Published Jan 5, 2023
WARP FIVE: Star Trek: Prodigy Showrunners on Wrapping the First Season
Kevin and Dan Hageman break down the hit animated series' finale and beyond!
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Episode 20 of Star Trek: Prodigy finale "Supernova, Part 2."
That's a wrap on the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy! The finale episode, "Supernova, Part 2," immediately picks up in the aftermath of the Living Construct's assault on Starfleet. Dal makes the hard decision — the destruction of the U.S.S. Protostar — as the crew's only option to save the Federation. As they abandoned their ship and escaped on a makeshift shuttlecraft, the ragtag crew was unaware that would be the last time they would ever see their mentor, Holo-Janeway, who stayed behind to detonate the protowarp drive.
With the Federation saved, but the Protostar crew somewhere in space, Vice Admiral Janeway and Starfleet continue to search for them. The Protostar's sacrifice offered them another glimmer of hope as the starship created an interstellar rift and they found another mayday transmission from Captain Chakotay...from 52 years in the future. Janeway may be able to explore that rift and find out what happened to her longtime friend.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to speak with series' creators, executive producers, and showrunners Kevin and Dan Hageman all about the action-packed and emotionally-charged two-part finale as well as coax a little tease about the show's second season!
Breaking Down the Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Finale
The Diviner, Gwyndala's father and Tars Lamora's former tyrant, had just as an emotional arc across the season as the scrappy Protostar crew. Where The Diviner was cruel and unrelenting in his pursuits during the first half of the season, the Vau N'Akat's amnesiac predicament in the second half allowed him to see a whole different side to the Federation as well as his daughter.
"We discussed, after his mind was wiped and he was taken in by Starfleet, at the core, what would be the first pieces that would come out," Dan commented on the writers' approach to The Diviner's 180-change. "Early in the season, or in the back 10, the first thing he says [coming out of his unconscious state] is 'Gwyndala.' That's the first thing he thinks about; not so much of the mission. He'd been brainwashed to believe that he has to complete the mission. He feels the pressure of saving his entire world. But, at the end of the day, what's the first thing his heart thinks about? It's his daughter. He had to do what he had to do in the finale."
Referencing their body of experience, Kevin noted, "That's the type of writers we are. If you look at a lot of our work, our heroes are not killing the villain. No, the hero saves the villain," with Dan chiming in that the heroes save the villain by allowing him to "see how Starfleet operates; they're not people trying to destroy a civilization."
What makes the series a wonderful all-ages program is that it welcomes new fans(and reminds old fans) to Star Trek's ideals of a better future, but doesn't sugarcoat the harsh realities of life and the work that must be done to achieve that utopia.
"Some label it as a kid's show, but it was always intended to be all-ages," stated Kevin. "Because of that, we needed an emotional depth and an emotional intelligence to our series. So from day one, it was in our pitch. We knew how this season would end, and we got it. I'm so proud of it because we didn't know we'd have a Season 2. All we knew is we had 20 episodes. By the end, we wanted to make sure we had something that really resonated. For me growing up, watching ET, it ruined me, but it was so beautiful. To this day, I look back and it's one of my favorite movies, and so is Iron Giant."
Reflecting on his personal approach, Dan shared, "People who try to make things 'kid-safe' because they fear backlash, that's not the way to raise a child. A child needs to learn the whole spectrum of life. Don't go too hard on them, but dealing with death, even if it's a hologram, that's something that can stick with them. To discover how they feel about that. This is a coming-of-age story for these kids and their first mentor. Season 1, their first mentor is Hologram Janeway. Season 2 mentor is Admiral Janeway. She's a little tougher of a cookie, but different mentors will help you grow in different ways."
Upon arrival at Starfleet headquarters after their daring move to save the Federation, in true Star Trek fashion, the Protostar crew were immediately put on trial for the prior actions. Vice Admiral Janeway argues for leniency on their sentencing as well as Starfleet's stance towards those who are Augments. While the crew's charges were dropped, they would not receive preferential treatment and be admitted into Starfleet Academy.
On the Federation's outcome, Dan stated, "If this was not Star Trek, they would get into whatever academy they were supposed to get into. This is Starfleet Academy and there's a higher standard."
The Hagemans and series' writers received helpful insightful from their consultant David Mack. "He made it very clear to us that just because they've got hearts of gold, it doesn't mean they're going to be let into Starfleet Academy," revealed Dan. "Instead of viewing that as a problem, this was a great opportunity. This is the beginning of their journey. Now they really have to prove themselves."
"Now that they have the attention of Starfleet, can they actually get into Starfleet," continued Dan. "That's a whole other question. It's a good life lesson, too. It's not the end of the season. At the end of the season, it's not that you get what you want and always dreamed of. There's different levels. There's different steps. There's always opportunities to grow."
As for where that leaves Dal and his Starfleet aspirations? "The writers' room all figured that Dal is the living embodiment of what Starfleet represents," explained Kevin. "We were, 'How beautiful is that?' He thinks of himself as so ugly and he's embarrassed of what he is, but Janeway turns it around in this beautiful way in the end."
The Hagemans knew that Gwyn's path forwarded would have to be one she took on her own. "When we were dealing with what that conversation would be around The Diviner on his deathbed, it felt like there's a passing of the torch," remarked Dan. "He's been redeemed, but he still has a problem. His world is going to collapse, so to speak, by civil war. What can Gwyn do? That's a big baton to be handed."
"We just discovered, by the end, you can't just leave Solum hanging out there; a whole world that might fall apart," added Kevin. "Again, it created a very interesting story opportunity for us."
The Creative Team Behind Star Trek: Prodigy on Gwyn's Character Design
With the first season's open-ended finale, StarTrek.com asked the showrunners if there was any morsel they could offer us as we all await for Prodigy's second season.
"All the seeds to Season 2 are put there in Episode 20 finale," teased Dan, before adding, "They won't be chased. Season 1, they were always being chased. Season 2 is them not being chased."
"For Season 2, there's a promise of our characters starting at Starfleet headquarters. It's going to be even more based in the Federation and in the characters we know and love," concluded Kevin. "Season 2 is going to feel very different. It'll be wrapping up a lot of these stories that are still open. Chakotay. Solum."