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HomeArts & EntertainmentIn Another First, a ‘Star Trek’ Story Without a Crew or Captain

In Another First, a ‘Star Trek’ Story Without a Crew or Captain


The “crew” of the U.S.S. Protostar

“And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,” wrote poet John Masefield in his famous work, “Sea-Fever.” The vision of the open sea and a sailing vessel was one that writers of “Star Trek” used often and recited in the episode “The Ultimate Computer.”

This romanticization of the hard work of ocean navigation supposes that the person reciting the poem has a willing and able crew on deck. Unless the ship is partially automated, like how Mr. Scott modified the Enterprise in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” a crew is a must-have for any vessel — sea or space-faring.

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But what if there was a ship with just a group of entirely inexperienced people? What would happen if a couple of teenagers found a Starfleet vessel and took it upon themselves to begin a voyage? Without training, ranks, pips, or even a captain? 

This is one of the myriad of reasons why “Star Trek: Prodigy” is different from all Trek series that came before. While the show was created for a Nickelodeon-aged audience in mind, the fact that the “crew” of the U.S.S. Protostar is not really a crew at all. Instead, it is just a handful of humanoid and non-humanoid species just making their way into the universe.

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They do have the occasional help of one very famous hologram. Kate Mulgrew returns as Captain Kathryn Janeway and appears throughout the series as a combination of Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket “conscious” and a guide, much like Marlon Brando’s Jor-El in “Superman.”

Heavy’s own Robin Zabiegalski was able to take part in a Q&A session with some of the cast members from the show, which included Ella Purnell (Gwyn), Rylee Alazraqui (Rok-Tahk), and Brett Gray (Dal). Zabiegalski asked them to talk about what it must be like for a crew to become a “crew” without formal training.  

Ella Purnell as “Gwyn”

Gwyn and Ella Purnell

Paramount / Getty“Gwyn” and Ella Purnell

“This is the way it should be — maybe not on a spaceship,” said actress Ella Purnell. Fans might recognize Purnell from her roles on the Netflix film “Army of the Dead” and the series “Sweetbitter.” Purnell gives voice to “Gwyn,” a member of the ‘Vau N’Akat’ species.

“Kids should be allowed to explore what they’re drawn to,” said Purnell. “Explore what they are attracted to and are good at. Not that living on a spaceship is safe in any way, especially … probably it’s actually quite traumatizing.” 

“I think that in finding the roles that they are good at and then finding the things that they like what they are drawn to, then they find parts of themselves,” said Purnell. “Rather than the way that it is in the moment. It’s their own education system that isn’t structured in the way that ours is, and I think that it works better.”

Rylee Alazraqui as “Rok-Tahk”

“Rok-Tahk” and Rylee Alazraqui

Paramount“Rok-Tahk” and Rylee Alazraqui

“I think that they were put [into a] position, and they are learning from it,” said youngster Rylee Alazraqui, who is the daughter of actor and voice artist Carlos Alazraqui. Her character, Rok-Tahk, looks to be inspired by the Fantastic Four’s Ben Grimm but has a few surprises in store. 

“I think that Rok-Tahk was security because she’s a huge rock monster because, of course, she’s going to be security,” said Alazraqui. “What else would she be? I think that the characters learn to like what they are, and they are going to learn more from what position they are in.”

Brett Gray as “Dal”

Brett Gray and “Dal”

ParamountBrett Gray and “Dal”

“Dal’s challenge is interesting because Dal doesn’t feel that he has any talents,” said Brett Gray, who stars as “Dal.” Gray is known for his roles on “On My Block” and “When They See Us.” 

“He doesn’t have brute size,” said Gray. “He doesn’t have combat training or anything like that, so all he really has is his voice and his ideas. His journey is mostly internal about what it is to become a leader.”

“It’s really like a maturation process for Dal,” said Gray. “Dal really gets to learn what it is to just ‘be,’ and to be confident in ‘being.’”

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