‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Deliciously Hams It Up in “All the World’s a Stage”
Now, a new episode of Star Trek: Prodigy full of heroism, and heart. Where All The World’s A Stage. As You Like It. That’s a Shakespeare joke.
Star Trek requires a very particular sort of actor. Standard TV players simply will not do. No, Star Trek requires bombastic theatricality. Whether it’s William Shatner pitching it to the cheap seats with hamtastic overacting or Sir Patrick Stewart going full Royal Shakespeare, what Star Trek needs is stage performers.
And that theatricality reflects in the stories, too. Star Trek: The Original Series explores the psychology of a killer through the Hamlet-like “The Conscience of the King”. Picard and Data both flit across the holodeck stage throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation. And the story of Voyager gets retold by an alien playwright attempting to assuage his patron from war in “Muse“.
And now Star Trek: Prodigy continues this grand tradition with “All The World’s A Stage”. How does it stack up? Well, for things first…
To Boldly Recap
After accidentally destroying a relay station with their living weapon, the Protostar crew decides to steer clear of the Federation for a while. And it isn’t long before they encounter an M-class planet sending a distress call. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell what’s happening on the planet below because there’s some sort of dampening field around the whole darn thing!
The crew beams down save for Rok who has to remain on board because Murf’s illness is still progressing. And the crew finds something very surprising: Starfleet! Well, they sort of find Starfleet, but only if Starflight, a group of people in what appears to be Starfleet cosplay, counts as Starfleet.
It turns out that, once upon a time, this planet came face-to-face with the real Starfleet and they’ve been retelling the story of that meeting ever since. But of course, they are telling everything completely wrong: they say “Sprock” instead of “Spock” and “live logs and proper”. And the hero of their story is a man they dub “En Son”.
Starflight Tale of Bravery
Once upon a time, the Enterprisians (yes, that’s what they call themselves) meet a man from the stars whose name they think is “En Son”. Through him, they learn all about his world. But they also learn that there’s a danger in their woods called “The Gallows”. En Son tells them to steer clear, but people still venture there — and they all get sick.
In fact, one of the current Enterprisans, a young girl named “Cadet Hura” has the sickness. And it isn’t long before Dal also develops it, too. Zero stays with Dal, Rok comes down to the planet, and the remainder of the team seeks out “The Gallows”.
Turns out, the Gallows in question is actually the classic Enterprise shuttlecraft Galileo. More than that, the Galileo is dripping plasma onto raw Dilithium crystals in a nearby cave. The sickness is radiation poisoning.
The good news is that Zero can cure Dal and everyone else now that they know what the sickness is. The bad news is that the remainder of the crew is stuck in the Galileo as it is about to tip over into the radiation sludge.
Solution? Dal brings the Starflight “crew” aboard the Protostar, has Janeway use a bit of holo-trickery to make the system’s interface look like it’s Constitution class, and together they fly the ship into the atmosphere and beam the rest of the crew away just before they can plunge into the depths below.
Two More Things
In addition to our main, theatrical presentation. There are two other long-term plotlines that continue their slow unraveling.
The first is Admiral Janeway’s story. The Diviner is awake and he is talking. He says he remembers Chakotay. More than that, he remembers Chakotay being kidnapped and the Protostar being stolen – both events of which he tells Janeway about. The Diviner also remembers seeing his homeworld destroyed, but he doesn’t tell Janeway about that.
The big question is: how much does the Diviner actually remember? And, given that, how much is he telling the truth and how much is he lying? The only thing we know for sure is that Janeway no longer sees her hunt for the Protostar as a rescue mission – this is a manhunt. And they are specifically hunting for Barniss Frex whose Relay Station was destroyed by the Protostar.
And speaking of questions: what is going on with Murf? He’s been sick for quite a few episodes now. And “All The World’s A Stage” is no different. In fact, Murf is sicker than ever. And when Rok finally gets back to check on Murf, we see that our slimy pal is in a cocoon. Which begs the biggest question of all: what is Murf turning into?
To Boldly Review
Star Trek: Prodigy has this tendency to be very serious. The Protostar destroys a relay station. The Protostar nearly gets assimilated by the Borg. And the Protostar has no hope of ever going to the Alpha Quadrant without killing everyone in the process.
Serious storytelling serves Star Trek: Prodigy well. But a fun, one-off episodes are both inevitable and needed. The question is: Does “All The World’s A Stage” pass muster as a fun (mostly) throwaway?
And the answer is a resounding “yes”. It may not be as funny or clever as the best of Star Trek: Lower Decks, but “All The World’s A Stage” takes the mickey out of Trek with aplomb. The Enterprisian who calls himself “James T.” does a glorious Shatner impression. There’s a really good Sulu sound-alike. And having the hero be a red-shirted ensign? Chef’s kiss. 10/10 no notes.
That being said, this is not the best Star Trek: Prodigy episode of all time, and it’s not trying to be. It’s a cute diversion that just so happens to sneak two ongoing plots forward the teeniest, tiniest bit.
References: Gotta Catch ‘Em All
It’s hard to name all the Star Trek references in “All The World’s A Stage” because the entire episode is, effectively, a reference. “James T.” “Sprock”. “Cadet Hura”. These are all riffs on the names of Enterprise crew members. And, yes, the Galileo is the shuttlecraft that features most often during Star Trek: The Original Series.
We’ve covered all the references really. The only one that’s fun is that they bring up the Federation protocols for “second contact”. And, kids, if that ain’t a reference to Star Trek: Lower Decks then I don’t know what is. Wonder if we’ll eventually get that crossover?
Regardless, “All The World’s A Stage” is a cute episode, but nothing you’re likely to revisit over and over again.