Star Trek's riskiest finale of 2022 messed with starship canon — and got away with it
Star Trek: Prodigy’s showrunners on the fate of the Defiant and what’s next for Season 2.
Starfleet is burning. In the explosive two-part Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Prodigy, a murderous AI hijacks a massive fleet of Starfleet ships and turns them against each other. Although Prodigy is mostly aimed at kids, its season finale turned out to be bigger and bolder than many finales of the other contemporary Trek shows.
But just how many starships were destroyed? And will Prodigy Season 2 feature yet another new starship? Inverse caught up with showrunners Kevin and Dan Hageman for the answers.
Spoilers ahead for the Prodigy Season 1 finale, “Supernova Part 2.”
A Bushel of Starship Easter Eggs
Because the events of Prodigy Season 1 brought us to the year 2384, the show's timeline is just a few years ahead of Lower Decks Season 3 (2381) and right on the cusp of the earliest flashbacks of Picard Season 1 (2385). The post-Nemesis (2379) years are now jam-packed with events from three different shows, but the Hageman Brothers tell Inverse that established continuity didn’t impact the huge fleet battle at the end of “Supernova Part 2.”
“I don’t think we really had an issue there,” Kevin Hageman says. “I don't think we had to check with anyone. I think we considered all the starships there as just a big Easter egg.”
Those Easter eggs include the presence of the USS Defiant and the USS Enterprise-E among the ships briefly overwhelmed by the AI. Who’s captaining these iconic ships at this point?
“What? Stop.” Kevin Hageman says with a laugh. “We can’t answer that. We can’t.”
What the Hagemans want fans to remember is that Prodigy is designed as an introduction to Trek for new fans. So while this fleet is littered with Easter eggs, cracking those eggs open isn’t the point.
The most important piece of Star Trek tech
For 20 episodes, the young crew of the Protostar learned that the galaxy can be a kinder place than what they first experienced way back in the Delta Quadrant. In doing so, the Hagemans brought Prodigy full circle. In the episode that kicked off the series, “Lost and Found,” none of the kids could communicate with each other while imprisoned on Tars Lamora until they discovered the Protostar and its universal translator. In “Supernova Part 2,” the universal translators on the Starfleet ships break down. The message is clear: The most important theme of Prodigy is communication, and the most important gizmo in Trek canon is the translator.
“When we came up with the original pitch [for Prodigy] we were living in difficult times. We’re still living in difficult times,” Dan Hageman says. The notion of “a bunch of aliens on a ship who don’t know how to talk to one another” was a metaphor for how people come together... or don’t.
“I think, looking back, it’s that universal translator for Starfleet is the thing that really holds them together,” Dan Hageman says.
Some previous iterations of Star Trek have touched on the idea of the translator being a possible hindrance to communication. In Discovery Season 4, Kovich (David Cronenberg) makes its limitations clear when it comes to truly alien aliens. In the classic TNG episode “Darmok,” its translations are useless because Picard and the crew don’t understand the context of Tamarian culture. But for the Hagemans, the message in the Prodigy finale wasn’t about the limits of technology, but instead about hope and cooperation.
“We didn’t want to go negative,” Kevin Hageman says. “ We really wanted to highlight Starfleet and all of its technologies as this fantastic, beautiful thing that was bringing species together.”
How Prodigy Season 2 will be totally different
By the end of Prodigy Season 1, the heroic and scrappy Protostar is destroyed, and the hologram AI version of Janeway “dies” too. The wayward crew of teens finds themselves on Earth under the care of the human Admiral Janeway. A new version of the Protostar is teased in a hangar, but the Hagemans want fans to know that Season 2 won’t be a rehash of Season 1.
“All I can say is just that season two is going to feel brand new,” Kevin Hageman says. “They’re gonna start Season 2 at Starfleet Headquarters. That’s gonna have a new feel to it.”
Does this mean Prodigy will suddenly become a show based on Earth? After all that gallivanting around the cosmos, will the show morph into a Starfleet Academy series?
“No,” Dan Hagemans says. “We would not sign-up for Season 2 if it was about them in the classroom. You can’t go from stealing a starship to making diagrams.”
Kevin Hageman adds, “It’s like Vice Admiral Janeway says, she’s got bigger plans for them.”
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 is streaming on Paramount+.