Warning! Below are spoilers for the Star Trek: Prodigy episode “Masquerade”. Read at your own risk!
Star Trek: Prodigy has revealed one of its biggest secrets to date, and while we supposedly know Dal’s origin story, it looks like this is just the tip of the iceberg in unraveling the rest of his story. Paramount+ subscribers who tuned in to “Masquerade” learned that Dal is a mixture of many kinds, and that’s because he is an augment.
Dal found out about his origin thanks to a body modification geneticist who informed him that he was created in the laboratory of a protege of a defected Federation scientist Arik Sung. Dal’s DNA is a hybrid of human, Vulcan, Klingon, Romulan and almost any other species from Star Trek under the sun, and all this combined to create his unique and previously unrecognizable appearance.
Dal struggled to cope with the idea that he was created in a lab, and he will probably face even more difficulties when he learns about the Federation’s position on augments. I asked the showrunners if the origin of Dal Prodigy opened up the opportunity to tell the story of the Eugenic Wars and other difficult events affected by more mature shows, and Kevin Hageman teased what he could, explaining the decision to make Dal an augment:
This is an aspect of Trek, right? We got to know [the augments] through Wrath Of Khan, and we always wanted this season to touch on these aspects [and] introduce these elements to children. And we felt that with Dal, his discovery of who he was, we felt that we didn’t want him to be Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker. We didn’t want him to be some kind of chosen one. We wanted him to be humble… his personality suddenly becomes the biggest obstacle to his joining Starfleet. Of all of them, he longs to join Starfleet, and now that he’s being hit with this, it’s going to make it even harder.
Being an augment is certainly harmful to anyone who wants to join Starfleet. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds even demonstrated the organization’s zero tolerance policy towards augments when Una was arrested after it became known about her Illyrian origin. Starfleet is a welcoming and inclusive organization, but still takes a pretty tough stance on additions.
One can imagine that someone like Dal, who has felt like an outsider all his life, would not be able to cope with giving up Starfleet if they discovered his origin. And indeed, now that we know that Dal is connected with Sung’s work, this story may have much more directions. I asked Dal’s voice actor Brett Gray if his character’s background played a big role in the development of the story, and got a pretty definite answer:
100%. I think it will affect not only Dal, how to find out who he is, but also the whole fate of their mission to become members of Starfleet… This is a very big conversation that will lead to a lot more questions. Dal will have to grow a lot and think a lot, and now he will need his team more than ever.
Right now, Dal doesn’t have to worry about joining Starfleet, given the destructive weapons aboard Protostar. They need to make sure they’re at least one step ahead of Vice Admiral Janeway and her team until they find a way to disable the weapon.
Given the latest news that Starfleet’s Thrillacency is actually a Wow N’akat agent from the future, the situation seems even worse than before. She’ll most likely get the Diviner back in shape soon enough, and since they’re both working together with Janeway to get the Protostar, I don’t like the chances of the kids dodging them. Let’s hope that the child prodigies will soon be able to take a break or strengthen their positions on Janeway and her quest to find them, motivated by Chekotai.
Star Trek: Prodigy broadcasts new episodes on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursdays. As the second half of the first season approaches the middle, it’s time to watch the upcoming Trek shows scheduled for 2023 and take a look at some of these shows to prepare for another year of great sci-fi television.