds in reminding Zero of where they truly belong.
The Borg may add their distinctiveness to their own, but they do not value it as such. By resisting them and saving their friends, Zero defies the hive mind’s expectations and computational predictions.
Gwyn: I thought we lost you.
Zero: I’ve already found my collective.
The Protostar is home to this crew. It is their safety and their freedom and their challenge, just as Vice Admiral Janeway’s mission is her raison d’être.
I wonder how The Diviner will adjust to being without home, family, mission, or Drednok?
Who holds the key to neutralizing the living construct?
Also, and maybe most importantly, is Murf really sick?
Because that’s not allowed. Seriously.
Rok-Tahk: I think all this time travel talk is making Murf sick.
Hologram Janeway: It’s impossible.
Rok-Tahk: He can be indestructible but not catch a cold?
Ok, Fanatics, how long can the Protostar stay ahead of the Dauntless? When will the inevitable encounter take place?
Will the Borg remember the living construct when they wake up? Will it become a new mission for them to add it to their arsenal?
Hit our comments with your wildest thoughts and theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.