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‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ finally solves a funny lore mystery the original series left hanging

What became of those B-team 'Enterprise' sidekicks who tagged along with Kirk?

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Trek: Prodigy 106 PRESS

Fans of the original Star Trek TV series know that space is an especially dangerous place for all the nameless Enterprise crew members who beamed down to strange planets alongside Kirk, Spock, and Bones. More often than not, it was a one-way trip for the little guy: The main characters would of course survive, while their hapless red-shirt tagalong companions would invariably end up either left behind  — or even alien fodder.

Though the original series had occasional meta-fun by addressing its casual attitude toward the Enterprise’s disposable heroes, the show never really answered the implicit question of where those in the “left behind” category ended up. Now more than 50 years since Star Trek first premiered, a new episode of Star Trek: Prodigy has at least tackled the ripple effects of the long-unresolved dilemma in “All the World’s a Stage,” a fun episode that envisions a whole planet where a single moment of past Enterprise contact ended up inspiring an entire civilization.

“This episode is a sort of spiritual answer” to a conundrum first posed in the 1968 Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action,” Prodigy writer Aaron J. Waltke recently explained to Inverse. In the original series episode, Captain Kirk and the crew encounter a planet populated by lookalike mobsters from America’s roaring 1920s — all because a visiting vessel from Earth had previously left behind a book about Chicago’s mafia culture.

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Bones even jokes at the end of that episode that he left his own communicator behind as they depart the planet — a signal that the Enterprise itself may have inadvertently given the planet’s population a new relic of human culture to revere. “They were ominously wondering whether [Bones’ device] will influence that society a hundred years hence the same way a dime store gangster novel did,” Waltke explained.

Back in Prodigy’s present-day cycle, “All the World’s a Stage” finds the Protostar 'toon crew making contact with aliens who idolize “Star Flight” (a culturally-shifted tweak on “Starfleet”) and call themselves “Enderprizians.” It’s a fun nod to the original series’ “Obsession” episode from 1967, in which red-shirted B-team crew member Ensign Garrovick (Stephen Brooks) survives being stranded there alongside Captain Kirk (William Shatner).

Waltke’s explanation for how this strange alien planet came to idolize Starfleet thanks to one of its little-known enlistees is definitely the stuff of deep-dive Star Trek lore. “Garrovick had a heroic moment battling the dikironium cloud creature,” he explains, “…but then he was never seen again on the show. Similarly, the Galileo shuttlecraft was suddenly replaced or renamed to Galileo II between Seasons 2 and 3 without explanation. It's reasonable to assume that both Garrovick and the Galileo from ‘Immunity Syndrome’ [an original series episode that aired in 1968] were lost on an unseen adventure between those seasons.”

Since Garrick survived the encounter but never appeared in the original series again, Waltke and the Prodigy writers took some creative liberties to interpret the oddly revered red-shirt’s fictional after-story. “In my mind, [Garrovick] was doing some routine shuttle test when a classic Trek anomaly caused the shuttle to veer wildly off course and crash in the planet’s unseen dilithium cave system.”

Sure, it’s a tiny bit of sleight-of-hand, but it also reconnects today’s emerging Star Trek lore — even in animated form — with the canon that Star Trek: The Original Series first laid down more than half a century ago. Catch all 13 episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy's debut season now at Paramount+, while we await word on news of a premiere date for Season 2.

Looking for more space adventures? Check out SYFY's Battlestar Galactica streaming now on Peacock, and keep an eye in the sky for SYFY's new original series The Ark, coming in early 2023.