“Lost and Found” gets Star Trek Prodigy off to a strong start.
Are you an adult Star Trek fan wondering whether Star Trek Prodigy, the franchise’s first series primarily aimed at a younger audience, is worth your time? Judging from its pilot episode, “Lost and Found,” the answer is undeniably and inarguably, “Yes!”
I’ve watched “Lost and Found” twice so far. The only on-screen stuff beneath me as a grown-up were the commercials for toys and sugary cereal. If you spring for the top Paramount+ tier, you won’t even have to watch those!
Set somewhere in the still mostly unknown Delta Quadrant, Star Trek Prodigy introduces us to Dal R’El (voiced by Brett Gray). He’s a young man of uncertain origin—one of several mysteries the show sets up in surprisingly short order—on Tars Lamora, a prison planet under the tyrannical thumb of Solum the Diviner (John Noble) and his ruthlessly cruel right hand man, the robotic Drednok (Jimmi Simpson).
Sentenced to deep core mining for his latest failed escape attempt, Dal and his rock-like fellow prisoner Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) discover an advanced Federation starship, the Protostar, buried beneath the planet’s chimerium crystals. At the suggestion of Zero (Angus Imrie), a telepathic Medusan on the lam in a containment suit, they recruit Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), a Tellarite with engineering expertise, to help them secretly prep the Protostar for flight.
Gwyn (Ella Purnell), Solum’s daughter, who also longs to leave Tars Lamora to see the stars, reluctantly sets Dal up to lead her father’s forces to Zero—and the Protostar. The hastily assembled crew, which by now also includes a gloopy, gelatinous being Rok-Tahk names Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), comically kidnaps Gwyn and blasts off. Drednok pursue Dal across the Protostar’s hull. Dal only escapes because he manages to repair the ship’s shields just before the vessel makes a dramatic escape.
As the crew wonders where to go, the Protostar reveals its greatest secret yet: a hologram of Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), who welcomes them aboard and offers her assistance.
Star Trek Prodigy invites us to fall in love with Trek all over again
Arguably, “Lost and Found” is the most completely original Star Trek pilot episode since “The Cage.” It rests on older Trek foundations, of course. It has a Medusan and a Tellarite in its cast, not to mention Hologram Janeway! But for the most part, it feels like it’s taking place in some science fictional setting far removed from any Trek before it.
That feeling should prove Star Trek Prodigy’s greatest asset for bringing new viewers, of any age, into the Star Trek fold. While long-time fans will like the show’s canonical connections, the whole audience will be initiated along with our viewpoint characters into a wide, wondrous universe.
If “Lost and Found” feels derivative of anything, it’s Star Wars. Like Luke Skywalker, Dal R’El is a young boy yearning for space adventure—although Dal’s is an actual prisoner, while Luke only felt like one. And both Solum and Drednok give off serious Star Wars villain vibes. Solum’s subordinates cower and kneel before him as Darth Vader knelt before his Emperor; Solum himself seems to need life-sustaining apparatus as Vader did. And Drednok has all the quick and lethal machine movements of General Grievous, but is much more intimidating.
But this pilot episode suggests Prodigy will sound classic Star Trek themes loud and clear. Trek has no monopoly on optimism, of course, but it has always been a hallmark of the franchise. Likewise, vivid depictions of diverse beings working together for a common, positive purpose are constants across the series, and Prodigy presents us with our most diverse cast of central characters yet—and not one human being (in the flesh, anyway) among them! Star Trek Prodigy looks like it will showcase IDIC in action like never before.
And what a gorgeous showcase it will be. The show’s three-dimensional, richly textured and detailed animation, rendered in warm and vivid colors, is beautiful. The Protostar is a sleek and stylish vessel. (Think the Kelvin Timeline’s Enterprise is a hot rod? After just one episode, I’d bet on the Protostar over it any day.) The show’s credits sequence alone is so lushly animated and inspiring, it’s easy to understand why the studio released it early. If it doesn’t give you that uniquely Star Trek lump in your throat, report to your nearest sickbay!
Musical scores in animated shows don’t always get much attention. But the music Nami Melumad composes for Prodigy should. Michael Giacchino composed the series’ stirring main theme, but Melumad turns in a score that’s exactly the right amounts of exciting, tender, and humorous, as the action demands.
“Lost and Found” leaves many story questions unanswered. But we have the rest of the season ahead of us for answers! For now, we have compelling characters, wonderfully voiced and animated, and the promise of wide-open adventures awaiting us, driven by values that have always made Star Trek worth watching.
Star Trek Prodigy is really an invitation to fall in love with Star Trek all over again. So far, I’m falling!