Star Trek: Prodigy reaffirmed the importance of the universal translator and provided a valuable lesson on why communication is key to collaboration.
Warning: SPOILER for Star Trek: Child Prodigy Episodes 1 & 2 – “Lost & Found, Part 1 & 2.”
The series premiere of Star Trek: Child Prodigy proved that Star Trek’s most important technology is not spacecraft like the USS Protostar. Star Trek’s first animated series aimed at younger audiences takes place in a desolate mining colony in the Delta Quadrant. When six teenage aliens – Dal (Brett Gray), Gwyn (Ella Purnell), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), Zero (Angus Imrie), Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), and Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) – find an abandoned Starfleet Ship, the USS Protostar, they use it to escape the mining colony and their abusive master, the fortune teller (John Noble). Fortunately, the young heroes discover that the Protostar has a training hologram from Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) to accompany them on their new journeys.
Star Trek’s technology is an integral part of the franchise and was so influential that many of the gadgets have been turned into real items. Smartphones are essentially a combination of Starfleet’s communicators and tricorders Star Trek: The Original Series. Wall-sized HDTVs are real adaptations of the screen on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. 3D printing is the beginning of what could eventually become Star Trek’s replicators, and advances in holographic technology could one day lead to real holodecks. While the real world is still a long way from spaceships that can travel across the galaxy on warp drives or transporters that humans can instantly beam across the planet, Star Trek’s future technology has long been a desirable model for real inventions. In Star Trek, technology has saved the lives of Starfleet heroes countless times.
However, Star Trek: Child Prodigy makes a compelling argument that the franchise’s best technology is the universal translator, because without it the myriad races in the galaxy could not communicate. In Star Trek: Child Prodigy‘s pilot, “Lost & Found,” the fact that the fortune-teller banned universal translators on his mining world, Tars Lamora, is key to how he can enslave numerous alien races to work for him. With the exception of Gwyn, the fortune teller’s daughter, and Drednok (Jimmi Simpson), his robotic executor, inter-species communication is prohibited on Tars Lamora. But all that changed when Dal and Rok-Tahk found the USS Protostar and activated their systems. Although the protostar allowed them to escape, it was a Starfleet Badge Universal Translator This enabled Dal, Zero, and the others to talk to each other for the first time so they could work together to launch their found spaceship.
Star Trek: Child Prodigy‘s breakneck adventure is made possible by the USS Protostar, an incredibly fast spaceship that fortune tellers are dying to own. But the real subject of Star Trek: Child ProdigyPremiere was how important communication is in order to work together towards a common goal. The fortune teller is insidious for not allowing the various aliens he has imprisoned to communicate, but it made sure that they couldn’t band together to rebel against him. Thanks to the universal translator that allows them to finally understand each other, Dal, Zero, Rok-Tahk and the others immediately found common ground to work together and escape Tars Lamora aboard the Protostar.
The importance of the universal translator was even underscored by Gwyn before boarding the Protostar. Gwyn had her own serious doubts about her father the fortune teller, and she felt sorry for a young Caitian sold to Tars Lamora by a kazon. Gwyn herself longs to experience other races and other cultures, and she declared her belief that “Every language is a window into a new culture” to the cat alien who saved her. This is essentially the classic Star Trek philosophy of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” reformulated by Gwyn.
Star Trek: Child Prodigy Reminded trekkers both new and old that it is the ability to communicate that has allowed numerous alien species to work together to bring about the United Federation of Planetsjust as it was key for the protostar’s new crew to escape the fortune teller. Star Trek: Child Prodigy is primarily an action-packed show designed to delight younger audiences with breakneck adventures and lovable characters. However, Star Trek: Child Prodigy‘s laudable affirmation of the importance of the Universal Transporter is also a crucial and very hands-on lesson on Star Trek about how communication is the key to successful collaboration.
Star Trek: Child Prodigy streams on Paramount + on Thursdays.
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