SPOILER WARNING: Discussion for Star Trek: Prodigy — Season 1, Episode 12 "Let Sleeping Borg Lie" to follow!
Welcome to Warp Five, StarTrek.com's five question post-mortem with your favorite featured talent from the latest Star Trek episodes.
The mid-season return of Star Trek: Prodigy is warping full speed ahead (Jankom Pog would be proud). In the aftermath of witnessing firsthand the Living Construct's disastrous impact on Starfleet, the crew of the U.S.S. Protostar are desperate for any means to shut down the weapon aboard their starship.
When the Protostar cross paths with a dormant Borg Cube in the latest episode, "Let Sleeping Borg Lie," the young crew decides to board the enemy vessel, despite Hologram Janeway's objection, for any leads. Their reasoning — if the Borg can quickly learn and adapt, perhaps they can devise a way to disarm the weapon. With experience being part of a hive mind, Zero volunteers to be the crewmember to enter the Borg's Hive Mind.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to speak with actor Angus Imrie, who voices the Medusan, on the Zero-centric episode and finding one's own collective.
On Zero's Lingering Guilt
During the mid-season finale, "A Moral Star, Part 2," in an attempt to neutralize The Diviner, Zero revealed their true form. While successful, they inadvertently incapacitated their crewmate Gwyn after she catches Zero's reflection in a combadge. With the loss of Gwyn's memories and any knowledge around the living weapon, as well as their previous role as The Diviner's tool to brainwash the prisoners on Tars Lamora, Zero still carries immense guilt of harming others.
How does this guilt affect Zero for this second half of the season? According to Imrie, it affects them "massively." Considering the weight of this guilt, he added, "That's a huge thing for this episode, that Zero steps up and says, 'I'm the one who should go in.'"
"Zero spent the first half of the season holding the weight of the fact that they were used as a weapon by The Diviner on Tars Lamora," said Imrie. "It's that motivates them the most. It's so painful to them because as you learned from encountering Zero, they're sensitive, caring, and curious. They would never ever want to endanger anyone. It's unimaginable that they were used as a weapon."
Speaking on the first season's tenth episode, he stated, "That great heroic moment when they receive justice by exposing their true form to The Diviner is so unfairly complicated by the fact that Gwyn catches sight of it. So when they encounter the Borg, Zero wants to step up and make amends. It's a big moment for Zero."
Does he think Zero was able to reconcile with their guilt? Imrie believed so, stating, "Happily, Zero is now able to go on a more personal journey because so much of their journey with the other Prodigy crew is in service to them. Zero does something that's just for them, and experienced a whole new world and it's really wonderful."
On the Borg Threat
The Borg Collective have long been foes for even our most experienced Starfleet crews, as denoted by Holo-Janeway's insistence to avoid them at all costs and retreat. How does Imrie feel about the young Protostar crew taking on such a threatening adversary?
"Facing the Borg, we relish it," he noted. "The great thing of being part of Star Trek is you can encounter the most dangerous villains that have been in Star Trek history. It was a very exciting prospect. Particularly for Zero, they're formally of a hive mind. It had the potential to be a very significant moment for Zero to assimilate and try to take on the Borg, which is no mean feat as we know."
As for coming out on the other end unscathed and what the Protostar crew specifically brings to the scenario? "Well, it's like going in cold to something, isn't it? Sometimes it's beginner's luck," Imrie mused. "Suddenly you don't have all the preconditions to make you frightened. They're approaching things with a certain fearlessness, and certainly ignorance is bliss sometimes. They can think quicker, perhaps, and don't overthink. Their innocence means that anyone watching, especially children who haven't encountered the Borg, are not coming with massive preconceived notions. Their innocence can be a real positive in helping them to overcome their battles."
On What Starfleet Means to Zero
With their Starfleet dreams deferred due to the Living Construct, how is that affecting the Prodigy team?
"Starfleet for Zero is their great ambition," reflected Imrie. "There are three things that propel these characters. One is looking after each other, making sure that they're safe. The love that they have for each other. The other is discovering who they are; they're all fugitives. They were all displaced when we first encountered them."
"They each have their individual journeys," he added, "and the potential of finding where they belong or returning where they came from. Those two things can exist alongside one another. They can both belong with each other, and yet still remain curious about their different species and potentially returning to their own planet as it were. But Starfleet is the ultimate for them; they're all motivated by their time spent on Tars Lamora. They only want good for the universe and Starfleet represents the wonderful Federation and its mission. It would be a dream come true because they're motivated by good; Starfleet is the highest good they could aspire to."
On Zero's Role and Coming Into Their Own
With the Protostar given some breathing room from being on the run from The Diviner, as they all settle into their roles on the team, does Zero have a specific focus the way Dal (command) and Rok-Tahk (sciences) do?
"Zero's pretty good navigating the ship," remarked Imrie. "They're the one who steers the path of the ship. But they clearly have a brilliant scientific mind and curiosity around solving things. That's Zero's great skill. When you see them in that brilliant episode, which is just like a murder mystery, escape room, that's when Zero's passion comes out because the curiosity combines with problem solving. You can definitely see them as a navigator in that sense."
In addition those skillsets, Zero demonstrates they can resist the Borg's assimilation. Not only that, they're able to neutralize the entire collective. Imrie called Zero's hero episode "pretty amazing."
"They managed to do something so impressive," explained Imrie. "It's the power of the love that they have for the Prodigy crew. Zero is assimilated into the Borg, and then they have to fight so hard to remember who they really are in order to eliminate the threat and get them all out of there. You can see from the moment that Zero enters the Borg, they lulled them into this hive mind with this almost flattery. Zero is so frightened of leaving their containment suit and potentially hurting people again, yet the Borg is resistant to that pain. It's almost as if Zero feels good about being in there; it's a liberation. They go on a real journey in the episode to being brave enough to enter the collective and then managing to tear themself away from it. It's extraordinary."
On the Real Janeway's Daunting Pursuit of the Protostar
Does it affect the crew having bonded to and learning from Hologram Janeway and now coming being pursued by the real Janeway in hot pursuit of the Protostar and its former captain, Chakotay?
"Well, it's a great twist, isn't it," expressed Imrie. "Of course, they respect and admire the real Vice Admiral Janeway, but suddenly, they're put in a position where they have to be adversaries. She's definitely a threat. There's no messing around with Janeway. If she wants to do something, she'll make it happen."
"They need to be very, very wary of that threat and try not to engage in the mission hostile, but they have to make sure that the weapon isn't compromised on the Protostar," Imrie concluded. "It's a pretty tricky situation. I wouldn't want to be in it. You just hope that at some point, later down the line, you have to hope that they'll find a way through it."
Christine Dinh (she/her) is the managing editor for StarTrek.com. She’s traded the Multiverse for helming this Federation Starship.
Star Trek: Prodigy currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in U.S., Latin America, Australia, South Korea, Italy and the U.K. and is coming soon to Paramount+ in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France as well as to Nickelodeon international channels, which are available in 180 countries globally. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Prodigy is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.