“I’ve blown up so many times… I see now the only way out is chaos.”

It was inevitable that we would get a silly (by comparison) episode of Prodigy, but (and this is important) it’s not silly on the order of Lower Decks. It’s kind-of embarrassing when one has to consider Lower Decks as part of this extended family. We get a holodeck scenario in this episode, but it isn’t what you think. The holodeck doesn’t go on the fritz and trap Dal in a nightmare scenario.

When Janeway gives him the nickel tour, he decides to take the Kobayashi Maru test so that he can become a more effective captain. First seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the test places a trainee in a no-win scenario and studies responses. Kirk once called it a “test of character,” since there seemed to be no way to succeed, unless the simulator could be re-programmed, as it had by a young Kirk.

Dal puts together a bridge crew consisting of Uhura, Odo, Spock, Scotty and Dr. Beverly Crusher. This is strange because it appears only Gates McFadden provides an actual voice. The rest of the voices are merely sampled from previous episodes. Is it sad I can tell you which episodes are referenced? The problem, though the idea is cute, is the inconsistency of the audio’s quality.

It’s more than obvious, and unusual that the audio files were not equalized to match with the episode’s overall audio. Dal tries to beat the no-win scenario at least 80 times until he is left defeated and the holographic Spock gives him a bit of a pep talk. In the episode’s “B” plot, Janeway tries to access confidential files on the purpose of Protostar’s mission, but finds they have been corrupted, so she (with Gwyn’s help) begins a laborious process of recompiling all of the fractured bits.

Gwyn is also dealing with some of the fall-out from the previous episode. Incidentally, Janeway discovers that with the use of the protostar drive, the ship has traveled past the Delta Quadrant to the Gamma Quadrant. Janeway puts a file together that reveals Chakotay (Robert Beltran) was captain of the Protostar when it was attacked and boarded by unknown invaders. While “Kobayashi” is a silly episode, it’s also a lot of fun, particularly with the archived audio and the surprise guest appearance by Beltran, who was a very vocal critic of Voyager during and after the show’s run.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy, and Rene Auberjonois, which was a nice, poignant touch, but I wonder why other characters weren’t used, such as surviving members of Voyager’s crew, or the newer Star Trek movies. Have the producers of these shows finally realized that the actors were just as iconic as the characters they embodied?

I mean we can’t, in good conscience, have Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto or Ethan Peck do these voices because, frankly, actor’s voices lack character and are not so easily identifiable these days. It turns out, even voices are iconic. So the obvious audio clips being pulled out of select episodes of previous shows in the franchise tend to remove us from Dal’s reality, and very little thought was put into what the characters would say when responding to Dal. “Kobayashi” is a weaker episode of Prodigy (the first, in fact), but it holds up a lot better than any episode of Discovery, Picard, or Lower Decks.

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