Star Trek: Prodigy – Season 1 Episode 13

Nov 10, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“All the World’s a Stage”

Star Trek: Prodigy explores the idea of fandom when the Protostar crew encounters a culture inspired by Starfleet.

The Star Trek franchise has always been built on specific guiding principles that underpin every story it delivers. Those principles are easy to understand and along the theme of doing whatever can be done to help others and that people can always strive to do better. Various episodes have interrogated those ideals and challenged whether they apply under extreme circumstances, but the franchise has never wavered in its commitment to the core ideals.


Roleplaying is the sincerest form of flattery

Stories where a primitive society is influenced by accidental contact with the Federation, are nothing new as the Prime Directive prevents interfering with developing cultures so it’s natural that stories would exist where that choice was taken away and the consequences have to be dealt with. “All the World’s a Stage” most prominently references the Voyager episode “Muse” where a playwright was creating entertainment out of the Delta Flyer’s log entries and stories being told by B’Elanna Torres. It was an example of a society being influenced by the Federation while arguably not being ready to understand what they were being exposed to here.

The same applies here albeit in a different way. A crashed shuttle belonging to Kirk’s Enterprise has accidentally influenced an entire society that has based itself entirely on what they have pieced together from the shuttle’s logs and its surviving occupant. They call themselves Enderprizians, dress like a 23rd-century Starfleet crew -with a few details wrong-, emulate the crew of Kirk’s Enterprise and indulge in recreations of their missions. The details aren’t quite right but the spirit of what they’re inspired by can be clearly seen and there’s an earnestness to how they live by the Starfleet values. The exaggerated impressions of Kirk, McCoy, Spock etc are really charming and the whole setup plays as a loving homage to The Original Series.

Prodigy tends to outline the idea a given episode will cover and connect the bulk of what it delivers to that idea. It’s an efficient way of structuring a story for the length of the episodes while also making viewers clear on what a given episode wants them to think about. It is in no way subtle and isn’t pretending to be but the messaging is presented clearly and the exploration is thought-provoking no matter the age group watching.


Paying respects

The discovery of a civilisation that has modelled itself on Starfleet awakens an anxiety within Dal. He opens the episode with a confident log entry complete with a stardate as an indication of him being settled into the role of Captain before losing faith in his right to occupy that role after being faced with a group of people who live by the same ideals he has come to value without being inducted into them in a traditional way. He sees himself in these people and makes reference to them “playing dress-up”; something he then attributes to himself and the rest of the Protostar crew. For Dal it’s a classic case of impostor syndrome brought on by the realisation that he’s not actually a Starfleet Captain as he put himself in that position because he was the first to find the Protostar. His statements are an example of gatekeeping -albeit accidental- through declaring who gets to be Starfleet and who doesn’t. It’s a strong showcase of the fragility of self-confidence.

It’s a fascinating setup and acts as a metaphor for the state of fandoms in general. There are purists who happened to be alive when the franchise began or became fans during a particularly prolific period in its history who consider themselves true fans with anyone coming to it later or via unconventional means being lesser in their eyes. It’s a disgusting and exclusionary attitude because the only person who gets to define fandom is the person who decides they belong to one. Knowing decades-old trivia doesn’t make someone a better fan because the point is the passion that comes with an interest in a particular property. Dismissing those who don’t know as much minutiae actually makes someone less of a fan because they aren’t being inclusive to those who want to immerse themselves in this new world they have discovered.

Dal’s gatekeeping isn’t malicious in nature as it’s reflected back at him. He doesn’t feel worthy of belonging to Starfleet because he doesn’t think he has earned the right so by that logic, the Enderprizian’s don’t have the right either because they came to appreciate what it stands for under less than conventional circumstances. The lesson that Dal has to learn is that there is no wrong way to come to appreciate something and their unconventional entry points don’t make what they have chosen to stand for any less valid. There is a disconnect between the message and the reality as Dal and the Protostar crew are assigning themselves roles on an active starship; something that people have to study and train for whereas the Enderprizian’s are living by ideals and creating entertainment based on information they have access to but the connection to the notion of fandom remains strong in spite of this.


Starting to make sense now

The Protostar crew and the Enderprizians further the metaphor for fandom by being the people to take it forward and expand the definition of what it means to be in a particular fandom. Star Trek has fans who started engaging with the franchise at different points in its history. A jumping-on point for many was the 2009 JJ Abrams movie. The current era will have attracted viewers at different points as well so the pool of fans of the franchise has broadened considerably. In order for a franchise to continue it needs new people to become interested and carry that into the future. Fandom naturally changes as the franchise gets older and younger fans emerge. That’s a good thing because it means the influence stretches across generations and Star Trek continues to bring comfort to people who engage with its ideals.

On a similar token, the franchise itself has to change otherwise it will be killed by stagnation. People will always have their preferred era and style of storytelling but continued success means keeping pace with storytelling trends and competing with the onslaught of content demanding attention. This episode of Prodigy is saying exactly that and celebrating the fact that new blood can take what the franchise represents forward.

The climactic moment where Dal leads the Enderprizians on a mission to rescue the trapped crew of the Protostar is incredibly satisfying as it signifies their belonging to what Starfleet represents being validated as well as Dal recognising that he isn’t a fraud. Using the classic Enterprise bridge because the Enderprizian’s are comfortable with how that operates so that they can fill in as the crew was an excellent touch and Ensign Garrovick’s (Fred Tatasciore) log entry playing over the sequence enhanced the message. Garrovick sang the praises of the locals as he saw them as good people who helped him when he crashed on their planet. Garrovick is from the era of The Original Series so his acceptance of the Enderprizian’s sends the message that old fans should accept the new. Added to that is the Protostar crew accepting the new fans when they are new fans themselves. The idea is that inclusivity is the responsibility of every generation.


Every fan’s dream

Star Trek bringing comfort to those who engage with its ideals is furthered through Jankom Pog following the loss of faith in his ability because of his inability to deactivate the anti-Starfleet weapon on the Protostar. He needs a win and this situation presents him with a problem he can solve which allows him to regain his confidence. It’s a small and predictable arc that comes across as forced as it is clumsily established that Jankom has lost his confidence so that the episode can end with him regaining it. The impulse to ensure that Dal wasn’t the only character to experience growth is understood but it stands out as being unnecessary.

Real Janeway’s crew continues to slowly close in on the Protostar in a subplot. Cutting away to their investigation never overwhelms the story and subtly increases the tension through Janeway continuing to learn information and lacking in the proper context to put it together. The storytelling is well constructed as they start at a particular point, learn something new and outline what the next step in the investigation is. The Dauntless is a lumbering threat that will inevitably catch the Protostar and the minor inclusion in each episode heightens the tension associated with that inevitability.


Equally valid


An excellent episode that provides fascinating commentary on the changing nature of fandom with a meaningful in-universe example that champions inclusivity. Discovering a civilisation that has modelled itself on Starfleet awakens an anxiety within Dal. The contrast between the confident opening log entry and the self-doubt that soon follows is a strong showcase of impostor syndrome and how fragile self-confidence can be.  Dal’s statements about the Enderprizian’s not being real Starfleet and the belief that he isn’t really part of Starfleet is clear accidental gatekeeping on Dal’s part and forms a fascinating setup that acts as a metaphor of the state of fandoms in general. This episode explores the notion that considering yourself to be a fan makes you a fan and nobody has the right to say otherwise. Dal’s gatekeeping isn’t malicious as it’s reflected back on him with a clear lesson to be learned about the values he lives by being the important thing by themselves. The Protostar crew and the Enderprizians further the metaphor for fandom by being the ones to take it forward and expand the definition of what it means to belong to one. The climactic moment where Dal leads the Enderprizians on a mission is incredibly satisfying as it signifies their belonging to Starfleet with Ensign Garrovick’s log entry enhancing the message as an Original Series era character approving of the new generation. Added to that is the Protostar crew accepting the new fans when they are new fans themselves. The idea is that inclusivity is the responsibility of every generation. Jankom Pog losing faith in his ability was a small, unpredictable and altogether unnecessary arc that comes across as forced. The Real Janeway plot continues to move slowly in a way that subtly increases the tension and frames the Dauntless as a lumbering threat that will inevitably catch the Protostar

  • 9/10
    All The World's a Stage - 9/10


Kneel Before…

  • strong messaging about inclusivity and the necessary changing nature of fandom
  • Dal learning from his accidental gatekeeping and overcoming his impostor syndrome
  • Garrovick’s voice representing The Original Series era sending the message that old fans should accept the new
  • the Enderprizian’s being accepted as new fans by the Protostar crew who are themselves new fans
  • the charming homage to The Original Series through the Enderprizian’s exaggerated impressions
  • the satisfying climactic moment
  • efficient storytelling in the Real Janeway plot


Rise Against…

  • the Jankom Pog arc being forced and unnecessary


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